• Blog
  • Insight
  • The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling: 10 tips from industry professionals
16 Mar 2023

The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling: 10 tips from industry professionals

Featured post

Welcome back to “The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling” series! Over the past few weeks we went on a journey with you to figure out what are the most important basics of 3D modeling for a new designer to learn in order to kickstart their modeling career. In Part 1 of the series we went through the building blocks that create every 3D model and the basic techniques of mesh manipulation, whereas in Part 2 we introduced you to different topology issues new modelers face as well as the main types of materials you will be using as a designer throughout your career. In this third and final part of the series we will be sharing valuable insight and tips from 3D professionals here at CGTrader that will help you master your first steps and hope to accompany you in this adventure called 3D modeling.

Without further ado let us proceed to the list!

1. Practice with basic shapes

When it comes to 3D modeling, it is important to start with a strong foundation of a basic set of skills. One of the best ways to build these skills is by practicing with basic shapes like cubes, spheres and cylinders. By starting with basic shapes, you can focus on learning essential techniques such as extruding, scaling and rotating. These techniques are the fundamentals of more complex modeling and are essential to creating accurate and well-structured models. It’s noteworthy that even experienced 3D modelers still use basic shapes as part of their workflows, mainly as placeholders or guides when building more complex scenes. By developing a strong foundation with basic shapes you will be better prepared for more advanced modeling tasks in the future.

2. Reference images are your friends

When creating a 3D model, reference images are a crucial resource to have. They provide you with a visual reference to guide your modeling process and help you to create accurate and detailed models. Without reference images, it can be difficult to accurately recreate real-world objects, characters, or environments in 3D space.

When collecting reference images, it’s important to gather a variety of images from different angles and perspectives. This will give you a better understanding of the object you are modeling and how it looks in different lighting conditions and environments. Reference images can be found in many different forms, including photographs, drawings, and 3D scans. You can also take your own photographs or create your own sketches to use as reference images.

3. Pay attention to topology

Topology plays a crucial role in creating high-quality 3D models. It refers to the way that polygons are arranged in your model and determines how the model will look and behave when animated or rendered. Good topology ensures that your models are smooth, accurate and visually appealing.

Learning about topology can seem daunting at first, but it’s essential for any 3D modeler. It involves understanding concepts such as edge loops, quads, and triangles, as well as learning how to create models with good flow and structure. Practice creating models with good topology, and learn from experienced modelers who can provide feedback on your work. With time and practice, you’ll become more proficient at creating models with clean and efficient topology and your 3D models will be of a higher quality as a result.

4. Don’t neglect lighting and materials

Lighting and materials are critical components of creating a believable 3D model. Lighting can greatly affect the mood and atmosphere of your scene and can make your model look more realistic. Materials determine the way that light interacts with the surfaces of your model and can greatly affect how it looks and behaves.

To create realistic lighting and materials, it’s important to take the time to learn about different lighting techniques and material properties. Experiment with different settings and see how they affect the look and feel of your model. Pay attention to details such as shadows, reflections and textures as these can greatly enhance the realism of your models.

5. Use the right software

Choosing the right 3D modeling software is essential for achieving success as a 3D modeler. There are many different software options available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to research and evaluate different software options to determine which one best fits your needs and goals as a modeler. Make sure to read our blog post on the most popular 3D software for 2023 to learn more on the current software trends.

Once you’ve chosen a software, it’s important to learn it inside and out. Familiarize yourself with the user interface, tools and features of the software, and practice using them to create models. Take advantage of online tutorials, forums, and communities to learn more about the software and get feedback on your work. With time and practice, you’ll become more proficient with your chosen software, allowing you to create higher quality and more complex models.

6. Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a powerful tool for increasing productivity and efficiency when creating 3D models. By using shortcuts instead of clicking through menus and options, you can save time and streamline your workflow. Learning the shortcuts for the software you are using can greatly improve your speed and proficiency as a 3D modeler.

To learn keyboard shortcuts, take the time to familiarize yourself with the software’s interface and tools. Many software programs have built-in tutorials and documentation that can help you learn the shortcuts. You can also find online resources such as cheat sheets and video tutorials that demonstrate how to use shortcuts effectively. Practice using the shortcuts as often as possible until they become second nature. By mastering keyboard shortcuts, you’ll be able to work faster and more efficiently, allowing you to focus on creating high-quality models.

7. Learn from tutorials

Online tutorials are an excellent resource for improving your skills as a 3D modeler. There are countless tutorials available on a wide range of topics, from beginner-level tutorials on basic modeling techniques to more advanced tutorials on complex modeling and animation. By following tutorials, you can learn new techniques, improve your workflow and gain a better understanding of the software you are using.

To make the most of tutorials, it’s important to choose tutorials that are relevant to your skill level and interests. Look for tutorials that cover topics you are interested in and that are presented in a clear and concise manner. Take the time to follow along with the tutorial step-by-step, practicing the techniques as you go. If you have questions or encounter issues along the way, don’t be afraid to ask for help in online forums or communities. With time and practice, you can use tutorials to enhance your skills as a 3D modeler and create more sophisticated and visually stunning models.

8. Study real-life objects

Studying real-life objects is an excellent way to improve your 3D modeling skills. By examining real objects closely, you can gain a better understanding of their shapes, forms, and structures. This understanding can then be applied to your 3D modeling work, allowing you to create more realistic and accurate models.

To study real-life objects, take the time to examine them closely, paying attention to their details and construction. Take photographs or make sketches of the object from different angles and use these as reference images when creating your 3D model. Try to replicate the object as closely as possible, using the techniques and tools you have learned through tutorials and practice.

9. Don’t rush the modeling process

When it comes to 3D modeling, it’s important not to rush the process. Taking your time and working deliberately can help you avoid mistakes and ensure that your models are accurate and visually compelling. If you rush through the modeling process, you may miss important details or overlook errors, leading to a model that doesn’t meet your expectations.

To avoid rushing the modeling process, take breaks often and come back to your model with fresh eyes. This can help you maintain focus and concentration, allowing you to work more efficiently and effectively. If you feel yourself getting frustrated or stuck, take a break and come back to your model later. This can help you approach the problem with a fresh perspective and find new solutions.

10. Practice, practice, practice!

Practice is essential for learning and improving your 3D modeling skills. By practicing regularly, you can gain a better understanding of the software and develop the skills necessary to create complex and detailed models. This can help you refine your artistic vision and create models that are both accurate and visually compelling.

Setting aside time every day to practice and experiment with different techniques is an excellent way to develop your skills. Consistent practice can help you overcome challenges and learn new approaches to modeling. It can also help you maintain your focus and motivation, allowing you to stay engaged and committed to your artistic vision. With dedicated practice and perseverance, you can become a skilled and successful 3D modeler.

Bonus: Have fun!

Having fun is an essential part of 3D modeling. This creative process can be both challenging and rewarding, and it’s important to enjoy every step of the journey. When you have fun with your modeling, you’re more likely to stay motivated and inspired, allowing you to produce your best work.

In addition, having fun can help you approach modeling with a sense of playfulness and experimentation. This can lead to innovative and unexpected solutions that can enhance your models and help you develop your skills. By embracing a playful and curious mindset, you can explore new techniques and ideas that can help you take your modeling to the next level.

Finally, having fun can help you stay engaged and passionate about your work. When you enjoy what you do, you’re more likely to put in the time and effort required to create high-quality models. This can help you build a successful career as a 3D modeler or simply enjoy the process of creating beautiful and engaging models as a hobby. Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey - it’s one of the most important aspects of 3D modeling.

Thank you for being with us for the whole “The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling” series, a collective of guides and articles tailored to the newcomer and beginner 3D modeler. Ultimately, we would like to encourage everyone interested in the 3D modeling space to go ahead and begin their journey. We promise the outcome will be rewarding, full of new and exciting opportunities as well as full of creativity. 3D modeling can be hard and frustrating, but it is a great means of expression and a valuable resource in the modern digital age.

We hope you found our guides helpful and we wish you the best in your modeling career. Feel free to explore more of our guides like this one. Turning your Passion for 3D Modeling into a Business with CGTrader is a great read for anyone interested in escalating their career and transforming from a student into a full blown professional creator!

From all of us, happy modeling!