3D computer graphics software
|3D computer graphics|
3D modelers allow users to create and alter models via their 3D mesh. Users can add, subtract, stretch and otherwise change the mesh to their desire. Models can be viewed from a variety of angles, usually simultaneously. Models can be rotated and the view can be zoomed in and out.
3D modelers can export their models to files, which can then be imported into other applications as long as the metadata are compatible. Many modelers allow importers and exporters to be plugged-in, so they can read and write data in the native formats of other applications.
Most 3D modelers contain a number of related features, such as ray tracers and other rendering alternatives and texture mapping facilities. Some also contain features that support or allow animation of models. Some may be able to generate full-motion video of a series of rendered scenes (i.e. animation).
- 3ds Max (Autodesk), originally called 3D Studio MAX, is a comprehensive and versatile 3D application used in film, television, video games and architecture for Windows and Apple Macintosh (but only running via Parallels or other VM software). It can be extended and customized through its SDK or scripting using a Maxscript. It can use third party rendering options such as Brazil R/S, finalRender and V-Ray.
- AC3D (Inivis) is a 3D modeling application that began in the 90's on the Amiga platform. Used in a number of industries, MathWorks actively recommends it in many of their aerospace-related articles due to price and compatibility. AC3D does not feature its own renderer, but can generate output files for both RenderMan and POV-Ray among others.
- Aladdin4D (DiscreetFX), first created for the Amiga, was originally developed by Adspec Programming. After acquisition by DiscreetFX, it is multi-platform for Mac OS X, Amiga OS 4.1, MorphOS, Linux, AROS and Windows.
- Animation:Master from HASH, Inc is a modeling and animation package that focuses on ease of use. It is a spline-based modeler. Its strength lies in character animation.
- Bryce (DAZ Productions) is most famous for landscapes and creating 'painterly' renderings, as well as its unique user interface. Daz3d has stopped its development and it is not compatible with MAC OS 10.7x or higher. It is currently being given away for free via the daz3d website.
- Carrara (DAZ Productions) is a fully featured 3D toolset for modeling, texturing, scene rendering and animation.
- Cheetah3D is a proprietary program for Apple Macintosh computers primarily aimed at amateur 3D artists with some medium- and high-end features
- Cinema 4D (MAXON) is a light (Prime) to full featured (Studio) 3d package dependant on version used. Although used in film usually for 2.5d work, Cinema's largest user base is in the television motion graphics and design/visualisation arenas. Originally developed for the Amiga, it is also available for Mac OS X and Windows.
- CityEngine (Procedural Inc) is a 3D modeling application specialized in the generation of three dimensional urban environments. With the procedural modeling approach, CityEngine enables the efficient creation of detailed large-scale 3D city models, it is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.
- Cobalt is a parametric-based Computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D modeling software for both the Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. It integrates wireframe, freeform surfacing, feature-based solid modeling and photo-realistic rendering (see Ray tracing), and animation.
- Electric Image Animation System (EIAS3D) is a 3D animation and rendering package available on both Mac OS X and Windows. Mostly known for its rendering quality and rendering speed it does not include a built-in modeler. The popular film Pirates of the Caribbean and the television series Lost used the software.
- form•Z (AutoDesSys, Inc.) is a general purpose solid/surface 3D modeler. Its primary use is for modeling, but it also features photo realistic rendering and object-centric animation support. form•Z is used in architecture, interior design, illustration, product design, and set design. It supports plug-ins and scripts, has import/export capabilities and was first released in 1991. It is currently available for both Mac OS X and Windows.
- Grome is a professional outdoor scene modeler (terrain, water, vegetation) for games and other 3D real-time applications.
- Houdini (Side Effects Software) is used for visual effects and character animation. It was used in Disney's feature film The Wild. Houdini uses a non-standard interface that it refers to as a "NODE system". It has a hybrid micropolygon-raytracer renderer, Mantra, but it also has built-in support for commercial renderers like Pixar's RenderMan and mental ray.
- iClone (Reallusion Inc.) is a stand-alone, real-time 3D animation software used in previsualization, video games, Machinima, and story-telling, that specializes in quick facial and body animation. iClone provides a global library of template-based content and a collection of animation tools including a motion capturing plug-in, and content exporting capabilities to other 3D applications and game engines.
- Inventor (Autodesk) The Autodesk Inventor is for 3D mechanical design, product simulation, tooling creation, and design communication.
- LightWave 3D (NewTek), first developed for the Amiga, was originally bundled as part of the Video Toaster package and entered the market as a low cost way for TV production companies to create quality CGI for their programming. It first gained public attention with its use in the TV series Babylon 5 and is used in several contemporary TV series. Lightwave is also used in a variety of modern film productions. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
- MASSIVE is a 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects, targeted for use in film and television. Originally developed for controlling the large-scale CGI battles in The Lord of the Rings, Massive has become an industry standard for digital crowd control in high-end animation and has been used on several other big-budget films. It is available for various Unix and Linux platforms as well as Windows.
- Maya (Autodesk) is currently used in the film, television, and gaming industry. Maya has developed over the years into an application platform in and of itself through extendability via its MEL programming language. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
- Modo (Luxology) is a subdivision modeling, texturing and rendering tool with support for camera motion and morphs/blendshapes.and is now used in the Television Industry It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
- Mudbox is a high resolution brush-based 3D sculpting program, that claims to be the first of its type. The software was acquired by Autodesk in 2007, and has a current rival in its field known as ZBrush (see below).
- NX (Siemens PLM Software) is an integrated suite of software for computer-aided mechanical design (mechanical CAM), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer-aided engineering (CAE) formed by combining the former Unigraphics and SDRC I-deas software product lines. NX is currently available for the following operating systems: Windows XP and Vista, Apple Mac OS X, and Novell SUSE Linux.
- Poser (Smith Micro) Poser is a 3D rendering and animation computer program optimized for models that depict the human figure in three-dimensional form and is specialized for adjusting features of preexisting character models via varying parameters. It is also for posing and rendering of models and characters. It includes some specialized tools for walk cycle creation, cloth and hair.
- RealFlow simulates and renders particle systems of rigid bodies and fluids.
- Realsoft3D Real3D Full featured 3D modeling, animation, simulation and rendering software available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Irix.
- Remo 3D is a commercial 3D modeling tool specialized in creating 3D models for realtime visualization, available for Windows and Linux.
- Shade 3D is a commercial modeling/rendering/animation tool from Japan with import/export format support for Adobe, Social Worlds, and QuickTime among others.
- Silo (Nevercenter) is a subdivision-surface modeler available for Mac OS X and Windows. Silo does not include a renderer. Silo is the bundled in modeler for the Electric Image Animation System suite.
- SketchUp Pro (Trimble) is a 3D modeling package that features a sketch-based modeling approach which supports 2D and 3D model export functions among other features. A free version is also available that integrates with Google Earth and limits export to Google's "3D Warehouse", where users can share their content.
- Softimage (Autodesk) (formerly Softimage|XSI) is a 3D modeling and animation package that integrates with mental ray rendering. It is feature-similar to Maya and 3ds Max and is used in the production of professional films, commercials, video games, and other media.
- Solid Edge ( Siemens PLM Software) is a commercial application for design, drafting, analysis, and simulation of products, systems, machines and tools. All versions include feature-based parametric modeling, assembly modeling, drafting, sheetmetal, weldment, freeform surface design, and data management. Application-programming interfaces enable scripting in Visual Basic and C programming.
- solidThinking (solidThinking) is a 3D solid/surface modeling and rendering suite which features a construction tree method of development. The tree is the "history" of the model construction process and allows real-time updates when modifications are made to points, curves, parameters or entire objects.
- SolidWorks (SolidWorks Corporation) is an application used for the design, detailing and validation of products, systems, machines and toolings. All versions include modeling, assemblies, drawing, sheetmetal, weldment, and freeform surfacing functionality. It also has support for scripting in Visual Basic and C.
- Spore (Maxis) is a game allowing users to design their own fully functioning creatures with a very rudimentary, easy-to-use interface. The game includes a COLLADA exporter, so models can be downloaded and imported into any other 3D software listed here that supports the COLLADA format. Models can also be directly imported into game development software such as Unity (game engine).
- Swift 3D (Electric Rain) is a relatively inexpensive 3D design, modeling, and animation application targeted to entry-level 3D users and Adobe Flash designers. Swift 3D supports vector and raster-based 3D animations for Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight XAML.
- Vue (E-on Software) is a tool for creating, animating and rendering natural 3D environments. It was most recently used to create the background jungle environments in the 2nd and 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean films.
- ZBrush (Pixologic) is a digital sculpting and animation tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling, texturing and painting. It is available for Mac OS X and Windows. It is used to create normal maps for low resolution models to make them look more detailed.
Open Source (Free) packages
- Blender (Blender Foundation) is a free, open source, 3D studio for animation, modelling, rendering, and texturing offering a feature set comparable to commercial 3D animation suites. It is developed under the GPL and is available on all major platforms including Windows, OS X, Linux, BSD, and Solaris.
- FreeCAD is a full-featured CAD/CAE open source software. Python scripting and various plugin modules are supported, e.g. CAM, Robotics, Meshing and FEM.
- CloudCompare is an open source 3D point cloud editing and processing software.
- Seamless3d is a NURBS based modelling and animation software with much of the focus on creating avatars optimized for real time animation. It is free, open source under the MIT license.
- Wings 3D is a BSD-licensed, subdivision modeller.
Free software packages
- Art of Illusion is a free software package developed under the GPL.
- AutoQ3D Community is not a professional CAD program and it is focused to beginners who want to make rapid 3D designs. It is a free software package developed under the GPL.
- K-3D is a GNU modelling, animation, and rendering system available on Linux and Win32. It makes use of RenderMan-compliant render engines. It features scene graph procedural modelling similar to that found in Houdini.
- KernelCAD is a large component aimed to present CAD as a GUI element for programming engineers. Includes interface to Open CASCADE
- MakeHuman is a GPL program that generates 3D parametric humanoids.
- MeshLab is a free Windows, Linux and Mac OS X application for visualizing, simplifying, processing and converting large three dimensional meshes to or from a variety of 3D file formats.
- OpenFX is a modelling and animation studio, distributed under the GPL.
- 3DCrafter (previously known as 3D Canvas) is a 3D modelling and animation tool available in a freeware version, as well as paid versions (3D Canvas Plus and 3D Canvas Pro).
- Autodesk 123D is Autodesk's entry into the hobbyist 3D modelling market.
- Clara.io (Exocortex) is a 3D polygon modeling, solid constructive geometry, animation, and rendering package that runs in any web browser that supports WebGL. It supports collaborative real-time editing and revision control. It supports format conversions as well to popular web-formats including Three.js, glTF and Babylon.js.
- DAZ Studio a free 3D rendering tool set for adjusting parameters of pre-existing models, posing and rendering them in full 3D scene environments. Imports objects created in Poser and is similar to that program, but with fewer features.
- DX Studio a complete integrated development environment for creating interactive 3D graphics. The system comprises both a real-time 3D engine and a suite of editing tools, and is the first product to offer a complete range of tools in a single IDE.
- FaceGen is a source of human face models for other programs. Users are able to generate face models either randomly or from input photographs.
- Sculptris is a program made by Pixologic it’s a free simple to use program, it is essentially just a beginners version of Zbrush
- SketchUp Free (Trimble) is a 3D modeling package that features a sketch-based modelling approach integrated with Google Earth and limits export to Google's "3D Warehouse", where users can share their content. It has a pro version which supports 2D and 3D model export functions among other features.
- 3Delight is a proprietary RenderMan-compliant renderer.
- Adobe Photoshop can import models from programs such as zbrush and 3ds max, it allows you to add complex textures
- Aqsis is a free and open source rendering suite compliant with the RenderMan standard.
- Brazil is a rendering engine for 3ds Max, Rhino and VIZ
- FPrime for Lightwave adds a very fast preview and can in many cases be used for final rendering.
- Gelato is a hardware-accelerated, non-real-time renderer created by graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA.
- Indigo Renderer is an unbiased photorealistic renderer that uses XML for scene description. Exporters available for Blender, Maya (Mti), form•Z, Cinema4D, Rhino, 3ds Max.
- Kerkythea is a freeware rendering system that supports raytracing. Currently, it can be integrated with 3ds Max, Blender, SketchUp, and Silo (generally any software that can export files in obj and 3ds formats). Kerkythea is a standalone renderer, using physically accurate materials and lighting.
- LuxRender is an unbiased open source rendering engine featuring Metropolis light transport
- Maxwell Render is a multi-platform renderer which forgoes raytracing, global illumination and radiosity in favor of photon rendering with a virtual electromagnetic spectrum, resulting in very authentic looking renders. It was the first unbiased render to market.
- mental ray is another popular renderer, and comes default with most of the high-end packages. (Now owned by NVIDIA)
- Octane Render is an unbiased GPU-accelerated renderer based on Nvidia CUDA.
- Pixar's PhotoRealistic RenderMan is a renderer, used in many studios. Animation packages such as 3DS Max and Maya can pipeline to RenderMan to do all the rendering.
- Pixie is an open source photorealistic renderer.
- POV-Ray (or The Persistence of Vision Raytracer) is a freeware (with source) ray tracer written for multiple platforms.
- Sunflow is an open source, photo-realistic renderer written in Java.
- Turtle (Illuminate Labs) is an alternative renderer for Maya, it specializes in faster radiosity and automatic surface baking technology which further enhances its speedy renders.
- VRay is promoted for use in the architectural visualization field used in conjunction with 3ds max and 3ds viz. It is also commonly used with Maya and Rhino.
- YafRay is a raytracer/renderer distributed under the LGPL. This project is no longer being actively developed.
- YafaRay YafRay's successor, a raytracer/renderer distributed under the LGPL.
Related to 3D software
- Swift3D is the marquee tool for producing vector-based 3D content for Flash. Also comes in plug-in form for transforming models in Lightwave or 3DS Max into Flash animations.
- Match moving software is commonly used to match live video with computer-generated video, keeping the two in sync as the camera moves.
- After producing video, studios then edit or composite the video using programs such as Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut at the low end, or Autodesk Combustion, Digital Fusion, Apple Shake at the high-end.
- MetaCreations Detailer and Painter 3D are discontinued software applications specifically for painting texture maps on 3-D Models.
- Simplygon is a commercial mesh processing package for remeshing general input meshes into real-time renderable meshes.
- Pixar Typestry is an abandonware 3D computer program released in the 1990s by Pixar for Apple Macintosh and DOS-based PC computer systems. It rendered and animated text in 3d in various fonts based on the user's input.
- Machinima is using video capture to record video games and virtual worlds.
Discontinued, historic packages
- Alias Animator and PowerAnimator were high-end 3D packages in the 1990s, running on Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations. Alias took code from PowerAnimator, TDI Explore and Wavefront to build Maya. Alias|Wavefront was later sold by SGI to Autodesk. SGI had originally purchased both Alias and Wavefront in 1995 as a response to Microsoft’s acquisition and Windows NT port of the then popular Softimage 3D package. Interestingly Microsoft sold Softimage in 1998 to Avid Technology, from where it was acquired in 2008 by Autodesk as well.
- CrystalGraphics Topas was a DOS and Windows based 3D package between 1986 and the late 1990s.
- Evolver was a portal (discontinued in early 2012) for 3D computer characters incorporating a human (humanoid) builder and a cloner to work from picture.
- Internet Space Builder, with other tools like VRMLpad and the viewer Cortona, was a full VRML edition system, published by Parallel Graphics, in the late 1990. Today only a reduced version of Cortona is available.
- MacroMind Three-D was a mid-end 3D package running on the Mac in the early 1990s.
- MacroMind Swivel 3D Professional was a mid-end 3D package running on the Mac in the early 1990s.
- Symbolics S-Render was a 3D package by Symbolics in the 1980s.
- trueSpace (Caligari Corporation) is a 3D program available for Windows, although the company Caligari first found its start on the Amiga platform. trueSpace features modelling, animation, 3D-painting, and rendering capabilities. In 2009, Microsoft purchased TrueSpace and it is now available completely free of charge.
- Wavefront Advanced Visualizer was a high-end 3D package between the late 1980s and mid-1990s, running on Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations. Wavefront first acquired TDI in 1993, before Wavefront itself was acquired in 1995 along with Alias by SGI to form Alias|Wavefront.
- Anim8or is a proprietary freeware 3D rendering and animation package.
- Comparison of 3D computer graphics software
- 3D data acquisition and object reconstruction
- 3D modeling
- Computer-aided design
- Game development tool
- Game engine
- Level editor
- List of 3D graphics software
- Render farm
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