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Prototyping & Wireframing Dimensional Projects

Dimensional projects do not typically have a prototype process that is similar to most other projects.

Published onOct 14, 2019
Prototyping & Wireframing Dimensional Projects

Dimensional projects do not typically have a prototype process that is similar to most other projects. The parts of the model that are most time-consuming are also the most likely to cause problems in your model, so it is hard to find a way to do a simpler version that helps you much.

However, there are some things you can do to test parts of your workflow or figure out a timeline. These things are especially important to do if you are using a certain process for the first time.

There are two ways to approach prototyping a dimensional project. You can make a simpler version of your model, or you can make a subset of your model. Which approach makes more sense for you will depend on both your subject matter and your chosen tools. Some examples:

  • If you’re trying out a dimensional modeling tool for the first time, whether it’s photogrammetry or a solid or surface modeling application, consider modeling something else first that has some of the features you want. While this can take a while, it will help you separate the content from the technical process and it will be less frustrating when you turn the subject you really care about. Don’t pick something too complicated or you’ll just waste time, but try to get to where you can think about your subject and not just about where some tool is in a menu bar.


  • If you are making a series of models for a virtual exhibition, complete the model of one object start to finish, in the level of detail you want for the final version. This will tell you how much time it takes to complete each phase, and may help you identify problems in your approach, whether they are limitations in your computer processing speed or mistakes in your photography setup. In photogrammetry, this sort of test case can even make it possible to set up an assembly-line process.


  • If you are making a photogrammetric model of a complex object, try taking all your photos and then creating a prototype of the model. You can use a smaller number of key points and put the accuracy for photo alignment at a low level for testing, and then if the photos you have are working to create an accurate model, you can repeat this part again with a higher accuracy. Since these higher accuracy models take a lot of time to process, by testing it first with lower settings you can tell whether you need to take more photos while you still have your camera and subject set up.


  • If you are making a photogrammetric model of a building, try modeling parts of it separately first. This will help you get a sense of how many levels you need to take photographs at to get good coverage, and identify issues like lighting or background details that could cause problems. Try to pick several characteristic pieces. This kind of approach is especially helpful if you have details like elaborate moldings or overhangs, or if you’re dealing with lots of windows or reflective surfaces.


  • If you’re working with a solid or surface modeling program, model one or more simple versions of your project to isolate complex features. It is much less frustrating to problem solve if you only have a few variables. If you’re interested in something with moving parts, model only one type of join at once; if you’re working with materials or finishes on a surface model, get the material finish right working with a simple cube or sphere before you try to map it to a sculpted model.

You should also think about a wireframe, especially if you will be sharing your model with someone else. Your wireframe should focus on how you will present or explain the model. Do you need a way to indicate uncertainty or lack of precision? Will you need to provide annotation? What angles will you show (or which angle will load first if you are building an interactive model)? Do you need to provide instructions for how to use the model? Will the model appear in an empty page or alongside other content or menus? While you may be able to answer all this in text, drawing a sketch will force you to be specific and to connect your ideas about interpretation to the subject.

Continue Reading: Documentation for Dimensional Projects

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