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Creating at Cline Library

Your complete how-to guide for enjoying the Cline Library's MakerLab and multimedia Studios.

3D Design

Stanford Bunny 3D model example

3D Design (or 3D modeling) is the process of using computer software to create a mathematical representation of a three-dimensional object or shape. The resulting object is called a 3D model. 3D models can also be displayed as two-dimensional images in games and media through a process called 3D rendering or physically created using a 3D printer that form 2D layers of the model with three-dimensional material.

Three-dimensional (3D) models represent a physical body using a collection of points in 3D space, connected by various geometric entities such as triangles, lines, curved surfaces, etc. Being a collection of data (points and other information), 3D models can be created manually, algorithmically (procedural modeling), or by scanning. Their surfaces may be further defined with texture mapping.

3D Design Processes

There are a number of different processes that can be used to create 3D models:

  • Polygonal modeling – Points in 3D space, called vertices, are connected by line segments to form a polygon mesh. The vast majority of 3D models today are built as textured polygonal models, because they are flexible and because computers can render them so quickly. 
  • Curve modeling – Surfaces are defined by curves, which are influenced by weighted control points. The curve follows the points. Increasing the weight for a point will pull the curve closer to that point. 
  • Digital sculpting – Still a fairly new method of modeling, 3D sculpting has become very popular in the few years it has been around. Digital sculpting methods allow for very artistic exploration as the model will have a new topology created over it once the models form and possibly details have been sculpted. 

3D Design Repositories

Don't want to design or scan your own 3D model? No problem! There are a number of free and paid online repositories for pre-made 3D models that you can download for 3D printing. We recommend the following:

3D Design Software

If you're a bit more tech-savvy and want to design your own 3D model from scratch, the Cline Library MakerLab's two PC workstations offer a number of CAD software programs (Computer Aided Design) that you can use to design 3D models for 3D printing: