paidCredit: Yuriy Sklyar

15 Best Tools for 3D Modeling Software

Discover and get started with creating 3D models

Joanna Ngai
4 min readDec 19, 2016


This post contains sponsored content by Tornado Studios, a 3D company and developer of photorealistic 3D models. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Looking for a tool to make that set of low poly Pokémon for your office desk? If so, you’ve probably also wondered about trying out a new 3D modeling tool. As daunting as it can be to work through figuring out a new tool, working in 3D can be incredibly rewarding and fun to explore as a medium.

Here’s a list of tools to help get you on your way!


Tinkercadfree, web-based, easy and intuitive

3D Slash
3D Slash

3D Slashfree, easy to understand, simple

Voxel Builder

Voxel Builderfree, web-based, easy and intuitive, voxel only


MagicaVoxel free, more powerful than Voxel Builder, voxel only

Autodesk 123d
Autodesk 123d
Catch App
Catch App

Autodesk 123dfree, much more powerful than Tinkercad, has a cool app that let’s you create 3D scans of objects


Sculptris free, a more beginner friendly tool for sculpting, by creators of ZBrush


Sketchupfree, more known as an architectural drawing tool


Onshapefree, cloud powered CAD system that’s also collaborative


Fusion360 — cloud powered CAD tool, interesting versioning controls


Solidworksfull featured tool typically used for modelling of mechanical parts, plots and renders

Blenderfree, open source, great for asset creation, popular with indie game community

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4Dmodeling, animation, motion graphic and rendering application; connectivity to After Effects


Mayamodeling, rendering, simulation, texturing; customizable with MEL/Python scripts

3ds Max

3ds Maxmodeling, animation, rendering…pretty similar to Maya with a slightly more user friendly set of modeling tools


ZBrushused for creating high-resolution models for games, models, and animation


If you want to channel your newfound knowledge into 3D printing, check out these links for inspiration:

Thingiversea design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things

Shapeways3d products made by a community of artists

Cultsa marketplace that connects designers and people interested in 3D printing

Egg Pods on Thingiverse

As you explore different options for 3D software (or 3D modeling programs) available online, one factor to consider is your industry type — whether the software caters primarily to 3D designers, Video Game Developers, Animators, Architectural Visualization, Product Design & Production experts etc. While there are plenty of excellent free 3D modeling software options to use for beginners, it may be helpful to refer to the most popular paid and free software below:

Best paid 3D software in 2019 and popular free 3D software
Credit: Tornado Studios

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