We come across different 3D digital models every day. But until we are familiar with this industry, we may not have any idea of the types and processes of manufacturing and the different stages of their production. In this article, we will briefly introduce the types of 3D models as well as the steps that the 3D designer goes through for modeling.

3D modeling process

This process consists of 3 mandatory steps and 2 optional steps. That is, the 3D designer must go through the 3 steps introduced below, but it is not necessary to do the 2 optional steps in every project.

1. Concept art

Before you start building any real 3D models, it’s best to have a solid foundation in place. At this stage, conceptual art or concept art enters. Conceptual art is a visual representation that conveys a particular story or point of view. And it is a plan that is used as a guide map to start building the model. At this stage, different ideas are reviewed and after approval, they move on to the next stage.

The preliminary design (concept art) stages vary depending on the studio and the person making the model. But in general, it starts with small sketches and over time increases in detail, leading to the final concept art design.

2. Modeling and sculpting

After the final concept art is approved and the exact needs of the model are known, it is possible to start building the actual 3D model. There are two main methods for making a 3D model: poly modeling and sculpting.

  • In poly modeling, the designer starts by creating an initial shape and after extruding and changing the structure in the desired areas, he turns it into the final shape.
  • Sculpting is a more organic way to build the base; Like sculpting with clay digitally. The beginning of the work is the design of a basic foundation, which is created by changing its structure and geometry.

It is also possible to combine these two methods. Using the poly modeling method, he created the basic form and then added fine details to the model using the sculpting method.

UV mapping

After sculpting the model, UVs need to be adjusted. UV mapping is a process that creates 2D maps by receiving 3D models. Imagine opening a cube and placing all its faces on a flat table. This example is an interpretation of UV mapping.

3. Texture (add surface detail)

After preparing the model and mapping with UV, it’s time to add textures. Performing this step will add more details to the surface of the model and use different colors to complete it. This process includes different layers and adding effects to achieve the desired result.

This step requires precise settings and trial and error. An artist skilled in this field can add more depth to the model. Blender software, which is one of the best and most powerful 3D design software, has complete tools for texturing models.

2 optional steps in 3D modeling

By now, the 3D designer should have a complete model. If you want to animate your model, you must bone the model first.

1. Rigging

In this step, it’s as if you give your model a bone structure, which causes it to move. This technical process is very complex and a good bone structure makes the animation movements of the 3D model more realistic and natural. Accurate bone structure allows the 3D designer to control the model’s movements more. For example, the use of bone structure in the face, although very complex; enables more changes in the expression of emotions through the model’s face.

2. Animation

After creating the bone structure, the model can be animated. At this stage, there are different methods to create animation. For example, Motion Capture technology uses motion imaging to create animation. In this method, a person wears a special motion capture suit attached to the model and performs programmed movements. These movements are transferred to the model. Of course, it should be noted that the movements obtained by the Motion Capture method cannot be used without checking and corrections.

Another way to create animation is to use the time-consuming Keyframe method. In this method, the movements of the model are determined manually at different periods.

Some types of 3D modeling

1. Solid Modeling

Solid modeling means three-dimensional designs that, in addition to the massive surface, have depth and sexuality like the surface. For example, if we cut a piece of wood in the form of a triangle and cut it in half, the outside and inside of the wood are the same. Designs executed in the style of Solid modeling also have such conditions. That is, in addition to being clear about the material and shape of the surface of the design, its depth and interior also have material and shape.

This method is mostly used to design objects such as gears, pipes, etc. in the industry. Tinkercad and FreeCAD programs are suitable for initial design using this method. For advanced designs, it is better to use programs such as SketchUp, SolidWorks, and Autodesk Fusion 360. Using these programs, you can create more complex designs and display them in 3D accurately with internal materials and shapes.

2. Wireframe Modeling

An example of a 3D design designed by Wireframe Modeling is a cube painting. In Wireframe-style modeling, we are faced with an object that gains volume by connecting the points next to each other. Wireframe Modeling creates the initial model of 3D shapes whose surface is supposed to be covered with different materials.

Various industries such as steel or aircraft manufacturing use this type of modeling to create a 3D image of the objects they intend to produce. Not an image where the design surface has material or color, but a model made using wire.

There are various programs to implement designs using the Wireframe Modeling method, the most famous of which are Blender, Autodesk Maya, 3DS Max, and Cinema 4D. Using these programs, you design more complex 3D models and get a 3D image of the final shape by adding internal details and covering the surface with different materials and colors.

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