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Introduction to 3D on Web

Posted at Sat Aug 21 2021

Hello, today I would like to share how to make 3D Web app using @react-three/fiber and lastly, how to import your Blender model to Web.

Prerequisites

I used Next.js in my recent 3D projects, but it's not required. You can use any React boilerplate/starter you want (Next, CRA, etc). You need Blender software if you want to use CAD for creating your 3D model.

Install

You can install required dependencies using:

npm i three @react-three/fiber

Render "Hello box"

Let's do simple "hello world" by rendering simple Box in our scene:

import ReactDOM from 'react-dom'
import { Canvas } from '@react-three/fiber'

function Box(props) {
  return (
    <mesh {...props}>
      <boxGeometry args={[1, 1, 1]} />
      <meshStandardMaterial color="orange" />
    </mesh>
  )
}

ReactDOM.render(
  <Canvas>
    <pointLight position={[-2, 2, 10]} />
    <Box position={[2, -2, 0]} scale={1} />
  </Canvas>,
  document.getElementById('root'),
)

Alongside the box, we also render a light so that we can see our object on scene. You can set the position for the Box with Vector3 (3 item array: x, y, z). You'll use Vector3 a lot since it's the most basic unit in 3D, it'll be used for object position, scale, rotation, etc.

Import model from Blender

Three.js offers basic geometries that you can use direcly such as Box, Sphere, and so on. They're good for procedural rendering which don't have model loading cost. For instance, you want to render simple chess tiles, or simple plane, you might not need to import Model at all. In most cases, you'll create your model in CAD software and import them to another medium (Web, Unity, etc). Three.js allows you to import model from CAD software (Blender, Maya, etc) by using glTF extension, it's one of standard format for 3D scenes and model. From Blender UI, you can export by click menu File > Export > glTF 2.0 You can save as "hello.gltf" for now.

Import glTF with @react-three/drei

We'll use another helper package for handling glTF loading. Let's install:

npm i @react-three/drei

We need to convert our glTF into React Three Fiber format, we can use https://gltf.pmnd.rs/ for that. Go to the site, drag and drop your glTF, and you can copy paste your Model component from there. The site also previews your model and you'll get something like:

// Auto-generated by: https://github.com/pmndrs/gltfjsx

import React, { useRef } from 'react'
import { useGLTF } from '@react-three/drei'

export default function Model(props) {
  const group = useRef()
  const { nodes, materials } = useGLTF('/hello.gltf')
  return ( ...

Next, copy your glTF file into your public folder, it should be accessible from your server host. (e.g. http://localhost/hello.gltf) Finally, you can import your model into your scene:

import Model from './Model'
...
<Canvas>
  <Suspense fallback={null}>
    <Model position={[0.2, -1.3, 0.5]} />
  </Suspense>
  <pointLight position={[-2, 2, 10]} />
</Canvas>

Congrats! Your model finally shows up on your Web! One more thing, you might notice that we use React Suspense to handle potential asset loading state from our Model. As a bonus, you can use drei Stage for fast Scene prototyping like Camera, Light setup, etc. Example:

import React, { Suspense, useRef } from "react";
import { Canvas } from "@react-three/fiber";
import { OrbitControls, Stage } from "@react-three/drei";

import Model from "./Model";

...
const ref = useRef();
...

<Canvas>
  <Suspense fallback={null}>
    <Stage
      controls={ref}
      preset="rembrandt"
      intensity={1}
      environment="city"
    >
      <Model />
    </Stage>
  </Suspense>
  <OrbitControls ref={ref} autoRotate />
</Canvas>
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Antony Budianto

Software Engineering, Web, 3D Arts, random thoughts.