Search

8 Best 3D Modeling Software You Should Try in 2024

3D modeling typically refers to the process of creating digital representations of three-dimensional objects or scenes using dedicated computer software. These virtual models can be edited, and rendered, making them widely used in various fields like animation, game development, engineering, and architecture. As 3D technology advances rapidly, 3D modeling has become an essential skill for both creative expression and technical applications today.

Whether you’re a seasoned 3D artist or a beginner, choosing the right 3D modeling software is key. This article will explore 8 of the best 3D modeling software, catering to different fields, budgets, and needs, to help you find the perfect option for you.

Best 3D Modeling Software Recommended

 

Key Considerations to Keep in Mind When Choosing 3D Modeling Software

There are many 3D modeling software options available in the market today, each boasting unique features and strengths. If you are wondering how to select the right one, here are some key considerations to help you pick the best 3D modeling software for your needs:

  • Ease of use: When it comes to selecting 3D modeling software, ease of use is a crucial factor to consider, particularly for beginners who are just starting to learn 3D modeling. Starting with one designed for your skill level will help you avoid a steep learning curve and keep you motivated as you learn.
  • Features & Functionalities: Since different software caters to specific industries, it’s crucial to carefully compare the key features and target uses when making your choice.
  • Compatibility: Consider whether the software is compatible with common file formats, CAD software, renderers, and other tools to ensure you can exchange data and collaborate smoothly.
  • Performance & Stability: Choosing 3D modeling software with good performance and high stability can greatly improve your work efficiency and reduce time waste caused by unexpected issues.
  • Cost: software for 3D modeling comes in a wide range of prices, from free to thousands of dollars. Before making your choice, you need to consider your budget. For beginners, you can start with low-cost or free 3D modeling software.
  • Technical Support & Community: Active technical support and community can help you solve problems encountered during learning and use promptly.

 

Top 1. ZW3D

Modeling Mold on ZW3D

When it comes to the best 3D CAD software, ZW3D can be what you need. This 3D modeling software is an all-in-one 3D CAD/CAE/CAM solution, suitable for both experienced professionals and beginners who want to learn further to explore the entire product development. It only provides basic 2D design tools but has powerful 3D modeling and design features such as flexible parametric modeling, efficient direct editing, structural simulation, solid surface hybrid modeling, etc. This makes it an ideal option for various designs, including machinery, parts, vehicles, and more.

Additionally, it boasts an intuitive interface, making anyone quickly get started, even if you are a beginner. Even better, this 3D CAD software offers a 30-day free trial to let you enjoy all its features before purchasing a lifetime license starting at $1,800. If you are looking for professional but beginner-friendly 3D modeling software, consider ZW3D.

Pros

  • Serve as an all-in-one solution for 3D CAD, CAE, and CAM.
  • Boast a user-friendly interface and extensive tutorials, making it approachable for beginners.
  • Offer a comprehensive set of tools for 3D modeling, editing, assembly, and analysis for diverse design needs.
  • Work seamlessly with various file formats, CAD software, and API for smooth workflow.
  • Provide flexible licensing options, including a 30-day free trial and one-time purchase licenses starting at $1,800.
  • Deliver smooth and reliable performance.

Cons

  • Only work on Windows computers currently.

 

Note: The ZW3D 2025 Beta version is now available online. Building upon the 2024 version, it enhances 3D functionalities, user interface, and industry-specific modules. If you think it’s a good option, feel free to download and try it out for free from the download center.

 

Top 2. Fusion

Fusion 360 User Interface

Fusion is a cloud-based software created by Autodesk, which is integrated with CAD/CAM/CAE to design and simulate machinery, parts, products, and more. This powerful 3D modeling software provides users with a wide range of 3D modeling tools, including solid modeling, surface modeling, parametric modeling, freeform modeling, and more, enabling them to create complex geometry and parts quickly. Additionally, it also supports simulation tools like structural analysis, thermal analysis, and fluid dynamics analysis, which allows users to conduct comprehensive evaluations of their designs to optimize product performance and reliability.

For beginners, Fusion also provides a wealth of learning resources, which includes official tutorials, online courses, and community forums. These resources can help beginners quickly learn the basic operations and functions of Fusion. Even better, the software offers different price ranges to suit different user budgets, starting with a free trial, followed by $85/month, $680/year, and $2040/3 years.

Pros

  • Easy to use 3D modeling software.
  • Provide hyper-realistic rendering for 3D modeling.
  • Integrate with Autodesk ecosystem for smooth data exchange and active community support.
  • Support commonly used file formats and cloud integration for streamlined workflow.
  • Work on Windows and Mac.

Cons

  • Occasionally crashes.
  • No support for keyboard control customization.
  • Frequent updating features confuse users.

 

Top 3. Inventor

Inventor Engineering Drawing Software

Autodesk Inventor is a professional-grade 3D CAD software specifically designed for complex mechanical and engineering projects. Compared to Fusion, Inventor caters more to experienced users who require creating intricate models, performing advanced analyses, or preparing for manufacturing.

One of its key features is large-scale assembly design. Users can create and manage relationships between multiple parts in a single file, facilitating performing operations such as collision detection and motion simulation. Moreover, this 3D modeling software also integrates analysis tools, empowering users to conduct simulations for stress, heat transfer, movement, and other factors, ultimately optimizing product performance and quality. If your projects involve complex parts and assemblies, Inventor can be your choice. However, it comes with a higher price, including subscription options like $315 per month, $2,500 annually, and $7,500 for a three-year term.

Pros

  • Specialize in generating professional-grade mechanical and engineering designs.
  • Work well with CAD software, BIM, and various file formats for seamless collaboration.
  • Create model data that is easily re-configurable.
  • Integrate with Autodesk ecosystem with an active community.

Cons

  • Occasional bugs and crashes.
  • Complex interface for beginners to get started.
  • High memory demanding.

 

Top 4. CATIA

CATIA 3D Modeling Software Workspace

CATIA is one of the best 3D modeling software options for architecture, engineering, and machinery, suitable for Windows and UNIX. It is designed for CAD, CAM, CAE, and PLM. Originally developed by Dassault Systèmes in 1982, this 3D modeling software has earned a reputation for stability and reliability through years of refinement.

For those who are new to 3D modeling, CATIA is an ideal option as it offers rich online learning resources, an active user community, and responsive customer support to ensure that any issues are resolved promptly. Additionally, CATIA offers events and e-seminars, providing a platform for users to connect and delve deeper into 3D modeling and design. However, it is important to note that subscription plans for CATIA can be costly and difficult for some users to afford.

Pros

  • Provide robust 3D modeling and simulation tools.
  • Offer a wealth of online training and tutorials for beginners to get started.
  • Boast an active community to get inspiration from others around the world.
  • Stable and reliable performances.

Cons

  • Require a steep learning curve.
  • Offer a complex interface to handle 3D modeling projects.
  • Expensive with subscription plans, including $361/quarterly(For new users only), $2,268/quarterly, and $7,560/year(2-month free trial included).

 

Top 5. Chief Architect

3D Modeling on Chief Architect

Chief Architect is a highly recommended 3D architecture software designed for architects, interior designers, and other architecture professionals. With it, users can create 2D and 3D floor plans, cross sections, elevations, and models for both residential and commercial buildings. Moreover, this 3D modeling software also includes a built-in real-time rendering function, which allows users to see the realistic effects of the model during the design process, including lighting, materials, and shadows. This helps improve design efficiency and communication with clients.

For beginners, Chief Architect offers free 3D modeling software with limited features to try before purchasing a full license. Paid subscriptions start at $199 per month and $1,995 per year, unlocking the full range of design features. However, it’s important to note that the software has a longer update cycle and may not meet user needs promptly.

Pros

  • Boast libraries of 3D model templates such as doors, windows, floors, walls, and so on.
  • Offer a real-time render to generate photorealistic 3D visualization.
  • Support various file formats like DWG, DXF, and PDF to seamlessly work with other designers.
  • Offer free 3D modeling software for 3D printing.

Cons

  • Occasional issues with complex roof designs and editing.
  • Demand a computer with higher configuration and hardware.
  • Less update frequency for new features.

 

Top 6. SketchUp

Home Design on SketchUp

SketchUp is a widely used 3D modeling software that is commonly employed in furniture and architecture design. If you are a beginner, SketchUp can be the best easy 3D modeling software for you. Its interface is straightforward and user-friendly, making it easy to use even if you have no prior experience in 3D modeling.

Furthermore, SketchUp offers a vast online 3D model library, from which users can download a variety of prefabricated architectural elements, furniture, plants, and more to streamline the design process and enrich model details. Additionally, SketchUp provides four versions, including SketchUp Free, SketchUp Go ($119/year), SketchUp Pro ($349/year), and SketchUp Studio ($749/year), to cater to users’ level, budget, and requirements.

Pros

  • Provide beginner-friendly free 3D modeling software with an intuitive interface.
  • Offer a vast library of free 3D models and components to use.
  • Boast an active community for extensive tutorials, plugins, and support.
  • Work well with other popular CAD software and various files like DWG and DXF.

Cons

  • Not ideal to handle complex 3D modeling projects.
  • Lack of advanced features for 3D modeling.

 

Top 7. Vectary

Modeling Product on Vectary

If you are looking for robust 3D modeling software for product design, Vectary is the perfect solution. It aims to streamline the 3D design process by letting users effortlessly create high-quality 3D models, rendered images, and animations directly in your web browser, without any downloads or installations. New users can try its free 3D modeling software before purchasing to ensure it meets the requirements.

Vectary includes a vast library of free 3D scenes, models, and materials for drag-and-drop creation, accelerating your workflow. Additionally, it comes packed with a real-time rendering engine which provides instant previews of the model and effect during the design process, allowing users to adjust lighting, materials, and other parameters on the fly. However, as a relatively new software, Vectary may be less stable than other 3D modeling programs and lacks an active community that can help users troubleshoot issues.

Pros

  • Provide easy-to-use free 3D modeling software.
  • Web-based 3D modeling software with no installation.
  • Offer high-quality 3D rendering, interactions, and animation in real time.
  • Support real-time collaboration to streamline the workflow.
  • Work well with CAD files.

Cons

  • Highly rely on internet connection during the entire process.
  • Offer relatively less stable performance.
  • No support for exporting 3D models in the free version.

 

Top 8. Maya

3D Sculpting on Maya

Maya is another highly recommended 3D modeling software developed by Autodesk. It is widely used for creating 3D models, animations, simulations, and renderings in animation, film, games, special effects, and other areas. Maya provides a variety of powerful modeling tools and functions, such as polygon modeling, NURBS modeling, surface modeling, etc., making it easy for users to create various complex 3D models.

Moreover, this 3D modeling software also excels at character creation, allowing users to build characters, bind them to a skeletal system (bones), and animate them for complex movements. Beyond that, this 3D modeling software is great for meeting the various creative needs of professional designers and artists, making it one of the most popular 3D sculpting software today. If you plan to buy Maya, you can try it for free, and then subscribe for $235/month, $1,875/year, or $5,625/3 years.

Pros

  • Boast a robust animation toolset for creating lifelike movements.
  • Efficiently generate world-class animation.
  • Integrate with industry-standard rendering engines to offer hyper-realistic 3D visuals.
  • Support node-based workflow to flexibly create 3D models.
  • Compatible with a vast library of plugins to customize for special needs.

Cons

  • Require a steep learning curve to get started.
  • Take a long time to render.
  • Demand a computer with a good graphics card and ample RAM.

 

FAQs About 3D Modeling Software

Which 3D Modeling Software Should I Start with?

If you are a beginner, it’s best to start with the best free 3D modeling software like SketchUp Free. Once you make progress and want to tackle more complex projects like machinery, parts, or vehicles, consider ZW3D. It offers advanced features that go beyond entry-level tools, making it suitable for these complex models.

Also, ZW3D is available for a one-time purchase starting at $1,800, which works out to about $150 per month. This is more affordable than other paid 3D modeling software. However, if your budget is limited or you only need 3D modeling for a short time, then Fusion (for machinery, parts, and consumer product design) and Vectary (for product design) are both great options.

 

What Computer Specifications Are Needed to Run 3D Modeling Software?

3D modeling software relies on specific computer hardware to run smoothly and efficiently. Generally, more powerful software demands higher specs. For optimal performance, choose a multi-core processor like an Intel Core i5 or higher, or an AMD Ryzen processor. If you are planning to handle more complex modeling and rendering, ensure that your computer has at least 16GB of memory and a high-performance graphics card such as NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro series

Moreover, you should also make sure that your computer is up-to-date and meets the software’s requirements. Additionally, don’t forget to use a solid-state drive(SSD) for faster loading times and high-resolution monitors to display intricate details in complex 3D models.

 

Comparison and Suggestion

This article explores 8 of the best 3D modeling software options available, empowering designers, artists, and manufacturers to bring their creative 3D model ideas to life. To help you choose 3D modeling software, the following table breaks down the features to help you find the perfect fit for your needs.

Pricing Best for Subtable for

 

Supported OS 3D Rendering Customizable Performance
ZW3D 30-day free trial, one-time purchase at $1,800 Beginners, Professionals Mechanical, electronic, manufacturing industries, etc Windows High Yes Stable
Fusion 30-day free trial, $85/month, $680/year, and $2040/3 years Professionals

 

Transportation and consumer product industry Windows & Mac High Yes Less Stable
Inventor $315/ month, $2,500/year, and $7,500/3 years Professionals Mechanical engineering Windows High Yes Less Stable
CATIA $2,268/quarterly, and $7,560/year(2-month free trial included) Professionals Construction engineering industry UNIX & Windows High Yes Stable
Chief Architect $199/month, and $1,995/year Beginners Construction engineering and consumer product industry Windows & Mac Moderate Yes Less Stable
SketchUp Free version provided, subscription starts at  $119/month Beginners Construction engineering industry Windows & Mac Moderate Yes Less Stable
Vectary 30-day free trial, $19/year Beginners, Professionals Consumer product industry All Moderate Yes Less Stable
Maya 30-day free trial, $235/month, $1,875/year, or $5,625/3 years Professionals Digital entertainment Industry Windows & Mac High Yes Stable

 

For beginners, you can start with free 3D modeling software such as SketchUp Free. However, if you need to create complex models, it is recommended that you use a more powerful paid option like ZW3D. For product design specifically, Vectary stands out with its streamlined workflow and features tailored to product creation. If your passion lies in animation, Maya is an industry-standard known for its robust animation toolset. No matter your skill level or project, there’s a 3D modeling software to turn your ideas into reality.