Top 8 Options for Designing Objects in a 3D Modelling Software

7 Mins read
3D modelling software
SelfCAD 3D modelling software/Image Credit: SelfCAD

The process of creating 3D models isn’t easy for everyone. Many 3D modelling software or CAD programs used for 3D designing are complex and it needs one to take time in mastering the CAD program before being able to create models.

2D design focuses mostly on how appealing the end product will look to the eye and the methods being used in the process are irrelevant. But in 3D design, the methods that are used for creating the model matters a lot as a good topology structure is an important aspect in 3D design.

3D modelling is currently being used in many working environments. It doesn’t matter if you’re using it for 3D printing, manufacturing, gaming, or advertising. If you don’t focus on using structural topology well, rendering a high poly model and difficult objects will haunt you later on.

SelfCAD is a user-friendly CAD program in the 3D stable. It’s easier to use and it provides an array of artistic and technical tools useful for improving the flow of 3D modelling. With the software, you’ve total control of all the aspects of the design all under one program. Though SelfCAD is easier to use and it’s great when it comes to topology, a user should have a general knowledge of how to utilize each of its tools. This is because a lack of skills will lead to the creation of flawed geometry that can affect your 3D design. The low-poly 3D modelling approach is the most recommended in order to help you modify the designs easily while maintaining the underlying structures of the model.

SelfCAD also has tools meant for fixing the geometry of the model and fixing the topology structure of the design by creating a new solid. These tools are great when working on your final design as it reworks on the entire geometry of the design.

This article focuses on the basic concepts that any artist can apply in any 3D modelling software or CAD program. You will get to know the approaches and procedures that you can apply in the 3D modelling industry. We shall be using SelfCAD software to demonstrate how the eight main ways you can use for designing objects in 3D modelling software includes:

Options for Designing Objects in a 3D Modelling Software

Using Custom Shape Generators in SelfCAD 3D Modelling Software

Using the Custom Shape Generator Tool/Video Credit: SelfCAD/YouTube

SelfCAD like most other common 3D modelling software programs has 3D shapes that are well-rounded. It has useful premade shapes like screws and gears that can easily be manipulated to fit your specific needs. The most unique of the custom shapes is the Shape generator.

The shape generator works the same way as other custom shape generators but the difference is, it gives one the ability to stack different forms and shapes above each other. SelfCAD will even ensure that the connection between different shapes is smooth.

Check out the video on youtube to learn how this tool works.

Creating Geometries Using 2D Drawing

CAD Program
Creating geometries from 2D drawings is possible in SelfCAD/Image Credit: SelfCAD

The success of any 3D or 2D design usually depends on how skills are incorporated into the workflow and one’s professional background isn’t relevant. The most important thing one needs to know is the process involved when a 2D image is transformed into a 3D model.  The image below shows the progression from a 2D contour into a 3D form and the middle 2D surface is included, and all of these processes takes place on a 2D plane.

In addition to the above, the 2D drawing tools of SelfCAD have adjustable settings for style and thickness and this sets it apart from other 3D modelling software. There is also the snap to grid option in the 2D drawing tools that ensures that one creates accurate and smooth drawings.

Converting a drawing into a 3D model in SelfCAD is faster. As long as there is a height in the values, the software will be able to create a solid model once it’s finalized.

3D Sketching in SelfCAD 3D Modelling Software

3D sketching tools can also be used to create 3D models. The sketching tools of SelfCAD 3D modelling software are similar to what is there in most CAD program. The sketching tools are almost similar to the drawing tools but the difference is the sketching tools:

  • It creates a sketch instead of a solid object
  • The sketching tools are interactive.

The purpose of sketching tools is to create sketches that can later be converted to 3D models.  A 3D sketch that doesn’t have enough faces that can create a solid is called a profile. Profiles can be made of lines, splines, and arcs. Other designers also use sketches to create and modify other 3D designs by setting up measurement guides.

A sketch can be converted into a solid object in SelfCAD using tools like the fill polygon tools, loft, follow path, and revolve. Each of these tools has its own pros and cons, and it’s upon you to choose the one that works perfectly for you.

Creating Organic Shapes Using the Loft Tool

Loft tool in SelfCAD 3D modelling software/Video Credit: SelfCAD/YouTube

The loft tool of the SelfCAD 3D modelling software is one of the powerful tools useful in creating organic models. It uses a weighted function in interpolating the geometry of the segments, and more vertices can be added. There are also bevel and twisting effects which are core features that allow one to modify the model much easier. Check out the video to learn how the loft tool was used in creating the Coronavirus mask. Its precision makes it a wonderful tool for mechanical engineers and designers when creating organic shapes.

Image to 3D in CAD Program

The image to 3D tool of SelfCAD is one of the most popular tools being used by beginners as well as professionals in 3D modelling to create designs easily. Though it’s not a perfect tool when it comes to optimized topology design, it’s a great tool when it comes to creating logo designs for businesses logo designs for businesses. If you need a design that doesn’t require many modifications like an ivy vase and lithophanes then this is the perfect tool.

Using the Extrusion and Add Thickness tools

Designing 3D models using these tools involves two main approaches: There is surface extrusion that results in 3D objects that have sidewalls with an open bottom end. To create closed shapes, add the thickness tool is used. 

The extrusion tool creates objects by building side connections and moving them along surfaces. Though some 3D modelling software gives one an option to either leave the model open or add a face to the bottom, SelfCAD automatically closes all surfaces by default. The SelfCAD 3D modelling software simplifies the design even further by giving one the capability to delete surfaces easily.

You can use the extrusion tool when you need to keep your shape open and add thickness tool when you want to change a surface to a volume. 

3D modelling software
Using the Extrusion and Add Thickness tools/Image Credit: SelfCAD

The images below illustrate how extrusion and the add thickness tools are used. The second image shows the outcome of adding thickness to the first object, and the third image is the result of applying extrusion. The fourth image is a hollow object created from adding thickness to the third image. 

The open shape can be closed by applying fill polygon. The fill polygon tool also gives the same results in 3D solids. The reusable of the tools makes SelfCAD exceptional. 

Using Constrained Triangulation in SelfCAD 3D Modelling Software

Constrained triangulation is where a solid object is designed based on the number of vertices present and based on the original position. Constrained triangulation makes it easier for designers to create shapes within shapes. This is helpful when multiplex design is being created. 

Additionally, it allows 3D designers to merge adjacent layers in the same 3D profiles. This makes it easier to create watertight solids. The sketches below explain this concept. 

3D Designing
Using constrained triangulation/Image Credit: SelfCAD

The first image above is a sophisticated 3D profile with a drawing on the same plane as the bottom section. Two lines crossing each other are drawn thrown the center of the top section 

The second model on the right hand is a solid designed using the fill polygon tool. If you compare the two images, you will realize that there is no much difference from all the parts added to the design. Only slices that match cuts on the profiles are added. If the resolution tool is used and its value is set to “0”, all these extra details will be removed.

Using Follow Path and Profiles 

Follow path tool of SelfCAD is a great that can be used to work on solid objects. Just like the Follow Me tool of SketchUp CAD program, this tool extrudes shapes along a path and it also creates copies just the same way AutoCAD utilizes the array command.

The follow path tool works on various paths on profiles and one needs to use it skillfully so that you can be able to create acceptable and accurate solid objects.

CAD Program
Using Follow Path and Profiles/Image Credit: SelfCAD

In the images above, we see how the follow path is combining the stitch and scoop union options. From the left to right, the design was created using the advanced profile option. A pattern containing a central spiral of lines that intersect in the outer circle. The demonstration on the third position shows how an appealing solid object was created using the follow path tool by separating the path into two parts. The final design shows the object created by merging the solids using the union option of the stitch and scoop tool.

This article was first published on SelfCAD blog. To read more on the click this link.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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