What is 3D modelling and how is it used?

Using computer software a 3D modeler creates a 3D version of a product that already exists or that it is to be created. There are multiple ways to do this as every application has its own best practice system. A 3D model for a computer game is built differently than a Skyscraper or a bridge. 3D models have a very broad range of applications, from large construction projects to Hollywood movies, and from Google maps to mobile games. And also in product visualization.

How do we do it?

There are various 3D model software options, but at Polyvorm we chose to use 3DS MAX because of its versatility and precision capability. In 3DS Max, models are created by manipulating polygons that are made up of small planes which form a surface. Vorm means ‘shape’ in Dutch, so you can see how we chose our name to represent the importance of the polygon in our work. 

You can compare the process to construction with lego and sculpting clay. Just like lego, you can add blocks to your 3D model, and like sculpting clay you can shape these blocks to your liking.

We start with a basic 3D shape, known in the industry as a ‘primitive’: a simple cube, sphere, cylinder, or another basic 3D shape. These 3D shapes are all made up of polygons, and we can manipulate individual polygons, or the whole shape using a range of techniques to stretch, squeeze and sculpt to gradually bring out the 3D vision from the primitive.

We manipulate the polygons using ‘modifiers’ which are a collection of varied actions that can be applied. A modifier could be a chamfer that is added to the edges of a shape. One of the most used modifiers is the ‘turbosmooth’ that divides all of the polygons in the whole shape into four making the whole shape higher definition. So, if a circle has sixteen sections, we apply turbosmooth, to give it now sixty-four, which makes it look rounder, and also allows us to sculpt in finer detail. 

Real-world details

But how do we make a 3D creation look real? There are multiple factors that come into play, but one thing that often makes or breaks a 3D model is our attention to small real-world detailing, such as welds, gaps, folds or other phenomena that we usually wouldn’t notice… until they are not there, which is when we get that feeling that something isn’t real, but we can’t explain why. Every tiny detail, every scratch or mark, happens naturally, even before a product leaves the factory. In our 3D world, all of those details are carefully thought out and applied to the 3D model. Enter the world of 3D visualization, and your perspective in the actual world will also change.

Polygon vs CAD

We work in 3DS Max, which is a polygon software tool. CAD models are excellent templates and simulators for real-world scenarios such as construction or production, whereas Polygon is more focused on visual appearance and efficient Realtime use, for example in augmented reality games. 

Small errors occur through the conversion from CAD to Polygon, like gaps, holes, and parts that don’t fit nicely. These become deep issues as the modeling process advances.The conversion process is like a lottery- sometimes you get a good model out of it. Most of the time you dont, and we find that  we cannot do essential work on them, for example fine tuning edges, adding welds or stitching, and other small details that make a 3D image look real. 

Although most product design and production processes use CAD models extensively, they are not the solution to everything. We can use them as a reference but to get the best results in 3D visualisation we need to remodel all objects using Polygon.