How to Learn 3D Modeling

by Daniel Ketchum

Three-D animation is one of the fastest-growing areas in the entertainment industry. Every year, more and more 3D (or CGI) movies are produced, and these movies are some of the highest-grossing that Hollywood makes. One of the most important jobs in 3D graphics and animation is 3D modeling. If you would like to learn how to do 3D modeling, there are several steps you can take.

Join some of the sites dedicated to 3D modeling and CGI in general, such Renderosity or 3D Planet. These sites are great places to go for tutorials related to the various subtopics of 3D animation, such as modeling, rigging and rendering. Even if you are going into modeling, understanding the basics of the other areas of 3D animation will make it easier to work with other members of a team on a project. You can also interact with others who are learning 3D modeling or are already highly experienced in one more programs. Don't hesitate to ask questions in the forums.

Download some of the 3D freeware that is available, such as Wings 3D, which is used for making simple 3D models. After learning the basics of modeling, like lofting, box modeling or mesh smoothing, you might want to consider moving up to the freeware Blender package. Although free, Blender has many of the features you normally find only in high end products like Maya or Cinema4D. Its full set of modeling tools allow you to create much more detailed and organic models than are possible in Wings 3D.

Download some of the "learning editions" of professional programs like Maya and Modo, which both have personal learning editions (PLEs). At this point you might also want to invest some money in a video tutorial series such as those produced by These tutorials are created by some of the top names in the industry, and will help you learn how the professionals do 3D modeling.

About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.