What you need to get started with 3D modeling and design
Whether you consider 3D modeling a new hobby, have discovered its potential value and want to add the process to your business workflow, or are simply trying to learn a new skill, there is has a few things you’ll need before you start.
In this article, we highlight the tools, software, and technology you need to get started with 3D modeling. Additionally, we’ll cover the educational and/or on-the-job training required to bring your modeling skills to the level of an effective full-time 3D modeler.
No matter your end use, budget, or goal for 3D modeling, after reading this you’ll have a better idea of where and how to start.
But first, a brief explanation of what it is and some of the potential uses of 3D modeling.
What is 3D modeling?
3D modeling is the creation of a three-dimensional object inside simulation software. The object can be created from simple shapes to complex high polygon models. A polygon is a triangle, and it takes several triangles to make a circle or a complex object.
Often, and depending on the modeling format you are trying to achieve, real world objects are scanned into software via a 3D scanning device; then these objects are used as digital tracing paper to create the final model using the same process mentioned above. Once created, these objects can be scaled and manipulated as they see fit.
Uses for 3D modeling
Some of the industries where 3D is heavily used, to name a few:
- Cinema/Television – Used to create characters, objects, environments, animations and CGI titles for movies and commercials
- Video game development – Used to create the entire 3D visual component of the game, with many aspects of the animation being the same process used in film/TV.
- Architecture- Used to create interactive renderings of buildings and structures; the vast majority of all architectural elements are created via 3D CAD modeling for actual construction.
- Engineering – Creation of scaled designs to be produced later in a CNC environment and/or via a more manual manufacturing method.
Although these industries are some of the most common users of 3D, a use for 3D modeling can be found in almost every industry.
Now let’s get to what you need to get started.
An often overlooked aspect of 3D modeling is the computer you are using. A regular computer may not be able to handle the processing power needed to run 3D software. Computing power is the basis for the ability to efficiently model high polygon models and scenes within the platform.
A robust GPU, processor, and memory, along with adequate storage space and system architecture are key factors for the system to perform its tasks – factors that significantly increase the cost of the required computer compared to that of a high-end workstation or gaming system.
Of course, the computer you choose will depend on your end use – one can start the process and find the limits of their system by using it. If you work with large files (and lots of them), you might want to consider upgrading. Only you know the answer. However, at the MINIMUM, your computer should have the following specs to effectively handle the 3D modeling task:
|Operating system||Windows 8/Windows 10 64 bit or above|
|Processor||Multi-Core, Intel or AMD, minimum 64-bit|
|RAM||16 GB minimum|
|Disk space||500 GB minimum – 1 TB recommended|
Choice of 3D software
Now that you have a computer capable of working with 3D software, it’s time to choose the 3D design software that’s right for you. Depending on your budget, you have several options to choose from. If you’re an individual or business looking to dive headfirst into the 3D space – perhaps you’re considering hiring an experienced 3D designer or already have one on staff – we’ll recommend options for you. more advanced. However, if you are a beginner who has just learned the techniques of 3D, there are also many free and inexpensive options available.
Your choice of software depends on the end use of the files you create. Each software has different basic features and purposes. Broadly speaking, 3D software usually falls into one of two categories: engineering or artistic. We’ll highlight two common 3D software programs that each focus on one of these two categories. For a large and comprehensive list of 3D software, check out the list at all3dp.com.
Autodesk 3Ds Max – Artistic
This 3D modeling software is an industry standard in creating film, television and video game productions. 3Ds Max is powerful software offering features like 3D modeling, texturing and effects, 3D animations and dynamics, and 3D rendering. Plans for 3Ds Max start at around $1,500/year. And if you are a student or a teacher, you might even be able to get the software for free.
SOLIDWORKS – Engineering
SOLIDWORKS is comprehensive 3D software that helps streamline product development and manufacturing. The software is versatile and offers users from a myriad of industries the ability to design entire projects, from buildings to machinery, and simulate product functionality inside the software. Pricing for SOLIDWORKS starts at $3,995 for a perpetual license or $1,295 for an annual subscription.
A cloud-based software provided by Autodesk and completely free, Tinkercad offers users an easy way to get started…well, tinker in 3D space. Tinkercad software lets you create and combine basic objects into almost any final shape you can imagine, while also giving users the ability to 3D print their creations. Overall, if you’re completely new to 3D, Tinkercad is a great tool to help shorten your learning curve.
Blender is an open-source 3D suite that offers users free downloadable software. The platform offers a wide range of 3D features (modeling, sculpting, animation, rendering, etc.), all for free. Whether you’re a 3D beginner, a budding intermediate, or a seasoned professional, Blender has something for everyone.
Most advanced or professional modelers have a four-year degree from an art institute or traditional university, and will then do an internship or apprenticeship with a company or artist for a few years to get the training on the heap and the know-how needed to turn it into a career opportunity.
That doesn’t mean you can’t teach yourself. Several members of our design team do not have a college degree in the specialty, but have spent the past seventeen years or more honing their skills and have worked on several commercial media productions.
There is a wide range of training materials one can watch and use to begin the learning process and start enjoying the creative aspects of 3D modeling.
For modeling and creating engineering-based products, most, if not all, have an eight-year engineering degree, a prerequisite for getting a job as an engineer. So this level of modeling is generally not self-taught.
Transhield and 3D modeling
Transhield uses 3D modeling to create its unique equipment coatings. As explained in this short podcast, prior to 3D modeling, Transhield designers had to rely solely on measurements taken by hand, a laborious and time-consuming process.
Today, Transhield engineers use 3D scanning technology to create custom coverage to fit the largest and most unique objects and equipment, resulting in precise and superior protection through advanced technology. which saves time and money.
Are you interested in knowing more? Visit their website and click Our Solutions to see how different industries (marine, industrial, wind energy, aviation, HVAC) partner with Transhield to protect their most valuable assets.