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What is 3D Modeling ?

3D modeling is equal parts math, geometry, and design. Using specialized software, 3D modeling generates files that are essentially instructions for 3D printers. Like a sculptor, architect, or builder, modeling demonstrates how an object or building will be constructed. If a blueprint is a 2D representation of a building, a model is its 3D representation, giving a mathematical description of the surface of that object.

With programs like Rhinoceros, Blender3D, SketchUp or ZBrush, 3D designers can create files that represent points in space, with plenty of geometry like triangles, polygons, and curves to tie the points together into a three-dimensional object.

There are two main types of 3D models: computer-aided design (CAD) models, and 3D mesh models, which define the shape and surface. A CAD model can be thought of more like a set of steps for creating the object, which can be tweaked along the way without rewriting the entire file. A mesh is more a representation of how the object’s surface will look, named for its appearance that resembles mesh wrapped around an object.

How Is 3D Modeling Different from 3D Graphics and Rendering?

Essentially, the end result is what makes the two different. In 3D graphics, the result is a 2D rendering of a 3D image or animation, like a photo of an object. In 3D modeling, however, it’s a technical file that can then be used as instructions to create a tangible object.

If you want to describe how an object will be built, you’d use 3D modeling. If you want to see how it will look once it’s built, you’d use 3D rendering.

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