3D Software

For absolute beginners in the 3D world, it can be unclear which software is best for what you want to achieve. What is the “industry standard”? Is it worthwhile to invest money and time to learn a specific software? Is free software any good, or should I rather choose to learn an expensive software? What are the differences in functionalities, and which one is easier to learn?

While we cannot answer all those questions for you, since it also depends on your individual preferences, here is an overview of software packages that are used in 3D, VFX and game development that might help you to get oriented and to make a decision. If there is something we missed, let us know.

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COMPREHENSIVE 3D SOFTWARE

3DS MAX

 

Price: from 1.700 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Comprehensive 3D software. Widely adopted for modeling, texturing, archviz.

 

Renderer: Arnold

 

Link: Visit website 

Maya

 

Price: from 1.700 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Comprehensive 3D software. Widely adopted in many studios, particularly for animation and film production.

 

Renderer: Arnold

 

Link: Visit website 

Cinema 4D

 

Price: 736,77 Euro per year

 

What’s special about it: Comprehensive 3D software for animation, modeling, simulations and rendering. Integration with Red Giant and After Effects

 

Renderer: Redshift

 

Link: Visit website 

BLENDER

 

Price: FREE 

 

What’s special about it: Its free! Comprehensive 3D software for all 3D workflows like modeling, sculpting, shading, motion tracking, simulation and rendering. Real-time renderer Eevee. Amazing community, thousands of tutorials and learning resources. Increasingly adopted in film and game studios.

 

Renderer: Cycles (path tracing) + Eevee (real-time)

 

Link: Visit website 

SPECIALIZED SOFTWARE

Sculpting

ZBRUSH

 

Price: 39.95 $ per month or 895 $ for a perpetual license

 

What’s special about it: Industry standard for digital sculpting and painting.

 

Renderer: BPR

 

Link: Visit website 

Sculpting

3d coat

 

Price: from 99.95 $ 

 

What’s special about it: Although 3D Coat is almost a comprehensive 3D software, capable of sculpting, modeling, retopology, shading and rendering, its main strength lies in the unique voxel-based sculpting features, which no other software offers (to our current knowledge). Another unique feature is its Native Global Uniform (GU) unwrapping algorithm.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Rendering

Marmoset toolbag

 

Price: 14.95 $ per month or 299 $ for a perpetual license

 

What’s special about it: Real-time rendering, texturing and baking. Easy integration with web-technology via the Marmoset Viewer (display your models interactively as a real-time render on a website)

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Clothes

Marvelous Designer

 

Price: from 1.700 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: The one and only tool for professional cloth creation. Widely adopted in film and game development.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

Fluid simulation

embergen

 

Price: from 239.99 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Amazingly fast real-time volumetric fluid simulations.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

Texturing

Quixel mixer

 

Price: FREE

 

What’s special about it: Multi-channel 3D painting, scan data, real-time 3D curvature, displacement sculpting, ID masking, procedural noises, seamless texture projection, Smart Materials and much more. Integration with the huge MEGASCANS library and Quixel Bridge for easy export to Blender and Unreal Engine.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

Texturing

Substance painter

 

Price: from 19.90 $ per month (also available on Steam as a perpetual license for 126.99 $)

 

What’s special about it: Multi-layer real-time 3D painting tool with smart materials, smart masks and integrated bakers, and a state of the art real-time viewport. Widely adopted for 3D texturing and painting, particularly for games. Integration with the Substance ecosystem (Designer, Alchemist, Source)

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

Landscapes

World machine

 

Price: from 119 $

 

What’s special about it: Go-to terrain generation tool for AAA games, film and VFX.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

Vegetation

Speedtree

 

Price: 999 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Industry standard for 3D vegetation modeling for films and games. Integration with Unreal Engine and Unity.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

VFX & Compositing

Houdini

 

Price:from 269 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Fully procedural node-based system for all kind of simulations (like fire, smoke, fluids, particle dynamics, destruction, cloth and hair, crowd simulations) visual effects and compositing. Widely used especially in the film and VFX industry.

 

Renderer: n.a.

 

Link: Visit website 

VFX & Compositing

AFter Effects

 

Price: 20.99 $ per month (or 52.99 $ per month for the entire Adobe CC Suite)

 

What’s special about it: Layer-based compositing system. Widely used for motion graphics and visual effects. Integration with Cinema4D and Premiere Pro.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

VFX & Compositing

Fusion

 

Price: 295 $

 

What’s special about it: Node-based compositing system for visual effects, 3D, VR and motion graphics. Widely adopted, especially in the film industry. Integration with DaVinci Resolve.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Editing

Premiere Pro

 

Price: 20.99 $ per month (or 52.99 $ per month for the entire Adobe CC Suite)

 

What’s special about it: Professional editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production software. Integration with After Effects.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Editing

Davinci resolve

 

Price: FREE

 

What’s special about it: Professional editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production software. Integration with Fusion.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

GAME ENGINES

Unreal engine

 

Price: FREE

 

What’s special about it: State-of-the-art real-time engine and editor that features photorealistic rendering, dynamic physics and effects, lifelike animation, robust data translation, and much more. Continuously growing ecosystem: Quixel Megascans, Metahumans. Integration with most 3D Software packages like Maya, Blender or Substance Painter.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Unity

 

Price: Personal version is FREE. Unity Pro at 1.800 $ per year

 

What’s special about it: Leading platform for creating interactive, real-time content for games, automotive, archviz, film and animation.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website 

Godot

 

Price: FREE

 

What’s special about it: Completely free and open-source game engine. Early development.

 

Renderer: native renderer

 

Link: Visit website