Getting Started with Modelling

In the second in our series of Blender 3D Basics classes, Ethan Davis introduces you to 3D modelling in Blender.

He explains the difference between ‘destructive’ and ‘non-destructive’ modelling techniques before taking you through the various modelling tools.

These include Extrude, Inset, Bevel, Loop Cut, Knife, Poly Build, Spin, Randomize, and more.

By the end of this class, you’ll be ready to start modelling in Blender!

You may also find it useful to refer to the Modelling entry in our 3D CGI Terminology A-Z.


  1. Maarten Quaadvliet

    Which mouse do you recommend me to use?

    Know I am working on a MacBook Pro and a Magic Mouse. This particular mouse doesn’t have the same option as the mouse you are working with. Now it’s pretty confusing, because my mouse doesn’t act like the mouse you are using.

    Thanks in advance!


  2. Gary Stasiuk

    Question about modelling.. years ago, I worked in 3D Studio Max. I took a modelling course and for the final project I modelled my view camera. I added every screw and curve and part faithfully. Quite a decent outcome but resulted in tens of thousands of vertices. Now they may have been required or I likely over indulged in how many were required. Hard to say at this point, but from every course I’ve ever taken concerning modelling, the instructor always warns about slowing down the render with too many points.

    My question is in finding that optimal amount of just enough. Do I just gain an understanding of what is required through trial and error to gain experience? Or is there a target smoothness while you are modelling that you can describe? My concern for a rule of thumb to keep in mind might be described through this example: Let us say you are modelling a car engine block.. and it has boolean holes or extruded sections. Is your approach to model it in a blocky low rez shape first and then camphor the edges and subdivide surfaces as you finish.. or to subdivide and camphor edges as you work your way through the model?

    1. Corey (KTE Team)

      Hi Gary,
      Like you mentioned, this largely comes with experience, as with choosing the method of modelling. If you’re modelling a lipstick, it’s probably more time efficient to start with primitive box modelling for example. For something more complex, you might want to go with poly modelling.

      The rule of thumb as I have always understood it is to have as few polys as possible, working your mesh until it cannot be improved with the current geometry. Depending on your model and art direction, this varies wildly. Generally, you can make use of loop cuts and other tools to get the geometry you need and keep your topology clean.

      Subdivision of the entire model is almost always the last thing to do, so as not to deal with the vastly increased polygon count and to make sure every part of your mesh is necessary. You could add a Subdivision modifier to your object without actually applying it, to see how it looks. You only need to apply the Subdiv if you need that geometry editable.

      Hope that helps

    2. Gary Stasiuk
      Hello, my background is in 3D animation by trade and dealing with modeling for characters and assets.
      My advice would be in the beginning to keep models as low poly as possible and add edge loops where needed. You’ll find that adding the holding edges to create bevels to catch highlights will in some instances maintain enough detail and curvature to avoid adding more resolution. Although dividing the model will be necessary at some points. You’ll see that using this technique and using the blender smooth normals feature will keep you from using the subdivide modifier. Keeping the scene light and manageable especially for animation and rendering.

      I use Autodesk Maya for my day job and I’m currently learning blender to speed up the process I use Industry standard keys as I use Maya. Keep these in mind I hope this helps.

  3. Thomas Habermann

    Ethan, great job. I feel like I’ve learned more within the last two days than I did for a month in Maya. Thanks to your skills and the genius piece of software called Blender. It has this fantastic interface, where everything seems to be recognized intuitively. I can’t wait to transfer my photography and 2D knowledge into the world of CGI.

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