3D Softwares – Which one is better to start with?

When we want to create 3D content for augmented reality or for any other purposes, we need, of course, a 3D creation software. There are plenty of options, and some of them are thought for being combined with other ones, so in this post I’ll talk a little about some of the main 3D softwares so you can decide which one fits your needs better or it’s more accessible to you.

First things first… if you’re new to 3D, nottice that you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed by the interface and the big ammount of options, but this doesn’t depend too much on the software you pick, they’re all similar: different interfaces, different workflows or philosophies, but similar options and features. It’s just that 3D is a really big world, and you just need to take sometime to get used to the new options that you have in your hands.

So let’s mention the most used 3D softwares: 3Ds Max, Maya, SoftImage, Modo, LightWave, Blender. There are a lot more, but these are the most powerful and popular ones, so we’ll focus on them.

Logos of the main 3D Softwares

3Ds Max, Maya and SoftImage were in the past 3 completely different packages. Now they are all property of the same company, Autodesk, and this is making some tools jump between the three of them, so now they share some great tools, while keeping their own interfaces and workflows.

3Ds Max, is probably the most popular 3D software, mainly because it’s one of the very firsts softwares in this field, and a lot of us started using it for that reason, as it was the most extended one. Years ago, there was some kind of distintions between the features of these softwares:

3Ds Max: Arquitecture ; Maya: Movies and animation ; XSI: VideoGames.

Today, the differences are not so big, and we can do almost whatever with any of the three softwares, even if it’s true that for big companies, probably for some specific task one of them is preferred.

The counterpart of these great softwares is that they are quite expensive, rounding 4.000 € a license, and also, they usually require pretty powerful computers to run them smoothly, as they’re quite heavy softwares.

While those mentioned before are the most popular, we have some cheaper (or even free) and also powerful alternatives: Modo & LightWave are very powerful 3D softwares, and while they are probably more specialized in modelling and rendering, nowadays they also have some animation tools… not as full featured as the ones found in the Autodesk Products, but usually powerful enough for the uses of a freelancer or small companies.

And finally, we have Blender, free and Open Source software, which I heavily recommend. Blender has “suffered” a great rebuilding last two years, making it now much more usable and powerful in a proffessional environment. It’s starting to be compared to the comercial 3D softwares, except for the fact that third companies developing “big” plugins and add-ons aren’t developing for it yet, as it’s a different market and a different public. But previssions are in the coming years it will be much more extended, as its user base is growing really fast, as fast as its developement.

The counterpart of Blender is that you haven’t official support (for now) if you have a problem, or you may encounter a bug from time to time… but it’s free. You can just go to their website (www.blender.org), download it for no cost, and start using it completely legally!

Either way, if you’re new to 3D, you probably want something to start as soon as possible. Blender could be your faster solution: free, powerful and runs in almost every computer. This is another reason to use blender: you have versions for almost every platform, including Linux, which is something to have in account if you usually work under that OS environment.

If you like it, and you like 3D and want to start working on more serious projects… then maybe you’d like to switch to something bigger as 3Ds Max or Maya, after all, for some tasks you’ll probably need them, but to have a quick approach and experiment what 3D world is like… let’s take blender, and play with it right ahead! :)

Apart from all these softwares, there are complementary softwares, like Zbrush or Mudbox… to aid model sculpting, modeling, texture painting, retopo and to make easier these specific parts of the workflow, but can’t create final and complete 3D content alone, you need to combine them with one of the other 3D packages to that end.

And this is everything for now. I hope it helps some of you to start a 3D creation experience from now on!

Here you have links to each of the discused softwares’ official webs, so you can check them:



Do not forget to check out our AR Browser and Image Matching SDKs.

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