3D modeling and animations are widely used in several industries including video game development, movies, publishing, architecture, medical science, geology, etc. Various types of 3D modeling techniques have found widespread applications in diverse industries, thereby unlocking numerous design possibilities.

In this article, we have discussed about different types of 3D modeling techniques that are used to create different types of 3D models for diverse purposes. Before we discuss about the techniques, let us first try to understand what 3D modeling is and how it is used in various industries.

What is 3D Modeling?

3D modeling is the process of creating three-dimensional images or graphics for representing real objects and surfaces.

The representation is usually done mathematically by manipulating the points in a virtual space. These points, technically known to be vertices, are used to form a mesh, which gives the shape of an object.

What is 3D Modeling is used for?

3D modeling is used to display conceptual and real-world objects for a variety of domains. A few of its applications are:

Common techniques used in 3D modeling

  • Subdivision/Box modeling

    This box modeling technique is a type of polygonal modeling, in which the artist uses a geometric shape, like a cube, cylinder or sphere, and shapes it until the intended appearance is achieved. The modelers carry out the process in different stages.

    They start with a low-resolution mesh and then refine the shape. Then they divide the mesh further, ensuring that the hard edges are smoothened out and the necessary details are added.

    They repeat the process of refining and subdividing till enough polygonal detail is present in the mesh, which can convey the desired concept. Box modeling is one of the most common polygonal 3D techniques and is used in combination with the edge modeling ones.

  • Contour/Edge modeling

    Edge modeling is another type of polygonal technique, although it is different from box technique. In this process, the modelers develop the model piece by piece, instead of refining a primitive shape.

    This is done by placing the loops of polygons along the outlines and filling the gaps that lie between them. This process is applied as it is difficult to complete certain meshes through the box modeling technique.

    For instance, the human face cannot be completed only through this method. In that case, you can collaborate with one of the reputed modeling companies to get these models designed.

    Experts can help you leverage the potential of 3D modeling technology with dexterity and develop the desired models.

  • Spline/NURBS modeling

    This nurbs modeling techniqueis extensively used in the industrial and automotive industries. A NURBS mesh does not have any edge, face or vertices. These models come with surfaces that can be interpreted smoothly. The modelers can develop the concept by lofting a mesh between the splines.

    NURBS curves are developed using a tool, similar to the pen tool used in Adobe Photoshop or MS Paint. The modelers draw the curve in the 3D space and edit them my moving the control vertices, which is a series of handles. The curves are to be placed along prominent contours and the space between them is automatically interpolated by the 3D modeling programs.

    Alternatively, you can also create a NURBS curve using a profile curve, revolving it around a central axis. This is one of the most extensively used 3D model design techniques used to develop objects such as vases, wine glasses and plates.

  • Sub-division modeling

    Sub-division modeling is created by mixing polygonal and NURBS modeling techniques. In this hybrid process, a polygon model helps in creating 3D models, which are then converted into sub-division models. The artist enjoys control over the refinement of the 3D model in certain areas.

    Besides, you can use diverse software to work on these models. The polygon needs to be subdivided and refined until the details are clear. With greater subdivision, the surface becomes smoother.

  • Digital sculpting

    The tech industry has adopted various 3D modeling processes that they refer to as disruptive technologies. The experts use advanced 3D modeling software to develop these models. The automobile industry has also evolved with these technologies finding their applications in product development and marketing.

    Digital sculpting is a type of disruptive technology and it has leveraged the 3D modeling process to a great extent. The modelers now need not carry out the painstaking constraints of edge flow and topography. This enables them to design different types of 3D models in a way similar to the process of sculpting digital clay.

    Here, the meshes are organically created. A tablet device is used to shape the model, just like a sculptor uses a brush on chunks of clay. With digital sculpting, creature and character sculpting has reached newer levels. The modelers can carry out the process much faster and with greater efficiency. The artists can work with high-resolution meshes containing millions of polygons.

  • Procedural modeling

    Procedural modeling refers to the 3D design process of generating models algorithmically. Unlike other processes, these are not created manually by the artist. In this process, the objects and scenes are developed on the basis of user-defined parameters or rules.

    In various environment modeling packages, the modelers can create entire landscapes by modifying the parameters like elevation range and foliage density. They can also choose from landscapes such as coastal areas, desert or alpine. These 3D modeling methods are also implemented for creating 3D models for games.

    The procedural modeling technique is extensively used in organic objects such as foliage and trees, where the complexity and variations are more infinite. These models are extremely difficult to be drawn by hand. These objects can further be tweaked through various editable settings. For instance, you can change the density of branches, height of tree trunks, and curls and angles, as per your needs.

  • Image-based modeling

    In image-based modeling, 3D objects are derived algorithmically from a set of 2D images that are static in nature. This type of technique is used in cases where the modeler faces budgetary or time restrictions and are not able to develop fully realized 3D images. This is one of the most commonly used techniques in the film industry. Over the years, image-based modeling is increasingly being used in the entertainment industry.

  • Surface modeling

    Surface modeling helps in creating a 3D spline. The process involves the incorporation of a 2D spline, and it is different from NURBS. This method is primarily used to generate organic 3D models in films. It offers a good amount of flexibility to the modelers. They can easily create a 3D representation with various requirements, using curves or surfaces.

  • Boolean modeling

    In this 3D modeling technique, the shape of an object is created with the help of two objects. The geometry is either created by combining two objects or cutting out one from the other. It can be also created with negative intersection space.

    Boolean modeling helps in creating 3D shapes that take time to create with other techniques. For example, bent and circular shapes can be combined with hard-surfaced or square ones to create a new shape. The technique is however not so popular in the entertainment industry.

  • Laser scanning

    Laser scanning was introduced as a 3D modeling method due to the pronounced advancements of this technology. Here, a laser is used to scan a real life object and measure its geometry for creating a 3D model representation.

    The process is easy and quick, and it does not require physical touching of the objects to take the exact measurements. Once the measurements are taken, you can develop a digital model with the help of the 3D imaging software. However, you do need to clean up the geometry before you start using it.

Evidently, advanced 3D modeling techniques are being used in various industries, and companies are collaborating with reputed service providers for dedicated support. In case you need 3D modeling services, reach out to us with your requirements.

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