In this article we present a general classification of the different approaches that might be employed to constitute a visual representation of a cultural heritage item, including the ones featuring the use of traditional tools as the ones exhibiting the inclusion of modern 2D and 3D digital technologies. In order to establish a coherent taxonomy, specific elements characterizing such approaches will be discussed and employed to assist the definition of a general conceptual framework that will enable the classification of the possible design choices according to their specific characteristics. Finally, a selection of modeling and simulation techniques which are specifically related to the creation process underlying the virtual representation of heritage items by means of modern visualization technologies will be explored alongside the main areas of preferences linked to the major actors active in the cultural heritage field.