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I come from CAD and I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how people maintain models in Blender and other mesh tools. If I want, say, a hole through my model, I seems that I have to commit to the general location of that hole, since it is going to be baked into the topology if the model. If I ever want to change the location of the hole it can be a huge job. It gets worse if I have, say, 30 holes in a row, and want to change it to 35 holes in a row with the same total span width.

I can always use modifiers, but eventually I have to apply them and fix all the edge flows they break. If I need to change something at a later date, I will have to redo the edge flows again. This is especially broken if I want to use subdivision surface modifiers, since I will either need detailed control geometry around my hole’s sharp corners, or I will need to do the Boolean after applying the subdivide and be stuck with a lot more geometry to retopo.

How do people deal with this? I make thousands of retrospective changes to a model as I move through a CAD design process. Is 3D modeling more like painting, where you commit to the structure of the workpiece as you go? Are there any tools that I could use to mitigate these issues? So far, I cannot see the advantage of working directly in meshes besides the output being easily UV-mapped. Because of this it is surprising to me that we don’t see more modeling done in parasolid software and then meshed into UV-friendly topologies using automated tools. Either this is just mathematically very difficult to do, or there are some strong advantages to the mesh workflow that I am not seeing.

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    $\begingroup$ That's true, the hole example you mentioned is quite hard to do in Blender in a non-destructive manner (so yes, the boolean modifier usually needs to be applied and then a lot of work goes into fixing the geometry). One way is to use another software like Moi 3D (youtube.com/watch?v=X5r3xc_Go3o) for the modelling process and then export the mesh to Blender for rendering, for example. $\endgroup$ – Manu Järvinen Sep 6 '18 at 14:32
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Blender is not the best tool to use for procedural modeling workflow. Its workflow is quite destructive actually. There are better tools like Modo's MeshFusion, Houdini or Moi3D if you value procedurality.

It is possible to create the shapes parametrically and mesh them with clever math, there are some auto-retopology tools out there, but humans can do usually better than that. Maybe in couple of years there will be AI to do that well for us.

Since the workflow is destructive it's important to finalize the design before modeling. That's what concept art, sketches and 2D studies are for. There is some room for experimentation in modeling phase, but it should be well defined beforehand.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems like the cold hard truth. I will check out some of those other programs. I will also start studying retopology, as it looks like a good opportunity to learn more about both computer science and differential geometry! $\endgroup$ – hunt Sep 6 '18 at 17:37

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