3D animation and modeling is a very important part of today’s virtual world, with everything from movies to TV shows to websites using some part of the technology to make everything look or work better. Mostly, 3D animation is used in, well, animated movies, but you can easily create beautiful 2D art using scenes and characters modeled in 3D first.
There are plenty of uses for 3D models and animation, but obviously, you wouldn’t be able to do any of it without the right tools. And thankfully, there are plenty of them on the market nowadays. While there are a lot of good tools that are made for specific tasks, there is a distinct top list of software that is the most advanced and most popular when it comes to creating 3D animations or models.
Top 5 Apps/Tools for 3D Animation and Modeling are:
Blender.Blender is quickly gaining popularity among animators and people who need to work with 3D modeling as the go to tool for the job. It has been under development for quite some time, and it’s gotten better with every version – the latest version can easily compare to the top dogs when it comes to features and functionality. You can easily use it to create full-fledged commercials and movies using nothing but Blender (there are plenty of demos on YouTube).There’s support for everything from character modeling, rigging and sculpting to animation and rendering, with all the features in between. Most impressive of all is the price – Blender is completely free as it’s an open source software .
Google SketchUp. Google’s SketchUp software is a pretty well-kept secret it seems, and that’s a bit of a shame. It’s one of the few Google products that have a paid version that is actually worth paying for, but the free version is perfect if you need to sketch up some 3D models every now and then. SketchUp is a mix between a 3D model editor and a vector editing program, like AutoCAD, and it has all the basic features that such a tool should have. You can sketch landscapes, engineering designs, interiors and much more. Aside from the app, Google also has an impressive collection of 3D models for any kind of purpose – you can use them for free, of course!
K-3D.K-3D is a pretty old program that hasn’t been updated since 2010 (although development is continuing), but it’s still a great choice for anyone who wants a simple to use 3D modeling software that also doesn’t cost much (or anything – K-3D is free to download, use and modify). K-3D uses procedural and parametric workflows, with instant previews, fast rendering and a node-based visualization pipeline that makes big changes to your initial design a breeze.
3D Studio Max.If you’ve been dabbling in the 3D animation and modeling world for at least a few days, you already know that 3DS Max is the number one software for any kind of purpose. It can be used by students, amateurs, professionals and studios, but is mostly used by the latter because of the very high price. It has all the features you’ll ever need, including the best support for multi- processor and GPU core rendering and processing in the world, and dozens of plugins that will make any kind of complex work possible.
Maya.Maya was a direct competitor to 3D Studio Max, but after Autodesk acquired it, it became a companion app and a great 3D modeling and rendering app on its own. Maya is very similar to 3DS Max and Blender, and although it has its own unique workflow and tools, you can easily use it as the only tool for any 3D animation and modeling project.
The above five apps should satisfy 95% of the needs of even the most advanced 3D designers and animation professionals, but if you need more functionality than that, there are always some of the more specialized tools and plugins out there . If you’re just getting started though, any of the above apps will suffice – which one you choose depends on how much money you can afford to spend in order to get started.