3D modeling: the best software and applications

3D modeling, rendering, or animation. Here is a selection of the best software, mobile apps or online services to make 3D models.

Are you looking for 3D modeling software to create synthetic images and make your cartoon, model your home or create a 3D model of a part to be printed or made? There is no shortage of solutions, whether for free software, online applications, mobile applications or commercial software for a fee. Here is a selection of the best 3D modeling tools currently available.

Blender

Become absolutely indispensable, and of excellent quality, Blender is a free and open-source 3D modeling extremely comprehensive, which also allows to designers and other creators to make the rigging (or ” operation “), the animation, rendering, photo-realistic 3D, simulation, composition, motion tracking, or to perform video editing or even the creation of video games.

Created and maintained by a Dutch foundation, Blender works equally well on Linux, Windows or Mac OS. It also has a very extensive library of extensions which allow the addition of generators (of trees, clouds, particles, landscapes, etc.), modeling options, objects, scripts, import or export options (from or to AfterEffects, Unreal Engine, DirectX, etc.).

FreeCAD

Designed especially for designers of mechanical machines and other industrial objects looking for CAD tools, FreeCAD is a free, open-source software for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and BSD, which allows to carry out 3D parametric modeling for CAD, MCAD, CAx, CAE and PLM.

TinkerCad

Designed especially for 3D printer owners, Tinkercad is an easy-to-use tool that works directly in your browser. It allows objects to be modeled by drag-and-drop basic geometric shapes, which can then be modified, merged or sub-contracted to create complex objects that can be imported for 3D printing or to Minecraft.

TinkerPlay

Always and still published by Autodesk, Tinker play is an application dedicated especially to children, which allows to model characters and creatures in 3D, starting from an existing base or combining different elements distributed in the library. Here an arm here clamps to replace the hands, the imagination is the only limit of the user who can also make a physical reproduction of the 3D model thanks to a 3D printer, or order a copy. All the assembled parts are joined by kneecaps which allow for animating them.

123D Design for iOS

Published by Autodesk, 123D Design is an application for iPad (also on Mac OS or Windows) to model 3D objects intuitively. The user chooses some basic shapes to begin with, which he can then modify and assemble to form more complex creations. You can import objects from a provided library, and save your creations on the Cloud.

The iOS application can export files in STL format to print the creations on a 3D printer.

123D Sculpt+ for iOS and Android

From the same family as the previous one, 123D Sculpt+ is an application for iPad or Android tablet that allows making sculptures to result in 3D models that can be painted or to which one can add fur or feathers. Create a basic form and then modify it as if it were clay earth, which it will be possible to export in OBJ format for import in a 3D modeling and animation software like Blender or Maya.

The app allows you to share sculptures with the community and even order factory-made hard copies.