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I have some experience with 3D parametric CAD (e.g. Solidworks, Autodek Inventor). So far, I have watched the official Blender tutorials 3 times and read a complete book about Blender. I am wondering if I will need to undergo a paradigm shift to successfully model in Blender.

Suppose I am drawing a wooden stool. In parametric CAD, I would design a leg (1 object) with a hole that fits a screw, make the seat (another object) with 4 holes for the 4 leg screws, and make a screw (yet another object). Then in the final assembly, I will assemble 4 legs and the seat by putting in 4 screws. Drawing finished.

What is the process in Blender? Do Blender users make only one object called "Stool" and model the shape of the stool without regard for the components of the object (e.g. legs, screws, seat)? What if the screws are important (e.g. I need to be able to accurately take the stool apart)?

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    $\begingroup$ I would start with a donut. $\endgroup$
    – CShark
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @CShark What donut? I am making a wooden stool. $\endgroup$
    – Flux
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ It was a playful reference to well-known donut tutorial which is tackled by many beginners who frequent this site. $\endgroup$
    – Leander
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Leander I finished the donut tutorial. In fact, I watched the part 1 three times, part 2 twice, part 3 once, and part 4 once. $\endgroup$
    – Flux
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ Joking aside, you might want to take a look at the chair tutorial by BlenderGuru for a rough guide. He focuses on a chair for the purpose of architectural visualization though, so it is only one approach to do an accurate chair - which is suited for ArchViz. Personally, I orient myself at the real world. What is separate in RL, is separate in 3D. And then I look where I cut corners to save time and not make it separate objects or not model the thing at all but use bump- or normal maps. $\endgroup$
    – CShark
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 7:00

2 Answers 2

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There's a question you need to answer before asking: 'How do I draw this stool?'.

It's: 'Why am I drawing this stool?'.

If you're using a CAD package, the answer to the latter is usually given. It's to propose, or to aid, the manufacture of a real-world stool. But if you're using a visualizaton and animation suite like Blender, that's not the case.

It could be:

  • A stool to illustrate the assembly of stools, including the deployment of screws
  • A 3D-printable stool, with a manifold surface.
  • A pre-lit low-poly stool, for use in a limited-resources game
  • A hero foreground stool, with wood grain and shiny screw heads, in an architectural visualization, or product shot.
  • A graphic stool, for use in a poster advertising a chain of cafés
  • A hacked out-of-focus background stool, only half of which is ever seen
  • A toon stool, which can run away from its obese owner, and attempt suicide by jumping out of an apartment window
  • A stool for sale as an asset to be used by other people, whose purpose is part of its advertised specification, and needs to be by-the-book
  • A photorealistic VFX stool, which will need to bounce off a previously filmed floor, and be shot to pieces in scene 23
  • .......

These are considerations unlikely to be taken into account by a CAD user. There's no single paradigm. Each stool will require a different approach to serving its purpose, while avoiding as much work as possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ I find extrusion an effective way to create "stools" $\endgroup$
    – batFINGER
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ OK. ... I was kinda waiting for that one.... then.. it had to be you 🙄. $\endgroup$
    – Robin Betts
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 13:41
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as I'm solid-work user as well I can tell you that it is kind of different.

First of all in SW software it is hard to actually freely move with parts and have more in one scene, so that what is final assembly for. In Blender it doesn't matter. You can have hundreds of parts in one file - use collection to sort things if you will have a plenty objects. Blender is far from to be as precise as CAD modeling, it is mainly for concepts, games, animations, sculpting... etc. If the holes for the screws will never be seen, you can model the whole chair without insides, and joints. But as you wrote, if you want to be precise and model everything, just model leg with hole and copy it, pose it as you wish, model the seat add screws,everything in one file. For good orientation in the scene use options for hiding objects and, group them in collections. collections Assembly is made by hand, not like in SW where you click on the two surfaces to add mates. You will learn how to use origin and 3D cursor to align things as you wish, and other things that can help you position objects.

Hope this brief explanation help. Feel free to ask.

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  • $\begingroup$ I wished your screenshot would stand out as a better example with more descriptive object names. $\endgroup$
    – Leander
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, it was just to point out the possibilities of collections. In the filter button you will choose which restriction you want to see and then use it. there are possibilities as selectable, visible in view port, visible in render... For the complete guide, check outliner at docs.blender.org/manual/en/latest/editors/outliner.html $\endgroup$
    – Fowl
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 5:32

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