3D versus 2D Modeling Methods

By Shaun Bryant

3D photorealistic effects achieved without wireframe modeling can be hard to distinguish when in their final form. Some of the software available has incredibly sophisticated filters that you can apply to 2D vector graphics or 2D raster graphics on transparent layers, making the finished image look remarkably realistic.

However, wireframe 3D modeling has several advantages over the 2D method:

  • Flexibility: The ability to change angles or animate images with quicker rendering, because a realistic 3D model is already there to be used.
  • Easy rendering: The automatic calculation and rendering is easier as the 3D modeler has built-in algorithms to render realistically rather than mentally visualizing or estimating the rendered image.
  • Accurate photorealism: You have less chance of overdoing, misplacing, or forgetting to include any visual effects.

So, what disadvantages are there to 3D?

  • Software learning curve: Learning 3D software can take longer as 3D modelers tend to be more sophisticated and have more “under the hood.”
  • Difficulty achieving certain photorealistic effects: You can achieve some photorealistic effects with special rendering filters included in the modeling software and specific to a 3D modeler. 3D artists sometimes use a combination of 3D modelers, following that up with 2D editing of the 2D computer-rendered images from the 3D model.

3D modeling makes sense if you’re going to fabricate or manufacture your design. It provides a real-world model that can be viewed from any angle,3D printed in order for it to be visualized for real, and even submitted for nondestructive testing (such as the outer casing for a cell phone such as the iPhone, for example).

2D, on the other hand, is great for conceptual work. There is no need for full visualization because 2D is great for approximating what a model might look like with no need for a full 3D model to be created, thus saving on time, training, and costs.