Expert Author Michael Delfring

3D modeling is not for everybody just as painting is not - if you ever tried to paint like Rembrandt and had a great motif in mind then you must have noticed that there were several rather strong physical obstacles in place to keep you from converting it into reality.

Oils are hard to handle, they do not mix well, the brushes behave differently from what you expected... the learning curve which lies in handling these physical side of art is probably what makes good painters so rare - more than an absence of creativity.

However computer artists (3D modelers sometimes see themselves as such), though they never dirty their hands have a similar problem: they need to be somewhat nerdy computer users which of course many of us are, and they have to specialize really deeply in the use of several 3D modeling/animation applications - it normally takes three years to make a bearable specialist just as it takes about the same time to make an excellent plumber or a mediocre neurosurgeon.

In my experience neither of the three will ever be an artist. In the creation of medically correct (human or other) 3D anatomy, no fantasy is allowed to play a role and neither is artistry called for when the surgeon deeply dives into the texture of brains with a scalpel - precision work can hopefully and rightfully be expected in both cases, of the three solely the plumber may allow himself some freedom - like the well educated and seasoned painter.

So how then are the best 3D anatomy models evolved? Mind you, most people will never be able to model a car - they need blueprints and scans, it is a rare person who has the ability to create a 3D model from 2D images, first in his mind and then inside computer memory. And I am not talking about spheres and boxes... a 3D car will be a good test of somebody´s 3D modeling abilities but human anatomy is always the ultimate challenge.

As a seasoned 3D modeling veteran one would like to sometimes use CT scans (there are always many available but it is rare that two fit each other), import these grotesquely unwieldy structures into the workspace if a bone or organ proves to be especially hard to fathom (think about the sphenoid bone or the inner brain ventricles) - and in the case of bones it may even just work...

in reality, scanned items are used to see if they roughly fit the area - which is then usually modeled to perfection by more sensible corrections eyeballed from an anatomy atlas or pathology shots,compared and painstakingly compared again.

A decent collection of several hundred good photographs, in practice, beat ct scans anytime and do not even hinder the work flow. "But", I hear the fanatical naturist scream in anguish, "this does not capture the real scanned parts of poor dead Mrs Elmory! It is not real, it is just an artist´s imagination - you have gone astray! Worse, you did not even study medical sciences, impostor!"

By no means is it the true individual but then again Mrs Elmory was just a person as we all are, in fact she was rather small with a relatively large craneum, thin legs and a pronounced gut. The best models for 3D anatomy would however be completely average persons (needs to be defined though we all know what it means, no gut) with no exaggerations in any organ or bone, nor hypertrophic musculation or the likes. And definitely no tumors - that being a special case for oncological 3D design, soon to follow.

This is, it cannot be said often enough, a scientific job and the results will mostly be needed for education. A good 3D Anatomy modeler even if he did not study the medical sciences, is the more effective scanner and creates the "perfect" human organism just like the 2D artists did it for all those Atlases we have seen (and also used) since decades: he does it in 3D, which is more difficult but also immensely more useful to the beholder.



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