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3d illustration
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Copyright ©2007 Peter Lembrechts - SOFAM - Belgium
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The term 3d- illustration might seem somewhat confusing, since onscreen ( or in print ), we see an image in only two dimensions.

The image though, is built in an application where we work in ( a virtual ) 3d- space and have height, width and depth ( X, Y and Z ).
By placing points ( vertex points ) in this 3d- space and connecting them, we get planes ( polygons ). A polygon needs 3 sides at least, but best results are achieved by using quads.
Now if we connect several of these polygons into a mesh, we can create 3d- objects.

This mesh can be seen as some sort of chicken wire we can bend and stretch to create an object.

Now we can also put some colour or texture on these planes and by adding some kind of lighting to our scene, we can build a realistic representation.
At right, you can see an object created using seven polygons. Next image shows this same object in colour, and at far right, I added some lighting and shadow .

Now such a simple illustration could easily be drawn in 2d of course, but there' s a lot of advantage in using 3d for illustration.

3D objects can be rotated, skewed, moved, modified, etc and we can change lighting and colour on the fly.
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Also very useful, is that we can reuse 3d objects over and over again...
When using 2d, we could end up starting all over again if we need to change some major component of our drawing, while a 3d scene allows us to change any part of our scene without starting all over again.
Most 3d applications are suitable for animation as well, what expands our toolbox tremendously.

Now to fine-tune our « chicken wire », we can subdivide the polygons to get smoother or more detailed shapes.
The individual vertex points can be moved to alter the object like if we are moulding clay or drawing vectorshapes as in
2d- illustrations

We can also change texture, reflection or transparency to create almost anything we want.
If a 3d model and its environment are finished, we can render it all into a 2d- illustration (or animation) and - if needed - manipulate it in a 2d- application.


Next page shows some examples.
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