3D modeling refers to the creation of the 3D model itself. A 3D model is a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface. 3D Modeling can be compared to sculpting by an artist, thus taking into account all the different sides and angles. 3D, meaning three-dimensional, which has width, height, and depth (length), and is the physical environment we move around in every day. Humans are able to perceive the spatial relationship between objects just by looking at them because we have 3D perception, also known as depth perception. As we look around, the retina in each eye forms a two-dimensional image of our surroundings, and our brain processes these two images into a 3D visual experience.
The architectural application of 3D modeling is priceless! It allows the consumer 3D perspective views while still in the conceptual design phase. When the human eye looks at a scene, objects in the distance appear smaller than objects close by – this is known as perspective. Most modeling programs have the ability to produce a perspective view very quickly, thus allowing the designer to modify based on perspective views. This is extremely advantageous to producing what is envisioned, and giving the consumer a realistic view of the design.
Along with the natural real world light source such as the sun, we have artificial light sources: incandescent light bulbs, spot lights, fluorescents, etc…. Understanding lighting, and how it affects surfaces brings in a process known as global illumination. To obtain this level of enhancement, a computer calculates the bouncing of light rays off of an object’s surface. When light rays hit a given surface, some of the rays are absorbed and the rest are reflected. The reflected light rays pick up some of the color of the bouncing surface. Although very time consuming due to the intensive task by the processor, global illumination can produce photorealistic 3D rendering.
Rendering is the final step in creating the actual 2D image made of pixels from the 3D modeled scene. Rendering may take a fraction of a second to days for a single image. The more information being utilized, the longer the process and the higher quality of the 2D image. Utilizing materials, lighting techniques, and settings one can render a multitude of different images from a single 3D modeled scene.
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The advantages are limitless as to what 3D Modeling brings to the world of architectural drafting and design. From placing a 3D model of a proposed structure on a site using recorded topography and photos, to creating atmospheric seasonal changes based on time, weather, geographic location. It is very impressive to realize a designer now has the ability to show a client what their master suite will look like in regards to lighting conditions any time of day, or time of the year, and how that light is affected by the materials they choose. The advancements are endless going from photorealistic 3D rendering to full animation, and will only be limited by ones ability to stay educated on the latest technological advancements in this field.
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