any good free 3d apps?

I'm looking at doing basic blocking out of forms in 3d and using the output as a guide for 2d concept sketches. It doesn't need to be a super-duper state-of-the-art app, just something that covers the basics with an efficient user interface.

I was thinking about having a look at blender but read some info that didn't paint it in a great light. I also quickly found some other options: Art of Illusion , K-3D and Moonlight|3D.

Does anyone have experience with, or can recommend any, free 3d modeling packages?

Anonymous's picture

I'm not a fan of the blender interface but if you're just going to create primitives and drop in a light or two it will work fine.

samh's picture

Years ago I spent a long time looking for a good free 3D app, but most were (as the other guy said) just good for primitives and lights. I don't think it's fair to say that about Blender.

A lot of people who have experience with other proggies don't like Blender because it has a very non-standard interface. Yes, its interface differs from other apps and it a total bitch to learn if you're used to another 3D app, but for those who have learned it, it's very efficient. I think of it like learning to drive a sports car - it's touchy and easy to stall, but that's because once you learn to drive it you fly!

Blender has many of the features of full apps - excellent mesh modelling tools (it even supports mesh sculpting ala Zbrush), edit stacks, outstanding UV mapping tools, good mesh animation features, excellent extensibility, etc. In fact, I'd say that if you can't get your hands on Max and you are looking for a free app then you can learn all you need to with Blender. You can follow any good general modelling tutorial using Blender because it supports all the typical mesh modelling bits and pieces.

It's a lot more than primitives and lights. Take a look at some of the gallery images. Not many primitives there.

Not only is it free, it's open source, cross platform (Linux: check, Mac: check, Windows: check). It's a small download (9MB for Windows, to 22MB for OS X). It's also extensible through Python scripting, which means that it has importers and exporters for lots of 3D file formats.

Okay, I love Blender. I'm not saying it's a Max killer, but it's outstanding for an open source project. I might even choose to use it over Max in some situations. I'd certainly say it was silly to drive by a 9MB download to miss out on one of the best open source apps (not just 3d) out there at the moment.

Rado's picture

I agree. I have switched to Blender after working for a few years in Maya and now, taking part in many 3d contests and living out of 3d I do not feel that I have a worse starting position because of software I am using. It offers enough tools to allow to do anything you want- but with usual "if you know how to move around". Same is true for any other application, 3d or not. Sure, it is HORRIBLE to learn but after first week of tears and pain you should be able to move in it with ease.

Here are two samples of recent Blender projects:

Animation (in so popular Pixar-like style)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE7VzlLtp-4

and a game, built using Blender and based on built-in game engine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Canbxj0RBTk

Johnn's picture

Looks like blender might be the free app of choice for serious modelers.

After a bit more research I've decided to give Google Sketchup at try. I'm hoping it will be super simple and fast interface to learn. I fear Blender will be massive over kill for what I need/want and potentially too advanced and confusing for my nil modeling experience. If Sketchup works out and i hit its limits I could upgrade to Blender.

Anonymous's picture

Designers at Krome use Google Sketchup (at least the melbourne guys do) todo basic level design in the inital stages, then the artists get the models and make them pretty.