Welcome, I am going to go over some of the basics of 3D modeling. Hopefully by the end of this everyone will be able to be more familiar with their choice of 3D modeling software and be able to communicate with each other using common terminology.
3D modeling at its simplest is a collection of points, lines, and surfaces arranged into what we see as shapes. Utilizing these basic components we can create anything; things that we can see as well as objects from our imagination. Doing so has been made possible due to interactions in computer software. I will refer to these as editors. There are many different variations, but all of them utilize the same basic principles, constructing surfaces from points, lines, and surfaces. I personally use Blender 3D, but I learned these same concepts using Autodesk Maya. A few others that I have used are Lightwave and 3DStudio Max.
A point is a value in the three dimensional coordinate system consisting of x, y, and z, a line is a drawn connection between two points, and a face is a drawn surface between a minimum of three lines. A surface with three points, two lines, and one face is the simplest surface and is also commonly referred to as “Tris”. The next type surface is called a “quad” and has four points, four lines, and one face. All 3D models contain one both of these surfaces. The last type is called a “ngon”. These are to be avoided as they do not render properly if at all. Ngons are single surfaces with more than four sides. Tris, quads, and even ngons can also be referred to as “polys” or “polygons” which come from their geometry roots. We are able to make objects using “tris” but it is generally easier and faster to make them using “quads” as they can easily be converted into two “tris”.
Editors have many great features built into them, though most are a means to simplify and quicken the process of creating the shapes that you are looking for. I will save the complex tools for later as we become more familiar with the subject. For now we only need to know the basic geometric shapes, or primitive shapes. We should all be fairly familiar with these from highschool geometry. I’m talking about Planes, Cubes, Boxes, Cones, Spheres, and Cylinders. There are also a few more that are helpful such as the Torus, humorously dubbed as the donut. We could make any of these shapes from scratch, but editors have been graciously provided with means of quickly making these primitive shapes as well as some parameters to adjust the dimensions for various purposes. For Blender 3D it is in a hidden menu, “Shift+A” under mesh, or in the top left toolbar Add, under mesh.
The Blender 3D editor utilizes a few different modes. I will go over “Object” and “Edit” for now. Object mode allows you to move around a collection of points, lines, faces, and surfaces. I specifically mention faces and surfaces separately because they do not have to be connected to be considered part of that Object. Moving, rotating, or scaling objects will change everything it contains all together. Objects also have an origin, the point in space that it is anchored to. Edit mode allows the points, lines, and faces of the surfaces to be adjusted, including adding and removing them.
This concludes a brief introduction to 3D modeling basics and terminology. Hopefully it was insightful and interesting. I look forward to all the wonderful things that everyone will create.