Whether you’re new to 3D graphic design or at the professional level, there are several 3D design tools on the market to meet your level of expertise, style, and project needs. To help you find the right one, we’ve assembled a list of the best 3D modeling software.
Price: $195/month Free Trial: Yes
Maya is used by many leading animation studios (Pixar included) because of the massive array of incredibly powerful features and tools included in its workflow. While likely overkill for a casual user, Maya offers a robust package for those looking for all the bells and whistles.
Price: $195/month Free Trial: Yes
3DS Max is an industry-standard solution for motion animation, architectural visualization, and scene design. Note that the spline system used by 3DS Max is often lauded as the best of its kind. 3DS Max also has many performance patches, as it predates most current programs.
Once considered a basic alternative to many big kids on the block, this free, open-source tool now offers a slick, intuitive user interface and a robust feature set for the entire 3D pipeline. The program runs on all major operating systems and provides you with all the tools you will need in modeling software, such as texturing, rigging, sculpting, and animation. Blender also includes several third-party plugins, such as VRay.
Price: $60/month or a one-time fee of $3,495 Free Trial: No
Maxon Cinema 4D has a tight focus on advanced 3D modeling, making it perfect for conceptual product design and projects when you have to add more complex layers. Cinema 4D might be the right program for you if you’re looking for ease of use. It is available in four “flavors”—architects, motion graphics artists, designers, and 3D animators.
Price: $995, with annual upgrades available for a fee Free Trial: Yes
Used for everything from architecture visualizations to motion graphics, LightWave 3D is a versatile and affordable 3D design package for photo-real animation and imagery. Lightwave 3D operates as 2 apps: Modeler is for building assets, while Layout is ideal for lighting, texturing, animation, and rendering. Lightwave 2019 included a new feature called the Unreal Bridge that links Lightwave to the Unreal Engine, a video game engine for developers.
Price: $40/month or a one-time fee of $895 Free Trial: Yes
ZBrush is general-purpose software for graphic artists that carefully detail their work and prefer inexpensive platforms. If you have ever found yourself in sheer awe of a digital rendering of an individual’s face, it is likely that the artist used ZBrush in order to create their work. ZBrush is the industry standard for creating hyper-realistic models—it’s also a staple in VFX on both movies and television.
Price: $599/year or a one-time fee of $1,799 Free Trial: Yes
Modo offers 3D modeling, animation, and rendering. While more expensive than other 3D design tools in this list, the package includes sophisticated tools for easy modeling, rigging, and animation rendering within a single workflow. The Foundry designed Modo with art in mind, not just animation. This is why it offers a robust and unique selection of tools.
While the other tools in this list focus on digital artwork and animation, TinkerCAD is an easy to use, online CAD tool that’s easy to learn for creating 3D printable files. You can easily import 2D images, and then use this tool for creating 3D versions of them. If you are looking for a simple tool to get your feet wet, then you will like TinkerCAD’s intuitive approach to common tools and concepts in 3D modeling software.