3D Software Suitable For Hobbyists
There's a huge variety of 3D software available, even if you're only looking at the free/cheap stuff suitable for beginners and hobbyists. Here's a list of the 3D software I've had installed on my system at one time or another. I've split it into a few categories here, and each category includes at least one free option to help get you started. Read through what I've written below and see if any of the category descriptions take your fancy (landscape or 'toy-box' is probably the best bet if you can't decide). Then follow the link for that specific type of software - you'll find more information, and details for getting hold of the software.
'Toy-box' software (not an officially recognised term, but I think it sums up the software beautifully!) is perhaps the most fun sort of 3D software for a beginner. Your 'toy box' is a library of 3D models of people, animals, clothing, buildings, trees, vehicles, etc. Put clothes on the figures, load up some scenery, place and pose the figures appropriately, put things in their hands, add some lighting, set up a camera and take your virtual photo. Add a timeline and move the figures around and you can make you're own animated movie!
Most software in this category goes far beyond this though...
Here's my shortlist of 'toy-box' software (links are to the relevant entry in my software pages):
- DAZ Studio from DAZ 3D - Free for a limited time - standard price about $250 (two hundred and fifty)
- Poser from Smith Micro - Paid versions only, from $20 (twenty) to $500 (five hundred)
- Vue from e-on software - Free and paid versions. Basic paid versions from $50 (fifty) to $500 (five hundred) and upwards...
The main feature of landscape software is it's ability to create expansive, photorealistic, natural environments.
Here's my shortlist of landscape software (links are to the relevant entry in my software pages):
- Bryce from DAZ 3D - Paid version only, around $20 (twenty)
- Terragen from Planetside Software - Free and paid versions. Basic paid version about $300 (three hundred).
- Vue from e-on Software - Free and paid versions. Basic paid versions from $50 (fifty) - $300 (three hundred) and upwards...
Modelling software is mainly for making your own models of 3D objects from scratch. The toys in the 'toy-box' software had to be created by somebody, didn't they, and it was some form of modelling software that was used. 3D models can be saved in a variety of file formats, and most of these can be imported into other 3D software.
Here's my shortlist of modelling software (links are to the relevant entry in my software pages):
- Anim8or - Free
- Carrara from DAZ 3D - Paid versions only, starting at around $150 (a hundred and fifty)
- Hexagon from DAZ 3D - Paid version only, around $20 (twenty)
- MarbleClay - Free
- Metasequoia - Free
- Sculptris - Free version available?
'Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' software (again, not an official term) is software that, well, does everything.
Here's my shortlist of 'everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' software (links are to the relevant entry in my software pages):
- Blender from blender.org - No paid versions. All versions totally free.
- 3DS Max from AutoDesk- Well over $3000 (three thousand). 30-day free trial available (no credit card required!)
- Maya from Autodesk- Well over $3000 (three thousand) 30-day free trial available (no credit card required!)
I've used the generic term 'specialist software' to cover software that's focussed on specific tasks. If you're just starting then these probably won't be of interest, but once you start delving deeper.
Here's my shortlist of specialist software (links are to the relevant entry in my software pages):
- For Postwork: Adobe Photoshop, GIMP
- For UV Mapping: UV Mapper (Free and paid versions?), Roadkill (Free and paid versions?)
- For Rendering: LuxRender (Free), 3Delight (Free)
- For Environment And Reflection Mapping: Hugin (Free), HDRShop (Free and paid versions)