Are you taking your first steps in the 3D design world and would you like some advice on the programs to use? Are you studying 3D animation and do not know what software to use for your first projects? So I really think you’ve come to the right place at the right time! As you can easily guess from its title, in this post I will point out some of the best 3D drawing programs available on the market today.
With 3D drawing programs I refer to both CAD software (those using architects, engineers and building professionals to create their own projects) and to 3D animation programs, so whatever your needs are sense, I assure you that you will be able to satisfy them. No problem even with regard to price and software compatibility: in the list you are about to consult, there are programs for all budgets compatible with all the major operating systems of the PC world (Windows, MacOS and Linux).
In short, all you need to do is identify the solution that best suits your needs, download it and install it on your computer. To deepen the functioning of each software, consult its official documentation or search for online guides (these are programs with a fairly long learning curve, using them without adequate preparation is almost impossible).
Autodesk AutoCAD (Windows/Mac)
AutoCAD does not need too many presentations. It is the most famous CAD software in the world. It is used in engineering, mechanical and architectural fields to realize projects through drawings in two and three dimensions. It is not available to everyone and is not cheap, but for professionals working in the sectors listed above (and for students who are about to do so) there is no more complete solution.
AutoCAD, as mentioned, is a paid program, but a 30-day free trial version is available. To download the trial, you must fill out a form with your personal data. Supported operating systems: Windows and macOS. Download from here.
Autodesk Maya (Windows / Mac)
Maya is an animation, modeling and 3D rendering software produced by Autodesk, the same company that produces AutoCAD. This is a professional high-profile solution, so how easily understandable it is not very economical. It is primarily intended for those who work in the 3D animation world or are preparing to do so.
Those who do not want to buy the software directly can download a free 30-day trial version, which is available for both Windows and MacOS. To use the trial you must authenticate using an Autodesk account (free). Download from here.
FreeCAD is one of the best CAD solutions available in the free field. It is compatible with Windows, MacOS and Linux and is addressed to various types of users: from professionals who want to experiment something different than AutoCAD (giving up some features) to hobbyists who want to try their hand for the first time with a parametric 3D modeling program.
Like all software of its kind, FreeCAD is not easy to use at first glance, but on the Net there are numerous tutorials and a very large community that allow you to easily bypass the problem. Another important thing to stress is that the software is able to read and write various file formats, such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE and DWG (installing the Teigha File Converter external software and the Dxf Importer plugin, to be copied manually in the Macro folder). Download from here.
Blender is an excellent free and open source 3D modeling program, according to many, the best in its category. Thanks to its high potential, it can be used to create 3D animations, games and graphic elements to be used in other projects. It features a fully customizable user interface, includes several 3D object models and allows you to apply a wide range of effects to your own creations.
To use Blender correctly you need to study a bit, it is normal, but on the Internet there are many guides dedicated to the program (which is compatible with Windows, MacOS and Linux). Download from here.
CadSoft ExpressView (Windows)
CadSoft ExpressView is a free program for creating 3D house models. It is ideal for architects who have to design new homes, professionals who have to renovate the interior of a house and fans of the material who do not yet want to invest money in more complete solutions.
To download the program (also available in more complete versions for a fee), you must fill out a form with your data. The link to download the software is sent via e-mail. Download from here.
SketchUp (Windows / Mac)
SketchUp is an excellent solution for all those who want to try their hand in 3D modeling. It allows you to create houses, furniture or even entire cities on the computer relatively easily. To facilitate the understanding of the software there are a series of video tutorials and pre-set templates that can be found on its official website.
The basic version of SketchUp is completely free, but is intended only for non-professional users. Professionals should turn to SketchUp Pro, which is easily payable. Both versions of the program are available for both Windows and MacOS, to download them you must fill out a short form in which to specify the type of use you intend to make SketchUp (eg personal projects) and you must enter your email address. Download from here.
OpenSCAD (Windows / Mac / Linux)
OpenSCAD is another free and open source 3D modeling software that deserves serious consideration. Probably not among the most intuitive of its kind but includes several features that make it very interesting.
Going into more detail, OpenSCAD is a 3D compiler that reads scripts that describe the objects to render in 3D. This means that we are not in the presence of an interactive modeler in the strict sense of the term, but a more advanced solution aimed at giving maximum control to the user (which therefore requires fairly advanced knowledge). The software is compatible with Windows, MacOS and Linux. Download from here.