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Is a mesh a 3d model?

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Short question; Is a 'mesh' a '3d model'?

I need abit of terminology check, as I'm not sure what exactly separates a 3d model from a mesh, or if its the same thing.

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Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: As far as I've heard the terms used, "mesh" is used to talk more specifically about the raw set of polygons that creates something. A 3D model is made out of a "mesh" of triangles, so the answer to the question is at least a partial yes. However, (again this goes back to how I've heard the terms used most frequently) a 3D model might have more data associated with it than a raw mesh (for example, texturing or lighting information, animation, bone structures, etc.). Basically, a mesh is a set of polygons (triangles) that makes up some object. A "3D model" is typically formed out of a mesh, but often has extra data like textures, animations/joints, etc. associated with it.

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Often I've also seen models that contain multiple meshes

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I'll just re-enforce the above with an image I posted the other day to ScreenshotSaturday

http://screenshotsaturday.com/images/directlink_BET1gACCEAEYrua.jpg

I have a 3D object called DummyRig. It consists of a world position, a rotation, and a scale. You can call it a model, but a 3D object doesn't have to be. It could be a light, a particle system, a marker, a target.

It references a MESH data block, which is the green man you see. As stated above, this is vertex, edge, polygon, etc data.

The mesh references a material called 'vertex colors' which tells the renderer to use the vertex colors in the mesh data to color the model.

The mesh also references a skeleton (seen in stick form in the image above), which will tell it how to deform. The skeleton refers to the mesh data in the form of vertex groups, which is list for each bone of which vertices they will affect. A vertex in the mesh can belong to more than 1 vertex group.

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A Model is just that, A Model. Like a model Car or Plane, a Person or a geographical location.  In the computer world, a virtual Model is comprised of a mesh or meshes.

A mesh is a virtual surface, ( I am not going to get to technical here just trying to explain the differences in simple terms ) This virtual surface is what you see.

1 more example would be to ask if a lump of clay is a model ?  No!  But as you shape it into something identifiable it becomes a model.  So maybe you could think of a mesh as a 2D lump of clay,  bent and shaped and added to other 2D lumps of clay to produce a 3D Model.

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NO! a mesh isn't a 3d Model, but most 3d models have meshes.(exceptions are voxel models,solid models,ens....)

A 3d model usually consist of a Object(sometimes known as a Node) with a input for a mesh or a array of meshes, a Material with a input for a Texture or a array of textures.

In short:a 3d object can swap meshes like textures.

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