3D Modeling & 3D Rendering – What’s The Difference?

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What’s the difference between 3D modeling and 3D rendering?

If you are new to 3D design, the terms 3D modeling and 3D rendering can be confusing. They may even sound like they describe the same thing, but in reality, these words refer to two distinct processes that serve separate functions within a larger workflow. As an artist or designer, it is imperative that you understand the differences between these two concepts so that you can work more efficiently when creating digital objects and elements. In this blog post, we will explore both 3D modeling and 3D rendering in depth so that by the end of your reading session today you will have a better understanding of how each works for adding realism to your projects.

What is 3D modeling

The word modelling in a layman’s language is simply the process of taking a shape. Unlike 3D rendering, 3D modeling can therefore be stated as the process of giving something shape such that it can be completed into a 3D mesh. Typically, a 3D model can be created by taking a simple object that is otherwise known as a primitive(primitives can be anything ranging from a single point object-vertex-, a two dimensional line-edge-, a curve-a spline- or a 3 dimensional object-faces or polygons-) and then one extends it into a shape such that it can be refined and detailed.

3D modelling mainly involves the designer developing a mesh of a three dimensional image and for them to go this, they need to be equipped with the proper tools and knowledge. One is mainly required to have the know-how of various mathematical concepts. A background knowledge in computer coding is as well important to the designer.

For a designer to make a 3D model in three dimensional modelling, he/she needs to be able to know how to use the X-plane, Y-plane and the Z-plane so that he can modify the appearance of the desired object in to the required shapes.

There are some widely applied methods of 3D modelling applied by experts some of which are:

  • Box modelling- the artist in this case is required to start of the modeling procedure with the aid of a polygon which can for instance be a cube, sphere or cylinder then molds it into the required shape.
  • Edge/contour modelling-unlike in box modelling, the artist in this case starts off creating a model prom scratch and develops t into the required shape
  • Spline modeling- this method is also referred to as NURBS modelling and is essential if the models involved are for automotive or industrial use. NURBS mesh has no faces, edges or vertices but instead is comprised of smoothly interpreted surfaces.
  • Digital sculpting- similar to the process of molding a mound of clay, a designer that is using digital sculpting uses a unique tablet device to shape the model exactly like a sculptor.


3D rendering on the other hand is whereby one is able to create a 3D image from a 3D model which can be of any form as described in the above paragraph. In order form one to do this, the assistance of a rendering software is needed. 3D rendering is a process that can be carried out in a series of steps that are as follows:

  • Visualization: three dimensional visualization is a situation whereby one tents to see the movement of images in a life-like print upon looking at them. In some cases, three dimensional visualization can be considered as a situation where the viewer of an image tends to experience the illusion of depth upon looking at an image; such an experience can be felt in a cinema filming say a 3D movie or in the working of a 3D printer as it transforms a two dimensional digital image into a three dimensional image. 3D visualization can be accomplished with the aid of CAD data, 3D model and any sketches and images that you may be having.
  • 3D modelling- once the requirements of 3D visualization have been obtained, a digital model of a 3D image is created by the aid of 3D modelling software.
  • Texturing, lighting and detail-in 3D rendering, the designer after having creates the model needs to add detail to it. The image’s texture ought to be altered such that the desired results are obtained. There ought to be a distinct difference between say a wooden table and the walls of a wooden cabin. Lighting should be in such a way that the reflexivity aspect of various features in the model is brought out clearly.
  • The three dimensional image that is obtained is then presented to the client for approval and adjustments. The clients is in this stage required to point out the areas of the draft image that need correction and the adjustments are carried out and after completion of this, the designer makes a final copy of the three dimensional model and presents it to the client.

From the above description and general review of three dimensional rendering and modeling, the distinguishing factor between the two procedures is the developing stage of the image into what the final product is expected to look like. It can be concluded that 3D modelling is mainly concerned with the science behind the making of three dimensional images while modelling is mainly concerned with the knowledge of art.

While 3D modeling and 3D rendering may seem similar on the surface, these two processes are actually quite different. Without a doubt, both are incredibly powerful tools for creators in any field of design. With 3D modeling, you have a blank canvas – the only limit is your imagination. With 3D rendering however, you’re able to bring that imagination to life adding stunning detail to the visualization. It’s really no surprise that both processes have become staple skills in the arsenal of modern day designers. Thus next time you come across a mesmerizing object on your device or even right before your eyes, take a moment to appreciate how intuitive 3D modeling and 3D rendering are working together to create art!

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