Different 3D Modeling Techniques

By Shaun Bryant

The 3D modeling stage consists of shaping the individual objects that are used in the 3D scene. Numerous modeling techniques exist, including the following:

  • Constructive solid geometry: This is where you create a complex 3D surface or 3D object using Boolean to combine simpler 3D objects together.
  • Implicit surfaces: An implicit model is formed by a continuous, volumetric model, where the volume of the model forms the 3D implicit surface, developed using numerous mathematical algorithms.
  • Subdivision surfaces: In this modeling technique for making high-res models, a lower resolution cage model is subdivided by the modeling software for a smoother 3D surface.

The modeling is performed by means of a dedicated application, such as Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya, or a plug-in component, such as Lofter in 3ds Max.

Sometimes, no defined boundaries exist between the modeling techniques, and they are often used in conjunction with each other as part of the scene-creation process.

Often, complex materials, such as blowing sand, clouds, and liquid sprays, are modeled with particle systems and are a mass of 3D coordinates, which have either points, polygons, texture splats, or sprites assigned to them.

In the mathematical sense, 3D modeling has been around for a long time, but virtual models, where the real world is represented in 3D for you to see on your screen, really kicked in during the late ’90s:

  • Human models: The first available application of human virtual models appeared in 1998 on the Lands’ End clothing website. The models used on the website were created by the company My Virtual Mode, Inc., and enabled users to create a model of themselves and try on 3D clothing. You can use many 3D modeling software applications, such as Poser, to create virtual human models.
  • 3D clothing: Software that simulates cloth and textiles has allowed artists and fashion designers to model dynamic 3D clothing in modelers, such as MarvelousDesigner, CLO3D, and Optitex. Dynamic 3D clothing is often used for virtual fashion catalogs, realistically clothing 3D characters in video games, 3D animated movies, and digital doubles in movies. These 3D modelers are also used for making clothes for avatars in virtual worlds, such as Second Life.

This figure shows a dynamic 3D clothing model made in MarvelousDesigner.

Credit: CGElves/CC by SA 4.0.
3D clothing model made in MarvelousDesigner.