3D art and specifically modeling, wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of software. Perhaps that is what makes digital art, 3D art specifically, so interesting. It’s a surprisingly technical dance between computer science, ingenuity, and artistic creativity. When skill and creativity meet high-functioning software and processing power, the results are beautiful, complex, and lifelike creations.
Here at Daz 3D, we’ve been pioneers in the 3D space for over two decades, and in that time we’ve worked with a lot of software, including our own: Daz Studio. There are several applications for 3D modeling, so finding the perfect software is dependent on many factors, including personal preference.
Someone who has spent years mastering one software will surely weigh that more heavily in their own rankings, so take our recommendations with a grain of salt if that’s the case. On the other hand, if you’re looking to get into 3D modeling, this guide will help you know where to start.
The Best Software for 3D Design
There’s a lot of great software to choose from, but across many industries, Autodesk Maya undoubtedly takes the prize. You will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive and powerful software with such an amazing toolkit. Maya is an industry-standard for many professionals and has powered some of the most viewed CGI in movies and video games to date.
So what’s the downside? Maya has a major price tag to match its complexity and utility. Frankly, it’s a poor choice for hobbyists, beginners, and for personal use, unless you are able to get a student license. It will take time and dedication, possibly even formal instruction, to fully learn and master Maya. All that said, the quality of work Maya produces at the highest levels speaks for itself.
The Best Software for 3D Games
For this section, we are going to offer two choices. Both of these game engines are incredible and can be used for free, too. Depending on which you prefer, some game devs have very strong opinions about which is better, so we’re simply going to present them both, with a little advice to help you know which one might be right for you.
In general, Unity 3D is a great choice for indie and small teams that want to create stylistic 3D games or 2D games. Unity is very popular, so you’ll find plenty of tutorials and videos to help you learn and get inspired.
If you’re creating a game and you don’t have coding experience, Unity can prove difficult for some, since you will need to learn the C# coding language to get the most out of the engine. However, there are alternative plug-ins available, such as Bolt, which will allow you to create game logic without needing to write code.
Unity has a lot of built-in features and various render pipelines that will help you supe up your project and make it look amazing. With simple fog, post-processing, and camera effects, getting your game to look stylized and attractive is easier than ever.
UE5 is the choice for indie developers and massive game studios alike. In general, though, this software is probably slightly more tailored for large studios, since that is what brings in most of the company’s revenue. That said, they have done a lot to make game development more accessible. UE5 is free to use, and you only pay a revenue share if you make more than 1 million dollars off your project.
UE5 pushes the boundaries of real-time computer graphics and allows developers to do more with less hardware stress. The graphics capabilities are incredible. You also receive access to the Quixel Megascans library, which you can use for free within any Unreal Engine project. These photo-scanned assets offer up to 8k, photorealistic quality for developers. If your goal is to create lifelike, high-definition games and simulations, then UE5 is the right choice for you.
The Best Free 3D Modeling Software
By far, Blender has to be honored here as the best free 3D modeling software. If you haven’t checked out blender yet, we highly recommend doing so. Blender is open-source software that has been in creation for over 20 years.
Blender has amazing documentation and, as free software, is extremely popular and supported by thousands of independent content creators who post detailed tutorials and helpful content pieces that will enable you to master the software in no time.
Don’t be misled by the notion that you need to invest thousands of dollars into professional-tier software to create amazing work. In 2022, Blender can do just about everything any other software can. It covers all aspects of the modeling pipeline from creating or sculpting a mesh, to texturing, UV editing, and rendering.
Blender goes hand in hand very well with the two game engines we referenced in the previous section, Unity and Unreal. The reality is that Blender will work well for any 3D modeling application.
The Best 3D Modeling Software for Beginners
Maybe we’re biased, but we believe Daz Studio is an excellent place to start as a beginner in 3D modeling. We’ve been leaders in the 3D space since 2000, and pride ourselves in making 3D more accessible to artists of varying skill levels.
Daz Studio is designed to make setting up 3D scenes a modular, click-and-drag kind of process. We’ve created a line of human figures known as Genesis, and our current Genesis 8.1 generation offers the most realism and high-fidelity graphics to date. Using Genesis characters as a base model, Daz supports what we refer to as morphs, the ability to change the outward appearance of a character, without having to redo the rigging and other utility packed into Genesis.
Customize Characters With Ease
With sliders, you can quickly adjust the shape, size, and appearance of any character. We also have a wide collection of clothing, props, accessories, hair, weapons, and more, available in our store. Inside Daz Studio, you can access your personal library of assets and simply click to add them to the scene, where Daz will, in real-time, size and fit the prop to your character.
Cover All Steps of the Render Pipeline
Use poses and animation presets to position your character or use intuitive sliders to create your own poses with control over every bone. Add custom lights, backgrounds, props, and more to set up your scene and, when you’re ready, render out an image or animation file.
You don’t need to be a technical expert or know how to model human anatomy and other complex items to create professional-quality 3D content with Daz Studio. This makes the software perfect for beginners, while also offering enough utility to give value to experts and professionals as well.
Follow Your Passion and Create Something New
Now that you know which software is best for 3D modeling based on some of the most common applications, hopefully, you are prepared to start your own 3D journey. With Daz Studio, you can make amazing mockups and renders quickly with our wide collection of assets.
We can’t wait to see what you learn, create, and accomplish. Join our amazing community of 3D artists and share your work in our Gallery!