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I'm a programmer. I have a great draftsman, but I don't know how to take his drawings to 3D.

My gut feeling is to have him draw different view angles, then work based on those, adding each dimension to the model turn. But really I'm just guessing here.

How do I do this methodically and correctly?

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If you figure out how to convert a 2d image into a 3d model, I'm sure there's thousands of people who would be interested in how it's done. You could start here: – thedaian Jun 24 '11 at 16:24
Removed the XNA tag since it's entirely irrelevant here. And what you're basically asking is 'how do I create a 3D model'. – The Communist Duck Jun 24 '11 at 16:52
@apacay: The fist step would be to learn a 3D modelling package. Try blender, it's free.. but this isn't going to be easy. Especially if you don't have any experience with 3D modelling. – bummzack Jun 24 '11 at 17:03
@The OK, you are right on that one. But if there is some way to get XNA somehow easier, if I should use a punctual program or way to sinergyze with it, I'm also interested. – apacay Jun 24 '11 at 17:03
@apacay No, there is no physical way YET that has been developed to turn 2D views into a 3D model by code. – The Communist Duck Jun 24 '11 at 17:52
up vote 12 down vote accepted

As Tim Holt said, you need a 3D modeler in order to translate the 2D designs into models. However, if you're willing to try your hand at modeling, the basic process generally goes like this:

  1. Add the image you're working from to the 3D scene so that you can add vertices in front of it. Your modeling program may have a built in method for this, otherwise use a regular plane with the image as a texture.
  2. Set your view so that you are viewing the image flat (camera's direction vector is perpendicular to the image)
  3. If possible, follow step 1 and 2 for your alternative-angle images at an appropriate angle to the original and set up extra camera views so you can see both or all images from the correct angle simultaneously.
  4. Start adding vertices to your model that match up to the image outlines.
  5. Use your supplementary images to make any additional vertices you need, and to position your vertices from step 4 in the third dimension.

There are tool-specific and more in-depth tutorials available on the web.

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That's what I was looking for. thank you! – apacay Jun 28 '11 at 12:38

The solution is not in coding, it's in talent. Bring someone into your team who's a 3d modeller. They will be able to take the 2d concept sketches and turn them into 3d models, just as you (as a programmer) can take someone's idea of an algorithm and turn it into code.

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I know, the thing is... It's me alone who will work solo on this until it gets some itch to my team to help me. So, what I need is a tutorial to start doing that. Is it too hard? – apacay Jun 24 '11 at 16:57
Agree 100%. 3D modelling is an art for itself. Especially turning model-sheets into good 3D models for games is something that requires a lot of skill and knowledge (sorry, this is meant as a comment to Tims answer. At the time I wrote it, apacays comment wasn't there yet). – bummzack Jun 24 '11 at 16:58
This isn't an answer, it is a recommendation to pay someone else for an answer… – Anko Apr 16 '15 at 19:42

I recommend looking at Google Sketchup. It's a 3D modelling program that's mostly aimed at architectural modelling; it lends itself well to starting with a layout or side projection and extruding from that. It's got a bunch of tutorials and can export in several useful ways.

However, Sketchup will work best if you're designing 3D environments, not things like humanoid models. It doesn't really do the same sort of vertex-and-polygon-based archetype as typical 3D modellers, and I don't believe it has any sort of skeleton or animation functionality at all.

If you're feeling adventurous, I recommend trying Blender, like some responders have suggested, since it's free. Look for tutorials online. It will take a lot of learning, more than Sketchup, but it's a fully-featured modelling program.

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Thanks for your answer, I'll take a look at Blender with some tutorial on my hand. – apacay Jun 28 '11 at 12:38

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