Traditional 3D model
Three-dimensional (3D) imaging is the process of converting a real or imagined 3D object into a 2D representation of that object. You can use a variety of methods for making this conversion. One is to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to construct a 3D model and then render that model to a 2D image. Another is to render pre-existing models with the same CAD software. A third option is to laser scan an object with an ordinary digital camera and use specialized software to convert the scanned data to a common 3D file format.
Option 1: Make Your Own 3D Models
1. Install a CAD program. The remainder of this section uses the free Blender 3D Content Creation Suite.
2. Open Blender and enter the mode to edit the default 3D cube by pressing “Tab.”
3. Begin shaping the cube into a 3D object that you’d like to model, such as a character’s head or a telephone: choose the main toolbar’s “Vertex selection mode.” Select a vertex by right-clicking it, then pull on one of the three arrows (also know as axes) to move the vertex.
Delete vertices by pressing “Delete,” and add a vertex by control-clicking. Or, press “E” on a selected vertex to extrude from it. Perform these operations on edges and faces, also. Enter Edge or Face mode by pressing the associated buttons on the main toolbar. (The Edge button shows a single line segment, whereas the Face mode displays a triangle.)
4. Render your completed object by pressing “F12.”
Option 2: Render Pre-existing Models
5. Surf to a repository of free 3D models, such as Google’s 3D Warehouse. Download a model of your choice.
6. Load the model into Sketchup, Google’s free 3D software tool, and perform any needed changes; for example, adding a garage to a house model. You can also combine different Sketchup models into a single model or scene. You’ll need to resize each new model that you import into a particular scene, as one designer might make a fire-hydrant 10 inches high, for example, while another designer makes a skyscraper the same height.
7. Use Sketchup’s “Orbit”, “Pan,” and “Zoom” tools on the main toolbar to explore the resulting model. If you want to create realistic renderings with Sketchup, you’ll need to extend Sketchup with a plug-in utility. See Sketchup documentation for details.
Option 3: Digitize a 3D Object by Scanning it with a Laser
8. Create a 90-degree corner of two white, blank planks.
9. Place the 3D object to be digitized in from of the corner.
10. Remove all light from the room.
11. Connect an ordinary digital camera to your PC, which must have the necessary digitizing software loaded.
12. Pass a laser over the object while recording the image with the camera.
13. Export the resulting image made by the software as a standard 3D object file. The file will have an .OBJ extension.