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I think that a common approach in 3D modeling is to have three different views of the object you want to model, then you start building the main figure, then add details etc.

Are there any applications that let you model by drawing the shapes of the object by hand?

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Not sure what you mean by "by hand"? You mean you connect a drawing tablet and use that as the input device? It's probably possible, search for 3D apps that have tablet compatability (and even the ones that don't you could just use the tablet like a mouse cursor). OR... do you mean you draw a "3d image" by hand on paper, scan it, and have the program create a 3d model? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 25 '11 at 16:12
    
Say you have a cube. When in front view I "draw" a circle the object follows that circle (and the object is no more a cube, but a cylinder). I am sorry but english is not my first language. I hope the explanation was clear. –  Donovan Jan 25 '11 at 16:45
    
So the resulting object is a cylinder? Many modellers have lathe and extrusion tools that can probably do what you're talking about (but I'm not 100% sure what you mean). –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jan 25 '11 at 16:46
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i believe you are misunderstanding the way 'most' 3d modeling is current done. In most systems (Solidworks, Autocad 3d, proengineer, blender, sketchup etc...) you do not create a 3 view in 2d of the object to create 3d one.

Normally, you have to 'build' the a part by using methods such as extruding (either by distance, along a path, in an array, etc...), revolving, subtracting, intersecting. When you get the individual parts completed, you 'join' them to create the model. They are usually created just as they would be in real life then mated just as they would be in real life as well...

So to answer the question in your comment, in solidworks for example, lets say you wanted to create a 2'x2'x4' 'box'. You'd draw a 2'x2' rectange, then extrude it up 4'. You'd have your box.

If you wanted to change that to a 4' cylinder w/ diameter 7', you WOULD be able to 'edit' the original drawn box to be a circle w/ a diameter of 7' and in this simple example, the resulting 3d model would in fact change to a 4' cylinder w/ a dia of 7'.

Hope this helps...

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