A good topology uses only the number of shapes necessary for a 3D configurator project.

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When you learn to create 2D representations of 3D objects on the screen, think of the 3D topology as a wireframe of an object. The wireframe, which is called “mesh” in 3D software, consists of a hundred or a thousand simple geometric shapes. The term “topology” refers to the geometric surface properties of the mesh. Each geometric surface on the mesh is a “surface”. The wireframe is the basis of 3D modeling, which eventually leads to three-dimensional digital animations.

Wireframe properties of a good topology.

A wireframe contains many polygons, nodes (the point where three or more edges meet), edges that are lines consisting of two nodes, arcs, curves, and circles that all form surfaces in the wireframe design. In computer-generated 3D topology, the goal is to have enough details in the wireframe while keeping the number of surfaces as small as possible to accomplish the task. In areas where the 3D model is intended to be bent or moved, the number of polygons is usually increased to allow distortion-free movement. Elsewhere, fewer polygons are required. This is an important concept when modeling 3D animations. The enlarged polygonal surfaces in areas of a 3D model that experience the greatest deformation during animation, such as joints, facial features, and moving parts, are important for realistic motion.

3D modelers strive for a clean topology, typically illustrated by a 3D mesh with efficient polygon distribution, the correct placement of edge loops, and clean, precise wrinkles that minimize strain and deformation.

Tips for beginners on topology and 3D modeling.

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Topology is a big topic, but beginners of 3D models can benefit from a few tips:

  • Use four-sided polygons freely, but avoid N-gons that have five or more sides.
  • Use triangles sparingly unless the software you use welcomes triangle meshes.
  • Avoid using elongated polygons. Your four-sided polygons should be relatively square.
  • Keep it light at the beginning. Model a square or a sphere. Then continue with modeling a snowman, which consists mainly of spheres, a square, and a triangle. Do not start an ambitious project until you are familiar with your software.

When you’re ready, try some simple online tutorials on 3D modeling.

  • Even if you can afford the premium 3D modeling software, start with one of the free 3D modeling programs for beginners.
  • 3D modeling is hard to learn. Be patient.

3D modeling software for beginners.

A surprising number of free 3D software programs are available. Each of these offers good opportunities for beginners to start modeling.

  • Daz Studio
  • hexagon
  • Wings 3D
  • dazzler
  • sculptris

Most 3D modeling software websites offer tutorial videos that help beginners master the concepts of 3D modeling.

3D modeling software for professionals.

Professional 3D modeling programs can be intimidating and expensive. However, if you plan to be active in 3D animation – be it creating video games, computer graphics or movies – you will eventually need to master one of them. Advanced 3D modeling software programs include:

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Modo from Foundy
  • Adobe Fuse CC
  • NewTek LightWave 3D
  • Poser from SmithMicro
  • Maxon Cinema 4D
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Design

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