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3D Modeling Software Review: What does a Freelance Designer has to Say?

 |  Pallavi Rai

SelfCAD 3D Modeling Software Review From a Designers perspective

freelance 3D design

Overview

This document is a breakdown of SelfCAD, a 3D modeling and 3D printing software from a designer’s perspective. You can use SelfCAD online or you can download it. With this software, you can model, sculpt, draw, sketch, render and animate all under one program. 

Goals

  1. To explore and learn the software and document my experience. 
  2. Break down from a designer’s perspective and note down the advantages and disadvantages of the software.

Specifications

Overview and pre thoughts about 3d software

Self-exploration and creating something without any help or instruction.

Creating something with the help of youtube tutorials.

Creating something with the help of interactive tutorials by SelfCAD.

Comparing user experience of youtube tutorials vs interactive tutorials.

Overview and pre thoughts about 3d software

Hi, I am Pallavi Rai, a freelance designer from India. As we all know the world has turned upside down and we all are sitting at our home and coping up with the new reality, trying to utilize our days more productively by learning something new. 

So, I decided to learn something new, exciting yet productive, and told myself let’s go 3d.

I came across an amazing 3D modeling software called SelfCAD. 

So, what is SelfCAD? Let me explain to you. SelfCAD is an easy-to-use 3D modeling software and it has been created for users of all levels. There is online as well as downloadable versions. This is important as you will be able to design your models and access them anywhere anytime. With SelfCAD, users do not have to spend months learning a range of complex software, nor pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege.

So if you are a freelance designer, your curious mind must be searching for answers to a lot of questions like why this 3D modeling software, what makes it stand out, is it difficult to understand and work, can I do it, and most importantly why should I use it to design my models.

Why 3D Designing?

Initially, I had the same dilemma, why 3D designing and 3D printing?

I think, as a designer my main job is to create, enhance and add value to something. For example, as a graphic designer if I am working on a packaging design for Pringles, as I am well equipped with other design software like photoshop and illustrator I created a 2d layout for packaging, but I am not sure about the outcome of how it will look on the actual product.

so my plan b would be to search for mockups that look exactly like Pringles, so here is the actual struggle, to find an exact mockup that doesn’t exist and some are short, some way too long and some are not even cylindrical, and finally when you find the one, it’s not royalty-free and will cost you minimum 3 dollars to buy it. Total waste of time and money

So, here is where 3D modeling software like SelfCAD comes to the rescue. It can elevate my design experience where I can make my customized 3D mockups of the product or the actual product itself with comparatively less time and more feasible ways. 

And I can map my 2D packaging on the product, see the outcome and make the necessary changes accordingly; I think it’s a much better option instead of uncertain decisions and many sample printings and corrections, which saves a lot of effort, time, and money.

Another advantage is the portfolio. I recently graduated and know the importance of a portfolio and what exactly recruiters look for. Its design process, in today’s world of design, people are more interested to know how we reached the outcome rather than the final outcome. 

Having such 3d explorations and design planning will elevate my design process and add a smarter and effective step that reflects thoughtful planning and showcases my communication/representation skills in a better way. So 3D designing can be a plus point for my design portfolio projects and resume.

Design is innovation. We talk about new ideas, something out of the box, and to present that idea, we rough sketch it or make a 2D illustration of it and think it would be enough to convey the message, is it? I think so, but is it impressive enough, can’t say.

In today’s competitive world everyone has brilliant ideas, but the most important thing is to convey our ideas in the best possible way and 3d software like SelfCAD can help us to represent our work in a more informative and engaging way. You decide, what you will choose, a 2D drawing of a dice, or a 3d illustration of the same dice from every possible angle.

Pre-preparation made easy?

So, I started working with SelfCAD and initially explored everything by myself. Although they have some great interactive tutorials, still first I wanted to discover it by myself then rediscover and relearn it professionally.

So, pre-preparation is important because to every software I have used at least needs 4GB of free space, and many criteria have to be checked off, but this wasn’t the case with SelfCAD because it’s a browser-based software you can work offline as well as online. You just need stable internet and a good version of windows/mac. So it didn’t take much time to install and the software was ready to use.

On opening the software, you get the option of creating a new project and also it’s like a dashboard where you can see your previously made projects, which is a pretty good feature. As I don’t have an idea about the size of my working area, so I went for the default size

Self-exploration and creating something without any help or instruction.

These are step-wise images of me creating something like a bottle cap without any tutorials help.

Freelance 3D designer

 

freelance 3D designer

freelance 3D designer

freelance 3D designer

freelance 3D designer

freelance 3D designing

Observation and conclusion

Pros of the software

Already highlighted parts which show us the possibility of design we can make and still provide a direction without any tutorials.

The auto-save function is a lifesaver because I am so much into making the design that I forget to save my project and the internet can ditch you sometimes, so one of my biggest nightmares of completing my project and not getting it saved does not exist in this case.

View and orientation: it has a smooth way of viewing my project from every angle and orientation, which makes the work more easy and efficient.

Whenever I did a wrong step, I was informed by a notification about what wrong step I did and it was very useful because half of the time I would be wasted on thinking about what wrong am I doing.

My experience was bugless. It didn’t hang at all.

Cons

Because it was without a tutorial try, at some points I felt lost and I had imagined a lot more things but I didn’t get the exact result because I might have not done it right.

Creating something with the help of Youtube tutorials

After self-exploration, I took a step ahead and went for youtube tutorials, because this is how I learned every software to date, so I call it the copy and learn method, where I replicate various tutorials by youtube and try to explore the tools and function.

Below are images of my design process creating a water bottle with the help of SelfCAD 3D design software.

freelance 3D designing

 First I took a reference image of a bottle and tried to trace it with the help of a line tool.

Yes, it took me several times to reach the final correct outcome because youtube tutorials are fast, till the time you process a single step and try to catch it, it’s so fast that you don’t understand every single detail and it takes several attempts to finally reach the outcome.

freelance 3D designing

freelance 3D designing

Icons along with the titles help a lot. for example, the cylinder is the title but it also has a icon beside it so it makes it more efficient to understand what is the role/function of that option.

Also, there are some pre-made 3d shapes like screw and nut, spiral, and other common 3d shapes which are useful in most of the designs and saves us a lot of time.

freelance 3D designing

freelance 3D designing

The outcome of the 3D object.

freelance 3D designing

Creating something with the help of Interactive tutorials by SelfCAD.

After learning something from self explorations and youtube tutorials, it was time to relearn everything professionally.

First of all, I have never seen such inbuilt tutorials for any software I have worked with to date. So it felt so good working with it.

These are images of me creating a water bottle with the help of SelfCAD.

Freelance 3D designing

Only the step that is needed to be done is highlighted, so there's no room for error, and it saves you a lot of time, you don’t have to go through several wrong attempts and the frustration and low self-esteem that comes along with it.

Freelance 3D designing

It not only informs you about what to do, but also where that tool is located, it’s shortcut key and action type which defines the step that you are doing, it’s a perfect example of creating through learning or vice versa.

Freelance 3D designing

You can easily toggle between the previous step and the next step, also it informs you about the total number of steps required to finish the final product.

Freelance 3D designing

Freelance 3D designing

Final outcome of the design created with the help of interactive tutorials.

Final thoughts

To summarize my experience, it was a great learning experience, this whole journey from self-exploration to interactive tutorials was very insightful.

Here are some of the insights.

Pros of software and interactive tutorial (summary)

Already highlighted parts which show us the possibility of design we can make and still provide a direction without any tutorials.

The auto-save function is a lifesaver because I am so much into making the design that I forget to save my project and the internet can ditch you sometimes, so one of my biggest nightmares of completing my project and not getting it saved does not exist in this case.

SelfCAD has hot features which are designed to help the student to first learn the function of each tool and how it works and gives them an introduction to each tool and areas that can help them to learn and create something new.

freelance 3D desinging

View and orientation: it has a smooth way of viewing my project from every angle and orientation, which makes the work more easy and efficient.

Whenever I did the wrong step, I was informed by a notification about what wrong step I did and it was very useful because half of the time I would be wasting on thinking what wrong am I doing.

My experience was bugless. It didn’t hang at all.

it took me several times to reach the final correct outcome because youtube tutorials are fast, till the time you process a single step and try to catch it, it’s so fast that you don’t understand every single detail and it takes several attempts to finally reach the outcome.

While in interactive tutorials, only the step that is needed to be done is highlighted, so there's no room for error, and it saves you a lot of time, you don’t have to go through several wrong attempts and the frustration and low self-esteem that comes along with it.

It not only informs you about what to do but also where that tool is located, it’s shortcut key and action type which defines the step that you are doing, it’s a perfect example of creating through learning or vice versa.

You can easily toggle between the previous step and the next step, also it informs you about the total number of steps required to finish the final product.

Working with interactive tutorials boosts your confidence and gives you the motivation that you can do something of your own and you are learning the software.

Conclusion

Overall it was a great experience of learning and creating something that before SelfCAD seemed to be an impossible task and after venturing the software feels so feasible and motivated to create more.

It’s a great platform for students, designers/freelancers, or anyone who is willing to learn 3d designing, I would say you don’t even need a specific degree or background to learn this software, it’s built for everyone.

Author

Pallavi Rai is a 2d graphic designer currently working under the SelfCAD company. She is from India.


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