3D Modeling

Course Description

3D Modeling, sometimes also called Solid Modeling, is a method used to create computer models of real-world objects for applications in engineering, architecture, robotics, construction, manufacturing, interior design, art, and other areas. At the heart of 3D Modeling is geometry, or more precisely, Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG). CSG is applied geometry where complex geometrical models are created by manipulating and combining basic shapes such as cubes, rectangular prisms, cylinders, spheres, and cones. In this course students learn CSG through hands-on practice. While building 2D and 3D models, they improve their geometry skills and develop strong spatial reasoning skills (ability to “think in the 3D space”). Upon completing the course, students are ready for a smooth transition to using professional CAD software such as SolidWorks.


This course only requires basic keyboarding experience.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Think and solve problems in the 3D space
  • Understand the coordinate system in 2D and 3D
  • Use coordinates, points, vectors, and angles
  • Calculate the sizes and distances of objects
  • Define 2D and 3D shapes, and understand their properties
  • Create 3D objects by extruding planar objects to 3D
  • Make complex 3D models by combining prisms
  • Create 3D objects based on their XY, XZ and YZ views
  • Move (translate) objects in 2D and 3D
  • Rotate objects in 2D and 3D
  • Scale (stretch and shrink) objects
  • Create intersections and unions of objects, subtract objects
  • Erase parts of objects and split objects
  • Take advantage of planar and rotational symmetry
  • Design complex 3D models by combining 3D shapes
  • Work with rotational surfaces, shells and solids
  • Automate designs with scripting
  • Understand RGB color codes, define custom colors
  • Export 3D models as STL files for 3D printing

Equipment Requirements

Computer, laptop or tablet with Internet access, web browser, and email.

Course Structure and Length

This course is self-paced, and students practice each skill and concept as they go. Automatic feedback is built into the course for both practices and quizzes.

The course is divided into four Units. Units 1 – 3 consist of 5 Sections. Each Section has 7 instructional/practice levels, a quiz, and a master (proficiency) level. Students can return to any level or quiz for review. Quizzes can be re-taken one time after 12 hours. Unit 4 is a Capstone Project.

Units 1 and 2 cover all basic concepts of Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) and completing them is recommended. With the skills learned in Units 1 and 2, students are able to create complex 3D models and complete their Capstone Project. Unit 3 is optional. It covers advanced CSG concepts including selected special 3D shapes, spirals, Bezier curves, rotational solids, shells and surfaces, and design automation via Python scripting.

This table illustrates the course structure as units, sections, and levels.

Students need approximately 80 hands-on hours, based on their ability level, to complete this course. Since the course is self-paced, the amount of time required to complete the course varies from student to student.