What 3D software to use

I was just wondering if anyone can suggest a modelling program I could learn?
I learnt Rhino in university in 2003 but haven’t used it since and I took one course in Alias but couldn’t get my head around it.
I don’t want to learn something that isn’t used by employers, and I’m not sure how widely used Rhino is at the moment.
Should try Alias again or try solidworks or re-learn Rhino or something else?
Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated.


Hey K,

I literally just finished a blog post about this … the short answer, in my mind, is that it depends. I hope the blog post helps clarify and create criteria for you.


use what your client uses.

If it helps, I can tell you the software penetration (not just for design, but all CAD) in Belgium:

  • Specific design software is almost non-existent, so don’t hope on finding a lot of jobs for Rhino or Alias down here.
  • Vanilla AutoCAD is still a stupendously huge force, with perhaps more job offerings than all other 3D software put together, it’s like the Jupiter of our “CAD solar system”.
  • MCAD software does have some penetration, most companies are using Inventor because it flies best with AutoCAD, not because it’s good or anything :wink:
  • Entertainment packages like 3ds Max or Maya also have near nill penetration. Of course Belgium isn’t exactly Hollywood either.
  • BIM tools like Revit or ArchiCAD have absolutely disgustingly low job opportunities, despite the fact we do build a lot of buildings.

So at the end of the day, at least down here in central Europe, I’d say force yourself to know a little vanilla AutoCAD and stick with an MCAD tool like Inventor, Solidworks or Pro/Engineer.

Good advice. Also look at job descriptions from employers.

Learning higher-end CAD should help you get you higher-end jobs (and what you learn should trickle down.) Learning lower-end CAD should help you get more jobs.

So if you’ve got time on your hands, I’d be learning the higher end stuff. Take advantage of their learning editions. It wasn’t long ago that you needed $60,000 to even play with stuff like Alias–today you can try it on your home computer for nothing.