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The Motive Web Design Glossary


A wireframe is a simplified view of a thing.

The term is commonly used in web design and (computer-based) 3-dimensional (3D) animation.

wireframe (web design)

In web design and software development a wireframe is a diagrammatic representation of the elements that need to be accounted for on each page of the website or screen of the program.

These elements may include:

The purpose of the wireframe is to provide a blueprint for design and development tasks.

As a low-fidelity prototype, a wireframe will typically identify the elements that a designer will need to accommodate on the page or screen, but not necessarily the visual treatment or layout of those elements.

wireframe (3D modeling)

When creating 3-dimensional objects using a computer program (such as Maya or SolidWorks) there are a number of stages to creating the final image/animation.

  1. A computer-based 3-dimensional model often starts as a series of simple geometric shapes such as spheres or cubes.
  2. These forms may be further manipulated to give a more organic forms.
  3. Final processes include adding surface texture and lighting.

When animating the final model, the texture and lighting effects can slow down the computer's ability to redraw (or render) each frame. As the speed with which an action occurs is vital to the end-effect, the animator may choose to work with only the outline (wireframe) view.

The wireframe view is similar to the a chicken-wire 'skeleton' used to create papier-mâché sculptures. The edges of the form are clearly defined with surfaces defined by simple planes or an interlocking latticework.


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