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Introduction to 3D Modelling

The term "3D modelling" describes the process of creating three-dimensional virtual objects using computing technology. In essence, a user engaged in 3D modelling sculpts objects on-screen using a mouse and keyboard as hammer and chisel, and software tools called NURBS, splines, polygons, and metaballs as the raw material of the sculpture.

This process is extremely important in professional fields like industrial, automotive, or architectural design, where 3D models often serve as prototypes for real-world products like chairs, vehicles, and buildings. In other situations, such as in some scientific applications, 3D models must be completely accurate replicas of existing physical objects. Data for these kinds of models can be obtained from 3D-imaging technologies ranging from photogrammetry to 3D scanners.

Models can be extremely complex and detailed, depending on the amount of data (and work) that goes into them. They can be made more realistic using techniques known as rendering and texturing, which add lighting effects and surface detail. In industrial settings, these techniques are used primarily to better illustrate what the real-world products will ultimately look like. In fields like computer animation, however, where virtual objects themselves are the final products, rendering and texturing become more important.

As a final introductory note, newcomers to 3D modelling should be aware that many different file formats are used by modelling software packages. However, models intended for 3D printing with AICT should be converted to either the STL or VRML file formats. Please note that those wishing their models printed in colour must convert their files to VRML.

To continue through the AICT 3D modelling pages, navigate using the sidebar menu to the right. These pages will introduce you to many important tools and concepts of 3D modelling, and include a walkthrough of the modelling process to help you begin creating models of your own.

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions about our 3D modelling pages, please write to

Revised: January 6, 2010

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  3D Modelling Help Pages
  Software packages
  General Modelling Methods
  An Example: Modeling a Guitar

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