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Chris941

Best 3d modelling software for beginners?

37 posts in this topic

Hi All!

So i recently asked a question "UDK or Unity, the best engine for beginners?" And as i explored Unity a little more i realized i'll need a 3d modelling software. From Autodesk i can get a free software and spent 2 hours downloading Autodesk Maya 2013 and reached a corrupted files message when installing after the download, so i figured i'd start over and figure out which one is best.

So for a beginner, which 3d modelling software do you think is the easiest, most helpful, and with some pretty good features?

i've heard of a few

Maya
3ds max
Cinema4

(getting sidetracked: did anyone else try to download Maya 2013 and get a corrupted files message and to redownload?)


Thank you for all the info, as you help my journey as an indie game dev. greatly!
Chris941
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it's been some time since I was modelling so maybe the situation has changed, but from my experience the biggest number of tutorials has 3ds max... however it is very complex program and someone who will launch it for the first time might get lost....

It's hard to say which one is the best, everyone has it's pluses and minuses, it really depends on user, everybody is different so one likes maya, the other likes 3ds max but at the end of the day it doesn't matter which SW you are using, it's just a tool, what matters is your skill and knowledge how to use the tool

I started with cinema4d, tried blender but I then I switched for 3ds max, as I said, there ale lot of resources for this one, lot of free tutorials/videotutorials and also dvds (e.g. from gnomon workshop) and very big community, if I'm not mistaken, 3ds max is the most used in professional sphere, but internet is growing and I'm sure there are a quite big communities for other programs as well
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For the first time 3D game developer, a very easy to use and flexible modeling and game engine is CopperCube 3. I really like the app because it allows you to either build or import 3D models (.obj, .dae ) for props and even animated figures (.x, bliz, Milkshape) for characters, set up game play logic using a menu based approach and best yet, it publishes the game in 3 modes: HTML5 using JS & WebGL 3D for a website, Flash 11 Stage 3 AIR apps, or .EXE for local play. Its really easy to use and the publisher Amberia, makes it free to use (free version is limited t 10 level/world game).
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If you do use pixeologic Sculptris, also get Hexagon (free) because you can GO-Z between them and Hex has the Sub-D and other tools needed for figure modeling. Also for rigging figures to animate for a game check FragMosoft, or DAZ DS4. Finally if you want a lowpoly modeler for either older engines or HTML5 / WebGL work look into MilkShape 3D as it animates and can apply motion capture BHV files skeletal animation. Wings 3D is also great free and simple modeler. Blender is powerful and can be daunting for a beginner. Edited by Dream Cutter
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I recommend Cinama4d, it is really easy to use. Even I as programmer could made some basic stuff after 1-2 hours.
As indie developer don't forget to check the price of modelling software. Cinema4D is pretty affordable if you are going to commercial software.

And off course there is always a Blender - for free.
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[url="http://www.gamefromscratch.com/page/Graphic-Applications.aspx"]This list[/url] is pretty comprehensive. It doesn't mention a couple fringe packages like Sketchup Pro ( modeller only ) or Truespace ( available free, but effectively dead ), but is pretty comprehensive.

The problem is budget.

Max, Maya and Softimage, since being purchased by Autodesk, are all brutally expensive... starting at 3K and going upwards to 5. ( Which is a shame, as prices were trending downward before the buyout. A version of SI could be had for just over 500$ ).

Houdini is several grand as well, Lightwave is around 1000$, but isnt really doing anything since the core team left to start Modo. Speaking of which, Modo is around a grand and isnt a full featured package yet; Cinema4D also starts around the 1000$ mark, but can go upwards towards 3 grand. On the more affordable side of things there is Silo (200$), which is an awesome package, but seems to have had development dropped for it. There is also Cheetah for 100$, but it is Mac only.

Then there are the free packages, of which Blender leads the pack. On top of the is the wonderful Wings 3D modeller, which is a spiritual successor to Nichimen's nWorlds ( or its actual successors Mirai and Nendo, which are both also defunct ) and works wonderfully.


So really, in the end, a lot of it comes down to budget. If you have none, that makes it easy. Blender, and optionally, Wings.
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[quote name='Chris941' timestamp='1340569112' post='4952421']
Hi All!

So i recently asked a question "UDK or Unity, the best engine for beginners?" And as i explored Unity a little more i realized i'll need a 3d modelling software. From Autodesk i can get a free software and spent 2 hours downloading Autodesk Maya 2013 and reached a corrupted files message when installing after the download, so i figured i'd start over and figure out which one is best.

So for a beginner, which 3d modelling software do you think is the easiest, most helpful, and with some pretty good features?

i've heard of a few

Maya
3ds max
Cinema4

(getting sidetracked: did anyone else try to download Maya 2013 and get a corrupted files message and to redownload?)


Thank you for all the info, as you help my journey as an indie game dev. greatly!
Chris941
[/quote]

Maya is good. I recommend you contact Autodesk support about your problem.
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Blender is the best thing for beginners in that it is free and comprehensive. It's bad for beginners in that there is a really really steep learning curve to using it, but this pretty much goes with the territory of 3D modelling. Edited by jwezorek
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I personally use a mix of wings and/or sketchup.

I can't recall where I got it from but there is a directx ( .x) export plugin for sketchup which is very handy. Sketchup 8 also has collada exporters but can't UV map them which is usually required, the .x exporter I have seems fully capable of generating the accompanying texture/material data equivelants itself to the point that XNA can usually just import it without fuss from what I've seen online (not tried it myself yet)

Wings has a fairly large catalogue of supported file formats (import and export) and unlike sketchup can UV map.


Wings isn't as powerful as the others (but with practise can make great stuff) and sketchup is just backwards though. Blender I've tried but can't get my head around. For my planned XNA game I'm gonna use my sketchup .x exporter but I don't know if .x works in unity.
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There used to be a great little program called "Nendo", which I started with some 10 years ago. Not sure it even exists anymore, but it sure was lovely to work with. It really felt like sculpting, for some reason.
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[quote name='6677' timestamp='1340660955' post='4952803']
For my planned XNA game I'm gonna use my sketchup .x exporter but I don't know if .x works in unity.
[/quote]

Unity imports .fbx and .collada formats only. Out of them, the .fbx is the preferred import format.

Here is a list of all 3D applications which can generate content compatible with Unity3D -
[url="http://unity3d.com/unity/editor/importing"]http://unity3d.com/u...ditor/importing[/url]

Hope this helps. Edited by Marvel Magnum
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[quote name='antiHUMANDesigns' timestamp='1340687986' post='4952903']
There used to be a great little program called "Nendo", which I started with some 10 years ago. Not sure it even exists anymore, but it sure was lovely to work with. It really felt like sculpting, for some reason.
[/quote]

It was briefly re-released with a few minor updates, but then the developers went silent and haven't been heard from since. Nearly every feature that nendo had, aside from painting, exists in Wings3D, which was developed specidically to fill the void caused by nendo's absence. If you liked nendo, try Wings. It's free.
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Thanks to everyone for the info! I contacted Autodesk last week but never got a reply, don't know what that's about.... If I have time I'll download cinema4d but I'll check out Blender first! What program has the least steep learning curve? Or all they all like that?
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[quote name='Chris941' timestamp='1340878688' post='4953605']
Thanks to everyone for the info! I contacted Autodesk last week but never got a reply, don't know what that's about.... If I have time I'll download cinema4d but I'll check out Blender first! What program has the least steep learning curve? Or all they all like that?
[/quote]

Let me try to explain it to you from my experience. First thing, there are many aspects to working in CG. You have modeling, animating and rendering to begin with, but each of those have sub-disciplines, if you will. Modeling can involve "box modeling" (Wings, Aniim8or, blender), "sculpting" (Sculptris, Curvy3D, zBrush, blender etc.) and also such techniques as NURBs and CSG, which aren't used as much in games/pre-viz. Animating can involve posing of rigged figures (which is a discipline in itself), motion capture, physical simulations (hard body, soft body, cloth, fluids, etc.). Rendering includes working with materials (as does modeling and animating), as well as lighting, and compositing. Of course it's also good to have some familiarity with paint tools, and video editors, as you will be using both eventually.

Without getting into specifics of UIs and workflows, consider one simple rule regarding a program's learning curve. The more it does, the harder it will be to learn all of it. Sculptris and Curvy are the easiest of the sculpting programs to learn, while Wings3D and Anim8or are probably among the easiest modelers to learn. There is a learning curve for each program, and there is a learning curve for CG in general. You may prefer having a powerful and versatile tool like blender that can do most all of the things I have mentioned, or you may feel intimated by the features you aren't familiar with or confused by having too many tools without an understanding of what they are for. What you learn in one program may work differently in another, but the more you understand how CG works the easier it will be to learn other programs.

I use Wings for modeling (I've thought about using Hexagon or SIlo but neither are supported to my liking). I use Poser for rendering, because I have it and am used to it. I picked up Daz Studio Pro for free, so I'd have a way to export figures to iClone. I can model in Wings, rig in Poser, and export via Daz, at least in theory. That same workflow should also work for Unity. In your case I'd substitute blender or Daz Studio for Poser, if spending the least money is important. I think I'm one of those people who wished they liked blender but I just can't get comfortable in it whenever I try using it.
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Thanks for the reply! I've kinda taken a breather for a while of the game and started on the game design document for the game I'm making, after I right it I won't question myself on adding things and such, but will check that out, thanks!
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[quote name='Chris941' timestamp='1341607638' post='4956465']
So I downloaded blender, just have to read those tutorials!
[/quote]


One of the most confusing things about getting started with Blender is the windowing system. [url="http://www.gamefromscratch.com/post/2012/04/29/Navigating-and-customizing-Blender%E2%80%99s-UI.aspx"]This post [/url]may help you a bit. As you can see, you can actually quite easily customize the heck out of Blender, but its a bit confusing at first.
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Blender is the best thing ever, for beginners and for experts.

Also, try Google Sketchup, I used it to design some levels in a small videogame I did.

Good luck
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[quote name='Serapth' timestamp='1341683363' post='4956688']
[quote name='Chris941' timestamp='1341607638' post='4956465']
So I downloaded blender, just have to read those tutorials!
[/quote]


One of the most confusing things about getting started with Blender is the windowing system. [url="http://www.gamefromscratch.com/post/2012/04/29/Navigating-and-customizing-Blender%E2%80%99s-UI.aspx"]This post [/url]may help you a bit. As you can see, you can actually quite easily customize the heck out of Blender, but its a bit confusing at first.
[/quote]

Thanks for the link! I opened blender up, then closed it...It LOOKS pretty hard to understand, but the link should help! Thanks!
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[quote name='Acotoz' timestamp='1341767968' post='4956968']
Blender is the best thing ever, for beginners and for experts.

Also, try Google Sketchup, I used it to design some levels in a small videogame I did.

Good luck
[/quote]

I had google sketchup downloaded for a little while but just couldn't get the hang of it! I'm trying to learn blender, coding, and writing a game design document all at once...I'm busy!
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Also when trying to learn Blender from tutorials or other online resources, make sure that you are using materials that specifically target the version of Blender that you have downloaded. The UI has changed a lot in recent years and it can be particularly frustrating to try to deal with a tutorial that is talking about GUI widgets that no longer exist.
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