Have you ever played Minecraft? If yes, 3D Slash will be an easy tool for you since it allows developing models using similar blocks. A user is offered a cuboid made of smaller blocks and he can move them in order to develop a 3D model he needs. This tool does not have any traditional for design features but it allows applying changes to the Cuboid using tools people use in real life including a drill, a hammer, and others. There is a zoom option to view the model closer or at a bigger distance as well as support for three basic formats - 3dslash, obj, stl. This tool for beginners can be used for free but the version is a bit limited. However, it will cost you only $2 a month to get a full range of features or you can opt for a premium version of around $20 a month to take advantage of extra features. 3D Slash is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi or Browser, but you will not be able to use it on mobile devices.
A good choice of the tool that can be accessed directly in the browser is Clara.IO. It offers a traditional modeling approach with polygons but you may be surprised by many other options and features it offers. There is a V-Ray, keyframe animation, rendering feature and many other great solutions for such it may seem traditional software. The web access allows modeling on different devices including mobile ones and even involving other people to collaborate on one project simultaneously. The tool supports over 30 formats and is available for free in its basic version supporting up to 2Gb of cloud storage. However, there is a premium membership from $10 to $100 a month if you look for more advanced features.
Moment of Inspiration (MoI)
If you are an artist or designer who only starts paving the way in the 3D modeling sphere, MoI tool can be a great assistant in your efforts. This software offers full functionality but is free of complexities that may be not known to beginners. Its greatest benefits are the simplicity of user interface, compatibility with pen tablets, and precise measurements. There are many interesting features and the learning process is fast and effortless in this tool, so users can pay more attention to their creative ideas without being puzzled by maths. MoI is available on Windows and Mac, supports around 10 formats, and can be used for free when it comes to a limited version. A full license will cost you $295.
One more browser-based tool that allows developing complex 3D models and printing them on 3D printers. There is an intuitive user interface and simple designing process that can be easily learned by everyone. The tool allows uploading a 2D image of the future model and using it as a reference working on the project. Being a polygon mesh-based program it allows polishing your models until they become perfect using numerous creation and modification tools offered there. One of its unique features is a slicing tool, and it also has a great collection of objects and parts that can be used as an example. SelfCAD is a cross-platform tool running almost in every modern web browser. It supports 7 popular formats and offers a 10-day free trial for new users. The further use of the software will cost you $14.99 a month.
One of the most popular tools suitable for beginners as well is SketchUp. This is 3D modeling software that runs on Windows and Mac OS and is incredibly popular with architects, interior designers, engineers, etc. What makes this tool great for beginners is no need to pay money and a user-friendly interface. There are tools that can be intuitively understood and applied upon practice as well as numerous tutorials to consider. The software has one more great benefit - it supports integrations and extensions that can make its possibilities almost endless and simple models can be easily transformed into complex objects suitable for printing. Moreover, it has such features as 2D and 3D models, textures, lighting effects, animations, and layer manager. If you plan to use a traditional web version of this tool, it is free for everyone with 10Gb of cloud storage, but educational and professional versions installed as software must be purchased.
An example of browser-based modeling software is Tinkercad. Though it looks quite simple, this tool offers many features but works similarly to a traditional tool for toddlers. It is possible to make combinations of simple shapes using customary operations as well as combine or divide them without much effort. This tool is free and allows developing models for 3D printing as well. It is possible to save projects in several formats and the most popular ones are STL, OBJ, and SVG. The best Tinkercad features include transformation, workplane, shapes modifications, duplicates, import of 2D and 3D files, etc.
When it comes to more advanced software that allows developing 3D models, Blender takes the top of the rating. This tool can be downloaded and installed on Windows, Mac, Linux since it is an open-source software developed by the community and available for free. There are over 10 file formats supported by it and Blender allows creating from intermediate to professional models thanks to its versatile range of features. They include changing different textures, graphics editing, simulation of different substances, sculpting, animations, rendering, and many others. It also has features that help to improve the model ready for 3D printing and is not the best variant for beginners due to a challenging mastering process.
Mechanical Another software suitable only for people who have some experience in modeling and available only for Windows is DesignSpark Mechanical. It can boast a variety of features possessed by CAD software and can be used for free unless you wish to benefit from more advanced features that are provided for additional payment. The main features of this software is an interface similar to AutoCAD, integration with many other tools, the possibility to import existing 3D models, support for over 10 formats, customization options, etc. It can be a great solution for experienced modelers working in engineering, mechanics, and other similar industries.
The name of this software speaks louder than any description since it has a number of features possessed by CAD software. Moreover, the word ‘Free’ has been used there not occasionally since users do not need to pay extra to create models with its help. Everyone can develop 3D models of objects that are close to reality and make necessary modifications without effort. Being an open-source tool, it is developed by the community, can be easily customized, integrated with other tools, etc. Moreover, developers who have experience in Python coding can improve the tool too. Naturally, the tool has been developed for CAD professionals, first of all, so don’t expect to face simplicity when it comes to modeling. However, the range of features is so extensive there that designer possibilities seem endless.
Another software that runs smoothly on several platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux and is known as LibreCAD does not offer many file formats and features only basic tools. However, it is enough to create high-quality 3D models on this open-source software. The tool displays both 2D and isometric views and the maximum file size that can be saved on it is 30Mb. At the same time, this software will not distract users with too many tools and has a highly customizable user interface with a great text editor mode. Other benefits of LibreCAD are availability in 30 languages, excellent visibility displayed in both Cartesian and polar coordinates, and drag-and-drop solution for modeling simplicity.
As you could perceive from the title this software was created to develop 3D models of characters that look like humans. Originally, it was a plugin of Blender but soon it has grown into a separate tool for Windows, Mac, Linux-powered computers. Make Human is free software that allows saving models in 4 formats including dae, fbx, obj, STL. The developing process in this software is very simple. The tool offers a base mesh that can be changed according to your own preferences and a humanoid can be transformed into any character thanks to numerous features divided into organized bars. Not only appearance but also clothes can be added in this tool, let alone facial expressions.
One more great program installed on Windows and Mac devices is called Meshmixer. It is great for modeling high-quality objects ready for printing and the main focus in this software is made on the mechanical operation of the objects created. The software is designed for working with triangle meshes and has the following features: mesh smoothing and form deformations, filling holes and auto-repair feature, mirroring, extrusion, Boolean, and others. There are many tutorials on how to develop models more efficiently with Meshmixer, and the tool supports 5 formats that can be imported and exported as well. One more great benefit of this software is different optimization techniques that are usually provided in high-level software.
One more free software that operates on the CAD basis is NanoCAD. Only Windows users can download and install it to the computer, but it is worth doing that thanks to a dozen of formats it supports. It is one more Autodesk product similar to AutoCAD but this tool offers parametric modeling, first of all. It means that a designer can return to any object developed earlier and adapt it according to new requirements easily and quickly. It is possible to change the dimensions and the number of components as well as benefit from a wide range of features displayed on its uncluttered interface. One more great pros of NanoCAD is the availability of many different plugins that can make its functionality much more extensive. If you need a more advanced tool for professional use, there are paid plans too.
A golden mean in the beginning and advanced 3D modeling software is OpenSCAD. This is free software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are 3 basic formats supported by it and it serves as a 3D compiler on the basis of a textual description language. There are geometric primitives specified by this software and it is also centered on CSG and 2D outline extrusion. This software does not operate similarly to other modeling tools since it requires the knowledge of coding, but people who have these skills will fall in love with it undoubtedly. It is enough to enter the parameters to develop objects thanks to it and this code can be later used in other projects too.
Do you want to create anything really impressive? Sculptris has been developed to help you in this task. This is free downloadable software that supports two file formats - obj and goz. It was created by people who invented ZBrush, so you will find many common features between these tools. Moreover, it is the same easy to learn how to use it and the number of tools is very extensive here as well. The modeling process allows developing simple objects for a start and then enhancing them to get projects with many interesting details. This is great news for people with little modeling experience: they can upload a primitive structure and improve it gradually to achieve the result.
There is hardly any 3D designer who hasn’t heard of 3Ds Max software. It has been developed for the Windows operating system and can cost around $1,620 a year, but its possibilities are really impressive. It supports files of over 20 formats and is considered to be a classic tool from Autodesk company in the market of 3D solutions. It has its own scripting language called MAXScript and an abundance of tools needed for high-level modeling. The most significant features of this software are 360-degree rendering, Max Creation Graph Controllers, 3D animations and dynamics, fluids, particle flow effect, light and cloth simulation, and many others. The tool is evolving since a group of developers is constantly working on it to offer the best possible modeling solutions to users. The tool allows creating parametric and organic objects with a lot of details, so it is not surprising it is used by video game developers and in the movies industry.
Another widely-used 3D modeling software for professionals that is simple and has an intuitive user interface is Cinema 4D. It is a trusted leader running on Mac and Windows computers and supporting over 10 file formats. The software is powered by OpenGL and features an incredible field depth and screen space reflections. It allows speeding up the developing process and making it easier especially thanks to LOD tool provided. The software features mirroring, new sculpting and spline tools, graph view for motion tracker, animation workflow enhancements, lens distortion support, as well as support for many different integrations including Sketch UP. It goes without saying that such a professional tool can’t be free, so users should be ready to pay around $100 every month to be able to use its extensive functionality.
This is professional software developed for people working in the design sphere. Its main benefits are the simplicity of learning, operation on Windows, Mac and Linux-powered devices, and support for over ten file formats. This software allows modeling using polygons as well as subdividing surfaces. Moreover, it is great when it comes to procedural animations since it offers to pre-select components and use them already with paint, texture, loop, pattern, etc. It also supports the record of macros and their use for repetitive operations on the same or other objects. Modo has a number of wonderful features including 3D sculpting, VR plugin toolset, Mesh Fusion Boolean tools, retopology functionality and many others.
One more product from Autodesk that is also the best sculpting tool is MudBox. The closest competitor of this software is ZBrush and the developing process takes one step after another. It means that you can develop a model from the very start and add details until you get a high-resolution object. MudBox is a relatively affordable tool that costs $10 a month. Users can install it to the computer with Windows or Mac OS and save models in three formats including fbx, mud, obj. It is possible to develop a model from scratch or upload a template and only then provide it with a silhouette. MudBox is software with a simple user interface but it does not have such a wide range of features as its competitors. It works as a sculpting tool that can be integrated with other software and can’t be used independently for 3D modeling.
Do you want to find a really professional tool? Onshape can meet your expectations, however, you should be ready to pay around $1,500 a year to be able to use it. This software supports a lot of formats but its main benefit is a cross-platform operation. It is possible to develop models with its help not only on the computer but also on mobile devices. All the objects are stored in the cloud and every team member can apply changes to the model. There is also an integrated development environment called Onshape Features Studios for this tool. Moreover, all the tools offered by the software are provided in the toolbar and include over 20 options.
A great 3D modeling tool meant especially for creating human figures is Poser. Digital artists have received an opportunity to create great animations and digital images of a very high quality using this software. Poser is a professional tool that will run on computers with Windows and Mac OS and it allows saving files of 3 different formats. The software is not free, so human modeling can cost designers $199 a year. There is an opportunity to upload a base figure and develop new figures making necessary manipulations. The tool allows paying attention to so many details that modeled figures look very realistic and convincing. This software also has an extensive collection of pre-built models that can be modified and several outstanding features including body and hand poses, different materials, facial expressions, hair examples, lights, cameras and scenes, etc.
Looking for CAD software for professionals, it is worth mentioning Rhino3D among its best examples. However, this software can be useful in a variety of other spheres including reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, CAM, rapid prototyping and others. What makes this tool special is the use of mathematical precise laws to represent object curves and surfaces. Moreover, the designing process involves entering numbers predominantly unlike other software and that is especially important for modeling mechanical objects that require utmost accuracy and measurements. The software has great compatibility with many other 3D modeling tools and is based on Non-Uniform Rational Basis Splines geometry. The last one makes designing more time-consuming but more precise too.
One of the leading 3D modeling tools in the sphere of professional design is ZBrush. This is a program that can be installed on computers powered by Windows or Mac and can be either purchased once per lifetime or a user can pay around $40 every month to benefit from it. The basic concept of this software is progressive detailing which implies the development process started from a simple model and improved with every new step. Moreover, the tool has a number of templates that can be used for a start. The range of features in ZBrush is very extensive. They include sculpting and painting as well as such interesting features as 3D brushes, polypaint, illustration, transpose, ZSpheres, GoZ, and many others. ZBrush is a professional tool that can be hardly learned intuitively, so it is worth checking several tutorials before using it.
When it comes to commercial 3D modeling AutoCAD is the number-one solution in the modern market. It is used for CAD and drafting and can boast the biggest share in the market. This software has a very long history originating since 1982. Currently, it can be used not only on desktop computers but also on mobile devices thanks to the special app. The range of AutoCAD features is really impressive. It supports 3D Modeling and Visualization, Solid, Surface, and Mesh Modeling, Photorealistic Rendering, Section Planes, Visual Styles, 3D Navigation, 3D Scanning and Point Clouds, Base, Projected, and Section Views and many other outstanding features. AutoCAD is a product of the Autodesk company that allows automating designs and developing libraries of parts that can be used in other projects.
Another leading tool used by many industries is CATIA. This name is translated as Computer-Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application that operates as 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE software. This is a product of the French company called Dassault Systèmes. Being used for industrial purposes use of this software requires not only computers but also engendering knowledge since it is used in many industries and has a lot of features. The main features of this software are Social Design Environment, Global Collaboration, Instinctive 3D Experience, Capture Manufacturing Process Intent, Cross-Discipline Development, Product Modeling, Unbreakable Relational Design, Systems Engineering and others. CATIA has spent only 2 years in the design market but it has a lot of fans among businesses and copes with its responsibilities at a very good level.