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Best Modeling Software for Under $100?

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I am willing to spend up around $100 on modeling software, and I am willing to learn tutorials on it. It would need to include ability to do animations, and all the stuff needed to put the models into the game. What is the best software in your opinion that I could buy with that money?

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Is it bad to have more than one modeler programs? I'm thinking of MilkShape because it looks pretty good, and then I'll give blender another go. Would it be worth it to have both of them? Is it easier to animate or texture in one?

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From personal experience, I can say that Milkshape is pretty good for relatively simple low-poly modelling, skinning and animating, and it can import from and export to a wide variety of file formats. It's also cheap and lightweight. However, it's not quite in the same league as the big modelling packages, so if you need more fine-tuned functionality, it may not really be what you're looking for.

I just installed Blender - gotta give it a try with all these people talking about it, heh ;) - and with the help of some tutorials on their site, it's not half as difficult to get started with as I expected after all those stories about the horrible UI. It's different, but then again, every modelling package looked alien (and intimidating) to me when I first started out, so yeah... I'd say, just keep doing some more tutorials and practice some more. Modelling packages can take some time to get familiar with if you've never done much with 3D art before.

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As for XSI, if it's that modder's version jpetrie is talking about, it has a couple of restrictions -- poly/vertex count limits, I think, and rendering only to a quite small image with watermarks.

Since any modeling package involves an investment of time to learn it, Blender was my choice. :) You get pretty significant functionality, a plethora of output options, and you won't have spent any money if you decide later you want a different program.

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I took a course in Blender recently at Uni, and the results of this can be seen here. There are some mistakes which I fixed but I don't think I've got any renders of the fixed version anywhere and I can't be bothered making any.

This didn't really take a huge amount of effort to pull together, but it was fun doing so. I've used fairly primitive techniques in those renders too, what do you think of them? Do you like them?

What I'm trying to say is Blender, whilst it has a messy and cluttered interface, is actually more powerful than you think. It may be free but don't let that make you think it's balls; if you go onto the main Blender website and look at the galleries there, some of those are truly stunning in any case, let alone done with open source software.

I'd highly recommend Blender. I agree it's confusing at first, especially with the axes system (don't get me started; I still to this day don't have a 100% handle on how it works - you get something positioned at (0,0,0) and, at the same viewing angle having changed nothing, you set something else to (0,0,0) and it's positioned nothing like where it should be even though it's got the same co-ordinates as the other thing... highly confusing and highly frustrating for a newbie) but, as it's free, there's no excuse to not at least give it another shot.

One word of warning, though: Blender's designers thought it would be hilarious to allow you to quit without asking if you want to save unsaved work - I've had a few minor scrapes with that, but I know people who literally lost half an hour or more purely by accident. IMO there's no excuse for that behaviour within the program, it's literally the only program I've ever used which doesn't at least have Yes No Cancel on exit and because you're so used to seeing that elsewhere you assume Blender will be the same and will take care of you, but no. The official forums are alive with threads about complaints on that front and nothing is ever done about it.

Blender's great. See my renders and it'll show you what a complete noob can put together in the space of fifteen hours all tolled.

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