Using 3D Software for model design

Tue, 19 Jul 2011

Designing in 3D can be a tricky process. I tend to do most of mine, especially character design, by cutting up bits of paper and sticking them together at different angles. Once I'm happy with my design I cut the bits up and stick them in the scanner before transferring them to the computer. Time to step into the 21st century perhaps. With that in mind I've been trying out various pieces of 3D software.

3D software comes in a whole range of different packages some of them costing many hundreds of pounds. I really want to be able to share what I've learned as I go along so in the end I've decided that I will go for one of the free packages. (That's all I can afford anyway 🙂 The two main ones, as far as I can see, are Google Sketchup and Blender

After trying both I'm currently leaning towards Blender. It has a feature called UV unwrapping which lets you unfold your model into a net ready to cut out. The picture above shows the 3D model I've created from the sketch on the left. I still need to work out how to make the hair but it is coming on. 

If you have any other ideas of free/cheap software I should try, let me know.

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Comments (6)

  • umehta July 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I wonder how the Early Bird

    I wonder how the Early Bird would have looked if you had used the 3D software –  I doubt if it would have made it any better. Your strength is your simplicity and easy-ness. Yes, 3D software can make complex things but at the end if it is not easy to cut, score, fold and glue for us – the members – it may not hold the same charm – I am afraid.

    • robives July 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      Interesting! 
      I’m not

      Interesting! 

      I'm not intending to change style, just speed up / simplify the design process. I see a lot of amazing papercrafts out there that look like they are fully sculpted with curved surfaces and smooth corners. I'm not trying to do that. I like my models to look like they are made from paper. I'm simply hoping that the 3D software will help me with the design process. That and I'm an über-geek who likes to play with the tech.

      • Zrowny July 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm

        Heheh. I say go ahead and use

        Heheh. I say go ahead and use it. Blender is great software, and I would say you should use that. On top of designing the model itself, with Blender you could go one step further and attempt to animate the model. I'm not saying you need to do this, but it would definitely be something interesting to look in to.

      • BradleyDS1 July 22, 2011 at 3:51 am

        Try metasequoia from

        Try metasequoia from http://www.metaseq.net

        You can use it and pepakura designer to make files and pepakura makes it buildable out of paper after you edit it a bit. They are both shareware but not too expensive.

        • robives July 22, 2011 at 6:09 am

          It does look like Pepakura

          It does look like Pepakura would be the best software for the job but it is unavailable for the Mac

          • Zrowny July 25, 2011 at 2:19 am

            Pepakura is nice, but as you

            Pepakura is nice, but as you say it is only for Windows. Also its not especially hard to unfold a model with Blender. Pepakura is mostly useful for more complex models, which of course is not your intent.

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