Almost every 3D software application comes pre-built with a number of different 3D objects that you can use in your scene straight away. If you’ve ever come across any awesome looking 3D model, it most likely started off as a pre-built 3D object (for example, a cube or a sphere). 3D modelers generally use the pre-built 3D objects as a base to mould their epic masterpiece. There are many different types of 3D objects you can work with and use as a starting point to build your own 3D models and renders. The main object types you’ll generally find in many 3D software applications include primitives, curves, metaballs, text, cameras and lights. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
These are the default 3D objects that are preloaded into your 3D application. The most popular types of primitive objects include a cube, sphere, cone, plane, circle and so on. You can choose to add any of these objects and they will appear in your 3D world as an object you can use. This is perhaps the first 3D model anyone creates. Within seconds, you can add a few cool shapes and models in your 3D world. Blender has an extra primitive type. It’s a monkey head. Her name is Suzanne. It’s like the brand mascot for Blender. 3D modelers usually don’t use these primitive models as they are and call themselves modelers. They would extend them and tweak them to their own needs to help them create their target object. The primitive objects are created with vertices, faces and edges.
A curve is used to help create nice curvy-looking objects. You can make curvy roads, pipes, wires, or even a vase. A curve has control points or “handles” that control the curvature and look of the overall curve. The change the look of the curve, you need to grab one of the handles and move, rotate and scale them however you want. Each handle has a line with 2 dots at the end. These are like mini-handles and manipulating these can further control the look of your curve. You can extend a curve, thereby creating more control points if the default isn’t enough. You can subdivide to create new handles between the existing ones to allow more detailed curvature control.
This is a weird way to create interesting forms and shapes. A metaball is a sphere that can “stick” with other metaballs in a funny looking way. They sort of act like jelly. By sticking a bunch of metaballs, you can create some nice jelly-like organic forms. Metaballs can be quite useful to create things like clouds or be used as a basis to create organic models like humans and animals.
This just adds a plain 2D text object to your 3D world. You can modify properties of the text, such as the words you want to display, the font, size, shape and so on. You can later make the text 3-dimensional by adding depth. This is great for things like adding a name to a shop for example, or creating a logo for your personal brand or company.
If you plan on rendering your completed 3D model(s), you would need a camera. It functions similar to a real camera. Point and shoot. In this case, point and render. You can set up some properties for the camera like render size, or if you have a more advanced 3D software, DoF settings, sensor size and so on. The camera can also be animated so this is good if you’re making a movie or creating a flythrough of your 3D model.
These are needed to light up your 3D world. Again, if you plan on rendering your 3D model(s), you need lights or your renders will be pitch black. You can create different types of lights. The default ones usually include a sun lamp, area lamp, point lamp and spotlight lamp. You’ll need to learn good lighting to showcase your models in an appealing eye-catching way. This is out of scope for this book though.
And that’s it! These objects can be optionally mixed and matched together to create nice 3D models and renders.