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Best Software to Learn 3D Modelling / 3D Design


3D Coat is free and supposed to be on-par with Zbrush.

Onshape is a free cloudbased CAD, that is quickly becoming very popular with hobbyist and printers-for-hire. And is being developed by the makers of Solidworks.



It’s really cool to see all these lists of software @tanya_Wiesner that’s a solid list, and there are a few there I wasn’t aware of. @Gene_Crady I hadn’t heard of either of those two. I pretty much use Geomagic Design exclusively these days for everything. It’s definitely got a learning curve, and it’s not cheap, but at the end of the day I’m about 10 times faster modeling pieces and for the complex assemblies with moving parts I haven’t found anything free that comes close to working as well. Though I have to say I’m tempted by RhinoCAD. They have a 2 month free trial which should be enough time to get a feel for it and I’ve seen beautiful work done in it.


Yes, that is a great list. (I’ll probably print it and hang it on the wall, as a toolbox check list).
Good website too, has an article about architectural elements that is relevant to my interest in learning CAD design.
I’ve spent 1yr sampling lots of “free” CAD and Modeling programs, and it’s time to get serious about picking dedicated programs to become proficient with. Onshape and Blender seem like good entry-level programs for me, that this moment, you never know what is coming out next week, lol.

The list was also missing a new Gcode slicer/controller program, “Ideamaker”. Has built-in “model free-cut”, and “file repair”. Helps to cut the print-workflow down substantially.


Hey everyone,

This is such a frequently asked questions, and the community input has been wonderful!

In the future, we’re hoping to release a blog post with a deeper look on the free softwares available to 3D designers. That includes scanning and file checking. While it’s not comprehensive on ALL the softwares out there, hopefully it covers enough that a new designer can find a software that’s to his style (mesh/solid, hardware considerations, etc.)!

Keep an eye out, and I’ll add a link to the post when it’s released :slight_smile:


Cool, don’t forget photogrammetry. (a la: 123dCatch)
I think photogammetry could easily become a good starting point for design beginners(me).
Whitney Potter, aka: “Shapespeare” on thingiverse, and co-host of the podcast “3dprintingtoday”, uses it to reproduce objects from: hand-size, to building-size. There will still be some post-editing required, but he shares all of the free programs and techniques he uses.

Of course, taking 60 photos @6degree increments, OR 120photos @3, may not sound like fun, and then having to crop-out everything around it, but after that, just letting the software do all the hard-work (hats-off to the real mesh designers), can reproduce some pretty impressive results.
(^^^facto: that is what scanning software, and equipment, does for you automatically)


A topic I get asked all the time as well, and some great responses on here. Just thought I’d post the article @Karen mentioned, which I wrote for Pinshape all about free software to not only model your design ideas, but also move between different file types or 3D scan - all without paying a cent!

Obviously you can only do so much with a free program, and once you’ve sampled a few and found what works for you, most will have more advanced software that you’ll be able to move into quite easily if you’re enjoying it.

Happy designing :smile:


I know this is an older topic, but Orchard is a new platform for crowdsourced design ( ). It’s essentially Pinshape with an “Edit” button.
It has:

  • free 3D modeling tools (more like engineering CAD w/ parametric sketches)
  • a library of editable 3D objects
  • fabrication tools (order a 3D print, or download the STL of the 3D objects)
  • it’s all built into the browser

It’s currently in Beta. You should give it a try!


I recently found another free software SelfCAD (SelfCAD) which is similar to TinkerCAD and Blender, but was very easy to learn. Usually in TinkerCAD when I went to perform something, I have to go through many clicks to accomplish what I want, which i found, when teaching, students would often get lost in the process. SelfCAD has fixed this for those students.

Also, SelfCAD has sculpting which is a bonus.:sunglasses:


I know this post is old, but…

I second the use of Rhino 3D. I’ve used it for 10+ years, and love it. It has limitations, but most software types do.

You can download it free, and use it as much as you want. It will only save 25 times, then you have to buy it, but you can at least practice with it forever. It costs about 1000 US dollars, but if you are a student, the price is about 250.

You can use it to render your model and make photo-realistic images (with an add-on program like “Brazil,” another 250 dollars for students). You can work with meshes and cut them into pieces. you can export your CAD model as an stl, and you can communicate well with SpaceClaim, a fairly new and powerful software that is good for direct modeling and reverse engineering. Plus, I found Rhino fairly intuitive to learn.



i suggest rhino 3d since ive been using it too


For those more interested in editing and repairing stl files, I read this nice article about how to make your 3D print file ready for successful printing: It’s quite interesting


Regards uncles, pleased to be here with you … to make a little contribution in this forum and in this community, I leave this website so you can download the software free for your 3D models.


As a coder, I prefer to code my designs using a small free application called openscad. If you are more comfortable in a text editor than an art application, then you should check it out. All of my designs here on Pinshape were created using Openscad. Good luck!


i really more benefited from your post, thanks


its really perfect idea, i cam also suggest you that you can check this


The best software for 3D modeling are:

  1. Auto CAD
  2. Blender
  3. 3D Studio MAX


Depends on what you want out of it. Here are some choices:

Maya - Great all around 3d program.

3DS Max- Similar to Maya but the interface is different and has a slightly different approach to modeling.

Blender - Might be harder to work with, but it’s free.

Sketchup - A tool for quick 3d modeling, but with less features than other software. Good for concept artists that want to block out their composition and lighting quickly.

ZBrush - 3D Sculpting software that feels more like working with clay. Steeper learning curve, but is the industry standard for high detail models.

Mudbox - An easier to use 3D Sculpting software that excels at painting textures directly onto the model. (I wrote a book on this software called "Mudbox 2013 Cookbook" if you need some extra guidance. :P)

Sculptris - Free 3D Sculpting software with less features, but works pretty well.

If you are doing CAD modeling than I would suggest Solidworks, Inventor, or Fusion 360.

There are plenty of others out there, but these are the main ones that I would suggest.


It depends on what you want to do and your requirements. Below are some of the best 3D modeling options:

Sculptris - It is free 3d modeling software. It offers artists lots of freedom to sculpt models with simple tools.

Blender - It is free 3D modeling software with features including sculpting, animation, photorealistic rendering, and video editing.

Sketchup - It is user-friendly and free software. It is the best choice for beginners.

TinkerCAD - It is free online 3D modeling software. It is easy to use tool run in a web browser and it uses Boolean modeling to make objects with shapes and building blocks.


I checked the site, might want to mention it’s only free for 30 days, not exactly free if you ask me. You still gotta buy it after the trial runs out, so technically free to try not free completely.


Autodesk 3ds Max might also help to the windows user. However, if you get any issue related to D-Link Router Error 103, you can reach us through the website.