Karl Gorman
3D modeling services

What is 3D Modeling and Design? A Complete Guide to 3D


3D modeling is successfully bridging the gap between reality and the artificial world. It has integrated seamlessly into the fields of entertainment, gaming, health, fashion, and more. This astute performance of this technique makes it a remarkable technology to behold. 3D designing might seem like a mammoth task to carry out, however, the end results surely make the effort worth it. With the creation of vivid hues amidst wonderful worlds, who wouldn’t look forward to doing this?

From animated movies like Toy Story, Shrek, Cars, and more to even the video games that people often enjoy nowadays, they all employ 3D modeling and design. So now the question arises, what do we really know about this phenomenal technology? What is 3D modeling?

3D Modeling at a Glance

It can be defined as the means of creating a three-dimensional representation of any object with the aid of specialized design software that helps in its implementation. Modeled objects convey size, shape, and texture making use of x,y, and z coordinates It’s different from 2D which just makes use of two coordinates and thus, takes the realism away from it.

These objects can be based on actual objects present in the reality, or they can be designs created that have no counterpart in reality. Designs are created in a virtual space making use of three dimensions, which are height, width, and depth.

Learning the Ropes of 3D Modeling and Design

Some important terms to know well before deciding to peruse in or actively participate in this fields are,

  • Vertices- It is the smallest part feature of a model that is a point, on its own or in via intersection of two or more edges.
  • Edges- Giving proper definition to the designs, these straight lines connect two vertices together.
  • Face- Refers to the space between 2 or more edges in a model polygon that makes a surface when covered.
  • Polygons- These are shapes with 3 or more sides made by connecting vertices (3D points) with edges (straight lines). An individual polygon thus made is referred to as a ‘face’.

These are complex shapes that are made from rectangles, triangles, circles, and other shapes that are modified to complex designs. These shapes are made from the connecting of edges, vertices, and faces which forms the varied types of polygons.

  • Mesh- This refers to the objects made from the accumulation of polygons formed via the joining of vertices, edges, and faces. It helps figure out the shape of the model that has been designed. The complexity of a mesh is defined by the number of polygons it features. More polygons result in more defined mesh, especially in sculpting.

Now that we know the basics of 3D modeling and 3D design technology, let’s take a peek into the different types of designs there exist, and see how each one of them works.

Functioning of Various Modelings

Up next, we’ll learn how to do 3D design based on different types of modeling techniques.

1. Solid Modeling

As the name suggests, this type of design opts for solid objects. This modeling technique aims at achieving the correct geometrics for any object, whilst simulating both the interior and exterior of the object that is being modeled. Owing to this reason, this technique of 3D modeling is considered to be complex when compared to the other types of 3D modeling of objects that can be done.

Solid design allows models to be shown through cut-out view, like for example the part of a model engine or a car. It helps with the easier visualization of details with clarity in a design.

Solid modeling relies heavily on mathematics for the reason that the geometry of shapes involved in the creation, addition, or subtraction of the model has to be precise and extremely accurate.

This method of modeling relies on data like weight, size, proper connectivity between edges, vertices, and faces. The design is done with a clear image in mind and therefore the result will be unambiguously visible. It also takes into measure various aspects of the design’s features that can be classified as inside or outside, thus giving the model greater clarity.

2. Surface Modeling & Sculpting

This technique is comparatively easier than Solid modeling as it only focuses on the exterior portion of a model. Surface modeling is a method chosen to display solid three-dimensional objects, making the solid surface viewable from any angle.

Being easier to work with than solid modeling, it is mostly opted for its maneuverability in surface contouring, as its surface measures like mass and thickness need not be accurate, allowing more of an ease in designing and modifying the object in mind. However, this also means that models created using sculpting cannot show cut-away portions as the object is hollow as its not interior is not designed.

The object in mind can be designed similarly to how real-life sculpting works, as in using the software one can mold or shape the blocks or polygons to their liking from scratch or with a broad base structure with help of brushes, and tools that aid in the designing.

3. Wireframe Modeling

Wireframe modeling method is perhaps the easiest out of all the types of three-dimensional modeling technologies there is. It employs vertices and edges i.e. mainly lines  (hence the term wireframe, like bending wires) and points in the object design. Like solid modeling, this technique is also capable of showing the underlying internal features of the object being designed which is not hidden from view which is different from solid designing.

A wireframe model isn’t recognized as a solid model due to the lack of covered faces, meaning its edges and vertices make up most of the design in shapes of triangles that aren’t covered. Higher number triangles point towards a more realistic modeling of the object.

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Fundamentals To Stick By

Every art, field, or industry has some mantras of its own that every person makes use of religion, calling it principles. Here are some of the key principles to be kept in mind well attempting or creating models:

  1. It is highly likely that many stumbles will occur in the form of deformations while designing the object in mind. But this is rectifiable and therefore one shouldn’t be discouraged because of it. Rather, keep designing until the right design is found whilst keeping the original design intact but modified.
  2. Manipulation is the name of the art, and don’t be afraid to employ it if necessary, as it helps in transforming pre-existing models into something different according to one’s ideas.
  3. The polygonal modeling operation method can be opted to either create a new mesh or combine two or more meshes together.
  4. Measurements form a crucial part of modeling, real-life measurements are the best way to go while designing an object.
  5. File types supported by 3D modeling are plenty in presence, each having its relevance and specifications, along with this, the file extensions also contain all the information regarding the specific model. Different file types include STL, FBX, 3DS, OBJ, and STEP which are used for easier file transferring, appearance-related file support, basic information storage, printing, and description of product data respectively.

Having taken a glance at different types of modeling, its key terms, and features, let’s take a gander into the real-world applications of 3D modeling engineering!

Practicality in the Real World Applications

  • 3D Printing:

3D printing is one of the most common areas where modeling is used in real life. 3D prints are made using powerful Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software like OnShape, OpenSCAD, Solid Edge, etc. The basic principles of 3D modeling remain more or less the same, but the process varies with the type of printing technology and material. 3D prints are used in healthcare for making equipment, in manufacturing for making prototypes, in education for learning models, and many more sectors.

  • Entertainment

3D modeling is heavily used in entertainment nowadays, be it from animated movies to series and even in CGI effects for non-animated movies. Gone are the days when 2D animations were the height of technology, now even the old classics are being revamped in the modern-day modeled style that is preferred by kids and adults alike, like Bob the Builder to even Tom and Jerry!

The dragons of Game of Thrones are perhaps the most memorable CGI effects ever created through modeling. Generally, software like SelfCAD or Sculptris opted for use.

  • Gaming

Video games of the day are mainly composed of designing or modeling by surface modeling or sculpting. This along with animation give a realistic feel to the games thereby engaging the players further.

  • Architecture

Architecture requires models to visualize buildings and their plans before their construction. Using 3D technology in this field helps in realizing the cost and safety concerns much earlier than during the actual construction. AutoCAD and ArchiCAD are some of the beloved software for designs in architecture.

  • Medicine

Prosthetics are much more well designed, realistic, and streamlined owing to the use of 3D modeling in designing the parts. Techniques like sculpting are especially more applicable in this field.

  • Fashion

Modeling is often employed in fashion designing and its various aspects to understand the drape, style, and look of a particular garment design before it has been stitched. This saves a lot of material costs and other expenses by using sculpting and surface modeling primarily.

Pitfalls to Avoid

3D modeling and design is an area prone to mistakes and in need of growth like any other.  All this means is that the user must be willing to learn more, adapt, and correct themselves accordingly to obtain a seamless experience. Here are some of the common errors, solutions to them, and some tips –

  • Taking Preparation for Granted

Beginners’ luck is probably not a term applicable to this field, so take the time to decide on a design or object, plan ahead and understand the requirements demanded by the project beforehand.

  • Making Subdivisions in Early Stages

Creating a model part by part is actually easier than going at it in one go, making the work easier to manage. Subdividing the designs early on can create problems via distortion of the design, this can be remedied by perfecting the shapes and using the resolution tool.

  • Jumping On to Complex Projects Directly

It is wise to start with simple easier projects and then gradually build up to complex ones. Reference images also go a long way in helping one realize and attain the final goal as a novice.

  • Overlooking Research

There are plenty of modeling technologies out there and every modeler may have a preference. But it’s important to choose the right software, preferably one that is suitable for beginners, and follow the tutorials. Researching the basics without taking a leap helps you build a solid foundation.

Note: Patience is truly a virtue! Practice and patience maketh the man, it’s said. In order to build one’s talent and prowess in modeling, these two features are to be religiously followed. Be patient with the progress you’ve made and practic until you attain perfection!

3D Modeling Vs. 3D Design

The design process involves designing projects based on plans, ideas, documentation, sketches, and drawings. It involves the visualization of a model and turning ideas into three-dimensional structures. Designers are proficient in volume-spatial thinking, are aware of the latest design trends, and add a sense of style to the model.

Modeling has very subtle differences from design and is more focused on building visual models. Thus, a designer might aid a modeler with a framework and creative ideas on how to shape a project. Then a modeler goes ahead and works on the fine details like dimensions, roughness, etc to turn the designs into actual models.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is 3D modeling?

It is a technique employed to make use of three dimensions namely, height, width, and depth to create or design objects with the aid of specialized software. It enables the features of objects like size, shape, and texture to be conveyed.

  • What is the purpose of 3D modeling design?

It is employed to create life-like models of objects, such as engines and more to study their features in a cost-effective manner. It also has a huge role in the entertainment, gaming, and health industry, making production or artistic effects easier to be realized.

  • What is the difference between 3D modeling and 3D design?

They are terms often used interchangeably, but the subtle difference lies in the words themselves. Modeling refers to the creation of a mirror image of the real-life object on a software (i.e. creating a model) while 3D design definition entails ideating a design from scratch or making differences to a model.

  • What are the 2 steps to 3D modeling?

The two basic steps to modeling are- Blocking and Detailing. Blocking includes laying down the foundation of the entire design with rough features like shell and boundaries. Detailing involves addition of finer details to the model which make it closer to its desired shape.

Chudovo provides end‑to‑end custom 3D modeling service and design for customers seeking creative 3D visualization for their solutions. Reach out to us to enrich ease your product representation and development process.