3D Software and You!

One of the most important tools in a designer’s arsenal is software. We receive loads of questions about what software to use but like any other tool, it’s only as good as its master. There are a number of industry standards but we want to hear from you – what 3D modeling/rendering solution do you use? I started with Lightwave 3D in the 90’s, then took on the daunting task of learning Maya. Today I use Modo exclusively. Most of these packages have free learning editions students can download. What about free open source solutions like Blender? Any others?


  • saikat says:

    For my professional work I use 3DSMax, Solidworks, Rhino. I have been trying Blender in combination with Indigo and Lux render (also free), initially it was really blender intriguing as I am used to with 3DSMax for long time but once I got a hang of it its really nice. Although some features are missing compared to the commercial programs but there are few things better than the commercial programs too!

    Blender is too good to be a free program and definitely worth a try.

  • Michael says:

    I learned Rhino and 3DS Max in school but have been trying to learn Maya too. For CAD work I prefer AutoCAD.

  • I started out with 3D Max but since I changed to the Mac I only use Modo, so much nicer though, so much more intuitive

    • Ian says:

      At university we were taught Concepts Unlimited which seemed a little bit inflexible. I tried out Maya, with some good results but ultimately I found it a little bit too much. Settled on Rhino as I just find it a little bit easier and more intuitive. Just waiting for the full Mac version so I can get rid of VMware Fusion!

  • Victor says:

    I started with AutoCAD, but nowadays I really hate it. I work with Rhino all the time, but I have been considering migrating to studio tools for a while now.

  • Adam says:

    I Use SolidWorks everyday now for nearly 2 years, before that we used AutoCAD and Rhino at college. SolidWorks is a million times better than AutoCAD for general design, modelling and drafting, but AutoCAD’s primitive nature isn’t all too bad, it’s still brilliant for very basic things, linework and schematics/electronics diagrams. As for Rhino, I found it hard to learn (at the same time as learning AutoCAD!) but once I got into it, it was ok, but of the 3 packages I mention, Rhino’s flamingo renderer is the best! Easiest and most powerful (that I’ve used) !

  • Josh says:

    yeah, you totally forgot SolidWorks. So good for quick conceptualization and production drawings. Not as cheap as Rhino, but I find it easier to use.

  • Mark Whiting says:

    Currently I almost exclusively use Modo. I also use Sketchup quite a lot when making quick mock-ups and elemental design.

    In the past I have used many things and sometimes I sill use Solidworks to communicate certain things with engineers.

    Modo is awesome and every release gets better for all kinds of designers. I love the licensing model (really flexible, user centric) and I love the learning materials.

  • helloplog says:

    im a Rhino User.:) great work my PC

    doesn’t work on MAC,though 🙁

    • Long Tran says:

      Rhino 3D is in beta for Mac OS X 10.5 In fact the company has it free for anyone that wants to try provided you give feedback on stability and user interface quirks.

  • p says:

    I’m a huge fan of rhino, its much less finicky than other surface modelers i’ve tried (ahem, alias) But I really enjoy solidworks and the much cheaper Alibre solid modeler for anything not terribly curvy.

    as far as rendering goes, I love hypershot for its raw speed and studio realism, but i’m really getting into the freeware “Kerkythea” rendering system, and I use that if I need more control over environments and lights. Not quite as powerful as vRay, but it boasts an impressive online gallery.

  • MaloneXI says:

    Hi ,

    I’m a 3DS Max user , because it’s the software that made me discovering the 3D. But , fir quicl made elemental design , I use Sketchup , it’s the fastest soft I ever used for that.

    I’m starting to make some furnitures for now , but I’m really afraid learning big factories , like Solidworks , it looks really complicated to learn…

    I didn’t know modo , it look. anyway , I’m trying to find an other modeler software to make curvy design or something else. MAX seems to be the old guy with its nurbs system…

    I’m using sketchup because all that I’m doing , for the moment doesn’t need curves. But I’m using Hypershot for my renders , and this soft rox a lot.

  • Mooo says:

    rhino for surfacing, solidworks for all CAD and design work, maxwell for rendering. I find this combo to be pretty big hit. first you got your surfacing down with rhino, then you get into the detials i.e draft, part lines, material thickness, with solidworks, not to mention all the parametric data involved. then you knock the socks off your clients with photo realistic renders in maxwell.

  • Use Modo and LightWave3D – and AutoCAD if I’m forced into it.

  • Rajiv Shah says:

    Used 3D Studio Max nearly a year ago, then went over to Maya, I currently use XSI almost exclusively, as it has a built in node based compositor (& the fact that I won a license for the full version!).

    I’ve played around with Blender but just couldn’t get into it.

    Other apps I’ve tried/used (that weren’t listed) are Pixologic’s ZBrush, Autodesk’s Muddbox, and Nevercenter’s Silo.

  • Andrew says:

    Rhino for set design work. I used to use AutoCad for 2D, but now work almost exclusively in Rhino. Plug-in renderers like Vray mean I can create great looking GI renders in Rhino too.

  • Carl says:

    solidworks then max with v ray. prob is it isnt cheap. the freebies are more popular as they r easy to use and growing in use due to their no costs.

    Q. Will visulisation software reach the point when man cannot tell what is real or not, (from a screen/print point of view) if so what will we use? or is infact this the race itself? furthermore is it a good thing to not tell what is real and what is not? discus.

    • Victor says:

      Well, I dare to say that the race is over. Is quite possible to make a perfectly realistic render. We all have seen it. The common man buys 3d for real every day. To our eyes, though, specialists eyes, it’s always possible to find that overperfection that gives it all out.

      Is it a good thing? Yes and no, like almost everything in the world: Depends on you use this perfection. If you use it to make your idea more and more perfect and viable, and then use it to sell it, I see no prob. But if you use it to sell a flawed concept like a brilliant design, well, you’re just a lier. No technology needed to be such.

  • DN Aps says:

    Rhino for almost everything – a little SWX for mechanical detailing. Using Rhino since the early Beta days, and to me it is the best NURBS freeform solution out there.

  • monkey face says:

    I guess the lucky ones get their companies to pay for there software. I’m surprised not many people use maxwell for rendering as I find it kicks ass and it is pretty damn easy to use. not to mention inexpensive compared to v ray or hypershot.

  • Louie says:

    I used rhino at first, but my career (Industrial Design) demanded me to switch to AutoDesk Inventor (Technical program) that really makes interface with mechanical machines quite smooth, but for modelling it´s a bit “limited” by its work mode.
    I´m currently learning to use 3D Max and Maya, and the posibilities in shapes are endless, but these lack the technical capabilities of Inventor.

    Although i´ll keep on using Inventor for a long time, I hope that somday I´ll only use Maya to preform all the tasks I´m currently doing.

  • Cervantes says:

    I started with 3DS4 back in the day and always worked with autodesk. Since I started my own company and had to take price in consideration, I gave Blender a try. It’s hard to catch up with it, but knowing what I know now, trying anything other than Blender doesn’t even cross my mind or fantasies. Just look at the features these guys are adding to each version for free and your balls will fall off. Those guys deserve a lot of pussy.

  • me says:


  • blipoids says:

    Take note that Autodesk has acquiered as of recently Softimage…

  • Charles says:

    Blender is a good free alternative.

  • Tekbot says:

    Alias all the way! viz in Showcase. the interactive Raytracing is awesome. Saw it running on a huge clustered machine the other day… True Real-time GI in the best quality. speechless.
    Autodesk is making it butter smooth to go from one program to another. watch out Rhino/SWX, glad i stuck with the real deal.

  • mohan says:

    hi sir can u give me solidwork software for XP i am download alread but is not working

  • Axel Lot says:

    As an engineer I started with Rhino and SW but now I am using a lot more a combination of Blender-Modo-MOI. Modos´s PowerSubd-Nurbs plug-in is really great. I have an injection molding mold been made in China from a file started in Blender, modified in Modo and finished in MOI.

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