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Ok I'm not yet a modeller yet nor plan to take it as a job so I've started reading the acclaimed [digital modeling] by William Vaughan.

Vaughan says that gathering tons of tons of references is a must do for modelers. However, I find his method (go measure things physically with a ruler???) extremely time-consuming and effort demanding and wonder if there is an already existing database or repo for every day/commercial/official items like let's say... Nike shoes.

And already existing 3D models based on are a no-go according to Vaughan because they are an interpretation of reality, not reality itself. Then he goes on with the paper phone analogy to prove his point. That I can agree but I think that if we were to find the OFFICIAL documentation of the product then it'll be 100% reliable as manufacturers base off that.

So far I've managed to Google up some gun blueprints with measurements from some manufacturers website with success. I've tried Ikea for furniture but the user manual suck because they only offer instruction. Thinking about it Ikea has a 3D modeling thing going on so it might be usable.

Ok so that is the extend of all I know for dealing with hard surface stuffs (null).

But start about organic matters? Should I be ok with just randomly download models? Or go the long way with photos and measure every single thing meticulously?

How do you deal with all this? It's driving me insane the amount of prep this needs.
In regards to organic objects, photogrammetry is definitely the easiest way out. However, having the object to be modeled and a pair of calipers is unrealistic but truly optimal.

If you have one known unit of measurement present in an unadulturated photograph (like a penny - known to be 19.05mm) you can then extrapolate the rest of the measurements without much trouble. Taking into account the camera's optics and distance from the object you can get relatively accurate results.

But CG artists are usually artists first and psuedo-engineers second some artistic license is allowed considering the model's purpose. Pedantic tedium is not really an artists strong suit. Unless you're a real engineer in which case using calipers and engaging in pedantic tedium is literally your job description.
You can find there many detailed and accurate models made to units by engineers, not some artfags

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