What I learned from Japan is that anything can be made into an art. Anything, no matter what your field of work is. Any type of design, any type of object manufacturing, any service you share with others. It doesn’t matter whether you or others see yourself as an artist. Because in a way, we all are.
It is an art not only to create a 3D design on your device, but also to choose a certain method of designing it. There is no right way to design a 3D model, but depending on what you want to achieve, there is an easy way and a hard way. One way that will lead you faster to your goal and a slower one. A precise method of designing and a freeform one.
The most precise method of designing an object is through parametric functions. You write down those functions and by varying the parameters, you obtain the desired object. If you want to bring your idea to reality by literally printing it, this is the best method. Any mesh repair that you may do before sending it to the 3D printer would be minimal . Unfortunately, if your model is very complex or if it is made of several simpler pieces, it is much more difficult to apply. There are parametric functions for designing a seashell this way, but how about a human figure or a cat?
The other extreme is freeform organic modeling as in virtual sculpting. You start with a primitive shape like a cube or a sphere and you start adding or subtracting material from it. After more or less such steps, you will see your idea on the screen. Making it a reality may be much harder though. Most probably, your mesh must be edited for it to be manifold or for it to have a less steeper slope and so on – please see this post on how to prepare a 3D model for printing. But the advantage of this method is that you can use it without much prior thought. You can just start sculpting without planning anything at all and decide on the way which way to play with the (virtual) material at hand.
And then, between the precise modeling of parametric functions and the organic modeling of virtual sculpture, lie the usual ways of 3D mesh modeling. Those we are most likely to be familiar with. Like drawing a profile and extruding it. Or drawing half a profile and spinning it. And then applying all sorts of changes to the mesh like beveling, triangulation, scaling and rotating it, smoothing it or changing its density.
You can use any of these methods in Blender. Presumably, Openscad is much better at parametric modeling. But with the add-on of extra mesh objects in Blender, I find it much easier and faster to play with parameters by inputing known Z or XYZ functions.
Blender has a sculpting mode available and this feature is what first attracted me to this piece of software. Previously working with precise ways of 3D modeling (like during engineering school and later), I found it awesome that I could simply play with the virtual material on my screen without making a full mess in my house like if I’d have taken sculpting with real materials like clay or metal or any other. Because, you know, I like empty spaces where I live.
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