3D Modeling 101: Comprehensive Beginners Guide

Author: Bob Jan 31, 2022 9 min read

3D modeling is a creative, technical, and fascinating process in one bottle. With the goal of helping others to start modeling and take a deeper look at the 3D modeling process, we have created this 3D for beginners guide

Let’s get started step by step. 

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What Is 3D Modeling in a Nutshell?

3D or 3-dimensional modeling means the process of creating animation elements that are as close to real-life as possible since they are created in three dimensions. Compared to 2D, 3D modeling is a more advanced technology that requires using more sophisticated software, along with the knowledge of anatomy, physics, and so on, depending on what is 3D modeling used for


Where Is 3D Modeling Used?

There are a lot of applications of 3D modeling, in addition to cinematography, cartoon production, and game development. For example, 3D modeling is used in engineering and architecture to better represent an object in as much detail as possible. It also can be used in medical modeling, for instance, to showcase how a certain pill affects cells and the human body. 

But the most often-used example of 3-dimensional modeling is marketing and advertising. With the help of 3D technologies, the artists create memorable heroes, telling brand stories, showcase the way a certain product or service works, educate and entertain the viewers by creating engaging videos modern customers are fond of. 


How to Start in Modeling with 3D Technology

The use of 3D animation modeling is on the rise since this approach allows for creating as realistic videos as possible. But how to start modeling and how hard 3D modeling is? Honestly, the 3D modeling process is pretty complex so you have to understand 3D modeling basics first, then choose and try good 3D modeling software for beginners, and only then, come up with your first model. 

Let’s move along this path step by step. 


Computer Requirements for 3D Modeling

The first step in getting started modeling is making sure your hardware is powerful enough to deal with 3D modeling tasks. For beginners modeling, your computer should have a minimum of 8GB RAM, Core i5 or higher, integrated GPU or basic Graphics card, and high-speed internet. 

There are also dedicated tablet PCs for 3D artists and designers. They are developed in such a way to make the process of drawing and modeling as convenient as possible. 


Basic 3D Modeling Terms 

Let’s take a quick look at 3D modeling terminology to get the first idea of how the basics of 3D modeling work

  • Polygon. A polygon is a set of basic geometric figures, which, in turn, consist of straight edges and vertices. 
  • Vertex. This is the tiniest element of a polygon, that is, it is a point in a three-dimensional space. 
  • Edge. This is a point of the polygon surfaces where two polygonal faces intersect. 
  • Mesh. A mesh is a model that consists of vertices, edges, and faces that together define a 3D shape. 
  • Face. A face is a space between three or more edges met together. 


3D Modeling Workflow 

After you have understood and memorized the main 3D modeling terms and definitions, let’s proceed with the basic 3D modeling workflow. 



This stage implies thinking through the objects you want to create, following the logical sequence of a storyline. Also, at this stage, it is necessary to create a storyboard. This is a step-by-step sequence of the images that will become 3D models at one of the following stages, following each other according to the planned script



Next, the process of 3D modeling itself begins. Using specialized software, the artists draw the objects in three dimensions with the goal of animating them at one of the following stages. At this stage, the model can be quite simple. 



To put it simply, texturing means adding a 2D picture to the background of a 3D model or to the model itself you have created at the previous stage. At this step, the object gets its logical environment in case it needs it. 



Next, it is necessary to balance light and shades to create as close-to-real life objects as possible. 


Rigging and Animation

Rigging and animation mean making the model move as it was planned and if needed. Rigging stands for the process of adding a movable skeleton to the model, since animating it becomes impossible without a rig. 



The last stage of the 3D modeling process is adding after-effects and sounds to create even more vivid animation. Our artists also agree that this is the most creative part of the process which can take even more time than all the previous stages of 3D modeling. 


What Can Be Created with 3D?

Indeed, the list of the opportunities 3D modeling can promise can be longer. But generally, there are four essential things to create with this technology. 

  • Hard Surface Modeling. Hard surface modeling stands for the process of animating non-living objects, for example, engineering spare parts with smooth and static surfaces. 
  • Anatomical Modeling. As the name suggests, this is the process of creating a 3D model of a certain organ of a human body or the process taking place in it. 
  • Crowd Generation. Crowd generation means creating as many identical characters or objects as it is necessary to get a complete picture. 
  • Advanced Animations. Since the creative opportunities of 3D are almost unlimited, the artists are free to create animations in a more advanced way, mixing 3D with 2D and live shooting, or creating 360-degrees animations for virtual reality. 


3D Modeling Software Overview

There are a lot of different solutions to use in the process of 3-dimensional modeling. Some of them are better suitable to learn to 3D model, while other applications come with more advanced features. Let’s review the most popular solutions to create well-designed 3D models. 


Best 3D Modeling Software for Beginners

There are two applications that are perfectly suitable to get started with modeling. 

  • Blender. This is a free and open-sourced 3D animation modeling application that covers all the stages of the modeling process. The tool is used frequently in game development, being considered one of the best picks to start modeling
  • SketchUp. SketchUp is a perfect choice for those 3D artists eager to create interiors and exteriors designs in 3D. The solution is largely focused on architecture modeling but it is still intuitive enough to master it without much trouble. 

Advanced 3D Modeling Software

  1. Maya. Maya is advanced 3-dimensional modeling software the possibilities of which go beyond game development. It is one of the top choices for cinematography, architecture, and engineering visualization. 
  2. Houdini. This is a top solution for creating after effects. Despite the seeming simplicity, this process can take even more time than animation modeling itself but Houdini makes it simpler and more enjoyable, providing the creators with tons of effects to add. 
  3. Cinema 4D. Cinema 4D is used for 2D and 3D modeling. The software comes with an ultimate set of features for animation, simulation, and rendering. 
  4. Autodesk 3Ds Max. This application is an industry standard for game development. Still, mastering it will take a lot of time, according to the reviews. 
  5. Zbrush. This is a pretty advanced solution that comes with ultimate features for sculpting and 3D modeling. Most often, this software is used to create high-resolution models, so that’s why Zbrush is a top app for game development and cinema production. 


Skills Required to Become a Professional 3D Modeller

The process of 3D modeling is both technical and creative. So, below is the set of skills you have to master if you want to become a 3D modeler.

  • Photoshop. This is the core software used by designers, 3D artists, and other creative professionals. With the help of Photoshop, you can create 3D models using Photoshop animation’s timeline.
  • 3D Texturing. The skill of 3D texturing is essential as well since this is the way artists add the 2D layer to a 3D model, placing it in an environment. Most of the tools we have mentioned above come with 3D texturing features. 
  • Unity. Unity 3D is another top tool frequently used by 3D professionals and game developers. Consider mastering it in addition to the ones we have listed above since Unity is a kind of classic in 3D modeling.
  • Art direction. 3D modeling and animation are always about art so having an idea of basic art concepts along with creative thinking is a must-have skill of a 3D modeling specialist. 
  • Engineering drawings. Depending on the industry you would like to create 3D models for, the skill of making engineering drawings can also be essential. 


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The Future of 3D Modeling

There are a lot of opportunities 3D modeling can promise already now. In addition to delivering well-developed and visual marketing messages, 3D modeling also prevents businesses from making costly mistakes, for example, in engineering, and architecture. The same technology helps healthcare practitioners better explain the processes taking place in a human body, in response to treatment, for example, within the framework of research and clinical trials.



The path of mastering 3D modeling is unlikely to be too easy. There are a lot of technical features to understand and software to master. However, keep in mind that the process of 3D modeling and animation is still about creativity so the best advice that can be given in this case is to enjoy what you do.

We, at Wow-How Studio, would be glad to support you with our guides, created with the support of our creative department, so discover more articles in our blog right now! 


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