The 10 Best Programs for the Budding 3D Modeller
If you are new to 3d modelling, you may have an impression of it being a complex and challenging subject to master. Although you can say for some part it is quite a skill, it’s not difficult to get yourself to understand the basics of 3d and start creating your own models. No I will not be going into polygons and anchors, bevels and extrusions or material editors but I am here to give you a head start with 3d in terms of the easiest programs and apps to start with. If you are new and pick up ZBrush or maya or 3dsMax, it would be an overkill and overwhelm you. The best programs listed here will get you started without breaking a sweat. So lets get started with our list.
1. Google sketchup: Probably the best software to draw huts! Yes we love huts don’t we? With those mountains, rivers and forest drawings that stood as our favourites from childhood, the hut has been the most interesting “home” we always drew, complete with path and a fence. Don’t forget that gate. So with Sketchup, the hut is as easy as it was when we were kids. You just draw a rectangle with the shapes tool, pick the extrude (pull) tool, pull the lengths, mark with pencils a line in the middle and raise the centre, done! There are a lot of little features to help you do things with ease. Simple tools like follow me can help you create some complex shapes like running a moulding by the window. Window and door assemblies are available to design a nice building and you can create your own assemblies with ease. Likewise a lot of material, color and prebuilt stuff is also there. It’s just like creating a group of objects and then reusing them anywhere after saving them.
2. Cinema 4d: Quite an application for quick learning and probably the next step in learning some real 3d. Its quite a complex software and you can really create detailed 3d models. Not just for newbies, pros like this software for power and control over every element and the set of tools it provides. You can edit materials too and there are rendering options including ray tracing. Though the full version costs quite something, you can start with the students licence at a discount.
3. Blender:One for it being free and the other reason I would recommend this application is that it’s got a pretty neat arsenal of tools. The application is quite powerful and good enough for a pro to make just about anything 3d. The software is open source and has a long history of development. Although it’s pretty unique in it’s ways as in the way things work inside the tool, it’s still worth learning. Plenty of online community followers also means a lot of tutorials, help, support and how to guides are available without paying anything, so it’s one great tool to work with for someone who wants to jump in without having to pay anything.
4. Modo: Modo is not free but does not cost the sky either. It’s pretty straightforward for someone who knows a bit or two about using software. It’s designers have put in some very thoughtful features and you will like the way it works once you get familiar. It’s gaining popularity and trust amongst the 3d community so one software that you should look through if you are open to checking out something new.
5. 3d Slash: “3D Slash is a easy to use free 3D modelling software that lets you create models using a simple building-block concept similar to Minecraft” this is what their site says and its quite true. It’s aimed at Budding 3d modellers and features some really unique ways to create models. It’s quite unconventional really. I would say its just like the Canvas painting software to look at. The software has 3d printing features and a whole range of online printing services and model library. Features like hammer, trowel, chisel, pulpwood, and drill are present. so, you use the hammer tool to remove individual cubes, while the trowel adds cubes. This is to give you an idea how it works.
6. SculptGL: This application takes a sculpting approach like zbrush, SculptGL has only basic tools without the bells and whistles and works in your web browser. So no install is necessary here. Also its quite simple and has an easy learning compared to professional tools. If anyone is interested in graduating to zbrush, they can start with SculptGL. In this software you first build on a simple mesh with low polygon count and then detail your model into a high poly one. So you start with crude brushes and then add the details, just like you would sculpt a clay model into rough shape and add details later in the real world.
7. Self CAD: Allows you to make printable 3d models with some powerful 3d modelling tools built into the app. you can check each layer of the object with a slicing tool, which makes it cakewalk to prepare your model for 3d printing. The software works in your browser so there is no need to install anything, it just works off the cloud. SelfCAD's shape, screw, nut, spiral and image generators enable creators to produce advanced shapes and images within minutes, according to its website. It also features macros to automate transformations, now that is nice! So repeated work and 3d printing are its strength and it is not hard to master.
8. LibreCAD: It is an open source free 3D modelling software. with just basic tools you will not struggle to understand this program much. Also LibreCAD displays in 2D, so be ready to have a basic understanding of x, y and z planes before hand as you will not see the 3d view on screen. It looks quite simple to the eyes really but it comes with a command line for some extra functionality.
9. Photoshop CC: Our beloved Photoshop has added some limited functionality for making 3d models and 3d printing them by generating STL files as well. Although not a match to any of the tools above, its a great start for beginners who already are comfortable with Photoshop. Extrusion and repousse are the two main functions of modelling in PS. You also get access to online market places and 3d printing services along with great support from Adobe.
10. TinkerCAD: Learn 3d like kids do! Combine simple shapes to add, deduct & intersect to make your final shape. It’s super easy to learn and that makes it quite a joy to use. People who need quick learning and get impatient should find this program a breeze. It is easier than most software in its own way. Text and other common tools are also available to drop on the grid and get going. Don’t be led into thinking you can not do complicated stuff, you will be surprised to see the examples that creative people make with this little gem. Although it’s true that it’s not a professional grade tool by any standard. But if you are into making cases, containers and the like, you will find its 3d printing and quick building abilities quite useful.
I have only included some easy to use 3d software here, not going into 3ds max, maya, vue and others (which I love to use myself) I am sure there are many other programs that you may know about, do drop a line in comments. Do share what you like most about the program you mention. Thanks for reading.
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