What Is 3D Modeling Software?
3D modeling software allows a person to create a virtual three-dimensional model of a certain physical object. This software is used in different industries, including computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), 3D printing, medical diagnostics, and more.
3D-modeling software allows you to turn ideas into models and prototypes. It helps you build and customize a variety of objects, whether you are a beginner or a professional engineer.
Who Uses 3D Modeling Software?
3D modeling software can be used for many purposes. Below are the seven major industries that take advantage of these software programs.
- Entertainment Industry
All Hollywood movies and animated movies are created using 3D modeling software. This software is vital for making special effects, alien environments, supernatural surroundings, and more. The programs can add artificial effects to the view and remove unnecessary objects from the scene.
- Gaming Industry
3D modeling software can make video games appear more realistic. Because of this software, the people and the environment, in today’s modern games, look so natural that they give the player a feeling of being a part of the gaming reality.
CAD and CAM are an integral part of the architecture industry since they allow a more precise design of the object to be manufactured. 3D modeling software for architecture allows for detailed designs as well as viewing an object from every angle. Such software reduces the chance of mistakes at the design stage to a minimum.
Illustrated books and textbooks are becoming much more informative and visually appealing thanks to 3D modeling software. It allows these books to feature images that are otherwise protected by copyright laws. 3D modeling software helps to create an illustration of things people have never seen, such as dinosaurs or the Big Bang.
3D modeling software allows marketing specialists to demonstrate a perfect product. Since selling the item depends on its appearance, 3D modeling helps them to display this appearance as perfect as possible and to make a change in a flash, in case the marketing campaign doesn’t bring good results.
3D modeling software allows geologists to simulate such catastrophes as earthquakes or floods so the possible effect on the planet can be seen in 3D visuals.
3D modeling software can help with the study of the human body, aid in making a diagnosis, and preparing for surgeries. Today, 3D modeling is extensively applied in plastic surgery.
Most Popular 3D Modeling Software
Choosing the right 3D CAD software may be complicated if you don’t have a certain project in mind.
- For an artistic project, such as animated movies and video effects, you can take advantage of Blender (open source, Mac, Windows, Linux), Zbrush (Mac, Windows), Lightwave (Mac, Windows), Maya (Mac, Windows, Linux), 3DS MAX (Windows). The last two are highly priced professional programs.
- If you are planning to create an engineering/architectural project, such as building a home or designing a living room, you can use TinkerCAD (free online program), 123D Design (Free – Windows, iOS, Mac), Sketchup (Windows, Mac), OpenSCAD, FreeCAD (Linux, Mac, Windows), OpenJSCAD (online) and ImplicitCAD (online). For a more professional approach, you can use AutoCAD, Revit, SolidWorks, and AutoDesk Inventor.
Best 3D Modeling Software for Beginners
Choosing from a myriad of 3D modeling software options may be complicated for a beginner. Below are the programs with the shortest learning curve.
- 123D Design
Autodesk 123D Design is 3D modeling software created for beginners and hobbyists. The program is easy to use. The graphics interface is intuitive. The toolbox is simple to understand. The program also offers a good library of objects that can save your time. This program can be used as a 3D CAD software for a technical design project.
- 3D Slash
This easy-to-use free 3D modeling software applies a building block concept. The block building tools are easy to grasp for the beginner. The use of this software requires a short period of learning and virtually no training. The existing 3D designs may be important and modified as well. However, if you feel as if you are planning to become a pro designer one day, you should seriously consider another software program.
At the first glance, this program may seem like a tool for kindergarten entertainment. However, the basic objects offered by this software allow you to create complicated projects. The intuitive interface and simple approach to designing make TinkerCAD a perfect option for beginners who want to go pro in the future.
This software is very popular so it has a wide online support, such as tutorials. This program has an automated animation system. It has an intuitive interface and a short learning curve.
- Cinema 4D
This easy-to-learn software is created specifically for beginners. This is software mostly used for animation so it’s packed with animation industry-specific tools. Tech support and tutorials are readily available online.
- Wings 3D
This program has a short learning curve. It’s free and open source. Many beginners prefer this program for the number of powerful tools and an intuitive interface.
Free 3D Modeling Software
When you are looking for a good 3D software to start with, the below free or free trial options can be a good choice.
- Autodesk 123D Design
- Meshmixer 3.0
- Wings 3D
- Daz Studio
- 3D Crafter
- PTC Creo
- VUE Pioneer
- Lego Digital Designer
- Houdini Apprentice
- MeshMagic 3D
- Open Cascade
What to Look For in 3D Modeling Software
Choosing the best 3D modeling software may be easier when you single out the following features:
- Easy to use
- Intuitive interface
- Window, iOS, Linux compatible
- Library of pre-designed objects
- Tools for building and modifying 3D models
- Storage and export of completed models
- Variety of uses (for example not just architecture but animation as well)
- Sharing and using data from different files (PDF, DGN, etc.)
- Customizable toolbar
- Suitable for both beginners and professionals
- 3D drafting and 3D modeling in one
- Simple environment
- Special features for certain projects
Matthew is owner of Sunglass.io. He employs a close-knit group of engineers to develop the technical content on the site, but is passionate about everything engineering. Matthew loves the future of 3D modeling and wants to push for more helpful, useful tools for the engineering community. Feel free to reach out to him directly on the Contact page or on LinkedIn!