Sign in to follow this  
thisisashan

I need help picking 3d modeling program

Recommended Posts

thisisashan    152
Hello again. I have been reading up on my XNA over the last several days, and have come into a stumbling block along the way, I need a good 3d modeling program. Is there any 3d modeling software that is freeware? Is there anything at all that competes with Maya yet? I need something that is capable of skeletons, skinning, etc. I would prefer not to shell out thousands of dollars. I remember using wings 3d way back when, but I really didn't like its interface very much at the time. Thank you in advance for your help! :) (I am an accomplished 2d artist, but not very great when it comes to the 3d realm, so something with a simple learning curve that can still be powerful is what I'm looking for)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
daviangel    604
zer0wolf    1022
Quote:
Original post by daviangel
Truespace which is a much more intuitive 3D program is now free so you might want to check that out too.

Yuck! I think Truespace is a horrid abomination and still won't touch it even though it is free. I don't like Blender's interface, but I still think it is worlds better than Truespace.

To the OP: If you're sticking to only applications that are free then you're pretty well limited to Blender, Truespace, and XSI Mod Tool. XSI Mod Tool doesn't allow commercial works to be done with it, but is otherwise pretty much XSI 6.5 with a limit to polycounts (more than enough for game dev) and render sized (512 x 512).

If you're willing to spend just a little bit of money then checkout Milkshape 3D ($35) or Fragmotion ($20). Both are relatively simple, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. They both seem pretty easy to use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
Hrm... Out of these Truespace does seem to hit the mark. And actually, I recall using Truespace 2, 8 years ago.

I used a Maya demo about a year ago, and absolutely loved it. But I really don't want watermarks all over my work from using a demo (not even sure if they still have a demo).

From the comparison chart I can see that one of the only things that Truespace is missing that looks potentially important to me is the 3d realtime model painting.

Is there anything out there that can pick up that slack, some model painter or anything? It seems like a feature I might like, though I surely can't afford the 6k+ for maya unlimited to get it. And does it map this painting procedure to textures after your done with it? Just curious.

And how do the milkshape/fragmotion/blender compare to truespace/maya as far as features?

Thanks for all of your remarks so far guys :) If any of you have anything else you think I should know, I'd appreciate it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zer0wolf    1022
We just listed off a shlew of applications. Google is your friend as far as feature capabilities are concerned.

A few notes though: 3d painting is built into Blender. 3D-Coat is a really nice 3d painting program, though it costs a few bucks (though loads cheaper than BodyPaint or Zbrush). Also, you don't need Maya Unlimited for 3d painting or even anything else related to game art creation. Maya Complete has it all and it considerably cheaper than Unlimited. Unlimited has additional features useful for film work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ndatxcod    100
As an artist I use maya at work but I can say blender is one the best pieces of 3d software around, I really recommend it.

It's sufficiently powerful to do anything the big competitors do. There are tons of tutorials and videos, and several books written focusing on blender and more important there's a huge community willing (really willing) to help you with anything (check the IRC channel #blenderchat). On top of that it's being constantly updated and there also many plugins offering extra functionality.

It's powerful enough to do anything related to game development and even film production.
There have been several movies produced entirely on blender, 2 of the latest are.

Elephants Dream
Big Buck Bunny

http://www.blender.org/features-gallery/movies/

Check them out if you need inspiration.

Maya is great but it has a few disadvantages, it costs quite a bit ($$$$) while blender is free, it's pretty heavy in size and in memory footprint, (blender is less than 20 mb and extremely lightweight, plus ir runs in pretty much any major OS), and if you need help with something it's pretty damn hard to find quick help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Squirrel2531    122
Like a guy said I do recommend blender. It's interface may be weird at first but you'll love it when you get use to it. Also you can try Google Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/#utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-bk&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=google%20sketchup). Also you can use Metasequoia (http://metaseq.net/english/index.html). Metasequoia is very similar to 3d Milkshape and a beginner can pick up basic modeling in one day with tutorials. Another one is Gmax. Gmax is just like 3dsmax, but doesn't have a renderer, no hair, and fur. But that wouldn't be a problem. Gmax is still a great tool (http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
daviangel    604
Quote:
Original post by Daaark
Quote:
Original post by daviangel
Truespace which is a much more intuitive 3D program is now free so you might want to check that out too.
Huh?

This is the third time this has come up this week, so I will refer to this post. Click..

trueSpace 7.6 is a sloppy toy, and a waste of time.

That might be true if you are a 3D pro but for just getting started making some basic 3D stuff Blender is not easy at all especially since it's Unix roots show through. For example loading and saving files doesn't follow standard windows conventions at all. Figuring out how to render you scene is another wild goose chase that take way too long unless you already used it before,etc. Anyways, I'm sure it's gotten better since last time I used it not to mention there are actually a lot more books available teaching you how to use blender compared to when I first used it. Same thing when you compare 3DMax with Maya. 3DMax is intuitive from the start especially for Windows users just click on a sphere and drag,hit render button etc. In Maya you have extra layers of complexity you must wade through before you can even figure out how to render a scene just like Blender but like blender it lets you make use of Python so you know it's powerful!
Anyways, just try them all out and go with what lets you get the job done. I must point out Lamothe used truespace long ago to make the models for his 3D space shooter games he used in his game programming books and it worked out great. My point just do it already I mean and don't let something this simple detract you from your original XNA programming.
Basically as long as the 3D program you choose exports to a format or has a plugin that lets you use it with XNA you are good to go!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by daviangel
That might be true if you are a 3D pro but for just getting started making some basic 3D stuff Blender is not easy at all especially since it's Unix roots show through. For example loading and saving files doesn't follow standard windows conventions at all. Figuring out how to render you scene is another wild goose chase that take way too long unless you already used it before,etc.

Blender render = press F12.
TrueSpace Render... oops.. wait? Where is it?
You have to load up the 6.6 plugin and choose on of their 2 crappy renderers, or buy v-ray. Or settle for the real time renderer included in 7.6.

Everything in the current version of trueSpace is harder to learn how to use, and gives subpar results. Blender will require a bit of digging around and video watching, but the results are well worth it, and there isn't 15 'ifs, ands or buts' with how every single feature works.

trueSpace can't even do a proper extrude. You get that stupid sweep tool that scales your output 'for your convenience' That's among many basic things it can't do properly.

trueSpace's UI is so cluttered they had to build a search engine in so you can find the commands you are looking for. No one thought that since it had gotten to the point of needing a search engine, that it had gotten too cluttered. Not only that, the 7.x series 'isn't actually finished', so half the stuff you need requires you to load up the 6.x version of the program to get it done.

When you have trouble with Blender, the guys on the blender artist forum will gladly help you out. They are friendly and knowledgeable.

When you have trouble with tS, you get a bunch of crazy excuses, 12 different wrong answers, and then the guy from marketing trying to put a positive spin on things and explain in a good way why that feature doesn't work properly. I still haven't gotten an answer to the question of why so many basic features were missing from a 7.6 release.

Blender was horrible a few versions ago, but they really did a good job in the last few releases, and I have no major problems with it. I wish it was this usable a few years ago, I wouldn't have wasted time with other applications.

Quote:
Anyways, just try them all out and go with what lets you get the job done. I must point out Lamothe used truespace long ago to make the models for his 3D space shooter games he used in his game programming books and it worked out great.
You can use any app and your models will turn out great. At the time this book was written, only an old version of trueSpace was available for free distribution. He had no choice in the matter! It was trueSpace or nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
Wow, seems like Blender is a very heavy contender.

Thank you guys, you have been very nice in helping me out here. I was expecting to get flamed for not checking the forums before I asked. Normally I would, but I was short on time earlier. (and I can get your responses from forums on my phone while at work, the joy of blackberry)

So it seems like tomorrow will be a day of learning how to use Blender.

I will check out a few of the other programs you mentioned, and the 3d paint programs as well. Thank you all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
daviangel    604
Quote:
Original post by thisisashan
Wow, seems like Blender is a very heavy contender.

Thank you guys, you have been very nice in helping me out here. I was expecting to get flamed for not checking the forums before I asked. Normally I would, but I was short on time earlier. (and I can get your responses from forums on my phone while at work, the joy of blackberry)

So it seems like tomorrow will be a day of learning how to use Blender.

I will check out a few of the other programs you mentioned, and the 3d paint programs as well. Thank you all!

Make sure you check out the video's on the blender website. That should speed things up since they cover the basics it looks like. I know when I first tried Blender there was barely and documentation let alone video's so they've come along way it looks like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MJP    19787
For me XSI ModTool is the only real choice since it's the only one of those 3 that allow you to use your DirectX/GL shaders for your materials and properly bind them to your model. I'm also not at all a fan of the UI in Blender and trueSpace, but that's more of a personal thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by MJP
For me XSI ModTool is the only real choice since it's the only one of those 3 that allow you to use your DirectX/GL shaders for your materials and properly bind them to your model. I'm also not at all a fan of the UI in Blender and trueSpace, but that's more of a personal thing.
Blender and trueSpace also allow real time shaders. trueSpace's 7.6 UI runs in real time shader mode, and materials are HLSL shaders. Blender just added the shader capability in 2.48.

XSI ModTool is great. But it has licensing issues, and a 3000$ price to get around them. It's also just a game modeler. You can use it now for XNA games for free and sell them, but that's pretty much it. What if you want to do something else with your assets? You've hit a dead end.

Adobe and youtube are both preparing games portals for us to publish our games to. Will XSI allow content creation for those too? The iPOD, the iPhone? Not likely, as the current reason for using XSI with XNA is just a business deal between the Torque guys, MS, and Autodesk, to try and upsell you to the 3000 version later on when you hit that stumbling block.

Blender and trueSpace are free with no limitations on what you can do with your own creations. They also aren't stripped down versions of a larger suite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Elhrrah    148
I have heard lots about blender being hard to work with, but as long as you approach it right, it isn't that bad. Every program has its quirks, just like every person. The only issue that I ran into was trying to bounce between Blender and other programs; once you get into working with Blender, it is hard to pull out, something which can get in the way if your workflow requires multiple programs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
I'm on the fourth video tutorial right now, and all I have to say is WOW!

Blenders interface the first time i opened it was a little bland compared to maya, but from what i can tell, the hotkeys are all simple, and they are all pretty relative to what your doing. R for rotate, S for scale, etc. And the interface is customizable, so all my qualms will probably be resolved once I get used to everything on here. Makes me very happy.

Getting to the model rendering next.

I really appreciate you guys pointing this software out to me, never knew it existed, and amazingly, its EXACTLY what i needed.

Only question in my mind now is, since this only uses blender files, is it possible to convert them into obj or another format to load them into a game? Or is there a SDK/API out there that will allow me to load them into C#? I will be using XNA most likely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by thisisashan
Blenders interface the first time i opened it was a little bland compared to maya, but from what i can tell, the hotkeys are all simple, and they are all pretty relative to what your doing. R for rotate, S for scale, etc. And the interface is customizable, so all my qualms will probably be resolved once I get used to everything on here. Makes me very happy.
When in edit mode, there are other keys. W will open up a menu, and you have CTRL-V, CTRL-F, CTRL-E for vertex, face, and edge commands.

You can carve out whatever interface you need in like 2 seconds for whatever is convenient at the time, and store a bunch of custom presets in the top menu.

Quote:
Only question in my mind now is, since this only uses blender files, is it possible to convert them into obj or another format to load them into a game? Or is there a SDK/API out there that will allow me to load them into C#? I will be using XNA most likely.
You can select an object and hit export and find the .x file exporter. It might not fit in whatever window the options pop up into, so you might have to drag it upwards to see them all.

You will have to select the buttons to make Y point up and use right handed coordinates (what XNA uses). And hit the button that says export selection only. It's easy, and takes 2 seconds.

No editor works with 3ds, obj, or x directly. They aren't usefull for the purpose of storing app specific data.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
have to admit.

Getting used to blender is very difficult.

Seems like I spent all day watching video tutorials just to be caught up in selecting vertex when i need to select edges etc...

very picky program. :/ It is the C++ of 3d modeling.

I have patience, but this is very hard.

Like for instance, I got a background image loaded, and I was trying to make a 3d logo out of a old 2d image I have.

I used bezier lines (converted to poly) to outline the letters, no problem. Closed the shape, also no problem. Then when it came time to extrude to make it 3d... it wouldn't let me extrude anything more then a vertex. So i figure, ok, maybe i just have to convert this into a mesh. Converted it into a mesh... and wow, tons of triangles. I could finally extrude, but it left me with lots of sloppy 3d geometry :/.

*sigh* Maybe this is just the learning curve? I don't know.

About to get a sideview/frontview sketch of one of my characters and work on it using the old subdivided block method. Hopefully this part goes a little better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daaark    3553
Quote:
Original post by thisisashan
Seems like I spent all day watching video tutorials just to be caught up in selecting vertex when i need to select edges etc...
You have to tell blender what you are selecting. In the edit window there are buttons along the bottom right.

Pick vertex | Pick Edge | Pick Face | Culling

The culling button will stop you from picking back faces.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BLiTZWiNG    361
I swore Max was the bees knees of modelling. I tried twice to learn Blender and just couldn't. That was a while ago, and I tried again last week and "got" it this time. Now I find it easier than Max, even though I think the interface still needs a bit of work, modelling is just so much easier and faster.

I hope to keep playing with Blender and quash my need to keep going back to Max.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
Thankfully I'm not the type to give up so easily :)

Figured out Ctrl+Tab allows you to let blender know what type of selection you would like to make (face/vertex/edge).

Still a few quirks to work out on my own, but I am getting it... slowly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thisisashan    152
*Update*

So, I have a lot figured out right now, and I decided to jump right in and model a 3d face. All is going well, I will post it when I am done, (got to the point where I have to put eyes in it, and am taking a break for tonight since I am at a decent stopping point.

I do have a question though, I heard that leaving triangles in a model is bad. Is this bad in just when rendering in blender itself? Or would a XNA game have problems with this as well? Can't find very much info on this in the blender topics, just says "can cause artifacting in blender".

Does anyone know?

There is not really huge amounts of triangles in my face, but the knife tool tends to leave them. If they are a problem, how do I remove them? :/
Everything I try to get rid of them, just ends up putting a triangle somewhere else on the model. :(

***edited for being to tired to use proper English***

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daaark    3553
3D graphics hardware uses triangles exclusively. When you import your model into the XNA content processor, it will all be turned into triangles. When people talk about polygon count in games, they are talking about triangles.

Some modelers don't want triangles in their models because of things that happen later on when they want to use sculpting, or do certain types of deformations. You'll run into different advice in tutorials based on what kind of 3d modeling the writer is most familiar with. Modeling for real time use, and modeling for still images or animations are two different things.

If you go to the 'artist's corner' section on the XNA forums. There is a thread called 'BLENDER, The Way It Actually Is'. You can learn a lot in there, it's basically a long conversation between me and pixelminer, as he answers a lot of my questions. There is links to a ton of resources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this