Best 3D Modelling Software for Beginners: Free Programs
In today’s world, many different fields of work rely on 3D modelling, drawing and sculpting. From architecture to civil engineering, to video game developers, all use 3D modelling software. It is a necessary skill to learn, though sometimes it’s hard to get started especially when one is using complex tools.
3D modelling software isn’t known for its ease of use nor it’s cheap price. Most cost a small fortune to purchase and are crammed so full of features, that beginners often become frustrated and find most of the programs overwhelming to use. Learning this skill under this condition is seldom a worthwhile investment. Luckily, there are many different free and easy to use versions available. Here are 8 of the best free 3D modelling software programs for beginners that you can learn and create with today.
First up, SelfCAD!
SelfCAD is an online 3D modelling and slicing software that comes with an intuitive interface that can be used virtually and which anyone, regardless of their experience can make use of. In addition to that, SelfCAD has an easy learning curve, which makes it great for those looking to learn 3D modelling without spending much time. As such, this software simplifies the user interface, along with the overall 3D design and printing process that takes place during 3D modelling.
SelfCAD also offers advanced tools for not only modeling, but also:
- 3D printing, and
- Prepping for 3D printing
By being flexible in other areas of 3D modelling, this software offers various avenues of letting your creativity spark, no matter how experienced a 3D modeller you are, and the type of computer you use.
If you are an entry-level student with no experience in 3D modelling or drawing, then this is the software for you. TinkerCAD was specifically designed for kids and people with no prior CAD experience. It is considered to be one of the most accessible 3D modelling software around. It can even be used right in your browser.
The software from Autodesk offers all the basic concepts of 3D, allowing you to convert an idea into a CAD model by simply dropping and dragging primitive shapes, such as cubes, cylinders, and spheres. From here, you can rotate, move, scale each shape, and then group them to create the intricate 3D model you had in mind. Due to its ease of use, pro designers are coming back to TinkerCAD.
TinkerCAD also provides users with the ability to design, program, and simulate electronic assemblies. It also boasts of a feature called Codeblocks, which uses lines of code to create 3D objects. This software is available from TinkerCAD’s website
3D designing in 3D slash. Image source: Makerbot
3D Slash software was designed with beginners in mind. It is a free 3D modelling program where users can modify individual cubes with a vast array of virtual tools that you’ll find in your very own workshop, such as a hammer, trowel, chisel, pulpwood, and drill.
The developers of 3D Slash continually update and improve the software. The newest feature, for example, allows users to map pictures and text directly onto their model. There’s also an engraving tool now. You don’t need too much experience or training, making it an easy and enticing option for students and entry-level modellers.
However, the free version is rather limited, so paying for the commercial version when and if you are ready might be worth it. It provides access to an expanded feature set for $2 to $20 a month, including higher resolution, a wider colour palette, and project management tools. Both versions are available for download on their website.
3D design done in Vectary. Image source: SketchUcation
Vectary is an online-based software. It has the capacity to 3D model and render images in real-time. The software is used in graphic design, product design, and game design mostly. However, anyone who has an interest in 3D modelling can easily use it. All you need is a basic knowledge of the design concepts. It works with a drag and drop interface where you can utilize 3D objects from the extensive library. Beginners can also take advantage of an assortment of pre-rendered 3D typography, web headers, package design, and more.
In addition to the easy-to-navigate interface, Vectary also comes with sharing and collaboration tools, making it easy to connect with others as well as simple and fun to use.
While there is a free version available, there’s a limit to the number of projects you can create using that. Also, the software slaps a watermark onto your creations. Nonetheless, it’s a great and powerful tool for beginners to learn. The software is available on Vectary’s website.
A model being sculpted in SculptGL. Image source: Twitter
SculptGL is a great choice for beginners who want to try their hand at 3D sculpting. Instead of making your design from scratch, this software provides you with a lump of clay to mould and shape into your creation. You can start designing in your browser. The software includes all the basic necessary tools you will need and creates the feeling of a sculpting workflow. However, being a piece of free CAD software, the number and complexity of objects are limited. If you want to level up, you should give ZBrushCoreMini a try.
Sculpting in ZBrushCoreMini software. Image source: STYLY
This software is perfect for beginners and intermediate users who want to learn digital sculpting. ZBrushCoreMini is easy to learn for those with little prior 3D modelling experience. known as the successor to popular 3D modelling software Sculptris, this software has been reworked from the ground up and includes most of the features that were found in Sculptris Pro.
The user begins with a lump of clay which can then be meticulously altered using 8 different tools. They allow you to add, smoothen, subtract, inflate, pinch, or polish your “virtual clay.” You can also map and paint textures after you’re done shaping your sculpture. This software can be downloaded from Pixologic’s website.
Architectural design done in SketchUp. Image source: Researchgate
SketchUp is considered to be the easiest and flexible CAD software available. This software is for beginners looking to hone their 3D modelling skills on an easy-to-use interface without too many limitations.
After creating an account on the website, you can start designing in your browser. The free version is browser-based, and it’s an excellent option for beginners, due to its clear and intuitive tools, and user-friendly interface. Even though there are more options within the shop and pro paid versions of SketchUp, beginners still have access to a terrific core 3D modeler, allowing the ability to design large and complex objects without limitations. It also comes with an endless array of user-generated models you can adapt, as well as 10 GB of cloud storage.
Created for architects, designers, and filmmakers, SketchUp is great for beginners and advanced users alike. You can find this software on SketchUp’s website.
Designing in BlocksCAD. Image source: Youtube
Did you enjoy playing with Lego bricks when you were a child? So, what happens if you bring these building blocks into the digital world? BlocksCAD is the result. This program is a free 3D modelling tool that combines colorful bricks with code.
BlocksCAD is a great educational tool for those looking to take a more advanced approach to CAD, using script-only designing. It was developed to teach kids the craft of 3D modelling through script-only coding. In BlocksCAD, all the relevant commands are represented by colorful blocks. These bricks can then be stacked together, like digital LEGOs. Once you are satisfied with what you have built, you can render the 3D model so you can inspect it. The finished design can be saved in the OpenSCAD or STL format. This software is a bit trickier to use, even though it is designed for students and beginners alike. You have to combine the code blocks cohesively to create a sound 3D object.
However, once you acquire basic knowledge of the language through BlocksCAD, you’ll eventually be able to translate these skills into OpenSCAD. BlocksCAD is designed to teach users which code blocks are compatible with each other and will as well show students how certain changes affect the final outcome of the design. These skills are easily translatable when working in OpenSCAD. You can get this software from BlocksCAD’s website.
When it comes to 3D modelling softwares, these 8 free 3D modelling software programs are some of the best out there. They boast of an exceedingly endless array of user-friendly options. They offer easily accessible interfaces, a wide variety of tools and resources, community support, as well as an easy learning curve. These programs have exactly what any student or dabbler is looking for when it comes to learning 3D modelling.