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definitions

handy list of 3D-related words and terms for easy reference with examples

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Beginner Basics
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3D Cursor

Global reference point and where objects are added into the scene.

3D Cursor
General 3D
Armature

Enables manipulating an object with an Armature object.

Armature
Modifiers
Array

Creates copies of the original object

Array
Modifiers
Backface Culling

Disables rendering of faces that aren't visible (makes the render faster).

Backface Culling
General 3D
Bevel

Makes corners/edges rounded or sloped

Bevel
Modifiers
Bevel

Smoothing an edge of an object by adding more geometry.

Bevel
General 3D
Boolean

Operations between objects (keep in mind that you have to hide the object that doesn't have the modifier to see the effect).

- Union (combines objects together into 1 mesh)

- Intersection ("new" mesh from the overlapping parts)

- Difference (subtracts one mesh from the other)

Boolean
Modifiers
Build

Makes faces disappear/appear one by one during an animation.

Build
Modifiers
Cast

Deforms the mesh to make it more Sphere/Cylinder/Cuboid-ish.

Cast
Modifiers
Curve

Makes the mesh bend following a curve object (the object needs to have enough geometry to be able to bend properly).

Curve
Modifiers
Decimate

Reduces the number of polygons.

Decimate
Modifiers
Displace

Modifies the mesh based on a texture.

Displace
Modifiers
Edge Split

Splits edges (that hold 2 faces together for example). When applied, each face has its own edge separately.

Edge Split
Modifiers
Geometry Nodes

Used to create any kind of geometry from using nodes only.

Geometry Nodes
Modifiers
High-poly

Mesh with A LOT of polygons. AVOID because it makes things slower an laggy.

High-poly
General 3D
Hook

Deform the mesh (vertex group) using another object (or an empty).

Hook
Modifiers
Laplacian Deform

Deforms the mesh using fixed hooks.

[CTRL + H] to add hooks (in Edit Mode) and create a Vertex Group with them selected.

Laplacian Deform
Modifiers
Lattice

Enables deforming an object using a Lattice object.

Lattice
Modifiers
Loopcut

A transversal cut on a mesh (all around).

Loopcut
General 3D
Low-poly

Mesh with few polygons.

Low-poly
General 3D
Mask

Hides vertices corresponding to a Vertex Group you've selected.

Mask
Modifiers
Mesh

3d object (the virtual representation of a physical object).  Also called "geo" (for geometry).

Mesh
General 3D
Mesh Deform

Enables deforming an object using any other object (like the Lattice modifier).

Mesh Deform
Modifiers
Mirror

Mirrors the mesh across the object's origin (its local axis).

Mirror
Modifiers
Modifier

"Effect" that manipulates mesh. It is "non-destructive" (doesn't actually change the mesh under) until we decide to Apply it (applies the changes permanently), making it "destructive".

Modifier
General 3D
Multiresolution

(also called Multires)

Click Subdivide to create a subdivision step and then you can iterate through the different individual created steps/subdivisions. Useful for sculpting because you can change the number of subdivisions on the fly, which makes the viewport feel faster/slower.

Multiresolution
Modifiers
Nodes

Interactive panels that connect to each other, representing mathematical calculations and/or logic.

Nodes
General 3D
Normal Map

Image texture that tells how a surface reflects light. We can use normal maps to "fake" high detail in a low-poly object (normal mapping). We can make a normal map by baking it from a high-poly mesh.

Normal Map
General 3D
Normals

Vector that represents the direction a polygon is facing, which influences how light is reflected (for example, an object will appear to shine brighter if it is directly facing a light).

Normals
General 3D
Origin

Reference point for the individual object.

Origin
General 3D
Polygons

Each single shape that makes a mesh. Generally, the more polygons an object has, the more power is required to process it.

Polygons
General 3D
Remesh

Calculates the mesh again, generating quads ("cleans up" the mesh making it more even overall).

Remesh
Modifiers
Rigging

Assigning bones to a mesh to animate later. We animate the “bones” that are parented to the mesh instead of the mesh itself in the animation process.

Rigging
General 3D
Roughness map

Grey-scale image that controls where and how rough/smooth a surface is.

Black = 0% rough surface

White = 100% rough surface

Roughness map
General 3D
Screw

(also called Lathe)

Creates a "screw-like" effect.

Screw
Modifiers
Shrinkwrap

Wrap the mesh onto another object.

Shrinkwrap
Modifiers
Simple Deform

Applies one of the predefined deformations (Twist/Bend/Tape/Stretch).

Simple Deform
Modifiers
Skin

Creates a thick "skin" from vertices. Usually used in combination with the Subdivision Surface modifier for creating base meshes for sculpting. If you have a curve, it adds thickness to it (convert the curve to mesh first).

Press [CTRL + A] to change the thickness on the selected vertex.

Skin
Modifiers
Smooth

Smooths a mesh without creating new geometry.

Smooth
Modifiers
Smooth Corrective

Corrects a mesh with strong deformations/overlapping mesh.

Smooth Corrective
Modifiers
Smooth Laplacian

Helps making a mesh smooth without deforming it too much.

Smooth Laplacian
Modifiers
Solidify

Adds thickness to a mesh.

Solidify
Modifiers
Subdivision

Doubling the number of polygons.

Subdivision
General 3D
Subdivision Surface

Divides the faces so that the mesh looks smoother.

[CTRL + (number of subdivisions you want)] to quickly add this modifier to the currently selected mesh.

Subdivision Surface
Modifiers
Surface Deform

Mimics another mesh's deformation and/or motion.

Surface Deform
Modifiers
Triangulate

Converts mesh from quads (4 vertices) to tris (3 vertices).

Triangulate
Modifiers
UV

Describes how a texture is assigned to a surface

UV
General 3D
UV Unwrapping

The process of projecting/unfolding a 3D object into 2D. (like a paper model)

UV Unwrapping
General 3D
UVW

Alternative for “XYZ” to denote 3 dimensions in virtual space.

UVW
General 3D
Vertex Groups

Grouping vertices to use them in another context later.

Vertex Groups
General 3D
Vertex Weights

Influence/power a vertex has in relation to its neighbours. (value between 0 and 1).

Vertex Weights
General 3D
Volume to Mesh

Converts an existing volume to a mesh.

Volume to Mesh
Modifiers
Warp

Warps a mesh using two other objects.

Warp
Modifiers
Wave

Adds a wavy animation to an object.

Wave
Modifiers
Weight Painting

Process of indicating how and what mesh moves/deforms with each bone. (rigging & animation)

Weight Painting
General 3D
Weld

Merges vertices that are close together.

Weld
Modifiers
Wireframe

Creates a "structural frame" effect.

Wireframe
Modifiers
Distribution

Method of calculation about how light will reflect on the roughness of the object. Generally, you should use the Multiscatter GGX for glass but it doesn't make much of a difference plus it adds a bit more rendering time.

Distribution
Principled BSDF
Subsurface Method

Christensen-Burley → Faster (depending on the case) but less accurate way of simulating subsurface scattering.

Random Walk → More complex and accurate however when the object has holes it may not work so well.

Subsurface Method
Principled BSDF
Base Color

The actual color of the object.

Base Color
Principled BSDF
Subsurface

How much light penetrates the material. Examples: candle, hands in front of light,...

Subsurface
Principled BSDF
Subsurface Radius

How far light travels through the object.

Subsurface Radius
Principled BSDF
Subsurface Color

Color of the inside of the object.

Subsurface Color
Principled BSDF
Subsurface IOR

Subsurface Index of Refraction.

Subsurface IOR
Principled BSDF
Subsurface Anisotropy

Subsurface Anisotropy.

Subsurface Anisotropy
Principled BSDF
Metallic

How metal-like the object is.

0 → 0% metal

1 → 100% metal

Metallic
Principled BSDF
Specular

How much light is reflected.

Specular
Principled BSDF
Specular Tint

Color of the reflection.

0 → same color as the light source

1 → same color as the object

Specular Tint
Principled BSDF
Roughness

How rough the material is

0 → mirror

1 → 100% rough

Roughness
Principled BSDF
Anisotropic

"Bottom of a pan" circular reflection effect.

Anisotropic
Principled BSDF
Anisotropic Rotation

Rotation of the anisotropic effect in general.

Anisotropic Rotation
Principled BSDF
Sheen

"Velvet fabric" effect.

Sheen
Principled BSDF
Sheen Tint

0 → same color as the object

1 → same color as the light source

Sheen Tint
Principled BSDF
Clearcoat

Extra layer on top of the base material surface.

Clearcoat
Principled BSDF
Clearcoat Roughness

How rough the clearcoat is.

Clearcoat Roughness
Principled BSDF
IOR

Index of Refraction. Each material has its own specific IOR value.

Glass → 1.5

IOR
Principled BSDF
Transmission

How transparent/glass-like it is.

0 → opaque

1 → 100% transparent glass

Transmission
Principled BSDF
Transmission Roughness

How rough the inside of the object/glass is.

Transmission Roughness
Principled BSDF
Emission

If it emits light.

Emission
Principled BSDF
Emission Strength

How strong is the light emitted.

Emission Strength
Principled BSDF
Alpha

How visible the object is.

0 → invisible

Plugging a texture into the Alpha will make parts of the object invisible.

Alpha
Principled BSDF
Normal

Simulates shadows/highlights on the object without having to model these details (based on a texture), making in certain situations the render way faster. Connect a Bump node into it. Details outline is not seen from the side.

Normal
Principled BSDF
Clearcoat Normal

Same as Normal but for the Clearcoat layer.

Clearcoat Normal
Principled BSDF
Tangent

Controls where the anisotropic effect is present.

Tangent
Principled BSDF
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