3D modeling is the process of creating a 3D representation of any surface or object by manipulating polygons, edges, and vertices in simulated 3D space. You’ve seen the results of 3D modeling in movies, animations, and video games that are filled with fantastical and imaginative creatures and structures.
3D modeling can be achieved manually with specialized 3D production software that lets an artist create and deform polygonal surfaces or by scanning real-world objects into a set of data points that can be used to represent the object digitally.
How 3D modeling is used
3D modeling is used in a wide range of fields, including engineering, architecture, entertainment, film, special effects, game development, and commercial advertising.
A popular example of 3D technology is its use in major motion pictures. Just think of the scenery “Avatar,” the 2009 movie from director James Cameron. The film helped to transform the 3D industry when it used many of the concepts of 3D modeling to create the movie’s planet Pandora.
The learning curve
3D modeling is fun but difficult. Unlike many graphic arts fields, 3D modeling has a substantial learning curve and involves mastering sophisticated software. Beginners in 3D can be put off by the time needed to learn 3D modeling, but, with patience, they can create animations, structural renderings, and video game graphics.
The software you choose to use will likely have a wealth of online tutorials and instructional classes. Take advantage of these resources to help you become proficient with the software and 3D modeling.
3D modeling software
3D modeling software allows you to design basic 3D models of characters or objects. Full-featured programs provide the tools you need to flesh out your designs with realistic details. There are many 3D modeling software programs on the market. Among the highest rated are listed here:
AutoCAD was doing 3D long before it was popular. This professional commercial software has been around since 1982 and is considered the gold standard by many designers. It is available for Windows and macOS operating systems.
ZBrush from Pixologic incorporates clay sculpting techniques into its professional-level software. The process takes many hours to master, so it isn’t recommended for beginners in 3D design. The same developers produce Sculptris, which is a similar, but a simpler, free 3D modeling application that new 3D designers might try first.
3DS Max from Autodesk is popular with video game developers and visual effects artists. Although the software can handle animation and engineering, those features require extensive training to master. 3DS Max works with Windows.
SketchUp is a 3D program for designers who have some experience in 3D modeling. SketchUp specializes in architectural structures and is frequently used for visualizing architecture, interior design, urban planning, engineering, and construction. It is available for Windows and macOS operating systems.
Blender is free open-source 3D modeling software suitable for creating animated films, visual effects, art, interactive apps, and video games. It operates on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.