Jeff Bailey
Written by Jeff Bailey
Learning resources, opinions, and facts about technology.

Learn 3D Graphics

Reading Time: 3.3 minutes
Listen to this post

The Basics

Learn 3D Graphics fundamentals, and jump off to more complex studies. The idea of 3D graphics has been around since 1961 and has significantly evolved over the years. I’ll walk you through some of the basics of 3D graphics development.

Primary Use Cases

  • Video games and movies
  • Planning real-world architecture
  • Interactive software experiences

My primary use case is to build interactive software experiences. The following content is slightly tailored with that in mind, but will stay abstract enough to help you learn fundamental concepts.


Building 3D graphics solutions starts with modeling your 3D objects. We need to define the constraints. We need to set the purpose of our 3D model by defining what we want to do with it.


The Geometry is all the components that make up the parts of a 3D object.


A Vertex is a single point in space typically represented by x,y, and z coordinates.


The Vertices are a collection of vertex values that make up a 3D object’s points.


The Edge is a line between two vertices.


The Faces are a closed set of

Surface Normal

UV Point & UV Space

UV Mapping is a process of of mapping a 2D image to a 3D model.



Meshes are a common way of modeling 3D objects. Meshes are typically made up of triangles so the shapes can fit into a plane.

A mesh is a collection of vertices, edges, and faces that define the shape of a 3D object.

  • A vertex is a single point
  • An edge is a straight line segment that connects two vertices
  • A face is a flat surface enclosed by edges

Geometric Modeling

At a fundamental level, when working with 3D graphics, we want to input a small amount of information to render a large amount of data.


When moving to the rendering process, you’ll want to define your constraints and requirements. Do you need an extremely detailed scene? Is a lower resolution required to allow for quick on the fly rendering?


The lighting in your renders is essential for adding depth to your objects. Without illumination, your objects will look flat and lifeless, and with illumination, your objects will look realistic.

Graphics Pipelines

The process whereby you start with vertices then end up with pixels. In computer graphics, a computer graphics pipeline is a conceptual model that describes how to render a 3D scene to a 2D screen.

Graphics APIs

When working with 3D graphics you’ll notice there are hundreds of APIs.

Learn 3D Graphics – Beyond the Basics

Related Tools