Getting Started with 3D is a quick and simple series for new Sketchfab users to explore and learn about the basic principles of 3D. These tutorials will offer a foundation of knowledge about 3D and prepare you to create your own 3D models or scans on software outside of the Sketchfab platform.
Now that you've learned about the basic principles of 3D, let's explore some different options for creating 3D and some free examples of software to make your own!
3D modeling is the process of creating a three-dimensional representation of a surface or object by manipulating polygons, edges, and vertices in simulated 3D space. Like how Adobe Photoshop and MS Paint are software programs used to create 2D art, 3D modeling software allows users to make art that can be explored in three dimensions.
To demonstrate this option, let's dive in and explore the free, open-source 3D modeling software, Blender. We'll be creating a Sketchfab blue monkey head like this:
- Let's get started by downloading the latest version of the Blender software.
- Blender always opens with a default 3D cube. Explore manipulating the cube in 3D space by clicking your middle mouse button.
- If you're using a trackpad on your laptop, you'll need to go to File > User Preferences and under the Input tab, check the "Emulate 3 button mouse" checkbox and click "Save User Settings". Once you do this, you can click the Alt key and drag to move in 3D.
- Now, let's delete that pesky cube. Click it and hit the X key. A Delete menu should show. Click OK.
- Once the scene is empty, find and click the Create tab on the left-side of the Blender program. You'll see a number of Primitive options. Click the Monkey button and a monkey head will appear!
- Let's change the material color. Click the Material icon in the right-side panels and click Add. A number of material options will show up but we just want to click the Diffuse color swatch area and then change the Hex number to a Sketchfab blue - 1CAAD9.
- Once your monkey head is ready, you can upload it directly to Sketchfab using our exporter outlined here: https://sketchfab.com/exporters/blender
Congrats! Your Sketchfab account should now feature a Blender monkey head just like ours above. If you'd like to edit the materials, lighting, or even the background color of your model, check out the guides for 3D Settings.
Like the name suggests, 3D sculpting is the process of manipulating a 3D object as if it was made out of a material similar to clay. You can push, pull, smooth, grab, pinch and edit a 3D object to be whatever you'd like.
To better understand this option, explore Sculptfab.com. It is a free, web-based sculpting tool based on Stéphane Ginier's SculptGL. The best part is you can create a 3D model right in your browser and publish it straight to your Sketchfab account.
Check out this short video for an introduction and tutorial:
Here's an example of what's possible:
Instead of crafting a 3D model by flexing your artistic skills with polygons, you can also create a 3D model by scanning. 3D scanning is the process of using multiple 2D images or photographs to create a smooth 3D model. There are a number of ways to scan a physical object and make a corresponding 3D model, as well as a number of different scanners, ranging from professional-level cameras to your own smartphone.
A great and free example of a 3D scanning application is the iOS app Trnio. Plus Trnio includes native Sketchfab and Facebook sharing. Check out the quick video tutorial below:
If you need further instruction, check out the full Trnio tutorial page.
A voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel, or, a value on a 3D grid. In other words, a voxel is the smallest bit of a 3D object. With a number of voxels, you can create a 3D object. They tend to look like cubes or blocks stacked together, and most often, they resemble 8-bit artwork or video games, like Super Mario.
To experiment with voxels, you can install Magicavoxel free of charge.
To learn some of the Magicavoxel shortcuts and hotkeys, check out the video below: