4.1 - 3D Modeling

3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical representation of an object. The result is a 3D model which can be used for rendering 3D scenes or to prototype newly designed widgets. Creating 3D models is an art that requires extensive training. In the movie and game industries people often become experts at 3D modeling and that is their sole job. The next time you watch a movie that contains special effects using CGI, notice the number of modelers that are listed in the credits at the end of the film.

Note these characteristics of 3D models:

Modeling Software

There are many software applications designed to help a modeler create 3D models. Here is a partial list. Commercial modeling software can be very expensive. For example, a single license for CATIA is $65,000 with an annual maintenance fee of 18% (1). We will use Blender for these tutorials, which is a free, open source modeling and animation program.


3D model
a mathematical representation of an object.
a flat area enclosed by a set of connected edges.
polygonal mesh
a group of polygons that define the surfaces of an object.
triangular mesh
a group of triangles that define the surfaces of an object.
modeling software
a software program that facilitates the creation of 3D models.
a person who creates 3D models.
an open source, free modeling and animation tool.
Next Section - 4.2 - Blender