Many industries like architecture, engineering, and graphic design are today unthinkable without the use of 3D design software. Also, many new fields such as 3D animation and game development have emerged.
Thanks to many open source projects and companies reaching out to the public in the spirit of collaboration, free 3D modeling software have an essential place at the heart of exciting projects by 3D modeling enthusiasts.
Alas, the wide range of free 3D design software makes it hard to choose the right one for a given project and, more importantly, the user. All3DP is here to help. Listed below are 22 design software you can download for free. Ordered (not ranked) by their difficulty, browse them using the table after the jump or dive right on in with the first 3D modeling software on our list.
What is this free 3D design software? 3D Slash is a free 3D modeling software that is designed around a building-block workflow that feels not unlike that of Minecraft. Individual cubes are worked, subtracted and recombined using an array of everyday tools from your workshop – you can use a hammer, trowel, chisel, pulpwood, and drill. Given that you normally operate with quite abstract entities like vertices or splines, 3D Slash’s approach to 3D modeling is a welcome change of pace.
Starting with 3D modeling has never been easier since beginners will achieve impressive 3D printable meshes after only a short time. 3D modeling pros will enjoy this program just for the playful, hands-on approach. Also, all designs can be sent to an online 3D printing service to be printed and sent to you, from the comfort of your browser or desktop application.
Despite its simple appearance, the team behind 3DSlash continue to update and improve the software, adding support for Google Drive, and new export file formats including the Facebook-friendly gItf, plus 3D asset formats such as FBX and Collada.
Paid plans for 3DSlash are also available, giving access to an expanded feature set including higher resolution, a wider color palette, and project management tools.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? 3D Slash may also be used to import existing STL files and give them a cool pixelated look or modify them with just a few clicks.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? 3dslash.net
What is this free 3D design software? FractalLab is a WebGL based program dedicated to fractal 3D modeling. The free 3D modeling software lets you choose between different kinds of fractals. The basic idea is as follows: you place different constraints on them, such as scale, level of detail or smoothness. What is more, the program features options for texturing, camera control and shading. Considering that this is a free 3D design software it is remarkable how comprehensively you take control over the object and the scene.
To create new fractals from scratch, users need solid knowledge about the mathematics behind it. Everyone else can simply enjoy the fractals supplied in the fractal library of the free 3D design software to adapt them to their liking and explore them.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Creating stunning 3D illustrations of mind-boggling fractals.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? hirnsohle.de
What is this free 3D design software? SculptGL is the ideal choice if you want to get acquainted with 3D sculpting, creating organic forms with a more artistic look.
Based on WebGL, it runs without hassle in most modern browsers. Although this free 3D modeling software includes only some basic brushes that emulate the effects of real-world sculpting tools, you can achieve impressive results. By activating the symmetry option, you save time 3D modeling and make sure you get consistent results for features that are arranged in pairs (faces, limbs, etc.)
Although SculptrisGL is a completely free 3D design software, it offers an impressive feature set. Applying dynamic topology modifiers, you can subdivide a 3D model to create more intricate details. As a rule of thumb, you want to start blocking out large features (arms, heads, limbs) and work your way down the scale to ever finer details (scars, wrinkles). It may be useful to import a generic base mesh to save time.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? SculptGL is the right tool to create realistic looking 3D characters that can be used in 3D animation or as 3D assets in game development.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? stephaneginier.com
What is this free 3D design software? TinkerCAD does a great job of lowering the barrier of entry to CAD without trivializing the results. Initially, you start with a selection of primitives (basic shapes) that you drag into the work plane. There, you modify their size and position using drag handles or text input and can add or subtract using Boolean operations to build a larger, more complex objects.
Using the nifty shape generators, this free 3D design software allows you to create sophisticated designs with little effort. These are macros that specify the properties of many parts, like gears or stairs. Since you don’t need to worry about the intricacies of boolean operations and the like, this feature is even suitable for beginners.
The team behind TinkerCAD recently added the ability to design objects using Codeblocks, allowing for more technical parametric modeling, rather than 3D modeling reliant on how well you wield a mouse and keyboard.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Quick and dirty designs for 3D printing, and for getting to grips with some of the basic concepts of 3D CAD modeling.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? tinkercad.com
What is this free 3D design software? Wings 3D is a community-developed project that started in 2001. It strikes a balance between offering a wide range of useful tools, without overwhelming complete newcomers. The result is a web app that gives beginners a thorough foundation in 3D modeling, thanks in no small part to a context-sensitive user interface that only shows the relevant options to the tool you have selected.
Wings 3D’s intuitive approach offers a simple and quick introduction to the 3D modeling craft.
UI aside, the main strength of this free 3D modeling software is its advanced subdivision capabilities and AutoUV feature, which lets you export an unfolded image of your design’s surface for painting and texturing in an image-editing program. It’s even possible to give 3D sculpting a try, rounding Wings 3D out to be a pretty feature rich free 3D modeling software.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Wings 3D is an all-purpose 3D modeler perhaps best suited for 3D animation and 3D printing.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? wings3d.com
What is this free 3D design software? Clara.io a free 3D modeling software that runs in most modern browsers. It features all the necessary modeling tools for most common 3D creation situations: extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping. Given that its rendering capabilities are supplied by V-Ray, this free 3D design software exceeds expectations for a browser-based suite. For context, V-Ray is a rendering engine that is part of many professional desktop 3D programs.
Using the WebGL standard, Clara.io allows you to embed your 3D models into websites. This feature includes the possibility that visitors interactively manipulate predefined properties of the 3D model, like scale or thickness. Operating on a Freemium model, Clara.io offers an attractive free version, with benefits for those that pay up.
The free tier of this 3D design software comes with 5GB of cloud storage. As expected, the paid version brings you more storage and other perks such as unlimited private scenes and rendering time.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Since Clara.io runs in the cloud, it is the perfect tool for collaboration on complex 3D animation projects. Featuring basic keyframe animation, it is even the right choice for creating animated movies.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? clara.io
What is this free 3D design software? Daz3D offers a combo pack of 3D modeling software tools that are primarily geared towards artists and hobbyists looking to render stills and animations of character models. To help ease new users in, Daz3D offers a dazzling (ha) array of preset models for you to use as a starting point, accessible within its free download, Daz Studio. Here you can arrange and animate, creating scenes for capture. A thriving online marketplace offers other more premium models for you to import to your work.
Daz3D’s second free software offering, Hexagon, is the tool for designing from scratch and modifying existing models. Featuring a simple and uncluttered UI, it also has a host of tools to tweak aspects such as the build, size, and length of limbs.
With a model complete, you can export back over the Daz Studio to style and clothe your creation, setting up complex scenes with items from a large library of props covering many genres.
Motion capture data that can be edited to fit your needs is one of many possibilities this free 3D design software has to offer. The puppeteer tool displays different poses as a node in a grid allowing users to animate their model by shifting their mouse between these nodes. If you prefer, you can also assign different poses to your model in the timeline and the program will interpolate the movements in between them automatically. In other words, 3D animation has never been simpler than with this program.
The best thing about this 3D design software is that you can download it free of charge. The enterprising of you can take to the Daz3D marketplace to sell your own designs, too.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Daz3D is a fantastic tool to create realistic 3D models of human and humanoid characters, with powerful 3D animation tools to help you pose and animate your creations for still image and animation work.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? daz3d.com
What is this free 3D design software? If you like Minecraft and enjoy 3D modeling, then you must give MagicaVoxel a try. In this free 3D modeling software you assemble and recombine tiny cubes (also known as voxels) in order to create nifty pixelated 3D models. While it shares many similarities with 3D Slash, MagicaVoxel is more sophisticated. Users can exploit large palettes of color (custom defined or preset), and actual modeling is done using a large array of 3D brushes and patterns. A distinguishing feature of this free 3D modeling software is the renderer that allows for advanced effects such as HDR emissive materials.
For beginners, it will take some time to get used to the unorthodox tools in MagicaVoxel. In this free 3D modeling software you choose between modes that either only affects the surface of a mesh, penetrate its volume, or manipulate only select layers of a mesh. Armed with these tools, experienced users can work at a pace that is almost on par with traditional free 3D design software. The advantage of this technique is that you don’t need to piece together complex designs voxel by voxel, instead, you can sketch them out quickly and efficiently.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? The models you make in MagicaVoxel are great 3D assets for games or art for graphic design and 3D animation that need some quirky pixelated delight.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? ephtracy.github.io
What is this free 3D design software? Similar to Poser in its concept, MakeHuman is a free character creation tool that started out as a plugin for Blender. Users create realistic 3D models of humans using sliders that control general properties like age, gender, and weight, down to the finer features such as the shape of the face or the length of limbs. Essentially, this free 3D modeling software allows you to literally customize your character to the tips of the hair.
This free 3D design software also offers a character rigging menu that makes your creation easy to adapt to a variety of applications. Alternatively, a series of pre-recorded motion capture files enables you to preview the 3D model in action.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? 3D models made in MakeHuman are a great base mesh that can be refined in 3D sculpting tools like Sculptris. Other possible applications are 3D game development and 3D animated movies.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? makehumancommunity.org
What is this free 3D design software? In addition to m TinkerCAD, Meshmixer is a free 3D modeling software published by design software giant Autodesk. If you think of TinkerCAD as a scalpel — simple, but precise — then Meshmixer is a veritable toolbox, bringing an array of useful tools to manipulate, add to, splice and merge 3D models with ease. For example, it’s easy to save print time and material by hollowing your 3D file. Additionally, you can check your file for stability with Meshmixer’s range of sophisticated yet easy to use analysis tools.
As hinted at by its name, this free 3D design software has powerful mesh editing capabilities. The namesake Meshmix-mode allows users to combine multiple STL files with each other. Via the intuitive drag-and-drop, you can add presets like ears, antlers or even additional heads to your design to create otherworldly beasts! It goes without saying that you can do the same with your own 3D models. In case you want to create mechanical parts, this free 3D design software has your back. Cut off the fat of bulky designs with patterns to create parts that are optimized for strength and weight. What is more, if you are artistically minded, you can refine your 3D files using the 3D sculpting mode of this free 3D modeling software.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Meshmixer is an excellent choice when it comes to prepping an STL file for 3D printing. Among many thoughtfully engineered features, one even automatically calculates the most efficient arrangement for your 3D printer’s measurements.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? meshmixer.com
What is this free 3D design software? Sculptris is a 3D sculpting program that is available free charge from the same software publisher as the commercial option ZBrush. As in similar programs, the basic idea is to work a base mesh using a set of brushes that emulate the effects of real-world sculpting tools. Also, you can use this free 3D modeling software to paint textures directly onto your mesh.
Picking up the basic techniques of Sculptris is easy. You shouldn’t try to create a high-resolution model right from the start. Instead, begin by defining the silhouette (arms, heads, limbs) in very broad brushes. From there you can switch to smaller brushes in this free 3D design software and add levels of detail step by step. First define medium-size details, like pronounced muscles, fingers, etc., before working your way down to the intricate details like wrinkles or scars using finer brushes. But, take care not to overdo it.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Sculptris is the right tool to create realistic looking 3D characters that can be used in 3D animation or as 3D assets in game development.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? pixologic.com
What is this free 3D design software? Vectary is an online 3D modeling tool that allows you to create, share and customize 3D designs. In essence, Vectary is a combination of standard mesh modeling, subdivision modeling, and parametric plugins. It was built from scratch to make 3D modeling easy-to-use for beginners and also can be useful to pros.
Amazingly, this 3D modeling software is browser-based, so there’s no downloading and installation required. It starts with an easy tutorial, then lets you start 3D designing and modeling. The interface is clean and intuitive. While designing in this free 3D modeling software, you can always switch from a low-poly model to a smooth-surface model. Models are saved automatically in the cloud and can be shared with friends and colleagues. You also can customize thousands of existing 3D models that are available in Vectary’s cloud. The free version does offer the fully featured design pool, as well as up to three personal projects, and users can embed their 3D models for free and place them on their blog, website or client presentations. However, exporting projects is limited to the Premium Version for $9/month, or the free Educational package for students and teachers.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Vectary is excellent software for designing sophisticated 3D models quickly.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? vectary.com
What is this free 3D design software? DesignSpark takes its cue from the granddaddy of CAD modeling: AutoCAD. So, if you want to use AutoCAD, but are on a budget then it’s worth giving this free 3D modeling software some of your time. Unlike many other products on this list, DesignSpark features direct modeling only, which can be seen as a liberation from the constraints of parametric modeling, since you don’t need to concern yourself with relationships of hosts of parameters.
The gesture-based modeling approach of this free 3D design software enables even newbies to create complex geometry. DesignSpark is particularly suitable for designing electronic devices. The PCB import tool allows users of this free 3D modeling software to build enclosures around accurate representations of the circuit boards.
Equally useful is DesignSpark’s integrated part library. Drawn from the vast inventory of the companies behind DesignSpark — RS Components and Allied Electronics and Automation — this library saves you the need to draw staple items yourself, and lets you generate a quotable bill of materials without skipping a beat. The 45.000+ parts included cover most applications and allow you to order parts used in your design quickly and conveniently.
Generally speaking, the basic 3D design software is available for free. However, users can buy add-ons to extend the functionality. For instance, drawing in 2D requires an addon, as does support for iges, and step files.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? DesignSpark is your swiss-army knife 3D modeling tool. It can be used for engineering and even architecture. However, it is equally strong for designing 3D models for 3D printing.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? rs-online.com
What is this free 3D design software? FreeCAD is an open-source and highly customizable, scriptable and extensible parametric free 3D modeling software. Parametric means that you define constraints and parameters for your design that allow you go back into your editing history and modify it by changing the values.
Generally speaking, the foremost audience of FreeCAD is the CAD community. So, if you already know other CAD software, you will learn it in no time. However, if you are only starting out with CAD, the complexity of FreeCAD can feel overwhelming at first. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth persevering with, as you will be rewarded with an awesome set of features that has no equal among free CAD programs. Depending on your use case, FreeCAD can be expanded to suit the task at hand thanks to its modular architecture. Simply find plugins that add functionality you need. You can perform sophisticated operations such as self-weight analysis, simulate the movement of robots and much more.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Given its rich set of features, FreeCAD can be used in many engineering and architecture workflows. What is more, as it can output, display and edit G-code, it is the perfect all-in-one-solution for 3D printing.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? freecadweb.org
What is this free 3D design software? OpenSCAD is not your run-of-the-mill free 3D modeling software, as you don’t edit your mesh using your mouse. Instead, you define the dimensions of primitive shapes in code. Then you piece them together using boolean operations to form one solid 3D model. This approach to 3D modeling enables a higher degree of precision and prevents many errors.
Admittedly, it’s a steep learning curve when getting to grips with the concept, however, the advantages it offers are worth it! Many other pieces of free 3D design software can back you into a corner with the inability to undo changes made to a mesh. OpenSCAD has no such issue – the design does not degrade over time, as the 3D mesh is generated anew every time you compile the code file.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? This 3D design software is an excellent choice for technical designs and parametric modeling. Because code fragments can be reused for later projects, the workflow can be quite fast once you have mastered the program. It is equally easy to generate similar 3D objects with different dimensions, as you can go back and changed these values in the code.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? openscad.org
What is this free 3D design software? A community-developed answer to the common complaint of Blender’s cluttered and unintuitive user interface, Bforartists is Blender, just reworked for prioritizing usability over a speedy workflow.
This free 3D design software offers the same feature-set as Blender, but with a dramatically redesigned menu that brings previously hidden tools to the fore, and neatly presenting functions with accompanying tooltips. Being an open source fork of Blender, this also means that it natively reads and writes Blender files.
The most significant change that Bforartists introduces to Blender is a 180-degree turn in workflow philosophy, making it more accessible to hobbyists and professionals who might have previously shied away from Blender.
One ramification of this change in mind is that using the wealth of existing Blender tutorials will become tough, necessitating you to translate between the two versions of the 3D modeling software as you work through the materials. Luckily, the developers of Bforartists have also thought of this issue and rewritten and sometimes even improved upon the original documentation of Blender.
Users of this free 3D design software can further customize the program to fit their workflow. Menus are configurable. Tools use icons to reduce the amount of time needed to scroll through the user interface if you prefer to read the tools’ names you can turn them on.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Bforartists is a sophisticated free 3D modeling software geared towards enticing independent artists and hobbyists back to Blender, who were previously put off by the vanilla program’s intimidating appearance.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? bforartists.de
What is this free 3D design software? SketchUp is simple in operation, yet comprehensive free 3D modeling software. It features advanced tools that are suitable for complex designs and puts you into full control of every minute detail of your design. This level of control, however, comes with a steep learning curve.
The crux of SketchUp is to allow users to quickly sketch out the shapes of their design relative to existing shapes. This approach is intuitive and makes fine tuning complex designs quite easy. Perhaps best suited to architectural mockups, a vast swathe of tools are on hand to yield useful assets in both 2D and 3D from your 3D model.
In addition, SketchUp has set up its own repository of about 2.2 million 3D models. Housed within the nattily titles 3D Warehouse, here you can find trees, houses, and other real objects to populate architectural illustrations.
Premium subscription plans are available for SketchUp, adding expanded cloud storage and more advanced features such as professionally developed plugins — but the free version is rich enough for you to crack on designing with few barriers.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Creating 3D printable models is certainly a viable use for SketchUp, but the wealth of tools it offers are centered around building and object generation, BIM, and the streamlining of those workflows.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? sketchup.com
What is this free 3D design software? Terragen is a program that is centered on designing and rendering photorealistic landscapes. The terrain is generated using a powerful shader system that enables sophisticated texturing and surface manipulation. Using a procedural node system, the user has full control of their creation, down to the last pebble. In addition, this free 3D modeling software allows you to populate the scene with a wide array of preset trees, rocks, and other props to enhance the overall realism.
Comprehensive controls of atmospheric phenomena such as volumetric clouds, fog, sky, the sun, and stars, make your landscape come to life. You can build entire planets inside this 3D modeling software. It’s possible to import digital elevation model (DEM) files of real-world landscapes, which can be handy when doing visualizations.
The free version of Terragen is rather stunted in some ways. Expect lower render resolution, a lack of animation features and myriad other tools that can be found in the paid-for versions. Similarly, the free version is for non-commercial use only.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Terragen is an invaluable addition to projects that call for realistic landscapes. It is often used in high-profile commercial applications like architectural visualization, 3D animation, visual effects, and game development.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? planetside.co.uk
What is this free 3D design software? Blender is a professional grade, free 3D modeling software that is both comprehensive and completely open-source. Apart from the 3D modeling functionalities that are at the program’s core, it also features modules dedicated to highly specialized tasks. For instance, Blender can be used as a 3D sculpting suite that is comparable to other industry programs like Mudbox or Sculptris.
Blender is also an excellent tool for visual effects production, with the integrated camera movement tracker eliminating the need to juggle a variety of specialized programs — Blender has it all. You simply load raw footage into the program and then you can either track it manually or automatically. Thanks to Blender’s Python API this program can be customized to your project’s requirements.
However, this wealth of features makes Blender one of the more challenging free 3D modeling software tools to master. If you feel that you are in over your head with Blender, try Bforartists. A fork of Blender that attempts to make the free 3D design software more accessible to beginners.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Owing to the many hats Blender wears, it is no wonder that is being used in a wide range of 3D animation applications, such as games, TV series and even feature films.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? blender.org
What is this free 3D design software? Autodesk Fusion 360 combines the different steps of the product development process into a single 3D modeling software. On the modeling side proper, you have tools like freeform modeling and sculpting, solid modeling and parametric modeling at your disposal. For your engineering needs, you can take advantage of sophisticated simulations, such as structural integrity analysis or assembly modeling. Equally amazing is the program’s ability to fabricate your parts using CNC toolpaths or 3D printing, making it a true Swiss army knife for production.
This free 3D modeling software has an additional edge by of extensive collaborative features that allow large teams to work concurrently on parts and to manage versioning of files. Autodesk Fusion 360 is available for free for hobbyists and startup ventures earning less than $100K a year.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? Autodesk Fusion 360 is an excellent choice for intricate engineering designs, with advanced manufacturing tools such as generative design and stress simulation powered by Autodesk’s cloud capabilities as sophisticated extras that mark it apart as a decidedly professional, but accessible, solution.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? autodesk.com
What is this free 3D design software? Houdini is a free 3D modeling software that uses a node-based workflow. Similar to parametric modeling, this technique allows you to alter the entire model by changing individual parameters (nodes). This feature equally enables users to reuse objects, is a distinguishing feature that makes the program stand out from competitors like 3DS Max.
Available as a free version called Houdini Apprentice, Apprentice contains the full feature set of Houdini, albeit, with some small limitations. Most notable of these is the use of a proprietary file type, that you must use to avoid watermarking on your work (exports in other file types are available, it’ll just be clear that you were using the free software to create them). Interoperability with the full Houdini makes Apprentice very much a preparatory step to learn the system (as the name implies). But others will still find some use in this free 3D modeling software.
What’s this free 3D modeling software good for? The procedural modeling approach of Houdini allows you to quickly generate complex geometries at a constant level of quality. From carefully sculpted terrain maps to varied spaceship corridors – almost everything can be generated efficiently — a lot of parametric goodness making it one of the better free 3D modeling software tools.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? sidefx.com
What is this free 3D design software? OnShape is an engineering grade CAD suite developed by former Solidworks staff members. Available free to students and educators, OnShape is more than a free 3D modeling software. Similar to Fusion 360, it seeks to integrate the entire engineering workflow into one program, from initial design to testing. In terms of traditional CAD functionalities, you get the full might of parametric modeling at your disposal.
Later in the workflow, this free 3D design software features test assemblies of complex many part designs that can be explored in detail using animations. This feature enables you to spot problems before even one real-world part is made. Yet another strength lies in OnShape’s comprehensive collaborative capabilities. The project’s user management allows you to track the edits of every team member and manage team using versioning — all possible thanks to OnShape’s cloud connectivity. A large range of apps extends this free 3D modeling software’s usability with simulations, CAM, rendering and much more.
What can I use this free 3D modeling software for? OnShape is an impressive solution for engineering that rivals Autodesk’s Fusion 360 in some respects.
Where can I find this free 3D design software? onshape.com
License: The text of "Best Free 3D Modeling Software / 3D Design Software of 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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