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I want to try modeling a real object in 3d for the first time and I am kinda lost here. Whats the best way to do it? Just snap a reference photo from 4 sides and make a vertex outline?
>get 2 front and back views
>get at least another 4-5 ref's of all sides, from bottom to angled views
>put the orto images in your 3D view, the angle shots in your image editor, leave both open while modeling
>you can mirror the backside of the model if the backside is identical to the front
Why not start with something you actually have around you?
A beer bottle, a pen, a phone... something you can pick up and view from all angles and try and make all the details
Generally yes, but rather than "make a vertex outline" you can use a variety of methods that you may find most appropriate depending on the component, even within the same object.
For example, if you have a shape with a complex profile, its best to draw it out with curves and then turn that into a poly surface. If the object's shape is already similar to an existing primitive, you can start with that and detail as needed. If the shape looks like the combination or intersection of multiple simpler shapes, you can use booleans to handle that for you. If you have a smooth freeform surface, then edge-extrude polys with subdivision surfaces. There's no one size fits all method for making things, if you think that subtracting a shape into a cylinder is faster than modeling a cut in, you can make it work for you if you know how, so it's a good idea to practice multiple methods of geometry creation.
Also, don't model things unnecessarily. Judge the size and significance of the thing you're making and consider which level of details you wish to leave for detail mapping. So if you have a wall that you plan to have screws and panels visible on, you can add this detail in a number of ways after the fact. Modeling it in with ZBrush, using a floater, or stamping it on in Painter, either way it's going to end up in your normal map and not the geometry itself. Broadly speaking, if you expect that the illusion of detail won't be broken by looking at something at an angle, it can be safely put in as a normal map instead of geometry, or in combination with very simplified geometry. So if one of your screws is sticking out, just add a small cylinder with a few sides and bevel the top.

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