3D modeling is the process of creating a 3D representation of any surface or object by manipulating polygons, edges, and vertices in simulated 3D space. 3D modeling can be achieved manually with specialized 3D production software that lets an artist create and deform polygonal surfaces, or by scanning real-world objects into a set of data points that can be used to represent the object digitally.

3D modeling is used in many different industries, including virtual reality, video games, 3D printing, marketing, TV and motion pictures, scientific and medical imaging and computer-aided design and manufacturing CAD/CAM.

3D modeling software generates a model through a variety of tools and approaches including:

  • simple polygons.
  • 3D primitives -- simple polygon-based shapes, such as pyramids, cubes, spheres, cylinders and cones.
  • spline curves.
  • NURBS (non-uniform rational b-spline) -- smooth shapes defined by bezel curves, which are relatively computationally complex.

3D modelling is used to generate 3D models for sectors ranging from engineering and manufacturing to digital animation for films and video games. The first uses of computer graphics were in the early 1960s for scientific and engineering purposes, and CGI artistic expression began by the late 1960s. 3D Modelling grew in popularity and utility. The first 3D printing technology, Stereolithography (SLA), emerged in 1986 and lends its name to the now popular STL file.