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"Box up" modeling refers to starting with a basic shape such as a polygonal box or sphere and then adding, extruding, modifying, cutting, deleting, smoothing, etc. polygons to build up the shape you want.
See the Model tab on the shelf for more modeling tools.
See how to edit points.
Smooth polygons without adding points
Use the following tips to set up for box-up polygonal modeling:
You can place an image in the background of the 3D viewer as a reference for modeling.
You can turn on Link Ortho Views in the viewport layout menu (in the toolbar across the top of the viewer pane) to make the top/front/side viewports pan and zoom together (see the section on the view).
Press P in the viewer to overlay a parameter editor for the current operator/tool.