Which is more difficult 3D modeling or programming

Top 10 Most Popular Free 3D Software For Beginners

Top 10 most popular 3D software for beginners

First some basic information so that it can also be understood correctly by absolute 3D beginners.

1. What are 3D programs?
In contrast to 2D programs (e.g. all text or image processing programs), a 3D program virtually represents a three-dimensional space,
in which I can move spatially and in which there can be 2 and 3-dimensional objects. One-dimensional ones too, of course. I just don't see them. Ok, maybe in the 3D program

2. What are 3 dimensional objects?
In contrast to a two-dimensional object / image (height x width), 3D objects also have a depth (H x W x D) and thus also a volume / space.
Unless the object is just a surface, e.g. a picture (H x W). With the difference that I can also look at a picture from behind in 3D space
But you don't need to look now. On the back you can (mostly) see the same thing as the front.

3. What types of 3D programs are there?
Because at the beginning there is not the cube, but an empty work surface (also called "View" in 3D jargon).

- Model making programs (C4D, Blender, Maya, 3DCoat, etc.)

These are practically the designers in the 3D area. In industry this is called CAD (Computer Aided Design). These programs create these ominous 3D objects (... or 2D) out of virtual nothing, which I can then use / edit in the same or other 3D programs. Blender even claims it can do anything. Nevertheless, these programs are mainly used for creating / constructing objects of any kind.

- Landscape generators (Vue, Bryce, Terragen, Carrara etc.)

These are the "gardeners and landscapers" among the 3D programs. These programs create the world, i.e. the environment for the house with the dog house.
These programs also work with automatisms (generators), but are also modellers, in a certain way. These programs can also be deserts, mountains, seas and whatever else you need, including hazy atmospheres and appropriate lighting.

- Scenery programs (DAZ Studio / Poser etc.)

As already said, these programs can actually do nothing of what the aforementioned can, or if so, then only with considerable effort, rudimentary and more badly than right.
But that's not what they're meant for. DAZ and Poser are programs in which I can stage 3D objects. As the name suggests, DAZ Studio is actually a picture or film studio.

Dealing with 3D software or the creation of 3D objects seems quite difficult and beginners quickly become discouraged, which may also be due to the large range of 3D software. This leads to many giving up before creating their finished STL files.

To get an overview, we have compiled a list of the most popular programs for getting started with 3D modeling. This compilation will help you design the 3D model of your choice, which you can then use to easily print your final product on your FDM or SLA 3D printer at home.

We present our TOP 10 of the most popular 3D software:

  • Blender

  • Sculptris

  • DAZ Studio

  • Autodesk Fusion 360

  • Houdini Apprentice

  • Wings 3D

  • SketchUp

  • 3D slash

  • FreeCAD

  • BlocksCAD

1. Blender

The best 3D CAD software: For professional 3D modelers, designers and game developers

Blender is a free professional 3D CAD freeware that is distributed under an open source license and is used for animation films, special effects, interactive apps, video games and also 3D printing.

The many functions in Blender include 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, liquid and smoke simulation, sculpture, animation, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and video editing. In addition, the 3D program amazes with its integrated game engine.

The 3D CAD freeware also contains a number of tools that make it easier to prepare 3D models for printing, such as an automatic repair function.

With this wealth of functions, it is actually clear that Blender cannot be learned on the side.

Blender is not an entry-level 3D CAD program. Those who get involved shouldn't be put off by the steep learning curve. But he has one of the best open source 3D CAD programs ever.

2. Sculptris

3D modeling software for beginners; contains, among other things, various brushes for modeling and different material textures; offers dynamic tessellation as well as a symmetry mode that mirrors a model on an axis when it is created; automatically creates UV coordinates to make texturing easier;

Sculptris is an interactive and easy to use 3D sculpting software. The application is ideal for people who are new to creating digital sculptures, with its easy-to-use tools and easy-to-navigate interface. Still, it remains robust software that artists can use to learn the ins and outs of digital painting before moving on to other applications like ZBrush.

The philosophy behind modeling 3D models is very similar to modeling clay figures. You start with a simple shape like a sphere, then use the tools it contains to gradually shape it until you get to the end result.

With Sculptris you can work with a flat surface or a sphere, there are several tools to choose from so that you can adjust them as you wish. With the 'Mirror Mode' all kinds of symmetrical creatures and objects can be created.

You can also give your creatures color with different textures - you can even use images from the hard drive, and effects can be combined like with 2D image editing programs.

With Sculptris, specialists know that they are there with a revolutionary application. Because the program enables artists to shape virtual sounds and other materials with clearly defined details in the desired form. With the software, specialists have brushes and color palettes that you can use to apply lifelike colors to your creations.

Sculptris is a great 3D design program with which you can also export your work in .obj or Zbrush format.


- Free system. Sculptris is a revolutionary system as it gives digital artists the opportunity to realize their imaginary objects. Yet despite its feature-rich system, it is free for individuals and even businesses.

- Newbie-friendly application. The design of 3D objects obviously has a lot to do with the skill of the artist. Many 3D design programs have extremely complex interfaces, so a free program like Sculptris that does the exact opposite is a welcome change.

- Translatable skills. Sculptris prepares people to use ZBrush, another digital sculpting software from Pixologic. The skills they learn in the gateway application are applicable to the more complex program, meaning they don't have to learn new commands and get familiar with different techniques once they're ready to move on.

3. DAZ Studio

DAZ is the name of the company (Digital Art Zone). The program they created is called Daz Studio, or DS for short. The "DAZ Studio" are in the most literal sense a program. It is the scene designers of the 3D programs.

DAZ Studio are programs in which I can stage 3D objects. As the name suggests, DAZ Studio is actually a picture or film studio.

DAZ is also very good at painting things, more precisely, "texturing", ie changing the object's surface properties. Another strength is that this program grants access to a large number of common 3D formats, which means that an immense number of purchasable and free 3D objects are available that do not have to be laboriously built by yourself, but can be used directly in a scene.

DAZ Studio also has a lot to offer when it comes to rendering machines. Without it, the most amazing scene is of no use to me. Above all, the two internal render machines 3Delight and iRay, the latter even being a physical renderer.

In my opinion, the special features of these programs are relatively easy to access, so 3D beginners are also suitable, you can create extremely complex scenes in which everything remains flexible.

You can do something like this in Vue or C4D, but it is much easier - at least for beginners - in DAZ Studio. And as it should be in a "studio", by using different light sources and several cameras, I can tell a complete, constantly changing story - and that as a picture or film story (animation).

4. Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk Fusion 360 in 3D Printing - Free and Powerful!

Autodesk Fusion 360 is a cloud-based software for CAD / CAE and CAM and allows collaborative design for manufacturing. For me as a 3D printing user, this means that I simply have powerful software in my hand that I can design and manufacture with the 3D printer for precise models such as spare parts for 3D printers or for fully automatic coffee machines, even simple objects such as key rings, etc.

If I may speak from my own experience, the first thing I would like to mention is the ease of use. I feel more at home when using Fusion 360 than anywhere else. Certain functions are hidden deep in menus and you either search for them for a long time or learn the sometimes long key combinations by heart. With Fusion 360, the most important menus for 3D construction are provided with large icons and I immediately know which other functions are behind this button.

This intuitive operation gives me a sense of security. I don't have to think too much about the program, but rather about the project. As I said, this is my personal experience and feeling.

The various sources for 3D printing models do not always have the right solution for a particular problem. With Autodesk Fusion 360, we all have a great tool at our fingertips:

- The software is free for the majority of the population.

- Large community - Due to the great cost model, a community has formed around Fusion 360, which always know the right answers to many questions.

- Cloud-based solution - Security is always a special issue, but with a correctly generated password and changing the password regularly, you've done almost everything you can do.

- Patches or updates are simply loaded and installed.


Fusion 360 student version: "Fusion 360" is a CAD / CAM program from Autodesk, which is known, among other things, for the excellent 3D modeling software Maya. Schoolchildren and students can download the professional program for Windows and Mac free of charge.

5. Houdini Apprentice

"Houdini Apprentice" is the free version of Houdini FX, a comprehensive and professional 3D design tool.

"Houdini Apprentice" offers you numerous functions as well as creative scope for creating realistic animations and special effects. In addition to modeling, lighting and post-processing, other modules are available for the rapid generation of assets. This includes, for example, the simulation of fire, smoke or water. With the help of “bullet” physics, you can calculate mathematically correct damage to objects.

For the character animation, clothing and fur can also be displayed realistically. The “crowd” tool enables large crowds to be visualized with just a few settings.

Projects created in "Houdini Apprentice" can either be rendered with the included engines or, alternatively, exported to other 3D programs for editing. Note: The program is free for private and school use.

The strengths of the program are mainly in the animation of various effects. Whether smoke or fire, Houdini offers you very fine mechanisms to represent the movements as realistically as possible. Furthermore, Houdini comes with various editors such as a cloud editor or a water editor.

The software also provides you with a number of in-house templates for designing people, their hair and clothing. You can of course change this or you can start from scratch. In order to visualize the movement of a living being in a particularly realistic way, there are various muscle setting options. Add new muscles to your object or shape the muscles according to human models.

This extensive package also qualifies Houdini for the professional sector. For example, effects in blockbusters like "The Great Gatsby" or "Harry Potter" were created with Houdini. The software was also used in the fourth part of the Ice Age series.

6. Wings 3D

Wings 3D is another open source 3D modeler, so it is free and intended for unrestricted use. Wings 3D is a pure modeller - additional software is required for textures, animations and rendering.

Björn Gustavsson, Richard Jones and Dan Gudmundsson have been developing this versatile modeling software since 2001.

Wings 3D comes with a tidy surface and is very suitable for beginners. The functions are hidden in the context menu, which can be called with the right mouse button.

The software offers a wide range of different editing tools, a UV map function, assignment of materials and lights. It is possible to set different languages ​​(German is also available).

Not only is it easy to design with its help, it also provides powerful tools such as AutoUV mapping. Wings 3D not only creates and processes simple polygon models, but can also refine them using Subdivision Surfaces. This free software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It enables almost everyone to have free access to 3D modeling, and with its .obj output file format, it is also suitable for 3D printers. The most common 3D specifications are supported, including * .3ds, * .dae, * .lwo, * .obj and many others; both in the export and in the import of objects.


Since English terms are predominantly used in the 3D community for a wide variety of functions across programs, it is advisable to keep English as the default setting.

7. SketchUp

"SketchUp Free" is the successor to "SketchUp Make" - a free design software that enables the creation of complex 3D objects.

With "SketchUp Free" three-dimensional sketches can be created and changed quickly. In contrast to CAD programs that can only be used by professionals, SketchUp is also aimed at beginners. The name alludes to the hand sketch because of the fast working method. In the basic version you can use SketchUp Free for free.

With a few simple tools, you can develop 3D models of buildings, woodworks, or machines in SketchUp. Textures and glass elements can be added and designed in detail. You can publish your finished models in Google Earth and Google Maps or put them on the Internet in the 3D gallery.

Application area:

The area of ​​application ranges from building models to first draft models by architects for the representation of architecture to illustration and product design.

The free SketchUp version (only as a cloud offer) is available free of charge for non-commercial use for private users, the commercial Pro version includes advanced functions such as configurable line styles, terrain modeling, advanced volume tools, high-resolution raster interfaces and additional interfaces for data exchange with CAD systems.


- no installation necessary.

- comparatively easy to use.

- Large pool of finished models available.


- tends to stutter.

- As a wireframe modeler, sketchUp cannot replace a full-fledged 3D modeler, as important functions for the design of complex free-form surfaces and solid bodies or a construction history are missing.

8. 3D slash

3D Slash was founded in 2013 by Silvain Huet, inspired by his son, who plays the video game Minecraft, a game where you have to survive in a world made up of small blocks. Similar to Minecraft, 3Dslash uses the power of small blocks that you can either delete or place to create your 3D model. The software offers various tools for creating your designs, including the ability to transform parts of reality into 3D with just one image that you can simply upload and edit.

Even for beginners, 3D modeling is child's play with this 3D CAD freeware. With little prior knowledge, you can design remarkable objects, such as a lightsaber. You can also import and edit existing models. The charm of 3D Slash lies in the pixel look, but if you prefer to see smooth surfaces, hard edges on your 3D prints, all you have to do is choose a tool size that is smaller than the resolution of your 3D printer.

The direct connection of the 3D CAD freeware to the larger online 3D printing services and 3D printer template repositories is also very practical. Of course, you can also simply export your model as an STL file and print it on your home 3D printer.

Due to the playful approach, this 3D CAD freeware is particularly suitable for amateurs who only occasionally want to create 3D printer templates without having to laboriously learn a conventional program. 3D Slash could also be of interest to professionals who want a fresh look at their craft. If you are just starting out in the field of 3D modeling and have the ambition to become a professional, you should definitely learn programs like TinkerCAD or 123D Design, which will introduce you to the basics of conventional 3D modeling.

3D Slash is an easy-to-use and free 3D CAD program with which you can assemble 3D models using building blocks - similar to Minecraft.

As a user, you edit the cuboids with tools that you probably don't know from any other 3D drawing program: the hammer, the trowel, the chisel and the drill. With a resolution of up to 0.1mm, this program helps ensure that your object is fairly accurate and that you can bring your creative reality to life!

9. FreeCAD

FreeCAD, a free CAD software to create geometric 3D models and technical constructions.

For engineers and draftsmen, the use of CAD programs has become an integral part of everyday work. But even hobby designers are all too happy to let their imaginations run wild in the 3D environment. However, the software required for this is usually quite expensive.

FreeCAD is a free alternative to professional programs and is aimed at students and interested parties who want to familiarize themselves with the subject of 3D CAD modeling.

Functional scope:

The construction process offers the creation of three-dimensional objects; for this FreeCAD uses the Open CASCADE Technology.

Most of the functions of the software are implemented using plug-ins. There are modules for creating objects from 2D geometry or for simulating robot movements.


- Expandable with plug-ins.

- With an interpreter based on the programming language Python (version 3.6) commands can be automated and summarized. very feature rich.

- 2D drawings are generated by projection from the 3D model.


- Not compatible with DWG

10. BlocksCAD: A simple solution to 3D design

Many CAD programs are very complex and difficult to understand as a beginner; others require code to be written immediately in order to create a 3D model. For me, BlocksCAD combines these solutions perfectly and, especially at the beginning, it helped me a lot to get started with 3D design.

BlocksCAD works with easy-to-use blocks, but then creates the appropriate code in OpenSCAD format from them in the background.

With this program, very simple, but also very complex models can be created, which can be flexibly programmed with variables.

How far can the demanding process of constructing 3D models be simplified?

- The BlocksCAD web service combines visual programming with constructive solid geometry.

- BlocksCAD runs completely in the browser, the finished model can be downloaded either in the 3D file formats STL, X3D or AMF. Anyone who wants to take a look at the code of the online 3D modeler or wants to set up another 3D workshop on their own server can download everything they need on GitHub.

- To make programming 3D objects with OpenSCAD easier, especially for children: BlocksCAD combines the OpenSCAD engine with the Scratch programming environment, in which you do not write any code, but rather add variables and functions as puzzle pieces to control structures such as loops and branches. In this way, you can simply click together your construction from colorful building blocks without having to deal with the details of the OpenSCAD syntax. If you are still interested in the code, you can also switch to this display of the building recipe for your 3D object.

In my opinion, this type of design is particularly suitable for children or schools.

There are many ways to get the 3D CAD model, which you need as a template for individual 3D prints: The range of free tools alone ranges from the colorful 3D web service Tinkercad to the professional online CAD Autodesk Fusion 360 and the open source -Package Blender up to the free modeling app for the tablet or smartphone.

Whatever, have fun with 3D!

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