This can be quite an overwhelming undertaking. But it has its advantages. It is very much like drawing in real life, which gives me a clear understanding of the visual language. There are many people who do this for a living. The best way to learn is to do it at home. You can start by using a software called Blender. It is an open source 3D application, as opposed to a commercial product, and you can use it at home for free. The first step is to download Blender and save it somewhere, but it looks similar to any image editor (see figure 1). You will need an existing 3D printer. Some printers (e.g. 3Djet or Makerbot) can do almost everything, but they are expensive/cheaper than 3D printers made by manufacturers (e.g. Makerbot). The best way to learn to design at home is to use software. To the same extent that we use software to design real life, so we will learn the software to design virtual objects in 3D. You are free to use whatever software you choose. Blender, for instance, is very easy to use. I started using it in 2004. Now I do it for about $20 a month. Figure 2 Blender’s interface is very intuitive, unlike in software. You have to learn a few advanced concepts to do the design step. You could try to save the designs as an animation file so that they may be printed later as a high resolution model or a 3D model. The model generation tools are also very powerful. However, there are lots of things that you have to learn by trial and error, and not only do they take up a lot of time, they are very confusing at first. The key is to use the tools the way you learn!
You may also be more familiar with the design software Maya, which is not as easy to learn, but is much easier to use. I personally find Maya easier to use because it is easy to learn. You can download it from the official Maya site; Maya is free and you can download it through Google. The program runs well on the Mac. Open source version 2.9 has an online editor for Blender that I use, but the source code is proprietary. Some people prefer Rhino, but they are also open source and free for use, even in commercial applications.
The first lesson is to learn how to get the right perspective, that a drawing is actually three dimensions. This means that you have to
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