What is 3D Modeling? 

3 dimensional modeling basically refers to the process of developing the mathematical representation of any surface of an object in three dimensions using specialized software.

3D models can be created using 3d softwares. 3d softwares help in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design on a computer system. For example, if one is designing a 3D cube using 3D software, it’s important to first design a sketch. A sketch is a basic outline of what the model is going to look like. One has to know and establish at this stage the length and width of the cube. And since it’s a cube, all dimensions need to be the same. The last step needs one to extrude the sketch to make it a 3D object. Now why and where is 3D modeling used? 3D modeling is used in various fields such as films, animation and gaming, interior designing and architecture. It is also used in the medical industry for the interactive representations of anatomy. In media and event industries, it is used in stage/set design. Apart from these, 3D modeling is used in mechanical and industrial design, where products are 3D modeled and the 3D models (essentially the digital representations of the actual objects) are shown first to clients, after which, subject to approvals, the actual 3D objects are made. 

Types of 3D Modeling

The type of 3D modeling one needs to create a 3D model depends on the 3D object in question. This 3D object could be a animal, a car, fruits and human and even characters from a movie.

1. Parametric modeling

As the name suggests, this type of 3D modeling relies heavily on the object parameters (width, height, breadth, length). It is used to make/ design objects such as a cube, a mount for a motor in a robot or even a car (shown above) or a jet, all of which need to be made as per certain size / parametric specifications. Here the exact measurements take priority in the design process and quick design alterations are possible. This means that parametric modeling is great for design tasks that involve exacting requirements and manufacturing criteria. Hence, it is used in product design and manufacturing and is typically used by industrial  designers. 

For example, when companies are looking to make families of products that have slight variations from a core design, parametric modeling is ideal. If one has to make a mount for a motor, first the motor design is mapped out, followed by that of the mount and then one checks – using the CAD software – if the 3D motor model fits well on the 3D mount model. The advantages of parametric modeling also include: the ability to easily interpret the design intent when a certain element is changed and smooth integration with manufacturing processes, which in turn results in shorter production time. One downside to this method of 3D modeling is that parametric models require more time to update when unexpected design changes occur.

2. Polygonal

This technique of 3D modeling is concept-driven rather than measurement-driven. It’s akin to making something out of clay, where the object depends more on artistic vision than set dimensions. It prioritizes conceptual thinking and feels like sculpting “digital clay”.

It is typically used today in animation and video game industries to create/ design 3D objects such as CGI (computer-generated imagery) movie characters and video game characters (see above). Here measurements don’t take precedence like in the case of parametric modeling, instead it’s more about improvisation. A majority of 3D models today are built as textured polygonal models because they are flexible and because computers can render them quickly.

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