5 best 3D design software to download today

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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  • 3D modeling tools are a crucial element for putting your creativity in digital production into action.
  • You will find here the best tools for 3D design, so you can choose the suitable one for you.
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3D design software
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Having the right 3D design software is crucial to help you create the perfect 3D model.

A 3D model portrays an object in a 3D graphical plan and the corresponding development process 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.

How to choose your 3D design software?

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?

What is the best 3D software for modelling?

Adobe Dimension CC

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
Adobe Dimension

Adobe Dimension

Create the perfect 3D model with all the cutting-edge tools you need integrated into an unified workflow!
Free trialVisit website

Adobe Photoshop CC

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.

For a beginner in 3D design, this tool might come off as too complex but, once you get a 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

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

Check out Daz Studio

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

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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We’ll end our list here. We hope that the information listed above helped you to decide which 3D design 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 since it provides a lot of learning materials and tutorials.

  • What is the best free 3d design software?

There are many free and open-source 3D design software available. Check out the most reliable and versatile programs for 3D modeling.

  • 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 article was originally published in December 2017 and was revamped and updated in December 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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