5 best CGI software for professional 3D modeling

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
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  • Whether you are a seasoned pro 3D artist or a beginner trying his luck with CGI animation, you need a reliable modeling tool to bring your art to life.
  • Choosing the best one isn't an easy task. That's why we handpicked the best CGI software for you to try today!
  • Explore more amazing 3D modeling tools in our 3D Design Guides.
  • Bookmark our Graphics & Design Software Hub as well for those times when help will be needed.
CGI software for professional 3D modeling

Both pro and rookie 3D artists know that having a natural artistic skill makes for half the battle. The other half is won using a capable 3D modeling software to show your creative talent.

With so many choices out there, it can get confusing as to which one is the best among the lot. CGI software that are tutted as best by the professionals may not be the right choice for beginners and vice versa.

Fortunately, each program offers something different to cater to the needs of a diverse audience.

In this article, we have jotted down the best computer-generated imagery software to best suit your needs.

What software does CGI use?

Adobe After Effects (Editor's Choice)

try out Adobe After Effects

You can’t talk about CGI added in movies and videos without at least mentioning the king of video post-production: Adobe After Effects.

This professional video editing tool added the option of creating 3D models back in 2017, and this feature has since become a staple of the product.

Besides that, CGI needs to be paired with other special effects in order to look realistic and natural, and this is something that Adobe After Effects can handle just as well.

That being said, if you already have a video created and cut and all you need to do is add a bit of movie magic, then Adobe After Effects is the product for you.

Despite the common conception that Adobe products are a subscription-based service, Adobe After Effects is included in the Creative Suite and can be tested out for free during a 7-day trial.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Professional 3D modeling tools
  • Seamless integration of 3D models and effects into videos
  • File formats compatible with all major video editing tools
  • Works best when paired with Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Can be tested out during a 7-day trial period
Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects

When it comes to professional 3D modeling, there’s no better visual effects software than Adobe After Effects.
Free trial Visit website

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya - cgi software

Autodesk Maya is being used by many of the leading VFX and animation studios due to its vast collection of tools on offer.

The latest version of Maya offers accelerated workflows and productivity with its improved user interface. Maya enables you to create stunning 3D sets with rig playback and manipulation features.

It can be used to create motion graphics for text, and flying logos, 3D animation with general animation tools like toolset for a keyframe, scripted animation, and 3D modeling with the ability to sculpt and shape models.

Arnold RenderView integration lets you view scene changes in real-time including lightning and camera etc.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Enhance the 3D models using brush-based grooming tools for accuracy in styling
  • UV editor interface and Clump Modifier
  • After Effect live link to work with Adobe program
  • Make changes in real-time along with Additional MASH toolsets

Autodesk Maya can be a bit overwhelming for beginners as it involves a learning curve. But, for those willing to invest time and money, Maya is among the best CGI software in the market.

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya

Bring your art to life with the best 3D modeling and animation software!
Free trial Visit website

Autodesk 3DS Max

Autodesk 3Ds Max - CGI software

3DS Max is a 3D modeling and animation software that comes from the same house as Maya, but Autodesk has developed these tools for a different purpose.

While Maya offers exceptional animation capabilities, 3DS Max shines when it comes to creating massive worlds in games and engaging virtual reality experiences.

3DS Max enables you to create and define a variety of environments and detailed characters along with high-end rendering tools like Arnold, V-Ray, and Iray to create stunning visuals for your project.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Compatible with other Autodesk software including Inventor, Revit, and Fusion 360, and other third-party applications like Unity and Unreal real-time engine to create video game animation.
  • The user interface can be less intimidating for beginners as it comes with a huge library of different modifiers to make the modeling process easier.
  • Autodesk 3DS comes at a cost and is made for professionals. For students, Autodesk offers a free version of the same for educational purposes.
Autodesk 3DS Max

Autodesk 3DS Max

Industry-leading Autodesk 3DS Max is unparalleled when it comes to 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.
Free trial Visit website

Autodesk Mudbox

Autodesk Mudbox

Yet another powerful tool from the Autodesk suite makes our list. This time, it’s the best 3D digital painting and sculpting software.

Mudbox is best suited to craft stunning characters and environments with sophisticated 3D geometry and textures.

In order to achieve these results, you get to enjoy an intuitive toolset, optimized workflows for efficiency, and seamless integration with tools such as Maya,3ds Max, Arnold, and more.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Digital sculpting tool for highly detailed 3D characters and environments
  • Paint directly on your 3D models across multiple channels
  • Artist-friendly, camera-based workflows
  • Create quality meshes from any asset
  • Smooth, brush-based workflows for polygons and textures

Download Autodesk Mudbox now

Daz Studio

Daz Studio - cgi software

Another 3D modeling software offering powerful tools is Daz Studio.

It is a 3D modeling, render, and animation software that focuses on creating home human-like realistic figures.

It is also among the user-friendly 3D modeling software that can be used by both professionals and beginners.

As for what can be done with Daz Studio, you can create 3D morphing, posting, and animation rendering using the GPU power to create photorealistic figures.

The Daz Studio also offers access to its library of contents that includes pre-made items that can be morphed as per user needs.

The project can be converted and exported to the Maya from Daz Studio as well. Daz Studio can be connected to the Daz Store to browse the available products and make purchases.

Download Daz Studio (Free Version)


Do let us know your favorite tool or if you think we have left a deserving CGI software off the list in the comments.

Moreover, keep in mind that the previously mentioned CGI software tools may come in handy for all those looking for:

  • CGI apps – Finding your way amongst so many industry standard 3D modeling software tools is challenging. If you lack the time or patience to discover the best CGI app, Adobe After Effects is a safe bet.
  • CGI animation programs – We have listed the greatest animation software tools for anime as well. Take some of them for a spin to find the best tool according to your requirement.
  • CGI editor – Even if you’re new to Computer-Generated Imagery, video editing can be fun when using the best video optimizer software.

FAQ: Learn more about CGI software

  • What is CGI technology?

CGI stands for Computer-Generated Imagery and is a technology that uses the power of computers to create or manipulate images in movies, games, and commercials.

  • What is the best CGI software on the market?

Although there are numerous software solutions that can help you achieve fantastic CGI results, Adobe After Effects currently is the best choice.

  • Is CGI the same as VFX?

To put it shortly, not really. CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) is actually a part of VFX (Visual Effects), so they’re not exactly the same thing.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been since revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.