20+ Styles of 3D Modeling in 20 Minutes


    Discover 20+ styles of 3D modeling ranging from good old sub-d modeling to a neural network-aided design.

    Warning die hard Blender fans (like us!) – not everything is Blender related.

    If someone stops you on the street and asks you what is 3D modeling, what would you say? I bet the first thing that comes to mind is the standard poly modeling toolset: extrude, inset, subdivide and so on. Maybe also boolean operations. But how about the other 20+ styles? Let’s name most of them in under 20 minutes. Think we’ve missed any? Please add them in the comments!

    This is a bonus tutorial from Hard-surface Modeling in Blender video course. If you liked this tutorial, check the full course on BlenderMarket or Gumroad.

    Tutorial Highlights:

    1a. Sculpting

    Shaping your digital lump of clay in a free-form way using various 3D brushes.

    1b. Sculpting with Dynamic Topology

    Same as regular sculpting, but with extra polygons created under the brush stroke i.e. dynamically adding what you need where you need it to get out of the ‘not-enough-polygons’ situations.

    blender sculpting dyntopo

    1c. Sculpting with Masks

    Using 2D stencils to inform the strength of the sculpting strokes.

    zbrush sculpting

    2. Subd Modeling

    Subdivision modeling is characterized by manipulating the low poly cage that gets subdivided into the high poly final mesh.

    subd modeling

    3. Boolean Operations

    Logical operations of adding, subtracting and intersecting two objects to create the third object as a result.

    boolean modeling workflow

    4. Metaballs

    Metaballs are objects that interact to produce a liquid-like surface.


    5. Drawing 2D Shapes in Orthographic Projection

    Drawing two-dimensional shapes using vertices, edges and faces.


    6. Shape Extraction

    Extracting an area of the mesh or using an object as a scaffolding to build a new surface.

    shrinkwrap modifier


    7a. Spline Modifiers – Fill

    Turning bezier curves into renderable objects by giving some thickness to them.


    7b. Spline Modifiers – Screw

    Revolving a spline to create a 3D surface.


    7c. Spline Modifiers – Curve

    Using a spline to deform a mesh.


    7d. Spline Modifiers – Skin

    Skinning splines while retaining the skeleton.


    8. NURBS

    Non-Uniform Rational Basis Splines (or NURBS) is a mathematical model for representing 3D shapes. Unlike the meshes that are made of vertices, edges and polygons, NURBS are fully parametric and are defined by splines and points.


    9. Spline Surfaces

    Using splines as the boundary loops of a flowing surface (see the Grid Fill tool for example).

    grid fill polygons

    10. Vector Graphics to 3D

    This is a hybrid workflow which involves converting 2D vector graphics into 3D splines.

    swg to splines

    11. Shadowbox

    The quirky Zbrush tool is able to create all kinds of primitives based on the projection of shadows toward a central volume.


    12. Displacement

    Displacing geometry based on 2D texture maps.


    13. Kitbash

    Kitbashing is a practice of assembling 3D models out of premade kits.


    14. Photogrammetry

    Synthesizing 3D form based on photos using special software like RealityCapture or PhotoScan.


    15a. Particles

    Surprise! The interaction of particles, forces and metaballs can produce amazing 3D models.

    modeling particles

    15b. Particles

    Scattering particles over the surface of a distribution object.

    modelling particles scatter

    16. CAD

    Computer-aided design, parametric tools and analytic surfaces.

    modeling cad

    17. Camera Calibration and Poly Modeling

    A cool workflow based on camera calibration tools like BLAM.


    18a. Physics Simulation

    Simulating cloth, rigidbody or softbody physics then collapsing it to a 3D mesh.

    modeling cloth

    18b. Physics Simulation

    Breaking an object into volumetric pieces, applying the rigidbody physics and baking the result.

    fracture physics

    18c. Physics Simulation

    Fluid simulation is a cool way of modeling the fluid surfaces, right?

    fluid sim

    19. Math Functions

    Pretty much every object in the universe (even a donut) can be described using the language of math. If you want to give it a shot in Blender, activate the ADD Mesh: Extra Objects add-on.

    modeling math functions

    20. Parametric Modeling

    Parametric modeling means that instead of creating your 3D model by hand you define a set of parameters. Imagine creating a tree by defining its height, age, pruning, branching and so on.

    parametric modeling animation nodes

    21. Generative Modeling

    Grammar-based structures are the structures generated from a set of rules.

    generative modeling

    22. Organic Growth Algorithms

    A broad range of parametric tools from the Ivy add-on in Blender that simulates the procedural growth of Ivy to the diffusion reactions and more.

    organic growth algorithms

    23. Fractals

    A fractal is a geometrical figure each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Can be generated in apps like Mandelbulber then converted to 3D meshes.

    modeling fractals

    24. Dynamic Paint

    The Blender tool that utilizes the canvas-object interaction to drive the displacement or texture effect.

    dynamic paint blender

    25. Voxels

    A voxel is a volumetric cell in 3D grid. You can create and represent 3D surfaces with the help of these three-dimensional units.

    voxels magicavoxel

    26. Marching Cubes

    The algorithm that can be used to polygonize scalar fields (like MRI scans).

    marching cubes

    27. Modeling/Sculpting in VR

    Modeling… but in virtual reality.

    modeling in vr gravity sketch

    28. Artificial Intelligence

    Converting an input of some kind into a 3D model output. Magic, in other words.

    modeling neural network


    You May Also Like:

    If you enjoyed watching this tutorial, chances are you will also like our new 100% Blender video course: Hard-surface Modeling in Blender.

    Hard-Surface Modeling in Blender Hard surface made easy Learn More +FREE 2.80 UPDATE


    Links and Credits:

    nutelZ – Blender MakeBake Vector Displacement Baking (Demo 🙂

    aliasketch – Sketchup tutorial house design PART 1

    OneMinute VideoTutorials – Blender Turn a 2D photograph into a 3D animation with Blam

    SpeedTree Cinema 8: Time-Lapse Modeling

    Katarzyna Stangrecka – Structure Synth + javascript

    Daddy3322 – Procedural City, take 1 

    echoechonoisenoise – gaudism

    Echoechonoisenoise blog

    LIVENODING 950 / SV Another Reaction Diffusion Example

    deskriptiv GbR – a unified approach to grown structures

    deskriptiv GbR – QUADDEL features

    Peter Atwood – Rhino NURBS surfaces intro

    i.materialise – 3D Design for Beginners – MagicaVoxel Tutorial

    Atomontage Inc. – Real-time Volumetric Scene Clipping

    Christopher Ing – Brain MRI 3D Reconstruction

    Anders Wallin – Octree + Marching Cubes surface rendering

    Tested – Professional Sculpting in Virtual Reality with Oculus Medium

    Daniela Paredes Fuentes – Gravity Sketch VR Chair sketch

    Two Minute Papers – AI Builds 3D Models From Images With a Twist | Two Minute Papers #129

    Andrei Samardac – MOI 3D, Modeling Mech [part 1]

    Arrimus 3D – MoI 3d – Part 1 – Introduction – Should you learn NURBS modeling?

    Edon Guraziu – Moi3D SciFi Prop Timelapse




    Structure Synth



    SpeedTree Cinema 8

    Oculus Medium

    Gravity Sketch

    Reality Capture



    Animation Nodes – Jacques Lucke Twitter