Getting started with 3D models
For more information on publishing 3D content please see the journal’s Instructions for Authors on Taylor & Francis Online, or if the journal in which you are looking to publish does not currently support 3D publishing then contact the academic journal Editor and let them know that you would like to make use of this capability.
There’s a full list of the Taylor & Francis journals that currently support online 3D publication, along with links to their relevant Instructions for Authors pages below.
If you’re looking for some advice on building 3D models, then the best practice guides are a great place to start (see links above). For more specific advice, the Sketchfab Blog publishes useful articles and the Sketchfab Forum is an active community of modelers (both professionals and amateurs) with threads that often relate to specific 3D applications or subject areas.
How to make the most of publishing 3D models
1. Follow best practice
There is an increasing number of ‘best practice’ guides and guidelines available. These are frequently tailored to a specific field so relevant professional bodies are often a good place to start. For example, both Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland have put together detailed guidance on the use of 3D modelling and geospatial imagery in heritage and associated fields.
2. Try to be as transparent as possible
No matter the method you use to build your models, or their primary purpose, it is essential that the reader can be confident in their accuracy. It’s therefore good practice to specify the hardware and software that you used along with a basic workflow of any important processes that may have impacted on the final output.
The London Charter is often used by cultural heritage professionals working with computer visualizations and 3D models and lays down a concise framework regarding documentation of methods and practice.
It is especially important to clarify whether your model has been optimized for publication. That way your readers will not equate a reduced visualization with the actual output of your work.
3. Think about the way you present your models
Are you trying to show the results of a specific metric test, present an artifact for comparison, or exhibit a reconstructed building or interior?
Different uses will need differing methods of presentation. Have a look at other Sketchfab users via the ‘explore’ tab, such as archaeology and heritage focused Getinsitu, for some ideas on how to present different model types.
Some level of formatting will likely be possible within the software you have used to build the model, but it might also be worth refining your model in a separate package such as Meshlab or Blender. Both are free to use and open source but there are also lots of paid options available such as ZBrush.
As you would any figure, clearly caption your model, to allow users to get the most out of their interaction. For instance, pointing out features or specific points that might not be at first evident.
It is sometimes difficult for people who are not familiar with the object or structure to visualize its relative size. As this is not always straight forward, you could alternatively describe the scale in the model’s caption. For example, give the object or building’s total length.
You can also use Sketchfab to visualize more conventional data, as has been done by mjlegg for population density and by ctech.com for seepage velocity.
4. Get the word out
You have produced an engaging and accessible digital output, so get the word out.
Share a link on social media. Direct people to your model’s Sketchfab page (where there will also be a link to your article). Have a look at the post on using Twitter to share your research for some more tips.
Add a video clip of your model or even a still image, this will help to gain people’s attention.
Find out about the other approaches you can take to promote your research article.