Get started with 3D Modeling

Arya Almeda
6 min readJun 9, 2021


Are you thinking of getting started with 3D modeling? How long will it take you to make the first 3D model? Where should you start when you only have a blank screen?

3D modeling is a fast-growing industry involved in different industries like virtual reality, film development, unique design, scientific research, and more. The process makes the product design effective.

Here’s what you need to learn to get started with 3D modeling and some of the platforms to help you become a 3D modeler.

What is 3D Modeling?

3D modeling involves the creation of a three-dimensional item inside of simulated software with the help of Computer-Aided Design. The item can be a complex polygon model or a simple, basic shape. The representation is a 3D model that can represent an object’s shape, size, and texture.

With 3D models, you can build designs that are not existing or create models of existing items. Some software allows for more flexibility, but things like architectural structures will require specialized software.

What Will You Need to Get Started?

You’re ready to venture into 3D modeling. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Passion and Spatial Awareness

You need to have a passion for exploring this industry as you’ll have to spend countless hours working on a computer. It’s essential to have a sense of spatial awareness, which means you need to visualize an item like a real-world object. Although there’s a different degree of modeling, a few will require you to model from existing blueprints.

Basic computer skills are vital as most 3D modeling happens on a PC/laptop. You’ll also spend a lot of time on digital design software.

Understand the Types of Software Available

Most PCs and laptops do not have the software required for 3D modeling. Picking a digital design software that meets your needs isn’t difficult. There are plenty of software options available, but each provides something different. Softwares like AutoCAD software to 3DS Max to Sketchup are available.

3DS Max and Maya provide more flexibility compared to other options. Before investing in any software, it’s crucial to understand if your laptop supports this type of software. Some software will require your computer to meet the minimum specifications. You’ll notice that a few software manufacturers certify machines for use. A good example is AutoDesk. The manufacturer has a database of recommended hardware to help you decide.

Price is another consideration when choosing the type of software to choose. Factors like rendering action, modeling capabilities, compatibility options, and file formats will determine the price. A few software packages will be subscription-based, and others only need a one-time purchase.

Below are some of the beginner-friendly software options available today.

  • Blender

Blender is a free 3D open-source software. Blender can work on any computer and has no barrier to entry. It’s perfect for beginners as anyone can use it without the need for license keys, access dongles, or any other restriction.

Another impressive feature about Blender is its limitless capabilities. You can use it for game creation, video editing, animation, compositing, and modeling. For example, an artist can start developing this software, and computer science enthusiasts can also use Blender to integrate a data visualization tool without creating the whole foundation. Anything made in a blender can be sold, changed, and distributed.

Being an open-source software means there are no usage restrictions or licenses on what you create and that it’s free to use. The software is less power demanding and can run on old computers. The Blender community entails people from different walks of life with varying skill sets. There are plenty of tutorials, and the community support is impressive.

  • SketchUp

SketchUp is another modeling software suitable for those new to 3D modeling. The software allows you to create simple geometric shapes with pre-built models loaded with a 3D warehouse. The software is user-friendly and one of the easiest ways to learn about 3D modeling.

Using Sketchup will help you understand the basic concepts of creating 3D models before moving onto more complex software.

  • Maya

Maya is available in any professional setting and is primarily used in feature film creation and video games. The program by Autodesk works for animating highly detailed buildings, people, objects, cartoons, and anything else you can imagine. The only limitation is that Maya costs over $1,620 annually unless you have a student license.

  • Daz Studio

You’ll want to consider using Daz Studio if you’re looking for a platform that provides intuitive and straightforward customization using smart modular content and presets. There are over 30,000 presets available that you can use to create and customize without any difficulty. The 3D platform is user-friendly and accessible, making this software a great tool to learn 3D modeling.

  • 3DS Max

3DS Max is an advanced 3D modeling and rendering software used for animation, game design, and design visualization. It comes with unique features like 3D modeling, effects, and texturing. Found in most gaming studios, 3DS Max also works for any industry that needs detailed renders. The software will cost you $1,620 annually without a student license.

  • Tinkercad

Tunkercard is a cloud-based software program by Autodesk. The free-to-use software enables you to create and mix basic objects into anything you can imagine. Furthermore, users can 3D print whatever they make. It’s a user-friendly platform that will shorten your learning time.

  • AutoCAD

AutoCAD program is used for detailed 2D and 3D models in industries like product design, construction, drafting, architecture, and mechanical engineering. Although this software isn’t free, you can still use FreeCAD as it comes with similar features.

You can also try other free CAD programs like MeshLab, Archimedes, and LibreCAD.

The Right Computer

3D software requires a machine that will handle the processing power. You’ll need a 3D-capable computer as you need computing power to model high-polygon models within the platform.

Some of the factors you need to check in a computer are storage space, memory, CPU, and GPU. Some high-end gaming computers will have more advanced features and will be costly.

At a minimum, your laptop or computer should have certain specifications for it to handle 3D modeling tasks. These specs include:

  • 16 GB RAM
  • Windows 8/10 64-bit or more
  • AMD, Intel, or Multi-Core processor
  • 500 GB-1 TB Disk Space
  • NVIDIA Quadro CAD card for Professional Users and NVIDIA GTX 1000 for Standard Users

Beginner 3D Modeling Tips

Reading about 3D modeling and choosing the right software can seem daunting if you’re new to this field.

Here are a few tips to get started in 3D modeling.

Model Simple Objects

You may have sported a beautiful house and want to do a 3D model of it. However, this is not always a good idea for a beginner.

Don’t rush to modeling complex objects before you learn the basics. Start by modeling simple items like spheres, cubes, and pyramids, and going through this process will teach you how to build the required modeling skills to upgrade and start building complex figures and shapes.

Ensure that you find user-friendly 3D modeling software like Blender or Sketchup. Focus on the basics as the free version comes with tools that you can use to create simple objects. You won’t learn everything in a day, but following this process will help you proceed to more complicated functions.

Tutorials are Your Friend

The internet is your best friend if you have no one to teach you about 3D modeling. There are numerous tutorial forums, videos, and discussions to guide you in your 3D modeling journey. Most beginners have a problem learning the user interface.

You can start by searching for a Sketchup or Blender tutorial on YouTube. There are plenty of resources to explore. Take advantage of the different guides and articles designed to shorten your learning curve.

Practice Makes Perfect in 3D modeling.

Repetition in 3D modeling is the trick to perfecting your skills and improving quality end products. As a beginner, practice will feel like you’re making progress, and once you’re at the advanced level, the process will feel more natural, and you’ll be grateful for the steps you took.

3D modeling also requires you to look for better ways to do something the next time. Tinkering allows you to think outside your circle and develop effective ways to fix what’s not working.

Join a 3D Modeling Community

The 3D modeling industry is growing and gaining popularity. Learning a complex skill can be frustrating as sometimes you may come across obstacles in your skill levels.

Joining a community allows you to grow in talent and learn from others who’ve walked the journey before you. Furthermore, as you progress in this field, the people you meet maybe your future business partners, employers, or co-workers.

Final Thoughts

3D modeling requires patience, time, and practice. Getting started with 3D modeling can be exciting, but don’t rush to create complex objects initially. Start with simple objects, follow tutorials online, and repeat the process of recreating similar objects often. That will help you improve your learning skills and gain valuable experience and insight.