Different approaches

One of the beauties of 3d modeling, though it may may make it more confusing at first, is that there are always many, many different ways of going about creating a single object. Some are more effecient than others, some are better at allowing for error correction, but rarely is there just a single way to make something.

Box modeling

Many beginning modelers find it easier to create objects from a primitive mesh.

From there you can extend your primitive object into a more complex one via box modelling, so called because it typically involves extruding quads to form a shape, editing vertices to produce "roundness" as needed.

Point by point modeling

Point by point modeling works by either laying down individual vertices in space and then connected them with a bridge tool of some kind, or extending the surface of a mesh with an extrude tool, extruding only one polygon from an edge instead of an entire "box" shape.

Yes it's a penguin with hands. You got a problem with that?

Above we see a model made with a point by point approach. Keep in mind that though only 4 steps are shown each poly was created either from scrath or by adding edge loops. Even something this simple can take several hours to get right by the time you finish tweaking each point into just the "right" position.

If you are using a software package that does not support the placement of individual vertices in 3d space without being connected to a polygon then you can probably still apply a similar process through the extrusion of edges. In that case you would start with a single polygon, extrude the edge in the direction you need it to go, reposition the new edge, and then extrude the edge of the new polygon to form another.

The process is fairly straight forward.

  1. Create a rudementary outline / loop of the general shape of your object using polygon creation and bridging tools.
  2. Fill the model in towarsd the center by bridging polygon edges from the outside. During this step you should be visualizing what will go where (and possibly even making new loops within your greater shape, such as for where an arm would go, separate from the original mesh).
  3. Since your model is probably completely flat if you started it from one orthographic view then switch to another view and begin to pull out the middle polygons to give the model volume.
  4. Fill in and touch up the remaining holes as is needed.

Parts of the object that don't really face the original view, such as arms, can then be formed by either extruding out a set of polygons from the appropriate starting point or modeling point by point on their own with rings of polygons denoting, for instance, an arm or wrist.