A 3D model is a geometric representation of an object or a surface in a simulated 3D space. 3D modelling is about creating such models using computer software. Designers design completely new models or feed scanned images of existing objects into the computer to create 3D models.
3D modelling is the bedrock of 3D printing. It evolved with the 3D printing industry that grew big in the 1990s. Almost every industry uses 3D modelling in some form. Video game development, filmmaking, architecture and engineering industries actively employ 3D modelling. It offers vital support for Industry 4.0 technologies to achieve a fully immersive interactive experience in virtual environments. Forecasts suggest the 3D modelling market will touch $7.6 billion by 2025.
How is 3D modelling put to use?
The crux of 3D modelling is visualization and creativity. Modellers can create 3D models of a person, atmosphere or object of their choice. Using 3D modelling, one can easily understand complex designs. It allows modellers to fix drawing errors quickly. Modellers can design data-based models quite accurately.
Different modellers use 3D modelling for different purposes. Engineers and designers use it to design new products or redesign existing products. Architects build visual demonstrations of buildings, landscapes and interiors using 3D modelling. Animation and game designers use it to create digital characters and assets. Filmmakers use it to produce visual effects.
Can you discuss some important types of 3D modelling?
Solid Modelling drafts models with simple shapes such as spheres, cubes and prisms. It suits best for models involving flat surfaces and simple curves of constant radii. It produces mathematically correct final outputs.
Wireframe Modelling stitches the vertices of shapes in a web to make models. Each shape will have three or more vertices. So the web is a network of polygons. The triangle is its smallest polygon. The higher the number of triangles, the closer the 3D model will be to realism.
Surface Modelling follows guiding lines to define the shape and curvature of a 3D part. Software tools estimate the smooth surfaces and connect these guiding lines. Surface modelling handles complex shapes. It can produce visuals impossible to replicate in the real world.
Modellers may convert wireframe models into 3D views and add surfaces. It takes specific modelling operations. For example, Boolean Operations help to combine objects, subtract objects and create intersections. Parametric Modelling is the best fit to create design intent between dimensions, parts and assemblies.
Can you describe the typical workflow of 3D modelling?
In the execution stage, 3D modellers or artists use software to create primitive shapes that conform to the planned design. These shapes may not serve their best interests yet. So they add details to refine the design. And the model so refined will be of high polygon count.
Since high-poly models are unsuitable for animation, modellers do a retopology on them. Retopology means simplifying complex models by reducing their polygon count. Low-poly models will need texturing. Texturing includes applying colours, textures, and material attributes to the surface of the 3D model. Put another way, texturing clothes the 3D model with 2D images called Texture Maps. Modellers consider how lights hitting on the 3D object's surface reflect its colour and surface texture.
What are some 3D modelling terms you need to know?
We note a few essential terms:
- 3D: The three spatial dimensions are width, height and depth.
- Axis of motion: It's the imaginary line an object follows in a 3D space.
- Axis of rotation: It's the line in a 3D space about which an object rotates.
- Beveling: Modifying the edges of the 3D objects under design is beveling. It adds a hint of realism to the models.
- Extrusion: An extrusion tool creates 3D objects by forcing a third dimension on a two-dimensional model.
- Nodes: Nodes in 3D modelling are software functionalities packaged into atomic units. Nodes organized in a 3D environment are called node graphs. Modellers manipulate these node graphs via programmable APIs or visual interfaces by hovering a mouse. For instance, a rotate node produces rotated 3D textures. Similarly, a pattern node mixes patterns to form patterned textures.
- Sculpting: Modellers sculpt objects on a 3D display using software tools. They perform operations such as pushing, pulling, pinching, and grabbing to manipulate shapes.
What are some hardware considerations for 3D modelling?
Due to rendering, not every computer can perform 3D modelling efficiently. Rendering adds specifications and design enhancements to yield presentable finished model. It requires hardware that can handle intense graphics and heavy software applications.
Some general component requirements are:
- Central Processing Unit (CPU): Select multiple cores if you need rendering. A single core would be sufficient if you are happy with 3D modelling alone.
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): It processes graphics and complex calculations. It gives good quality outputs and consumes less processing time. Opt for a GPU that suits you best. Currently, NVIDIA GTX 1060 or higher graphics in the NVIDIA series works best for modelling.
- Random Access Memory (RAM): Ensure you have at least 8GB for smooth operations.
- Hard Disk Storage: Storage capacity will depend on the project size. However, adding a Solid State Device (SSD) storage boosts performance speeds.
Apart from these, a monitor, a computer case, a power supply, cooling systems and other peripherals are essential. If the minimum requirements are not met, your system might work slowly. It may even freeze or crash. Overall, it will hamper productivity and frustrate you.
What are the software applications required for 3D Modelling?
3D modelling involves the following software:
- Platform: We need a browser or an operating system (OS) to run 3D software applications. The OS requirements differ for different file formats and use cases. Most software applications run on top of Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, or Android.
- Specialized Software Applications: For example, Tinkercad, Meshmixer, and SketcUP Free specialize in direct modelling. SculpGL, Leopoly and ZbrushCoreMini are useful for sculpting. Vectary is good for mesh modelling and parametric modelling. Blender specializes in sculpting.
- Extension System: Designers store 3D designs in standard file formats such as STL, IGS and OBJ. Devices compatible with these formats can access the designs.
- Component Library: This feature offers a single source of truth to store and retrieve design components. It lends consistency to designers working on the same project. Design developers who prefer code components to images will find it helpful.
Ivan Sutherland develops and releases the first 3D drawing software called Sketchpad. It runs on a Lincoln TX-2 machine designed in 1956. Sketchpad becomes a pioneering contributor in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) field. It's a forerunner of the CAD software that we use today. It later plays an important role towards the development of Computer Graphics (CG). Graphic designers use sophisticated object-oriented programming (OOP) and Sketchpad to create Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs).
Donald P. Greenberg produces an early, sophisticated CG movie at the General Electric Visual Simulation Laboratory. He calls it Cornell in Perspective. Elsewhere, Dr Patrick J. Hanratty designs and introduces Automated Drafting And Machining (ADAM). It's a CAD software application. His company, Manufacturing and Consulting Services (MCS), supplies CAD software to major companies of the time, such as McDonnell Douglas.
- A23D. 2022. "What is 3D texturing?" A23D. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ali, Aftab. 2022. "Blender: Geometry Nodes – Simply Explained." All3DP, July 13. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- All3DP. 2022. "Top 10: Best 3D Modeling Software of 2022 (Some Are Free)" All3DP, April 04. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Alton, Larry. 2022. "What Kind of Computer Do You Need for 3D Rendering?" IEEE. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Autodesk. 2022a. "3D Modeling Software." Autodesk is a design company, Autodesk. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Autodesk. 2022b. "The New Possible Extended reality: Virtual, augmented, and mixed." Autodesk. Accessed 2022-10-22.
- Badalyan, Peproneh. 2022. "Huge transformations are expected in the 3D modeling industry." InTech.am, July 29. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- BluEntCAD. 2022. "Parametric vs Direct Modeling: Which Should You Choose?" BluEntCAD, February 28. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Boru, Mert. 2015. "3-Bit Node Graph Architecture For Next-Gen Game Development." Mert Boru, March 20. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Cadenas. 2022. "30 years of Cadenas: Software solutions for 3D CAD models in step with the times since 1992." Cadenas, March 03. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Calvello, Mara. 2022. "3D Modeling: How to Grasp the Futuristic Design Concept." G2.com, March 30. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Carlson, Wayne E. 2017. "Computer Graphics and Computer Animation: A Retrospective Overview." Chapter 5: University research labs evolve, 5.1 Cornell and NYIT, The Ohio State University, June 20. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Cho, Yongyeon. 2021. "Tutorials of Visual Graphic Communication Programs for Interior Design." Part One. AutoCAD, Chapter 1. Introduction of AutoCAD Session Objectives, About AutoCAD, Iowa State University Digital Press, January 05. doi: 10.31274/isudp.2020.60. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Clukey, Christine. 2022. "What is the Axis of Rotation?" AllTheScience, September 20. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Cohn, David. 2018. "Autodesk Fusion 360: All-In-One Modeling." Digital Engineering 247, August 01. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Computer History Museum. 2022. "Computerizing Car Design: The DAC-1." Computer History Museum. Accessed 2022-10-22.
- Designblendz Team. 2019. "Design Principles: Essential Elements of 3D Modeling." Designblendz, August 07. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- EPFL Graph. 2022. "Cobalt (CAD program)" EPFL Graph. Updated 2022-06-04. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ekaran, Sammy. 2021. "When Did 3D Modeling Start? A Brief History." SelfCad, May 31. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Ekaran, Sammy. 2022. "How to 3D Model: The Basics of 3D Modeling." All3DP. Updated 2022-08-06. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Erioli, Alessio. 2006. "Architectural Design in the Age of Enhanced Artificiality." Project: Aesthetics of Decision, ResearchGate, April. doi: 10.6092/issn.2036-1602/9323. Accessed 2022-10-22.
- European Society of Cardiology. 2022. "Comparison between 2D and 3D." European Society of Cardiology. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Ex Nihilo Digital. 2022. "How To Bevel Edges in Blender." Ex Nihilo Digital. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Fitzgerald, Ryan. 2018. "What is 3D Modeling?" CG Spectrum, April 10. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Giesecke, Frederick E., Alva Mitchell, Henry C. Spencer, Ivan L. Hill, John T. Dygdon, James E. Novak, R. O. Loving, Shawna E. Lockhart, Cindy Johnson, and Marla Goodman. 2016. "Technical Drawing with Engineering Graphics, 15th Edition." 4.18 Extruded Forms, Peachpit Press., July 08. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Hackmd. 2021. "Understanding the Node-graph." Hackmd. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Haleem, Abid, Mohd Javaid, Ravi Pratap Singh, Shanay Raba, Rajiv Suman, Lalit Kumar, and Ibrahim Haleem Khane. 2022. "Exploring the potential of 3D scanning in Industry 4.0: An overview." Elsevier B.V., August 18. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcce.2022.08.003. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Harvard Library. 2022. "Teaching and Learning with 3D Content." Harvard Library. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Heginbotham, Claire. 2022. "What is 3D Digital Sculpting?" Concept Art Empire. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- History Computer Staff. 2021. "The History of the Sketchpad Computer Program – A Complete Guide." History-Computer, January 04. Updated 2021-11-09. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ikarus 3D. 2021. "Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality." Ikarus 3D, November 25. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ismail, Ali. 2016. "3D (Geometrical) Modeling Fundamentals." Ebal Studios, February 09. Accessed 2022-10-22.
- Kharchenko, Max. 2022. "3D Model Retopology." CGI Furniture. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Lee, Tina. 2022. "A Guide to the Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering." The Academy Of Animated Art, April 26. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Lorusso, Claudia. 2016. "Mindesk: a revolution in the design process." archilovers, August 02. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Luke. 2014. "A Brief History of AutoCAD." Scan2CAD, January 05. Updated 2022-05-20. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- MapSystems. 2022. "Benefits of 3D Modelling." Map Systems. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Nagel, Roger N, Walt W Braithwaite, and Philip R Kennicott. 1980. "Initial Graphics Exchange Specification IGES Version 1.0." Dir 731, NBSIR 80-1978(R), US Department of Commerce, March 21. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Naghdi, Arash, and Payam Adib. 2022. "What is 3D modeling in animation and how should we start the workflow?" Dream Farm Studios. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Oanes, Sam. 2021. "The History of Solidworks." GoEngineer, September 24. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Oritz, Leon. 2020. "The 4 Main Types of 3D Modeling – Simply Explained." All3DP, February 25. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Pelikan Software Kft. 2022. "Boolean 3D Library." Pelikan Software Kft. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Petty, Josh. 2022. "What is 3D Modeling & What’s It Used For?" Concept Art Empire. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Plus Render. 2022. "Geometric Theory 3D Modeling." Plus Render, August 23. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Prescient Technologies. 2022. "Types of Geometric Modeling." Prescient Technologies. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Remondino, Fabio, and Fabio Pianesi. 2006. "Image-based modeling for object and human reconstruction." ResearchGate, January. doi: 10.3929/ethz-a-005211924. Accessed 2022-10-22.
- Riley, Thomas. 2019. "What is 3D Modeling and Design? A Beginners Guide to 3D." MarketScale, September 17. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Roy, Sushmita. 2022. "Popular 3d File Formats Used in Various Industries." ThePro3DStudio. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Sculpteo. 2022. "What is 3D Modeling?" Sculpteo. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Singh, Gurpreet. 2022. "Best 3D Modeling Software - Top 29 Picks for Designers." Pixpa, March 07. Accessed 2022-09-30.
- Slick, Justin. 2020. "59 What Is 3D Modeling?" Lifewire is part of the Dotdash Meredith publishing family., Lifewire, September 24. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Smith, Michael. 2022. "Best 3D Modelling Apps for Android and iPhone." Bollyinside. Updated 2022-08-18. Accessed 2022-09-30.
- Sorted Solution LLC. 2022. "Autodesk." Sorted Solution LLC. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Stiedemann, Giuseppe. 2022. "Computer Specs You Need for 3D Modeling." Morph3D, June 14. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Suescun, Rodolphe. 2022a. "Pattern Node." https://rodzill4.github.io/. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Suescun, Rodolphe. 2022b. "Rotate Node." https://rodzill4.github.io/. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- Take-off Professionals. 2022. "Guide To 3D Modeling." Take-off Professionals. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- Technology Evaluation Centers. 2019. "Top Features & Functions of 3D Modeling Software." Technology Evaluation Centers, February 07. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- The Pinnacle List. 2022. "Explaining 3D Modeling In Architecture." Solespire Media Inc.. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Tyler, Dustin. 2022. "3D Modeling for Games and Animation." Game Designing. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ushakov, Dmitry. 2011. "NURBS and CAD: 30 Years Together." Articles are owned by LEDAS Ltd. A software delivery firm., isicad, December 30. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Ventola, C. Lee. 2014. "Medical Applications for 3D Printing: Current and Projected Uses." 39(10): 704–711., PMCID: PMC4189697,PMID: 25336867, National Library of Medicine, October. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- Waurzyniak, Patrick. 2010. "Masters of Manufacturing: Patrick J. Hanratty." SME, July 01. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- White, Monica. 2022. "Best computer for 3D modeling and rendering 2022." WePC. Updated 2022-02-23. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- XO3D. 2021. "What PC Specs Should You Have for 3D Rendering?" XO3D, June 05. Accessed 2022-10-29.
- https://www.loc.gov. 2022. "Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections." Library of Congress. Updated 2022-01-03. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- lklevenow. 2020. "2D modelling vs. 3D modelling for as-built capture." Laserscanning Europe, July 14. Accessed 2022-10-12.
- www.amcbridge.com. 2019. "CAD-to-AR for Inventor® User Guide." AMC Bridge. Accessed 2022-10-20.
- P, Vardan. 2022. "3D modeling industry forecast: The high demand for cloud solutions will increase." BeeGraphy, February 02. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- Brunelli, Mark. 2017. "Parametric vs. Direct Modeling: Which Side Are You on?" PTC, April 07. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- NCLab Inc.. 2017. "The Art of 3D Modeling – Efficient Boolean Operations." NCLab, March 20. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- Poler Stuff. 2021. "Trends Of The 3d Modeling In 2021." PolerStuff.com, July 30. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- Maksymova, Ira. 2022. "What is a 3D modeler? 3D modeling job description, salary, software." Applet 3D, August 10. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- K, Kailash Kumar. 2022. "3D Modeling : Role in Meta Verse." siliconvalley4u, May 17. Accessed 2022-10-21.
- 3D Scanning
- 3D Texturing
- 3D Rendering
- NURBS Modelling
- 3D Printing