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How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 6th, 2014, 2:05 am
by InvertedVantage
Hey everyone. So I've been doing a lot of stuff lately in the education space IRL, and I see this all the time online as well - people want to know what software they should use to make a 3D printable model, or prototype, or game model - whatever.

Usually the answer they get is "use X or Y package", because the actual answer is really in depth and requires the user to have a larger understanding of the mechanisms behind creating 3D geometry than just what tools to use.

To address this, I wrote this article as something to help both newbies getting into the world of 3d modeling, and for professionals looking to learn more about other modeling techniques that they might not encounter in their day to day.

I hope people find it at least as informative and fun to read as I found it to write!

Here's the link!

Image

EDIT: Based on feedback from around the net, several updates have been added, with details about the sculpting process and different sculpting packages.

There's also an article that explains polygons and 3D printing, that should be read before this one. Some people have expressed confusion at terms used in this article that were explained in the previous one, so here it is.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 8th, 2014, 4:18 pm
by hatts
Nice overview. The only critique I'd lend is that the software section gets a bit anecdotal. I know you state that they're only your thoughts on software, but to an impressionable young mind you might be making overly bold claims in some cases.

My nitpicks:
- 3DSMax is indeed old but it's far from deprecated. Close to 100% of the architects I know use 3DS in their workplaces, including people at RMA, BIG, et al.
- Maybe add that Alias is extremely popular in transport design
- Since you touch on 3D printing in the post, might as well mention MeshLab and netfabb for their mesh cleanup and repair tools, since that is inevitably a part of producing physical objects from polygonal data

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 8th, 2014, 7:23 pm
by InvertedVantage
Hey hatts, thanks for the feedback. I've changed the description of 3DS Max to be more fair and less dismissive.

Good point about Alias.

I'll also mention MeshLab and netfabb, which is a great point as well.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 10th, 2014, 12:04 am
by InvertedVantage

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 10th, 2014, 7:53 am
by skyarrow
Strictly speaking from my own experience in the POP (Point of Purchase) industry, two programs that I think warrant at least a mention are:

- FormZ
- Strata 3D

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 10th, 2014, 9:28 am
by Playdo
Industrial Designers can tackle problems as diverse as how an aircraft cockpit looks and feels, to how the touchscreen interface works on their phone.

The look, feel, and interface of your latest smartphone are all part of the industrial designer’s responsibility
That's a UI/UX Designer's job.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 10th, 2014, 1:08 pm
by InvertedVantage
I disagree Playdo. From my personal experience, having an industrial design background added to my already existing UI/UX designer background. I found both to be complimentary in many respects. My graphic design background also helps me to lay out both interfaces and graphics on industrial design products. I see them all as very interlinked.

skyarrow; I have no experience in the POP industry. I will be writing several articles. The ones I already have planned are modeling for video games, computer graphic animations, and 3D Printing. I would like to collaborate with an engineer on writing an article about modeling for engineering. Do you think POP would merit its own article?

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 10th, 2014, 1:38 pm
by skyarrow
InvertedVantage-

I don't know that POP warrants it's own article, I just wanted to mention those other two programs as I've run into both of them multiple times at multiple companies. I myself have an ID background as do many of the POP designers I've worked with in my career - POP is more of an often overlooked little corner of the general industrial design profession.

Both FormZ and Strata have fairly low price points and have some pretty powerful features that should be useful to just about anybody looking to get into 3D Modelling / Rendering. Obviously not the biggest names out there, but certainly worth a look (and I think more widely used than some of the other software that did make it to the list).

I like the idea behind what you're doing here - with so many choices on the market it can be daunting to try and pick one to jump in with.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 11th, 2014, 12:09 pm
by Playdo
By interface, you're referring to the user interface of the software, right?

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 11th, 2014, 7:43 pm
by Monkee
It is strange many of you are missing the big boys 3D CAD packages. They are much more powerful and is used by many product development companies. I am talking about Creo, Catia, Siemens NX.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 12th, 2014, 9:13 am
by InvertedVantage
@Playdo: Yes - do you feel that the the industrial designer's job on the iPhone ended with the physical form alone?

@Monkeey: I have no experience with those packages, and they're all engineering grade packages from what I understand. I've been thinking of doing a separate article on modeling for engineering, I might put it there.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 12th, 2014, 1:01 pm
by Playdo
You're saying that UI/UX design is an Industrial Designer's responsibility. It isn't. It's a UI/UX Designer's role. In cases where an IDer is involved in it, as per the case with Jony Ive running Apple's software team (which I presume you're referring to), he is acting as a UI/UX Designer. Alongside a bunch of UI/UX Designers and developers.

You wouldn't search for UI/UX Designer jobs under 'Industrial Designer'. And it would be hard to find any UI/UX Designer jobs advertising for Industrial Designers. Although there are similarities between the two fields, there are also big differences in requirements.

You're getting mixed up with what an Industrial Designer may be capable of, and may occasionally be involved with, with what the job titles actually mean.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 12th, 2014, 1:10 pm
by Cyberdemon
Probably getting off topic, but while some UI/UX designers have come from ID backgrounds, they are typically different jobs held by different people. Even though ID may work with the UI/UX teams, it's similar to saying ID is not ME. Even though we may dabble and some of us may design enclosures full time, they are generally different people.

We have an ID team and a UX team, and while many of our UX members come from ID backgrounds (Especially when you are working with hardware) they have a dedicated skill set that is different from ID.

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 12th, 2014, 1:57 pm
by InvertedVantage
Playdo;

I went to school for both UX and ID. I understand that they're separate fields and the requirments of each. All I'm saying is that there's a lot of crossover, where it was my impression that you were/are saying they're totally exclusive - but it sounds like this maybe isn't the case?

Cyberdemon:

Yea I get that. :)

Re: How to Choose the Best 3D Software for You

Posted: September 12th, 2014, 2:55 pm
by Playdo
InvertedVantage, you wrote that the Industrial Designer is responsible for the look and feel of the smartphone, and for its UI. I just pointed out that that is not entirely correct, in case you wanted to correct your article.

It's cool that you're creating these resources. You're covering several fields, so it's not easy to get everything spot on - But don't be to blame for those kids turning up at ID school wanting to design the next iOS ;)