7 Best 3D Character Modeling Software: Imagination to Life

3D character modeling has become an essential technology across various industries nowadays, from blockbuster films to immersive VR experiences, captivating video games, and stunning animation. Whether creating realistic heroes, virtual idols, or fantastical monsters, 3D character modeling software empowers artists to bring their visions to life.

Are you looking for a perfect helper to turn your character creation ideas into reality? There are many excellent tools designed for modeling a 3D character on the market. Which one is best for you? This article will introduce you to the 7 leading 3D character modeling software to help you find the one that best suits your needs.

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Best 3D Character Modeling Software Recommended


How to Choose the Best 3D Character Modeling Software

Creating an exquisite 3D character not only relies on your skill level but also on the right 3D character modeling software. To select the most suitable one, here are the factors to consider:

  • Project Needs: Before diving into software options, it is crucial to make sure your project needs. Are you creating simple characters for a game, or complex models for a movie? If your goal is to model simple 3D characters, opt for an easy-to-use software that can streamline your workflow.
  • Software Features: Different 3D character design software has its own unique functions. This article presents 7 popular options, highlighting their key features. You can also browse their official websites for a comprehensive comparison to select the software that best suits you.
  • Skill Level: Some software is easier to learn and use, while others may take longer to master. If you are a new 3D character modeler, it is best to choose software that is easy to use and has rich tutorials and documentation.
  • Try Before You Buy: Most 3D character modeling software offers a free trial. Take advantage of these trials to try different options and find the best fit for you.
  • License Price: Software pricing varies, so choose based on your budget. Learn about the plan details and consider purchasing a perpetual license or an annual subscription to find the best fit.


The 7 Best 3D Character Modeling Software Recommended

The 7 best 3D character modeling software are listed in the following, covering free and paid options, to meet your various design needs. Let’s keep reading and find the right one.


Top 1. Reallusion Character Modeling Software


Reallusion Character Modeling Software is an excellent choice for quickly and easily modeling 3D characters. It offers an intuitive interface, pre-made character assets, and various automation tools to help users create high-quality 3D characters. Additionally, the software seamlessly integrates with Reallusion’s other products, allowing for convenient character animation and facial expression capture. These features make it widely used in game development, animation production, film production, and other creative fields.

One notable feature of Reallusion Character Modeling Software is that it offers a budget-friendly option with a one-time purchase of $299. Additionally, a free trial is also available before you buy, but be aware that exported 3D characters will have a watermark during the trial period.

Why Choose Reallusion Character Modeling Software:

  • It is equipped with various customization tools such as pre-built morphs, letting you model a 3D character quickly.
  • It provides a free 3D character base to streamline your workflow.
  • It seamlessly integrates with other 3D character modeling software like iClone, Maya, Blender, etc.
  • It supports a one-time purchase plan for a perpetual license with a price of $299.
  • It can export 3D characters in various formats, including FBX, OBJ, and USD.


Top 2. Maya


When it comes to the best 3D character modeling software, Maya is always on the list. Developed by Autodesk, it offers a comprehensive suite of tools for creating realistic 3D characters, including modeling, animation, rendering, simulation, production, etc. Even better, this software also includes built-in 3D sculpting tools such as deformation and topology editing for further shaping and refining 3D characters, making it one of the most popular 3D sculpting software for designers.

Additionally, as the industry standard, Maya caters to various needs of artists and designers across film, television, game development, and visual effects (VFX). However, it comes with a high price, with subscriptions starting at $235 per month or $1,875 per year, which can be a barrier for some users.

Why Choose Maya:

  • It serves as industry-standard 3D character design software.
  • It offers a professional 3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering toolset for creating realistic 3D characters.
  • It is equipped with industry-standard rendering engines for creating hyper-realistic 3D characters.
  • It supports a wide range of plugins to enhance your toolset for specific needs.
  • It integrates with Autodesk Suite for a streamlined 3D character modeling
  • It provides an active user community with a bunch of learning resources.


Top 3. Blender


Blender is free 3D character modeling software that works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. While it is free to go, this software can meet your various needs for 3D character modeling. It is equipped with a powerful toolset, including modeling, rigging, animation, and rendering. Moreover, Blender also supports both low-polygon and high-polygon models, making it a popular option among 3D character modelers.

Additionally, if you are totally new to 3D character modeling and want to enter this industry, Blender is definitely an ideal choice. With a user-friendly interface and an active online user community offering useful tutorials and tips, it can lower your learning curve and help you improve your 3D character modeling skills.

Why Choose Blender:

  • Offer free and open-source 3D character modeling software for both beginners and professionals.
  • Provide a comprehensive toolset for 3D character modeling, including modeling, rendering, sculpting, etc.
  • Feature a user-friendly interface, making it easy to get started, even for beginners.
  • Boast an active user community around the world, offering timely support.
  • Export 3D character models in various highly compatible formats for easy sharing and printing.


Top 4. ZBrush


ZBrush is another popular 3D character design software commonly used by artists. It is well-known for its non-linear workflow and powerful sculpting tools. With a variety of powerful tools for 3D character modeling, this software enables you to create movie-quality character models or complex character concepts with a streamlined process. Moreover, this 3D character modeling software can handle models with a polycount of 20,000,000, making it ideal for creating highly detailed 3D characters.

For professional 3D character modelers, ZBrush can be an essential tool for producing high-quality 3D characters. However, it does come with a steep learning curve, which may require beginners to invest a significant amount of time and effort to master it.

Why Choose ZBrush:

  • Provide a wealth of modeling and sculpting tools to help you easily create realistic 3D characters.
  • Support manipulating 3D character models with up to billions of polygons with stable performance.
  • Enable to make custom materials for 3d character modeling.
  • Offer flexible subscription plans with relatively affordable prices, starting at $39/month.
  • Export 3D character models to FBX, OBJ, STL, etc for seamless sharing and printing.


Top 5. Houdini


Houdini is one of the most common 3D modeling software that is well-suited for 3D character modeling. It offers a toolset, including curve modeling, polygon modeling, volume modeling, and procedural modeling, to cater to various character modeling needs. With its powerful procedural modeling techniques, Houdini can create complex and unique character models with realistic muscles and skin.

Additionally, it employs a non-destructive workflow, enabling users to modify the model at any time without losing previous versions, which is especially beneficial for large projects. However, Houdini boasts a steep learning curve and requires dedication and time investment to master. Despite this, for those aiming to model high-quality 3D characters, Houdini is a valuable tool to learn.

Why Choose Houdini:

  • Offer powerful tools for 3D character modeling, including Auto-rigging, Muscle and Flesh, Pose Space Deformation, etc.
  • Come with a procedural modeling feature, making it easy to create complex 3D character models.
  • Control every aspect of your character’s appearance, from facial expression to clothes.
  • Boast stunning VFX to produce highly detailed 3D character animations.
  • Provide various subscription plans to fit your budgets, including offering free 3D character design software.


Top 6. VRoid Studio


Developed by Pixiv, VRoid Studio is a free 3D character modeling software popular for creating characters used in virtual YouTubers (VTubers), 3D animation, and game development. The software has a user-friendly interface and powerful features, allowing you to create and modify the character model by simply dragging and clicking. Moreover, it comes with rich customization tools, including hairstyle, clothing, and facial detail editors, letting you adjust character appearance with simple clicks to match your preferences.

What makes VRoid Studio stand out is that it is particularly suitable for creating Japanese anime-style characters, which are very popular in the virtual idol and VTuber communities. Therefore, if you want to create an anime-style 3D character or a personalized virtual idol, VRoid Studio will be a great choice.

Why Choose VRoid Studio:

  • Free 3D character modeling software for Windows, Mac, and iPad.
  • Ideal for creating anime-style 3D characters and virtual idols.
  • Features an intuitive drag-and-drop interface for effortless 3D character modeling.
  • Provide extensive customization tools for hair, clothing, facial details, and more
  • Boast an active user community that can provide timely support and sharing resources.
  • Export 3D characters to VRM for various software and game engines.


Top 7. MakeHuman


MakeHuman is another open-source and free 3D character modeling software that is ideal for beginners. Its user-friendly interface allows users to create basic human models by adjusting various parameters such as height, weight, gender, and race. Moreover, with customizable 1170 morphings available, you can easily and quickly create unique 3D characters, even if you don’t have any design experience. Also, MakeHuman includes a rich material library with skin, hair, clothing, and accessories to streamline the modeling process.

However, MakeHuman has limited capabilities for detailed carving and high-precision modeling compared to other professional 3D character design software. It is recommended to export the model created in MakeHuman to other 3D modeling software for further refinement when detailed character models are needed.

Why Choose MakeHuman:

  • Free and open-source tool for 3D character modeling on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Offer 1170 morphings for effective parametric modeling on bodies, faces, eyes, etc.
  • Provide various pre-made assets, such as skin textures and colors, clothes and accessories, etc.
  • Feature a user-friendly interface that is easy for beginners to get started.
  • Export 3D character models to OBJ, STL, FBX, and Collada.


FAQs About 3D Character Modeling Software

Is There a 3D Character Modeling Tool Online Free?

There currently isn’t any online modeling website that can match professional modeling software for creating geometry and adjusting details and features. However, there are some free online AI-generated modeling tools available for character creation.

For example, Hero Forge is a free online character model creator that offers highly customizable features and a wide range of high-quality materials, making it easy to create unique and realistic 3D characters. Even better, this tool also allows you to download characters as 3D models or STL files for various purposes such as tabletop games, role-playing games, and 3D printing.


What Software and Tools Do 3D Character Modelers Usually Use?

The most commonly used software by modelers are Maya, ZBrush, and Blender. The choice often depends on personal preference and project requirements.

If there aren’t many complex requirements or if the team doesn’t mandate using specific software, some people might choose Blender because it’s free and powerful. However, for teams or businesses, Maya and ZBrush are often preferred for creating complex character models and adding intricate details. Additionally, other design software like Photoshop may be used during the workflow for texture editing and image processing.


Conclusion and Suggestions

This article explores the features and functions of 7 popular 3D character modeling software options. To help you make an informed decision about which software is best for you, here’s an overview of each option.

Supported OS Price Performance Ease of Use Best for
Reallusion Character Creator Windows


Free trial, $299 for a lifetime license Stable, Fast Moderate Realistic characters, cartoon characters, game characters


Windows & Mac Free trial, Subscriptions start at $235/month Stable, Relatively Fast Difficult Realistic characters in movies, games, and animation
Blender Windows & Mac & Linux Free Relatively Stable, Fast Moderate Various character types
ZBrush Windows & Mac Free trial, Subscriptions start at $39/month Stable, Fast Difficult


High-detail characters, sculpting


Windows & Mac & Linux Free version, Subscriptions start at $75/year Stable, Slow Difficult


Procedural characters, dynamic characters
VRoid Studio Windows & Mac Free Less stable, Slow Easy Cartoon characters, virtual idols
MakeHuman Windows & Mac & Linux Free Stable, Fast Easy Realistic human models


Overall, all of these options offer effective solutions to create and model high-quality 3D characters.

  • For beginners, it is advisable to start with free 3D character modeling software like Blender, which boasts an intuitive interface and basic modeling tools, making it easy to learn how to model a 3D character.
  • For professional 3D character modelers, software with advanced design features may better suit your modeling needs. Popular options include ZBrush, Maya, and Houdini.
  • Additionally, you can also choose software based on your specific needs for modeling 3d characters. For example, use VRoid Studio for cartoon characters or MakeHuman for realistic human figures.

Hope this guide helps you find the perfect tool to express your creative vision. Also, feel free to share this article to let more people get helped!