12 best 3D design software to download

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
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3D design software

Having the right 3D design software is crucial to help you create the perfect 3D model. A 3D model can be described as a model which portrays an object in a 3D graphical model and the process of developing 3D models is what is known as 3D modeling.

Used in industries like 3D printing, interior design, architecture, film, gaming, and animation, 3D models are essential components of digital production.

As you all know, 3D modeling has immensely evolved with the advancement in technology. Consequently, its use has now transcended to more industries including medicine and architecture.

If you are in the search for a good 3D modeling software, you will soon realize that there are tons of them.

Choosing the right software might not be as easy as it sounds due to the wide array of features and various aspects found in these tools. In this article, we will introduce you to the top 10 best 3D design software.

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Free 3D design software for 3D modeling: which one to choose?

How do you choose a good tool for 3D modeling? Below, you will find a series of questions like :

  • What features are important for 3D design software?
  • Is there a difference between free and paid 3D animation tools?
  • Is it for engineering or design purpose?
  • Which file formats does it support?
  • What type of modeling can you use?
  • Does 3D software have a timeline editor?
  • Can you use it for movie/animation production?

3D design software for beginners and advanced users

1

Adobe Dimension CC (recommended)

Adobe Dimension CC

Part of the Creative Cloud suite, Adobe Dimension is the way to bring new dimensions into your design.

High-quality models, materials, and lighting allow you to craft engaging 3D content fast by simply dragging and dropping a vector graphic or image onto a 3D model.

Integration is everything and the Dimension delivers impeccably seamless integrations to help you create photorealistic images with depth, texture, and perfect lighting. Composite 2D designs from Illustrator, import models from Adobe Stock and other third-party apps or export your scenes as layers to further refine them in Photoshop.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Drag and drop function (apply 2D graphics and images created in Photoshop or Illustrator onto 3D models)
  • Perfect lighting (apply multiple light sources, change the color, size, shape, and positioning of lights)
  • Scenes with photorealism (automatically match your 3D design with any background image)
  • 360 and AR (360-degree views and immersive AR experiences in Adobe Aero, XD, and InDesign)
  • High-quality images and 3D interactive content from a single Dimension file

Get Adobe Dimension CC free

2

Photoshop CC (suggested)

 

Photoshop CC 3D design software

You can’t possibly try talking about professional image editing, design, and 3D modeling and don’t mention the Photoshop CC by Adobe. Now, you might be asking, what’s the paid solution doing on this list and as the first recommendation for that matter. It’s simple. If you need the best tool, look no further than Photoshop.

Now, for a beginner in 3D design, this tool might come off as too complex but, once you get the hold of it, it will most certainly be a joy to work with. Photoshop is, with all intents and purposes, a beginner tool when it comes to 3D modeling and design. Especially when compared to some other professional and industrial tools out there.

It’s not AutoCAD in regards to features as its 3D design features are rather limited, but it allows for (versions past PS CC 14) importing of external files and adapting them for 3D manipulation and printing.

There’s a 7-day free trial and, afterward, you need to purchase the license.

Get now Photoshop CC free

3

Daz Studio

3D_design_software_daz_studio

Daz Studio is a free and feature-rich 3D modeling software that might not go easy for beginners but offers advanced functionalities for professionals.

It enables users to create fantastic 3D art with GPU accelerated real-time rendering and lifelike results.

Besides 3D Morphing, posing, animation, and rendering functionalities, Daz Studio enables you to become a proficient 3D artist with the help of the in-apps interactive tutorials.

The software supports Windows and Mac OS X and is available as a freeware.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • 3D Morphing, posing, and animation functionalities
  • Detailed and interactive tutorials
  • Compatible with major operating systems
  • GPU accelerated real-time rendering

For more information, we suggest you take a look at their official website on the link below.

Our pick
daz 3d logo
  • Free Version
  • Photorealistic results
  • Great customer support
4

Autodesk 3ds Max

3ds Max Autodesk

3ds Max is a modeling and rendering program that offers a ton of 3D modeling tools and even you can animate characters for games.

The tool offers more features like modeling hard surfaces, texturing in order to create outstanding designs, creating animations for a realistic effect.

There are also a lot of amazing learning tools that you can use if you want to start from scratch to learn 3D modeling.

AutoDesk 3ds Max is available for Windows, Linux, and iOS.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Wide range of 3D modeling tools available
  • Compatible with major operating systems
  • Detailed and interactive guides and tutorials to get started in 3D

Get 3ds Max

5

SketchUp

3d_design_software_sketchup

SketchUp is one of the best and top-rated 3D design software.

Available in both free and paid versions, SketchUp can be used for a wide range of drawing applications such as film, video game designs, interior design, architecture, civil, and mechanical engineering.

This 3D design software supports third-party plugins programs, allows surface modeling in various styles, and also offers drawing layout functionalities.

There is also an open-source library called 3D warehouse where users can collaborate and contribute models.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • SketchUp for Web (core 3D modeler that runs in your browser, no downloading necessary)
  • Cloud storage (10 GB of Trimble Connect cloud storage)
  • Mobile model viewing with the SketchUp Viewer app
  • Interoperability (import SKP, JPG, PNG file types, and export SKP, PNG, STL file types)
  • 3D Warehouse

Get SketchUp


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6

SolidWorks

3D design software

SolidWorks is the most popular 3D design software and comes with a ton of user-friendly features that makes it the best 3D modeling software.

Developed and published by Dassault Systemes, SolidWorks is a computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD) program that runs on Microsoft Windows.

The huge collection of tools makes it a perfect asset for designers and engineers.

Its ease of use is remarkable, thanks to the provided SolidWorks tutorial, videos, PDF guides and the various options provided to modify the quality of the final model.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Create and collaborate on 3D designs faster, in the cloud
  • Create and collaborate on organic shapes and complex surfaces in the cloud
  • Quickly generate 2D drawings from 3D models
  • Integrated CAD solutions

Get SolidWorks

7

Blender

3D_design_software_blender

Blender is a free and open-source 3D design modeling software and one of the most reliable and versatile programs around.

Once you study it well, you will realize it can do more than you can handle, from 3D animation to designs for 3D printing and more.

The huge community behind the success of Blender ensures constant development and improvement of the software.

The community can also be very helpful in troubleshooting and in providing important tips on how to get the best of Blender.

You can install add-ons to unlock numerous functionalities and extensions depending on your project.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Combine 2D and 3D in the viewport
  • Full Animation Support with Onion Skinning
  • Real-time preview of tracked footage and 3D scenes
  • 3D painting and sculpting with textured brushes and masking
  • Connect with Blender’s Render API

Get Blender 


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8

FreeCAD

3D_design_software_freecad

FreeCad is a parametric 3D design software that can be used to design real like objects of any size.

Since it’s a parametric modeler, you can easily change your model’s parameters by going back into your model’s history.

Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, FreeCAD is an open-source tool that can be used to make 3D gaming models, architectural models, industrial models, and animation models.

Some of the primitive objects which it provides include Box, Sphere, Cone, Cylinder, and Torus while the image modifying tools include Thickness, Cut, Fillet, Extrude, Fuse, Boolean, etc.

Being a multi-platform product, it can read and write multiple file formats such as IGES, STEP, DAE, IFC, OBJ, DXF, SVG, STL, and many others.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Easy editing in the model history
  • Compatible with major operating systems
  • Strong image modifying tools
  • Supports multiple file formats

Get FreeCAD

9

MeshMixer

3D design software - meshmixerMeshMixer is a state-of-the-art 3D modeling software that creates robust 3D designs for 3D printing.

It comes in handy when you already have a 3D model as it enables you to modify and repair the model to suit your needs.

However, you can also use it to create from scratch since the software provides all the requisite tools. There is an entire part of the program that is dedicated to 3D printing.

You can use this part to analyze your design to check for problems in your model and to see if your model is complete for printing.

MeshMixer comes with a long list of 3D design tools which include tools for measuring stability and thickness, mesh smoothing, brushing tools among others.

Best of all, the software is free and available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Create 3D designs ready for 3D printing
  • Wide range of 3D design tools
  • Compatible with major operating systems

Get MeshMixer


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10

3DReshaper

 

3D_design_software_3dReshaper

3DReshaper is a robust and affordable 3D design software dedicated to the processing of 3D models.

Its flexibility allows it to be used in various industries including shipbuilding, civil engineering, mining, arts, etc. It packs a lot of features and supports many scripts for easy modeling.

3DReshaper actively processes 3D point clouds coming from various sources such as UAVs, laser scanning, 3D scanners or from any other digitization devices.

Since point cloud processing is the most important step to handle, 3DReshaper provides powerful functions such as Fusion and Automatic Segmentation to help process point clouds.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • 3D point cloud processing
  • Support many different sources (UAV, laser scanning, 3D scanners, etc.)
  • Flexible and versatile allowing usage in various industries
  • Strong 3D design tools

Get 3DReshaper

11

DX Studio

3D_design_software_dx_studio

DX Studio offers a complete development environment for developing interactive 3D graphics. The software comprises of a set of editing tools and a real-time 3D engine.

Using DX Studio, you can make intuitive 3D models, 3D games, 3D animations, etc. easily. It does not only provide a wide range of 3D models but also tools for making these models.

It also lets you create two or more models simultaneously.

Among the many tools for 3D modeling available, you will find tools for creating special effects, terrain system for adding vegetation and rocks to your terrain, and a real-time editor for 2D and 3D scenes.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Create interactive 3D graphics
  • Strong 3D design and modeling tools
  • Real-time editor for 2D and 3D scenes
  • Create two or more models in the same time

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12

3D Crafter

 

3D_design_software_3DCrafter

3D Crafter is a powerful 3D modeling and animation tool that incorporates efficient drag and drop functionalities for ease of use.

Your starting basic shapes are a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, or torus. You can easily drag and drop these shapes into your workspace where you build and mold the final model.

There are many tools provided and all are labeled so hovering over them will give you an idea of what each tool does.

For beginners, this is the best tool you can use since it provides tutorials for all levels and also has a help menu integrated with search features.

Let’s quickly go through its key features:

  • Efficient drag and drop functionalities
  • Help menu integrated with search features
  • Strong 3D design and modeling tools

Get 3D Crafter


We’ll end our list here. We hope that the information listed above helped you to decide which 3D animation software to download on your computer.

It is worth mentioning that running animation tasks on your computer requires powerful hardware.

Make sure that your computer is equipped with a reliable GPU card so that it can properly run 3D animation software.

In choosing the right 3D modeling software, it is important to first determine the purpose for which you want the program. This is because most of these programs are geared towards engineering or art.

File conversion is also a very important factor to consider. If you intend to 3D print the part you design, bear in mind that 3D printing uses the STL file type.

Though with cost come more features, there are so many free 3D design tools that can precisely get the job done.

Most of these free tools are best suited for beginners since they come with inbuilt apps and tutorials for learning.

The list above highlights some of the best free 3D design software available on the internet.

FAQ: Learn more about 3D Design Software 

  • Is 3d modeling easy?

It is easy if you have the right tool, so we suggest using Adobe Photoshop CC as it one of the most popular tools and provides a lot of learning tools and tutorials.

  • What is the best free 3d design software?

Blender is a free and open-source 3D design modeling software and one of the most reliable and versatile programs around.

  • Does Adobe have 3d modeling software?

Yes, Adobe Dimension and Adobe Fuse (beta) are the best tools for designing 3D models. Moreover,  you can have Adobe Fuse (beta) absolutely free if you are a Creative Cloud member.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.