7 Best ‘3D Modelling Software’ in 2024

3D Modelling is developing or representing an object in 3 dimensional spaces. This is done by mathematically finding data points of the curves of the object and then representing them graphically. This is a complex process made easy for designers, artists and others by specialised software.

What is 3D Modelling Software?

3D Modelling was being done by software long before it became popular. AutoCAD is perhaps one of the first software to have modelled objects in three dimensions.

Best 3D Modelling Software

Today heavy duty software like AutoDesk Maya, Houdini, SolidWorks are running the show. 3D Modelling Software are used on a day to day basis to create art, animation and prototypes.

7 Best 3D Modelling Software

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1. Autodesk Maya

Maya is primarily used for studio grade animations, interactive 3D applications such as video games, effects etc. This software is used by the leading animation studios such as Pixar.

Salient features:

  • Motion graphics,
  • Nonlinear 3D animation toolset
  • UV editor enabled 3D Modelling
  • Simplified rendering
  • Intuitive colouring and shading tools
  • Material simulations such as cloth, hair and liquids

Maya comes with comprehensive toolkits. It is a one stop solution to all design and animation problems. However, Maya is an expensive affair. It follows the subscription pricing model and these subscriptions do not come cheap.

However, the software is worth every penny you spend on it. Another drawback of Maya is its complexity. Maya is one of the most powerful and all inclusive software, which means that is also quite hard to learn.

However with time and practice, Maya can be mastered and is worth the effort. There is a wide array of tutorials available on the internet for this purpose.

2. Blender

Blender is used for creating animation films, art models, visual effects etc. This is open source software.

Salient Features:

  • Extensive toolset for modelling
  • Simplified animation tools
  • Cycles a path tracer rendering
  • Motion tracking for effects
  • Expansive libraries for simulations such as Bullet, MantaFlow etc.
  • Customisable UI.

Blender is a free software, and is at par with any high end modelling software. It has a lot of support available from the open source community. Thus it is quite easy to come to grips with.

However Blender is not considered standard software. Its tools and interface are quite different from the widely used software. Thus if you consider switching from Blender, you may face problems with the new learning curve.

3. Autodesk 3Ds Max

This software is quite similar to Maya but has a few key differences. This software is chiefly used for modelling while Maya leans more towards animation.

Salient Features:

  • Geometrical modelling and animation along with polygon deformations
  • Simplification of complex structure details with the Chamfer toolkit
  • High end rendering
  • Animation libraries for fluids, particles and fur.

3ds is comparable with Maya, yet is considered much easier to master. This is mainly due to the vast range of modifiers available to the users. It is quite costly. However students can acquire the student edition for free. It is not supported on Mac OS. It is compatible only with Windows.

4. Houdini

Just like Maya, the software is used to create 3D art, animations and simulations. Its unique feature is procedural generation, that is creating data points algorithmically instead of manually.

Salient features:

  • Simplified nodal workflow
  • Sophisticated simulations
  • Intuitive pipeline relying on the node system.

The node system and procedural generation give artists much more control and power over the simulations. But it also means that the learning curve is quite steep.

Houdini is a paid software, however it offers a free version known as Houdini Apprentice. It is meant for personal use and is a great way to master the software.

5. Zbrush

The current 3d printers accept any 3D models. But Zbrush does the job better than most others. It is well suited for 3D printing. It is a sculpting software popular for its 3d printing compatibility. It also used for painting and texturing. It is also widely used by game developers due to its high resolving powers.

Salient features:

  • Unique non photorealistic rendering
  • Simplification of colouring, texturing and meshing
  • Automatic retopology toolset that allows finer polygon design and detection of sharp edges
  • Universal camera
  • Toolset for merging meshes.

The software performs very well with 3D printers. However it comes with its own set of problems. It is difficult to learn due to the variety of toolsets. It is also quite expensive. Its scope is limited when compared to the other software in this list.

6. Modo

Modo is primarily focused on 3D Modelling. It was adopted by many leading studios in the 2000s. It has maintained its popularity among artists because of its simple UI which makes many complicated and time consuming processes easy and quick.

Salient features:

  • Flexible procedural modelling system
  • MeshFusion Boolean tools
  • Integrated sculpting and retopology functionality
  • UV work tools
  • Sculpting toolset
  • Photorealistic rendering
  • Material simulation
  • Character rigging and effects

Has a simplified UI, and makes processes much more efficient. Modo, having simplicity as a feature sometimes poses problems when the scenes are large and detailed. It also lacks animation, dynamics and simulation libraries and toolkits. It also has considerable costs.

7. Rhino

It is a software used mainly for product design and analysis. It mostly has industrial applications. It is reputed for the precision of the surfaces it produces from mathematical models. It can also be used in architectural and graphic designing.

Salient features:

  • Comprehensive toolsets for creating, editing, and analysing precise surfaces
  • Mesh tools
  • Drafting and digital fabrication tools
  • Ray tracing for rendering
  • Simplification of the designing process by various shortcuts in the UI.

Rhino is cheaper than most other software of its class. It also has a large number of tutorials which make it easy to master. Its disadvantages are that more intuitive software such as SolidWorks are available.

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Summing Up

The idea of the best 3D Modelling software is subjective. Each and every user has a varied requirement such as product design, prototyping or animation. What may be optimum for one may not be so for another. Therefore a detailed research of the features and tools offered is necessary before making a decision. The above summaries will definitely help in the decision making process.