Best 3D design software - what's your views?

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Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I might be fairly new to prop making and already have another 2 kits in the pipeline to do but I want to go beyond this and make my own, going down the 3D printing route. I've done my research and was going to obtain and start learning Fusion 360 (which I know isn't beginner software but I might as well get the skills and abilities I want to do the job properly and take the time to learn them). Before, I go ahead with this, I thought it might be useful to ask the members what you think? What's the best route to 'good' 3D design skills or what software have you used and enjoyed?
 

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Krats

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I’m a self taught 3D modeller and over the last 20 years I’ve used most 3D design packages at some point. My favourite has always been 3DS Max. I can’t afford a copy these days so I now use a poly-modeller called Silo2 which has pretty similar features. From there I move models into Sculptris (or more recently ZBrush) to refine any organic detail.

I keep meaning to learn Fusion 360 as it looks like a useful bit of kit but for me it’s a matter of finding the time. If you want accurate hard surface modelling and you are starting with an accurate plan then I think Fusion 360 is hard to beat.
 

Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks Krats. I had looked into Sculptris and ZBrush but thought they weren't for me (for now anyway) but I hadn't really thought of moving models between software for different detailing, etc, as you mention. I will now though, thanks again.
 

kruleworld

Well-Known Member
My favourite has always been 3DS Max. I can’t afford a copy these days
Check out the student edition. when i was learning 3ds, i got 2016 full student version. i think superseded versions are free.

For DonB, consider something simple and cheap to start with.
Check out Fusion3D.
 

DaddyfromNaboo

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
There are so many free software packages out there that you do not need to look into "professional" i.e. commercial software like ZBrush. I can highly recommend Blender because of its very, very, very large community and huge tutorial number. It has everything you need, and sometimes too much of that. In the end it depends on what you want to model and what you want to do with that model. Polygonmodeling, NURBS-modeling and what not.

What our member SteveStarkiller did with Sketchup was beyond my comprehension, although I did use that Software quite often for architectural work. But the freeforms and organics, witchcraft! Sketchup did end up becoming too expensive for me and the free browserbased version does not really do anything for me.
Blender on the other side has just recently included many, many, many features that cover all of the main and a few of the more specialized ways to create a 3D-model. You can even do measurements in Blender, albeit it still is no CAD software like many of the Autodesk software products.

It IMO may depend on what user interface you prefer, since the way you create a model usually stays the same.
 

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Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
For DonB, consider something simple and cheap to start with.
Check out Fusion3D.
Thanks kruleworld I'll look into this. Had looked at Tinkercad but thought I'd hit limitations fairly quickly. From a cost viewpoint I can get Fusion 360 free for the first year, after which I'll know if it's going to be for me and (more importantly) worth it.
 

BobaFettSlave_1

Sr Member
Always been a SolidWorks guy but ill be the first to admit its strengths are usually leaned towards mechanical design vs organic shapes. I guess Fusion360’s starting to get a little better?
Tried picking at Blender a few times but not with much success. Would love to get to play with something like Maya or similar
 

McFlyte

Active Member
Fusion 360 is good. Solid software with a large enough community and support to help you. Some people don't like that you need an internet connection for it (it can be annoying).

FreeCAD is also worth looking into, although I never got good at it. I'm thinking of revisiting it with some new features. It's free and open source.

I haven't used Blender (also free and open source) in a while but liked it, although I found it hard to get going without following a tutorial. It wasn't intuitive for me at all.

People use all sorts of software. I'm an engineer so I prefer parametric design. But some shapes are easier to model in less 'rigid' software.

Lastly, good on you for trying to learn. Being able to model your own stuff is the best part of 3D printing!
 

McFlyte

Active Member
PS. If I had the money I'd probably use Inventor or Solidworks. But Fusion 360 has a few good licencing options.

PPS. I hate Catia.
 

Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I can highly recommend Blender because of its very, very, very large community and huge tutorial number. It has everything you need, and sometimes too much of that.
Thanks for the suggestion. For some reason Blender dropped out of my thinking early in the process of review but I'll go back and have another look.
 

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Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Always been a SolidWorks guy but ill be the first to admit its strengths are usually leaned towards mechanical design vs organic shapes. I guess Fusion360’s starting to get a little better?
To be honest, Solidworks looked a little beyond me at this point which is why I'm leaning towards Fusion 360, but happy to be told it's not.
 

Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks for the suggestion. For some reason Blender dropped out of my thinking early in the process of review but I'll go back and have another look.
Just spent a couple of hours watching Blender tutorials and it looks a useful bit of software - more research to do though before I commit
 

gschram92

Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I am self-learning Fusion 360 to design lightsaber chassis which I machine with a lathe and mill. Also for 3D printing parts. Work wonder for that and is pretty easy to learn. Though it does have some weird quirks like it’s a pain to just copy/paste to duplicate a part.

But there is a free license option for personal use so as long as you fall under that category then it’s a great option on the free list.
 

13doctorwho

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I used SolidWorks professionally. I no longer have access to that (job change) so I moved to Fusion 360. For being free for hobbyists its EXCELLENT! The only negative thing I'll say is assemblies don't work as well as they do in SolidWorks. Also it's more of a mechanical design system (like SolidWorks) as opposed to digital sculpting. I have made tons of models of varying complexity and it is great, especially for the price. So if you want to make lightsabers, and blasters and sonic screwdrivers it's perfect. If you want to make things with complex intersecting curves like a Stormtrooper helmet, I'd look somewhere else.
 

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Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
But there is a free license option for personal use so as long as you fall under that category then it’s a great option on the free list.
Thanks for this - have taken this option and getting down to learning the software.
 

Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I used SolidWorks professionally. I no longer have access to that (job change) so I moved to Fusion 360. For being free for hobbyists its EXCELLENT! The only negative thing I'll say is assemblies don't work as well as they do in SolidWorks. Also it's more of a mechanical design system (like SolidWorks) as opposed to digital sculpting. I have made tons of models of varying complexity and it is great, especially for the price. So if you want to make lightsabers, and blasters and sonic screwdrivers it's perfect. If you want to make things with complex intersecting curves like a Stormtrooper helmet, I'd look somewhere else.
Thanks for the advice - not thinking of sculpting at the moment, so Fusion 360 is working for me and I'll see how it goes. Realise that to be good with this software, will take a while.
 

Don B

Active Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I’m using Lars Christenson’s you tube videos to learn Fusion 360, and he’s providing good insights and learning but just wondering if anyone has other suggestions for content?
 

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