image credit : Dhatfield @ wikipedia
Back in the day when I first started dabbling in 3D animation, I was always baffled by the inclusion of a teapot 3D model as a 3D primitive in virtually every 3D software I used. Unlike other 3D primitives in those softwares, which were usually things like cubes, spheres, cones etc.etc....this was a fully modeled 3D teapot with several complex shapes combined into one object.
I am guessing more than a few 3D artists back then felt the same as me, perhaps even puzzling a few more aspiring 3D artists today.
The teapot in question is the Utah Teapot or the Newell Teapot, named so as it was created by a Martin Newell, a member of the computer graphics program at the University of Utah back in 1975, as a test model to experiment with various aspects of 3D computer graphics. The teapot was ideal because of it's curved surfaces, a hole in the middle of the model (the handle), could self-reflect and self-shadow, among other factors.
The original, real teapot the Utah Teapot was based on. The 3D model is roughly 33% shorter in height. Image credit : Marshall Astor @ wikipedia
Newell shared the model dataset publicly and it was quickly adopted by other researchers to use for their own computer graphics developments.
The sketch showing how Newell plotted the 3D model.
Although today's hardware and software capabilities has made rendering the Utah Teapot trivial, 3D artists, developers and researches continue to use it in our their due to the ease of deploying it, as it was included in most major 3D software and CG programming libraries. These uses including but not limited to, 3D printing like the picture below
A 3D model of a teapot based on a real teapot, now can be printed as a real physical teapot. The circle is complete. Image credit : thingyverse.com
LONG LIVE THE TEAPOT!!