I have been using Wings3d recently to construct a 3d model of something I would like to print on a 3d printer. It is very interesting.
I have nearly finished my model, and one of the things I realize now is that I spent a long time working on one part of the model early on, only to see now that it represents maybe 10% of the volume of the finished whole. But when I started, I was focused on this one piece, and put a lot of detail into it. Now that detail is hardly visible in the final model. Worse, the extra detail results in a very large number of polygons for that one piece, with a number of negative consequences. I should have done a rough sketch of the whole model at the beginning, then I would have understood where I should focus my time.
It’s a bit like software development, accelerated. Some important themes in common are:
- Employ rapid prototyping at the beginning to understand the problem and what the important elements of a solution should be (see previous paragraph).
- Big components can require a lot of maintenance. If you put a lot of work into a part of the system, you can make it beautiful and reusable. But you can also make it bloated, full of unseen problems, and hard to fix or adapt to new uses. For example, part of my model is a hand. When I originally constructed the hand, I made it too thin, but I also added a lot of extra faces to get a smooth surface. Later, I realized I had made it too thin. Then all those extra faces bit me, I had to take care to move them all to make the hand wider.
- Maintain modularity and decoupling. I have had some problems with Wings3d incorrectly applying transformations to selections containing multiple bodies. To get around that, I merged the separate parts of my model into a single body fairly early in the construction process. That helps the transformation problem, but now it will be hard to reuse the separate parts of the model.