Let’s make a wild guess: A pool of 3D design tools available for graphic design students in the market. Despite that, you are here to filter out the best among the top 10 3D tools that not only offer robust packages but bring you whistles and bells for your work! While reviewing the ideal graphic designing tools might puzzle you for months, finding the perfect one among the massive list of 3D design tool guides available on the internet becomes even more challenging.
Moving forward, let’s discuss the core topic in brief first. Graphic Design is the need of the hour, or let’s just say, the face of online commerce. While an artist can draw beautiful images with hand on a tablet, the continuous evolution and digitisation of technology have changed the entire concept of designs. While 2D used to be a more comfortable and intelligent approach to design almost everything, 3D has overpowered it.
As a result, finding the right 3D tool becomes crucial. Although there are plenty of options available, some tools come free, while some are paid. To eliminate this dilemma, here is a compiled list of the most preferred and finest 3D design tools for Graphic design students. Adopting any one of them will help you create remarkable designs precisely.
Why Use 3D Graphic Design Tools/Software?
Every graphic designer requires a certain set of tools to create incredible designs. In simple terms, tools are the staple diet of graphic designing. While any designer can create beautiful designs in Microsoft Paint, there are certain features that do not go along well with the current standards. Here, a well-grounded graphic design tool offers incredible flexibility and control that helps users create fantastic designs at ease.
The best part is that even beginners can easily use these software to create designs, and this is because of the plenty of features that these tools are incorporated with. Alongside, designers can complete their 3D models in a short span with such tools! How amazing is that!
Why 3D And Not 2D?
Moving on, as stated above, there is a range of graphic designing tools in the market. However, not every tool suits specific projects.
For instance, let’s consider 2D graphic design software. While 2D has its own set of benefits, it fails to create excellent 3D designs. Besides learning programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, and other 2D design tools, every designer must obtain a piece of thorough knowledge about 3D modelling software. This is to create captivating and appealing 3D graphics that catch viewers’ attention.
To sum up, the best approach to pick the best 3D graphic design software depends on how you experiment with them. There is a range of tools that offer a free trial for days. Consequently, you can try these tools for free and decide the perfect software that interests you.
Top 10 Best 3D Graphic Design Tools For Graphic Design Students:
- Cinema 4D
- Lightwave 3D
This is one of the most impressive pieces of software for graphic designers. All credit goes to its interface. And let’s not forget, the interface comes at the top while choosing tools. Isn’t it? SelfCAD boasts an excellent interface that makes designing easy for beginners as well. These tools are kept in clusters as per their use, making it relatively easy for individuals to locate them.
Moving forward to the tool description, SelfCAD is a software that helps you create scenes, objects, and 3D designs in a minimum time as compared to the traditional CAD software. The best part is that users don’t need any experience in 3D designing to generate models in this tool, and designers can create incredible 3D graphics that create an illusion of real life.
Furthermore, SelfCAD boasts brilliant rendering features that enable users to generate strong and captivating renders used in advertising and marketing. Not to forget, one brilliant feature of the SelfCAD is the friendly training materials and tutorials that come with it.
This tool allows you to alter your designs at ease. Designers can add as many colours, textures, and tools as they wish. SelfCAD is highly feasible, and graphic designers can go for its pro plan at a lower price than any other 3D CAD tool.
The best part?
Users get a 10-day free trial where they have complete access to each of the features present in the tool. Following the 10th day of the trial, users need to subscribe to any of the packages they wish to use.
- Free: Forever (with specific features)
- SelfCAD Pro Monthly: $14.99.
- SelfCAD Pro Yearly: $139.99.
- SelfCAD Perpetual License: $599.00 (Lifetime access)
This 3D tool offers a fantastic visual effect with its robust rigging, character creation, simulation tools, and animation. Generally, Maya is used to build 3D applications, visual effects, video games, and animated films. Back in 1998, Maya 1.0 was introduced. Since then, several industries have adopted this tool to create brilliant Visualisations and effects in their business.
Bonus fact: Maya was noted to be used in movies like SpiderMan, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, and many more!
Generally, Maya is used by a range of animation studios, including Pixar, due to its vast array of outstanding and powerful features. If you wish to build heavy designs, Maya is a perfect choice! Considering its period in the market today, Maya has showcased some serious capabilities in uncountable industries.
Here are a couple of prominent features that Maya comes with:
- 3D animation
- 3D modelling
- Dynamics and effects
- Motion graphics
- Universal scene description (USD)
- 3D shading and rendering
- Pipeline integration
- Free trial: Available
- Monthly: $215
- Annually: $1,700
- 3 Years: $4,590
3. Cinema 4D
This tool is a pro-3D animation, simulation, modelling, and rendering software solution. Cinema 4D offers a massive range of online libraries with a number of tutorials that help novices kick-start their career in the graphic designing industry. Cinema 4D holds a shallow learning curve.
Irrespective of your skills, this 3D tool is perfect for professional 3D designers as well as beginners. This is because it is highly recognised as one of the top accessible and approachable 3D packages to use and learn. Due to its vast pool of features, Cinema 4D is used in a number of industries.
Bonus fact: There is a range of films that are modelled in Cinema 4D. To name a few, they are King Arthur, The Golden Compass, Beowulf, Inception, etc.
Some of the prominent features of this tool include:
- Adobe Illustrator
- Supported file formats
- Polygonal modelling
- Network rendering
- Volume modelling
- Rendering system
- Monthly: $94.00
- Yearly: $718.92
This is another flexible and robust 3D animation, modelling, and rendering software that enables designers to develop and dive into the ideas without the need to jump through technical hoops.
Irrespective of what you wish to create, captivating product designs, video content, graphic designs, or film, Modo allows you to generate all the designs at ease. All thanks to the user-friendly tools and features that come with it.
Looking at the other side, Modo might seem to be a little more pricey than the rest of the 3D design tools featured in this guide; the package that Modo offers is unbeatable. It includes sophisticated tools for fantastic animation rendering, rigging, and modelling in a single workflow. All in all, this tool holds a robust selection of features. Designers choose this tool to allow fast direct modelling.
Bonus: The Modo tool is popularly known as one of the fastest modelling toolsets in the industry because it supports almost every industry format such as OpenVDB, OpenSubdiv, Alembic, OpenColorIO, and OpenEXR.
Some of the best features of this tool include:
- Easy controls
- Template library
- Free Trial: Available
- Modo Perpetual: $1,909 (permanent license with one-year maintenance)
- Modo Maintenance: $440/year
- Modo Subscription: $65/month
Residing in the industry for quite a long time now, SketchUp has been the top choice of professionals right from its inception in 1999. SketchUp is a brilliant 3D graphic design computer program that offers a massive range of drawing applications. To name a few, SketchUp covers interior design, film and video game design, architectural design, civil and mechanical engineering design.
Generally, this design tool is implemented in construction work, and most mechanical engineers and civil engineers opt for this tool to generate machine and building designs. Alongside, adopting this software tool will help you collaborate with your team skillfully and design delightfully.
- For Personal
SketchUp Free: $0
SketchUp Shop: $119/year
SketchUp Pro: $299/year
- For Professional
SketchUp Pro: $299/year
SketchUp Studio: $699/year
- Higher Education
For Students: $55/year
For Educators: $55/year
Also Read: 3D Animation Advantages and Disadvantages
6. Lightwave 3D
This 3D design tool offers a smooth and fast rendering, brilliant modelling workflow, and no colossal hardware. LightWave 3D is one of the promising and leading 3D systems available in the market today. Ideally, this tool is designed for freelance graphic designers and independent artists that wish to work by themselves, and they can create designs for multiple clients or use the tool to complete their projects.
LightWave is an affordable and versatile 3D design package that helps in imagery and photo-real animation. It is easy to learn and easy to use. LightWave functions as two applications:
- Modeller: To build assets
- Layout: Perfect for texturing, rendering, lighting, and animation
LightWave can generally be used for every purpose. Right from motion graphics to architectural Visualisation, LightWave is your answer.
Bonus: Back in 2019, LightWave introduced a new feature known as the ‘Unreal Bridge’ that connects LightWave to the Unreal Engine (video game engine)
- Free Trial: Available for 30 days
- Lightwave 3D: $995 with annual upgrades available at an extra fee
ZBrush is a software and graphic designing tool for designers that prefer detailing their work precisely. ZBrush is your go-to tool for all designers seeking an inexpensive platform. It combines texturing 3D modelling and painting. Ideally, this tool is used to build high-resolution models required in animations, movies, and games.
Bonus: ZBrush holds an industry standard to create hyper-realistic models, and it is a leading staple in VPX on both television and movies.
If you deal in a company that offers services in the movie and gaming industry, you can choose ZBrush. This is because it offers tons of features that help you provide the best services to customers and clients. When you choose ZBrush, you will get the support of those tools that gaming studios adopt, game developers, toymakers, architects, design, etc. Another brilliant feature of this tool is its phenomenal time-saving quality!
- Free Trial: Available
- Monthly: $39.95
- Biannual: $179.95
- Perpetual: $895 (Lifetime Subscription)
8. Fusion 360
As the name suggests, Fusion 360 is a cloud-based CAM/CAD tool used for collaborative product development. This tool has various user cases, including graphic designers, machinists, mechanical engineers, Collaborators, industrial designers, electronics engineers, etc.
In simple terms, this tool brings engineering, designing, PCB design, and manufacturing, all under a single roof. Fusion 360 enables designers to rapidly deliver top-notch products in the market, thus positively impacting your service.
Graphic designers have several tasks that need to be executed. Adopting this tool helps them complete those tasks as easy as pie. If you are a graphic designer and are wondering how can you use 360, here’s a list of purposes that you can use it for
- Data management
- 3D designing and modeling
- Generative Design
- Fusion 360 Extensions
- Additive Manufacturing
Fusion 360 holds enormous features that can be used to serve different purposes. It helps to push your ideas, cuts down on the disconnections with engineering teams, and turns ideas into profit-based products with efficient solutions.
- Free Trial: For individuals who are doing home-based, non-commercial designs.
- Monthly: $60
- Yearly: $495
9. Blender (Free)
This tool is an open-source 3D designing tool that is free to use, and it tags a wide range of features with it. Generally, a lot of graphic designers begin their journey with this software.
Back in time, Blender was considered as a primary alternative for professionals. However, today, this tool provides an intuitive user interface with an excellent feature set for the whole 3D pipeline. The program runs on all the chief operating systems besides offering you the tools required in modelling software. To name a few, such tools include sculpting, animation, texturing, rigging, etc.
Blender is a genuinely prevalent tool, and it comes with a third-party plug-in as well (VRay). Users can easily find tutorials, videos, and reviews on Blender with an easy learning curve and straightforward interface.
Some of the outstanding features that Blender offers include:
- Animation and Rigging
- Video Editing
- If you are a novice and lack the resources to purchase any other tool/software, Blender is your saviour.
- Free To Use
Revit Software is designed to help graphic designers build, design, and maintain brilliant quality games, buildings, and other graphic designs. With this tool, you can start 3D modelling with precision and accuracy. This design tool takes care of your schedule and manages all the repetitive tasks with automation so that you can focus on productive and higher-value work.
- Monthly: $320 USD
- Yearly: $2,545 USD
- Best Value: $6,870/paid every three years
Coming to an end, let’s take a reality check. If you genuinely have a thing for Graphic design, are already a graphic designer, or wish to step into the world of graphic designing, now is the time to explore through the available 3D design tool options.
Needless to say, if we speak about beginners, the high number of job opportunities and demand for designers foresees brilliant career opportunities for all aspiring graphic designers. As a student, you must take utmost advantage of this demand and mould yourself to fit with current industry standards.
To sum up, each of the tools listed in this guide has a unique set of features. To filter the best out of them, you need to assess your demands and requirements before choosing your tools. This is because software is a crucial part of graphic designing. Once selected, it is arduous to keep switching it frequently. In the worst cases, if you choose a wrong tool that does not compliment your work, know that your workflow is about to get significantly hindered. That said, this was a guide that states the 10 Best 3D Design Tools for Graphic design students. Ensure going through the features of each tool carefully before sealing your decision!