Entering the 3rd Dimension of Digital Art

This article was written in 2018 when I was completely new to 3D art. It is a collection of thoughts on why I wanted to learn 3D, what I wanted to use and an overview of the research I’d done at that time.

What’s my Motivation for Learning 3D?

I had been doing more perspective studies to help with a personal story based illustration project, which is fine as far as basic 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective goes.

Upon coming across the architects revolved plan method I decided to look into 3D software again to see if it could help me with visualizing different views of a room. I wondered if learning how to use 3D software would be a more effective way to do this. Most concept artists these days learn how to do basic 3D scenes to act as guides for their paintings and to help with creative iteration. Some comic book artists and Illustrators use 3D objects to help visualize complicated forms, characters and interiors from different angles. This is the sort of thing I would like to do, which is why I am learning 3D modelling.

What am I trying to Learn?

Blender 3D is the main software I’m trying to learn. The first time I tried Blender was around last year. I tried to get used to the user interface, it was intimidating at first.
I tried a little harder to learn it after watching tutorials and practicing how to move around the 3D view.

I am going through some beginner tutorials on Udemy:


I keep learning new things about Blender every day, it is a powerful piece of software. I’ve realized that to use Blender you have to learn hotkeys for different functions. This was pretty daunting at first because I am used to working with icon based interfaces, but I’m making my own cheat sheet as I go through the tutorials to help me learn.

Other Software and Methods

It’s very important to keep an open mind and try different methods of creating 3D scenes. I’ve discovered there are four main types of 3D modelling which suit different uses.
Polygonal Modelling, Curve Modelling, Digital Sculpting and Code-driven modelling. Sculpteo.com has a great guide to these methods here: https://www.sculpteo.com/en/glossary/3d-modeling-definition/

There is also Voxel based 3D software like Magica Voxel, and experimental sketch based 3D software such as Shapeshop and Smoothie 3D. I’m not sure which category they belong to.


There are other options to Blender for the beginner to 3D, some of which I’ve also tried. I’ll list some of them here.
Free web based methods are available such as:

Doodle 3D
Sculpt GL
Sketchup Free Doesn’t seem to be free option anymore
Onshape There is a free option
3D Slash
Smoothie 3D

Some more beginner friendly options are (these are not free):
Crocotile 3D
Asset Forge

Edit 2024:

Nomad Sculpt (if you have an ipad)

Curvy 3D Go (Tailored down version of Curvy 3D 5 which is also a useful program)

3D Coat: On the surface this is a very complicated looking program but the sculpting is good for people coming from 2D backgrounds and my sister has found it easy to get into. It is not cheap but affordable and updates are very regular.

Conclusion and side thoughts

3D modeling is a huge topic and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. It is becoming much more accessible and easy for people to learn than it used to be. There are even experimental projects exploring how 2D drawing skills in 3D can be achieved which are fascinating.

Other ways people make 3D objects is by using 3D scanning and Photogrammetry. This is becoming much more accessible with phone apps and better home computer graphics cards. Virtual Reality is also an area where 3D modelling technology is evolving. Still beyond my budget, but I’m sure things will become more affordable eventually.
I’ll talk about other methods and my thoughts in a future article, but this is a good place to end without going too technical.

Thanks for reading.

Goldfinch rendered in Blender, based on one of my Illustrations

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