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Without a doubt, Blender has become one of the most popular 3D applications available to users around the world as a result of it being as powerful a tool as many of its competitors without the label of an incredible fee attached to using it in the form of a subscription or license.
Blender 3D is not the only free software for aspiring artists, but it is the most popular especially in the 3D space. Below is a list of 6 other free applications that you can use for 3D art.
- SketchUP (Free version)
- Houdini (Free Version)
These are just a few options that allow for modeling tasks similar to Blender. But do these compare in terms of functionality or should you stick with Blender 3D as your software of choice?
Do These Other Options Perform The Same Tasks As Blender?
For the most part yes, all of the options listed above can be used for the primary purpose of creating 3D models. However, one advantage that Blender has is its versatility, as its tools go far beyond simple 3D modeling workflows offering tools for material creation, animation, compositing, and even video editing.
Houdini is the closest option when it comes to overall functionality, but does things in a completely different way. It uses various operator types to procedurally generate 3D models using a node-based system. So even when an alternative can perform the same tasks, it can still do so in its own way.
The browser version of SketchUp is an example of a software platform that focuses specifically on the aspect of 3D modeling but is superior as an option for beginners who want to get started learning how to create 3D objects.
In fact, many of these options, with the exception of Houdini, are better options for learning the general process of creating 3D objects than Blender because of the more lenient learning curve.
The end goal is basically the same for any software that you choose here, to create 3D models for use in scenes and other applications like game design, but this varies from one app to another.
Why Choose These Options Over Blender 3D?
So each application is unique in its approach to 3D modeling and other tasks that it may be capable of performing. But how exactly do these free applications differ from each other when considering which application you should choose…
Houdini is the most advanced application on this list and is probably when of the most challenging apps for 3D modeling to learn either free or paid. This is because it follows an entirely procedural approach using node systems to generate models that can be edited at any time non-destructively.
SketchUp’s free version is browser-based software, so it requires an internet connection to use. It is a fantastic choice for beginners and has a notably simple layout compared to using Blender. This is in part because it is more focused on 3D modeling and those not house tools for video editing, compositing, etc.
Check out SketchUp here.
SculptGL is exactly what you think it is, a web-based application used to create 3D objects using sculpting tools. On first impression, it looks a little bit like Blender when you attempt to use the brushes on the base model, but is actually a much more streamlined approach, as there are far fewer tools but everything is accessible from the interface straight away. It’s great for beginners to the sculpting workflow for learning.
We will include a link to the app here, as googling it can take you to Sculpteo instead, which is a completely different app used to upload models for 3D printing.
Vectary is the next option and is another web based application that this time requires you to create a login to access your work as soon as you come to Vectary for the first time. The interface is very clean but the best thing about Vectary is that it’s very easy to access any documentation or tutorials from the website, making learning much easier.
You can also access a wide range of templates to act as starting points, which is great for speeding up your workflow.
Check out the app here.
TinkerCAD is more used as an educational tool rather than for any sort of production work. It is designed by Autodesk who are the owners of Maya and 3Ds Max and are the major players when it comes to 3D modeling in the industry. The software itself is again web-based, so a login is required.
It starts you off straight away in a tutorial where you can learn all the tools needed to get started in 3D modeling. Because it’s an Autodesk tool, it is a great choice for those who want to learn how to create 3D models before purchasing Maya, so that they know if it will be worth the investment.
Check out TinkerCAD here.
Whereas many of the other options on this list are free web-based versions, FreeCAD is downloadable software much like Blender. If you do download it you will have to wait for the software to fully install, but not for too long.
Of all the options on this list, this is the newest one and is a little rough around the edges. But if you want to have an alternative to Blender available on your device without an internet connection FreeCAD is a decent alternative with a lot of potential. It is however more difficult to learn compared to the other options due to a lack of learning material.
Check out FreeCAD here.
Should I At Least Learn How To Use Software Aside From Blender?
You only need to learn the software that you plan on using on a regular basis or learn software that is going to be used in the workplace if you are searching for employment. While the options on this list are easy to access for general practitioners of D art, they are not commonly used in industries where premium options rule the roost, like Maya and Z brush.
Blender itself has been making inroads in recent years when it comes to being used for commercial projects, while SketchUp and Houdini are also used a fair bit with their paid versions. If you are looking to learn 3D software for the purpose of employment then research which applications are used in the field that you are trying to break into.
TinkerCAD is perhaps the safest choice for learning how to create 3D models due to it being primarily touted as an educational tool. While each application is unique the general process of navigation and basic modeling is the same across the different options, so TinkerCAD is a great starting point.
Which Is The Best Free Software Apart From Blender?
So of the list above, which is the best free software to use? Well if you are a beginner, then TinkerCAD and SketchUp are great options for learning the basics of 3D modeling. With SketchUp, you can move onto the paid software and gain access to the more advanced features, and not be dependent on your internet connection, since the free version is browser-based.
If you want to choose the best option for creating models based on ease of use, then most are of a similar level but we prefer either TinkerCAD or Vectary here.
If you want to choose the software that offers the most in terms of functionality, then Houdini is the best choice and for procedural modeling even outperforms Blender with ease.
Thanks For Checking Out Our Article
Thank you for taking the time to read our article, we hope you found the information that you were looking for. Below we have created a list of additional topics that you may be interested in reading.
- How To Download The Latest Version Of Blender?
- Do I Need A GPU To Use Blender?
- Does Blender Use The GLTF FIle Format?
- Improve Your Material Workflow Combining Nodes Into Groups
- Painting Transparency Onto An Image Texture
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