3D Modeling: An Overview on Various Techniques


3D Design Tips & Resources



Currently, 3D modeling and animations are getting used in various industries such as video games, movies, advertising, architecture, medical science, geology and much more. 3D modeling is the creation of 3D objects and characters to be used in images or videos, where it is mathematically and physically represented in three dimensions. Here, we will come together to know about the different types of 3D modeling. At the end remember that developing these techniques to each the desired output is a call for creativity and an advanced knowledge and practicing on software.

Subdivision/Box modeling

Subdivision/Box modeling

This is a type of polygon modeling, where the artist uses a geometric shape, such as a cube, cylinder or sphere and shapes it until the desired object is achieved. Box modeling process is passing by different stages. it starts with a low-resolution shape and then refines it. Then they sub-divide the mesh as needed to ensure that the hard edges are smoothed out and add the necessary detail. They repeat the steps of refining and subdividing, until polygonal detail is shown in the mesh, that can present the desired outcome. Box modeling is the most common modeling techniques and is used in most of 3D software.

Contour/Edge modeling

Contour/Edge modeling

Edge modeling is another popular type of polygon modeling technique, however it is different from subdivision modeling. In this technique, the modeler develop the model polygon by polygon which is the smallest part of the object, instead of refining a shape. This is done by extending the edges of polygons along the outlines and filling the gaps between them. This technique might be preferred to some modelers as they can control the polygons that they only created. Different than the box modeling as some polygons won’t be ready yet or not in place. this technique is used mainly for character design and automotive.

Spline/NURBS modeling

Spline/NURBS modeling

This type of modeling technique is mostly used in industrial modeling and simple shapes processes. A NURBS mesh does not contain any edge, face or vertices. These models come with surfaces that can be adjusted smoothly. The modelers can get the shape by lofting a mesh between splines. NURBS splines are created using a tool similar to the pen tool used in Adobe Photoshop or illustrator. The modelers draw the spline or the curve in the 3D space and edit it by moving the control vertices/points which is a series of handles. you can also create a NURBS shape using a profile spline, revolving it around a center axis. This is one of the most used 3D design techniques used to create objects like vases and glasses or bottles.

Digital sculpting

Digital sculpting

Like you were playing with clay in your childhood, the digital sculpting is the same concept. This technique is widely used for a very detailed character design. To achieve this highly detailed creature look you might see in the animation movies or the professional designers portfolios, you need to practice on using a brush tool to sculpt this digital clay in the 3D space. Unlike the other types of modeling this technique might require a graphic tablet device to shape the desired model with higher efficiency and in a very smooth workflow.

However you have to pay attention that higher details might result to millions of polygons which you can’t achieve in other type of modeling techniques but it require an advanced specification of your PC/laptop to handle this process.

Procedural modeling

Procedural modeling

This modeling technique aren’t human generator but you can add some parameters to a software or a plugin and it will take care of the rest for you using some algorithms at the back. you can create a whole landscape or a highly detailed trees with different looks through the modeling packing you downloaded in few minutes by selecting some parameters that already introduced in the software/plugin interface.

Some developers will provide 3D designers with some package or plugins to use through their design to accelerate their organic and complicated scenes especially for environmental scenes in games or architectural designs.

let’s imagine that you have a software which you select the density of leaves and size or branches and height of tree and the width of trunk and some other specifications like angels and curl and you click one button to find your desired 3D object in front of you. So this kind of technique will save more time and power of modeling this objects step by step which might take hours and hours and will be hard to control at the end.

Image-based modeling


In this type of modeling the objects are created algorithmic from some 2D static images. This technique of modeling can be used when you face some restrictions on time or budget. But remember that you won’t be able to create the whole 3D world from this image. This technique is mostly used for movies industry which they want to obtain tons of details in the background in no time.

3D Scanning


Recently the 3D industry becomes able to create a full detailed and complicated 3D object from a life objects such as statues, vehicles or even a human. all you need to do is install some 3D scan software on your PC or mobile phone and take several photos from every angel possible then let this software do its magic. the output of this process will depend on the quality of your camera and the quality of your images and the number of images as well. Also you might need to refine the object after scan to reach the exact model you wanted.

Leave a comment


  • Gaurav Verma

    March 23, 2020 , 11:51 am / reply

    CG industry is very intersting. I am alredy struggling to get my dream job in CG . But still i love the CG and explore new tips and tricks about CG
    • osmanassem

      March 23, 2020 , 6:39 pm / reply

      Good luck. My dear is to keep studying and practicing and you will be better in CG the more you practice.