Is 3D Modeling Hard To Learn? Not If You Do It Right


3D modeling for biological science and medical purposes is an expanding area with growth in fields such as medical animation and biovisualization.  But is it hard to learn 3D modeling skills? We’ve gathered information about this topic from professionals in the field to find out what it takes to learn 3D modeling.

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3D modeling can be relatively easy to learn with enough time, but it is a hard discipline to perfect. It requires knowledge of modeling software, some scripting, some mathematics, and art. Medical 3D modeling is a specialized skill that requires intelligence and dedication.  It adds to the requirements knowledge of anatomy and biology.

It can be easy to get started in 3D modeling  through online training for specific software or via general modeling tutorials. However, experts say that the hardest part of this job is having an artistic touch and an eye for design. Keep reading to learn more about how to master 3D modeling and how to apply it in science.

What does it take to learn 3D modeling?

Many people go to school for full degrees in 3D animation and learn 3D modeling that way.  However, with all the available resources out there including books, youtube, websites, podcasts, just to name a few, learning modeling has become more and more accessible to the masses.  Keep in mind that if you are looking to learn medical animation, it might actually be a good idea to go through a degree program if you are not educated in biology or anatomy or if you want to apply to companies for work that require a degree.

According to industry experts, there are several skills that you should develop in order to master 3D modeling for the medical field. These skills include:

Modeling Software

The best way to get started with 3D modeling is to learn how to use modeling software. A later section of this post will discuss which program(s) you may want to learn. Many of the popular software programs have tons of resources online to help you learn the basics. Once you get comfortable using them, you can develop some of the other mentioned skills.

Scripting

Knowing computer programming or coding can be helpful in manipulating software to combine processes and create a seamless workflow. This skill will help you become more efficient in developing your models.  Scripting is a simpler method of coding and programs have their own scripting languages.  Scripting may be as simple as taking the output of the code a modeling program writes to create a model, understanding it, and modifying it for repetitive tasks to make modeling quicker.

While programming isn’t necessary to use the functions of most of the available software, it is mentioned in many job postings for 3D modeling jobs in medicine.

Mathematics and Anatomy

Mathematics and anatomy are both important when considering medical 3D modeling. Math skills are needed to create the correct shapes and dimensions in the model, especially if we consider modeling for physics based simulations or anything that needs to be done to scale and fit such as device parts.

Anatomy knowledge is crucial for making sure the final product is medically correct. At the end of the day, these models are used for medical practice and teaching, so they need to be identical to the real thing,  the human body.

Art and Design

Art skills and an eye for design are things that many people don’t think are necessary for medical 3D modeling. However, this component of modeling can mean the difference between a good modeler and a great modeler.

While this type of modeling is scientific and requires accuracy, artistic touches  surface design can help bring the model to life on a computer screen and make the model as life-like as possible.  This aspect of modeling is likely one of the hardest to learn and requires lots of practice and review.

Ultimately, all of the skills required to become a 3D modeler can be learned through practice and dedication. It will take time to become a good modeler, and it won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either.

Focus on learning the basics, and then you can work toward creating more complex models and working more efficiently.

Software Programs Needed for 3D Medical Modeling

There are many software options available when it comes to 3D modeling for biology. The programs are each suited for different tasks and goals. Some may be best for biovisualization, while others are better suited for 3D printing. The best software for you to learn will vary based on your models’ medical application and the company’s expectations where you’re interested in working.

This article gives a great overview of popular software programs for 3D modeling in the medical field. Another way to find suitable software to learn is to look at job postings in the field to see what various companies are listing in their job requirements. Many jobs will require you to know multiple software programs, as each may serve a different purpose.

If you are just getting started with 3D modeling, it might help learn the basics in a simple, sometimes free, easy-to-learn program. While each software program is different, the basics will be the same in any you use. The skills you learn in any beginner modeling software will translate to a more advanced, medically-focused software as well.

Some options for very basic free 3D modeling software to learn on are:

SelfCAD: a user-friendly program that has a small learning curve

Blender: a popular modeling program with a lot of users and online resources

BlocksCAD: a very simple program created for students to learn in elementary and middle school, which can be helpful for learning the basics if you have never used a modeling software

What is 3D Modeling Used for in Medicine?

There are two major applications of 3D modeling in medicine:

Prosthetics

Prosthetics can be printed using 3D models to create custom components that perfectly fit individual patients. They are typically made quickly and are relatively inexpensive. This method can also be used in reconstructive surgeries for bones, joints, even tissue, and live cells.

The use of 3D modeling and printing to create low cost, unique prosthetics for use in each patient’s body is an incredible medical advancement.

Training

3D modeling can also be used for training and educational purposes. Models of human body parts can be visualized on-screen to help students understand how those parts function and look inside the body.

The models can also be printed for hands-on learning or for professionals to practice complicated surgeries on models that are made specifically for certain patients.

As 3D modeling becomes more widely used and accepted in medicine, the applications will only become more varied.

 

In this field, the use of 3D modeling serves to:

  • Reduce the cost of medical procedures and treatments
  • Provide better care through increased accuracy of practice models
  • Develop better training and education with computer visualizations

Career Opportunities in Medical 3D Modeling

3D modeling in medicine is a relatively new technology that is still being adopted across the field. Therefore, jobs in this field are still growing.

Job availability varies by location. When searching for medical 3D modeling jobs online, you will find positions available in all kinds of places, from major cities like New York to small towns in Florida or Colorado. Most available jobs are with companies specializing in medical 3D printing and modeling instead of directly in hospitals or doctors’ offices.

Job titles vary as well. To search for a job in this field, try using keywords like the following:

  • Medical 3D Modeling
  • 3D Medical Animator
  • Biomedical Designer
  • 3D Medical Visualization

Some job postings in the field are for assistant or junior positions. These lower-level positions can be easier to land and can help you develop your skills to grow in the industry. There are various experience levels needed in the jobs available, indicating that there is room to develop your career at many companies in the industry.

Below is a useful video about learning 3d modeling:

 

To Summarize

Learning 3D modeling for the medical field can be challenging, but it isn’t necessarily hard. To become a 3D modeler, focus on developing the skills outlined in this article.

Start by learning modeling software, developing some programming skills, studying math, biology and anatomy, and practicing visualizations that catch the eye and tell a story.

Mastering 3D modeling for the medical field will take lots of hard work and discipline, but it doesn’t have to be difficult! If you put in the work, you can become a 3D modeler and contribute meaningfully to the medical field.

Click on the following link to learn how to do 3d animal modeling.

Dr. J

Dr. J has worked in biology all his life and holds several advanced degrees and certificates in biology, anatomy, scientific illustration, 3d animation and motion graphics. He has always had an interest in teaching others the wonders of biology using the latest advances in graphics, including visualization, digital microscopy, animation, illustration, VR and interactive media.

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