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3D Modeling

Course Overview:

In this introduction 3D modeling course, students will learn the fundamentals of computer modeling and sculpting, visual analysis, and computer-assisted design. Students will also develop skills in creative problem solving and demonstrate an understanding of how humans have thought about design across history and cultures. Students will utilize 3D modeling Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technology, watch video tutorials, and read articles to explore how to create a conceptual design and build the designs using different 3D polygonal modeling and sculpting techniques. Additional topics that will be covered are design innovations, basic human anatomy, texture painting and creation, physical material properties, and basic animation and simulation. Students will be asked to think critically and creatively to problem solve projects that reflect an understanding of craftsmanship and content. They will use these techniques to create usable 3D models in Autodesk’s Fusion 360 for a virtual environment and/or real-world application, including looking at real world problems and creating a conceptual design for a solution. They will present these creations and designs to their peers during their 2-hour weekly live session using a video conferencing platform, where they will receive and give criticism and feedback to improve their designs. During these live sessions, students will also discuss the different modeling topics, review techniques, brainstorm ideas, and refine designs with their peers to create innovative and creative designs for their projects, which are completed asynchronously. Video tutorials and research are reviewed before the live sessions, not only to allow students time to reflect on these techniques and tools, but also to prepare them to discuss their ideas in the live session, before creating their own models. Some projects are completed outside of the live session in groups or pairs, and students trade parameters, so as to collaborate and review different ideas from their peers. These asynchronous projects, video tutorials, and research are housed in our learning management system.

Course Content

Unit 1 – Design

In this unit, students will explore the history and foundations of 3D modeling and designing. First, they will research the different industries in our society and how 3D modeling has been used by the specific industry, what designers did before 3D modeling, and how the industry uses 3D modeling to advance our society. Then the students will go into the specifics of design by learning the steps in creating a conceptual design, exploring how each step is important, and putting each step into action by creating a simple conceptual design themselves. Finally, students will review their designs, the designs of their peers, as well as designs in the industry and think of ways to innovate and improve upon those designs. While learning about design innovation practices, students will think about the economic impact of their designs as well as ways to improve their designs without waste. They will meet once a week for a 2-hour live session via video conferencing software. These live sessions will consist of a presentation and peer review, where students will present their designs and their fellow classmates will provide constructive feedback to help them improve or to give a different perspective on the design. The students will also spend the live sessions brainstorming with their partners or groups about their designs. The goal of this unit is to have students understand why they are designing and to encourage them to think about the impact of their designs.

Unit 2 – Production

In this unit, students will learn the tools and techniques to build and design 3D models in Fusion 360, a CAD software by Autodesk, and graphic editing programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. The tools and techniques covered are 2D sketching, going from 2D to 3D, mesh modeling, understanding simple shape building, sculpting, and material application. Asynchronously, the students will work individually to focus on learning the different tools in the program and familiarize themselves with the user interface through video tutorials housed in the learning management system. Through this unit, they will make a go-pro case, different household items, a model of their desk and/or workspace, and a chess set. The first few items are things they are familiar with so they can create 3D models of objects that they have on hand. The chess set assignment requires the students to be creative. They will think of a themed concept and design for all the pieces in a chess set, then build the 3D models based off the research they conduct for their design. Finally, they will apply physical and appearance materials to the 3D models to give them a more realistic appearance. They will meet once a week for a 2-hour live session via a video conferencing software. These live sessions are a time for students to review their peers’ 3D models, then discuss and explore the purpose of each technique and how it was applied. Some activities include learning basic art foundation to properly balance their designs, researching a historical sculpture, and discussing how 3D modeling can be used in the modern world.

Unit 3 – Simulation and Animation

In this unit, students will finalize their 3D models in preparation for presentation. They will use Fusion 360, a CAD software, to render and create a photorealistic image, add assembly motion to components, animate complex motion designs, explore real world simulations and physical applications, and learn how to improve their 3D models using generative design and optimization. Asynchronously, students will build and edit their previous designs to be able to apply renderings and assembly motions. Through this unit, they will design a room with a specific design concept to house the desk they designed in the previous unit. They will also build a catapult and apply an assembly motion to demonstrate how the arm moves compared to the base. Then, they will create a complete animation of the catapulting throwing an object while considering the physical limitations in a simulation and will publish a video of the working animation. At the end of their animation demo, they will write a proposal to a medieval monarch of their choosing to explain how their catapult works and how it can help win a war. Finally, they will apply their understanding of generative design and optimization to improve their design for future iterations and advancements to stay updated with modern needs.

Unit 4 – Final Project

The final major unit of the semester focuses on the culmination of all the skills the students learned and applies them into a final design. The final project covers several weeks to allow students more time to focus on each step of the project and consider all the problems that they previously encountered in their designs. They will start by selecting a problem and creating a conceptual design as a solution to the problem. After completing initial design ideas, they will present them to their peers during the live session to receive peer feedback and discuss their design. Using the feedback, they will finalize a conceptual design idea and then build the 3D model. After construction, students will apply a simulation to their design and create a report on the real-world capacity. Finally, they will create an animation demo along with a technical report for a final presentation. Throughout this unit, there will be small presentations for project updates and feedback. Students will collaborate asynchronously over the weeks to finalize their concept ideas and build their designs. The course will end with a final presentation where students will talk about their solution and research, offer an animation demo, and discuss how their final design solves their initial problem. Students will meet once a week for a 2-hour live session via a video conference software, where they will engage in in-class collaboration and discussions, share their current progress, and receive feedback for improvement.