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Definition: surface modeling

A mathematical technique for representing solid-appearing objects. Surface modeling is a more complex method for representing objects than wireframe modeling, but not as sophisticated as solid modeling. Surface modeling is widely used in CAD (computer-aided design) for illustrations and architectural renderings. It is also used in 3D animation for games and other presentations.

Although surface and solid models appear the same on screen, they are quite different. Surface models cannot be sliced open as can solid models. In addition, in surface modeling, the object can be geometrically incorrect; whereas, in solid modeling, it must be correct. See tessellation.