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8 Trending 3D Design Software You Need to Use for 2023

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Published on: 05 Oct 2022

A dragon you drew on paper brought to life on a screen. What was once static is now growling and moving on the roof of a chapel. Hunters stand on the ground; arrows pointed to battle the inevitable doom. And, you watch the scene with pride; after all, you created this world.
This is the magic of a 3D designer. In a way, they are playing God in virtual universes. They breathe life into 2-dimensional pictures and shape them into realities beyond imagination. No wonder you are inquisitive about how to birth your own 3D world.
The most significant part of a 3D Designer's career is the software they use to create any element. Not knowing the right software can lead to unsatisfactory results. Hence, it is mandatory for every 3D Designer to know the right software. Owing a 3D modelling software can enhance your CGI skills and provide an extra oomph to your 3D art. The good news is that the market is full of 3D Design software (some paid and others free). The bad news, deciding which one to use can be an exhausting burden.

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Wondering which software can help you create the best 3D software design? We have not 1, not 2, but 8 awesome software for 3D modelling for beginners and professionals.
This helpful guide will walk you through:
-the 8 best software available
-the features of various 3D design modelling software for newbies and professionals.

Let's look at our top 8 3D design software.

8 3D design software to try today

The right 3D modelling software requires to consider two aspects:
A. An understanding of the features
B. How well these features can work in your computer.

Some 3D modelling tools need a hefty amount of data and space. So, your technological resources must be powerful and robust.
For now, let's dive straight into the 8 best 3D modelling software.

1. AutoDesk Maya

Want to create realistic 3D characters? Want to add movie-like effects to your video? AutoDesk Maya is a 3D software used by most professionals. It adds life to your characters with its fantastic animation tools.
The software is best used for:
➼ Shaping 3D scenes and objects using advanced modelling tools.
➼ Adding realistic effects to videos like movements, explosions and more.
Best Features:
A. Bifrost
Bifrost for Maya is a revolutionary 3D design tool. It can create complex physical simulations like snowstorms, explosions, thunder, and more. The tool can develop simulations with strong visual effects. With its advanced technology, Bifrost boosts your 3D art and takes it to the next level.
Maya comes with USD or Universal Scene Description. It creates large datasets without using native tools. The feature focuses on non-destructive editing and fast use of data for 3D art rendering.
C. Fast playback
Maya allows the user to create cached playback. The software supports Viewport 2.0. It allows an impressively quick review of animations. 
D. Time editor
The edits created on Maya are high-level. Create advanced animations and tools using a non-linear, clip-based, and non-destructive editing tool.
E. Graph editor
Improve animations or create new ones with your creativity on Maya. The graph editor shows you the development of your art through a graphical animation. This helps you can understand the various elements and where you can improve.
F. Polygon modelling
Maya has several geometrical tools to help you create interesting curves and shapes. With its trailblazing editing tools, Maya helps create edges, faces, vertexes, and more.
G. Character setup
The feature is for those who want to add more sophistication to their art. Add various deformities to create something out of the box. Maya helps you get as close as possible to create real-life displays.
H. Integrated Arnold renderer
The AutoDesk Maya platform depicts changes in the scenery in real time. This means changing the cameras, materials, lighting, and more.
I. Sped-up workflows
Work faster and give your creativity a fast boost with Maya. The software is to enhance your work experience to bring your best creative side.
J. Deliver stunning visuals

Here's a basic intro to Maya from the Maya Learning Channel.


What's 3D art without some brilliant visual effects? Maya adds quality to your work with its detail-enriching features. Keep your clients keep coming back to you for more high-quality work.

2. Blender

Blender is one of the leading 3D modelling software free for 3D Design. It is used by top brands like Apple, Intel, NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD.

 Ash and Pikachu by Giulia Marchett

‘Ash and Pikachu’ by Giulia Marchett
Guilia Marchett is one of the best 3D designers you will find on Instagram. Trending for extraordinary 3D skills, Guilia is clearly worth the hype. The picture above was created using various features of Blender 2.8.

Let’s look at the best features Blender has to offer. 

Best Features: 

A. Cycles
Cycles is Blender's most potent built-in engine. It is an unbiased path-tracing tool that provides the most realistic rendering results. With its real-time viewport preview, Cycles is ideal for CPU and GPU rendering. It also has HDR lighting to add a pragmatic effect. Supported by VR rendering, it has PBR shaders that add life to any 2D image.
B. Sculpt, UV, Modeling
Blender makes creating and editing models a cakewalk with advanced features.  Enjoy using tools for modelling, UV (denoting the bidimensional 2D nature), and sculpting. Being the best 3D modelling software free, it has tools to slide, inset, edge, grid, bridge fill, and more. Use N-Gons to fill in gaps and more. Sculpt your art on a virtual platform using sculpting brushes and tools. Colour with 3D paint to add more textures for high-resolution 3D art.
Blender's VFX tools are the best trackers you can find in the market. It allows the user to
-import raw footage
-track the footage
-Mask unwanted areas
-Bring life-like 3D camera movements into a scene.
Since all the tasks done are within a programme, you don't need to switch from one tab to another. Additionally, the tracker works in both automatic and manual phases. You can also use it to preview the tracked footage in real time.
D. Animation + Rigging
Blender provides world-class rigging and animation tools. It helps create professional advertisements, films, TV series, and more. Why use the rigging and animation tools? Because they provide automatic skinning. This means the 3D mesh binds with the joint setup to create realistic vertices. Add other elements like dope sheets, curve editor, and more. Customise bone shapes and sounds to fit your artwork.
E. Drawing
One of the reasons why Blender is an absolute fan favourite is because it allows the user to draw on the software. This allows the user to feel free to create 2D figures, which they can later render to form 3D art. Blender collaborates 2D with 3D art to give excellent results. It adds various colours and layers to make it more realistic, and sculpts objects. All this on the same platform!
F. Customise
Blender incorporates a Python-controlled interface that provides flexibility to the programme. Customise the font, size, colours, layout, textures, and more by using various add-ons. Most of these add-ons are a contribution of the community of users on Blender. You can customise and build your add-on and connect with the programme's render API if you wish.

3. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D, an outstanding software with exceptional features for professional and new users. It has some of the best tools for 3D Design. For example, Cinema 4D boasts revolutionary tools like OCIO support and asset management. Let's check out the best features this software has. 

Best Features:

A. Unified Simulations
With features that evoke soft body simulations, Cinema 4D is an artist-friendly tool. The software makes it easy to capture real-time body and face movements. Cinema 4D revolutionises  the scenario of 3D Design. It gives realistic simulations to create complex movements. For instance, the movement of fabrics, bodies, and more such physical elements. The software works well with CPU or GPU, allowing smooth simulation calculations. This is a multi-threaded software that offers enhanced performance and complex simulations.

B. ZRemsher

Cinema 4D takes the designing aspect up a notch with new modelling tools. The software has ZRemsher, a procedural tool that has the power to change the topology of any mesh. Sounds impressive, right?

C. Node Capsules and Vector Import
Now give your art interesting new shapes using advanced 3D design interactive tools. You can use these tools through Node Capsules. Advanced spline nodes activate new capsule possibilities. At the same time, improved vector import is for illustrations and SVG artwork easier.

D. Enhanced Symmetry

Symmetry creates mirrored changes that allow more definition to the model. Cinema 4D allows better symmetry techniques. It uses tools like object axis, world grid, model topology, and a customised workplane.

E. Asset Browser

Cinema 4D's Asset Browser is a cave of treasures. It has tools like 3D objects, capsules, and materials to create perfect 3D art. The preset content is all yours to browse. You can search and research using specific keywords and metadata. Download the asset you like without downloading the entire library. The cached downloaded content remains in your device to re-use whenever needed.

F. OpenColorIO (OCIO)

OpenColorIO (OCIO) is a colour management system, in simple words. This feature allows an open-source system. Users can choose the colour they want and customise it to fit the artistic demand. Moreover, most 3D designers face difficulty in filling colours in small spaces. It also has an Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) tool. This makes filling spaces in congested areas more effortless than ever.

4. AutoCad

Give an instant boost to your design creativity. AutoCad is a combination of automation and machine learning. Many engineers, architects, and construction professionals swear by this  3D design software.

Best features:

A. Automate, annotate, and Design

Shape your vision with ease using 2D geometry and 3D model. Work with various surfaces and mesh objects. You can automate tasks, compare your art, add blocks, create designs and schedules, and more. Moreover, the software has a customised workspace to enhance your productivity levels.

B. Faster actions

With AutoCAD, you get to experience faster rendering via advanced automation. Design 2D or 3D art at a faster pace and customisations.

C. Share your art

Be proud of your work. AutoCAD allows you to share your art with others through a laptop or mobile device. You can share from the software and let the world know about your genius creations.

D. Trustworthy technology

The software has a TrustedDWG® technology mark. It checks whether your DWGs (a.k.a drawings) are AutoDesk saved or by other software licensed to use RealDWGs.

E. Collaborate with other designers

On AutoCAD, you interact with other designers to gather and export designs. Collaborate with various artists to enjoy an engaging experience.

F. Mobile-friendly experience

Enjoy a fast, mobile-friendly experience. View, create, edit, and annotate various designs using the mobile app.

AutoCAD provides a connected experience to designers across the world.

5. SketchUp

SketchUp is a free 3D modelling software. This web-based software works best for online use. It saves your art so that you can gain access to your work anytime, anywhere.

Best features:

A. Instant modelling

Now start your 3D design process in three steps:

➼ Open a browser

➼ Go to SketchUp

➼ Begin designing
B. Share designs

SketchUp makes it easier for you to brag about your work. Save your work and share it with others. Not only that, you can also save and share your essential views anytime, anywhere.

6. Fusion360

Fusion360 is an excellent 3D software. This cloud-based programme is also ideal for CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB. Using this platform is beneficial for:

➼ Design, manufacturing, engineering aesthetics, function, fit, and form of various products.

➼ PCB and electronics tools to design and engineer.

➼ Building outstanding 3D models that can turn into quality products.
Best features:

A. Flexible

Experience various iterations that run well with the cloud-based CAD software.

B. 3D printing

FFF/PBF metal 3D printing to build and produce quality CNC parts.

C. Advanced designing

Experience advanced features like electronic Design, schematic capture, and CAD functioning.

D. Cost-effective 3D simulation

Create simulations with low prototype-building costs to make the model ultra-realistic.

E. Cloud collaboration tools

Cloud collaboration tools that bring together various teams. The software also manages VR and data.es files to add life to designs.

Check out this Fusion360 tutorial for beginners.

7. Houdini

Houdini is one of the best 3D software for beginners. If want creative freedom and various iterations, this software is for you. Built to be a procedural system, Houdini is how its name sounds: virtual magic!

Best features:

A. Node

One of the unique features of Houdini is nodes. This is where artists store the actions performed on the software. Every time artists work on a design, they can add it to nodes.

B. Recipe

Another cool feature, a "recipe", is the network connected to nodes. When an artist saves an action in the node, the wired node forms a "recipe". You can optimise recipe 'n' number of times to create extraordinary results. Hence, nodes keep the data and pass the information for better design generation.

8. Adobe Substance 3D Designer

Adobe's Substance 3D Designer is an ideal software. It is used creating image filters, 3D models, patterns, and more. The 3D modelling software for 3D printing is an artist's dream world.  Substance 3D Designer gained the attention industry because of its super-rich performance. The software is a favourite of most video game designers and video editors.

Best features:

A. Adjust and re-adjust

The software has a node-based workflow. It allows you to adjust your Designer wherever and whenever you want. You can improve the quality of your projects anytime and anywhere.

B. Infinite assets

Substance 3D Designer has countless assets and community assets. These are full of 3D learning material to help beginners. Build your knowledge, learn 3D designing from the rich library, and boost your skills.

C. Elements

Create fantastic 3D designs using elements like kitbash and curves. Use various apps supported by Substance 3D Designer to create unique designs.

D. Parametric lighting

Create HDR lighting via procedural lights and elevate 360° models or photos.

Now that you know the best 3D modelling software, how about you take a step to understand more about this niche?

On KoolStories, you can learn 3D Design online at your own pace. Let's begin learning in a fun way through snipts, 15-minute micro courses, and more.


Is there any free 3D design software?

Blender is a free 3D design software. You can:

and show off your 3D design skills without paying for any membership on Blender.

What does 3D software do?

3D software helps in 3D Design. 3D Design is the process of turning 2-dimensional pictures into 3-dimensional forms. The end goal is to create a more realistic look.

Which 3D software is the easiest to use?

Blender, AutoCad, and Cinema4D are quite easy to use. Adobe Substance 3D Designer can be a little complex. But you can find tutorials on their original site to learn more about how to use it.

Is 3D Design in demand?

Yes, 3D Design is highly in demand right now. The need for 3D Design is everywhere. You can find its use in cinematics, advertisements, animations, YouTube videos, and more.


How much does 3D modelling cost?

The cost of 3D modelling is highly dependent on the model you are creating. Based on the quality and the complexity of the model, you can derive the money you will need to spend. Here's a breakdown of the costs involved in creating a 3D model:
1. A simple 3D model will cost anywhere from $40 to $200. If you want to create a more complex model, be ready to spend from $200 to $1000. 
2. This includes the cost of software, rendering tools, and powerful systems.

How long does it take to create a 3D model?

When we calculate the average time needed for rendering, we must keep a few things in mind like:
How powerful your system is
How fast your WiFi is
What is the size of the image 
Considering all these factors, an image may take anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 hours. Larger image sizes can take even an entire night to render into a 3D image. If you want to create high-quality images, be ready to invest 70 to 110 hours per image. In the case of rendering videos, it may take 7 hours for a 3-minute video.