In this paper, we develop the ball-approximated characteristics (B-char) method, which is an algorithm for efficiently implementing characteristic-based schemes in two and three dimensions. Core to the implementation of numerical schemes is the evaluation of integrals, which in the context of characteristic-based schemes with piecewise constant approximations boils down to computing the intersections between two regions. In the literature, these regions are approximated by polytopes (polygons in two dimensions and polyhedra in three dimensions) and, due to this, the implementation in three dimensions is nontrivial. The main novelty in this paper is the approximation of the regions by balls, whose intersections are much cheaper to compute than those of polytopes. Of course, balls cannot fully tessellate a region, and hence some mass may be lost. We perform some adjustments, and also solve an optimization problem, in order to yield a scheme that is both locally and globally mass conserving. This algorithm can achieve results that are similar to those obtained from an implementation which uses polytopal intersections, with a much cheaper computational cost.