Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Modeling and sculpting objects, part of 3D and Animation Careers: First Steps.
- The first step to building a 3D scene is creating the objects in the scene. This process is called modeling, and it is the foundation on which everything else rests. Modelers are digital sculptors. They spend their time creating wireframe meshes. Wireframes outline a 3D surface that will later be textured, animated and rendered. Models typically start with primitive objects, such as cubes or spheres. Details are added a step at a time, and further refined to create the basic shape of the object.
Polygonal modeling is the most common way to model, and the models are easy to shape and manipulate. This method uses straight lines, called edges, to outline polygons, which define the object's surface. Detail can be added, extruded and changed by the modeler to create any shape desired. When finished, a polygonal model can be smooth using subdivision surfaces. Another form of modeling is called spline modeling. Splines are curves that define the shape of the object.
The most common type of spline is the NURBS curve. While the process is more technical than polygonal modeling, spline-based modeling can create smoother surfaces. A good modeler pays attention to placement of detail. The wires of the model have to follow the natural lines of the object. If the model has to deform, such as a character, the wireframe also has to bend naturally. Fine details can be added using sculpting techniques. Software, such as ZBrush and Mudbox, allow modelers to shape their creations in a highly interactive manner.
A good modeler needs to have a sculptor's eye for shape and form, along with the technical knowledge needed to make the model work in the scene. And remember, 3D scenes begin with a model, so a good model makes for a successful project.