3D Sculpting

Digital sculpting is a relatively new type of 3D modeling where the user interacts with the digital model as you would modeling clay. Users can push, pull, pinch, or twist virtual clay to generate their model. Digital sculpting, also known as Sculpt Modeling or 3D Sculpting, is the use of software that offers tools to push, pull, smooth, grab, pinch or otherwise manipulate a digital object as if it were made of a real-life substance such as clay.

The geometry used in digital sculpting programs to represent the model can vary; each offers different benefits and limitations. The majority of digital sculpting tools on the market use mesh-based geometry, in which an object is represented by an interconnected surface mesh of polygons that can be pushed and pulled around. This is somewhat similar to the physical process of beating copper plates to sculpt a scene in relief. Other digital sculpting tools use voxel-based geometry, in which the volume of the object is the basic element. Material can be added and removed, much like sculpting in clay. Still other tools make use of more than one basic geometry representation.

A benefit of mesh-based programs is that they support sculpting at multiple resolutions on a single model. Areas of the model that are finely detailed can have very small polygons while other areas can have larger polygons. In many mesh-based programs, the mesh can be edited at different levels of detail, and the changes at one level will propagate to higher and lower levels of model detail. A limitation of mesh-based sculpting is the fixed topology of the mesh; the specific arrangement of the polygons can limit the ways in which detail can be added or manipulated.

A benefit of voxel based sculpting is that voxels allow complete freedom over form. The topology of a model can be altered continually during the sculpting process as material is added and subtracted, which frees the sculptor from considering the layout of polygons on the model's surface. Voxels, however, are more limited in handling multiple levels of detail. Unlike mesh-based modeling, broad changes made to voxels at a low level of detail may completely destroy finer details.