If you are in need of the best free 3D modeling software, you have come to the right place. We have reviewed some of the best 3d modeling software you can find on the market, so you don’t have to. Here is our top pick:
If there is any free software that comes close to competing with paid tools, it is Blender. It has one of the most comprehensive feature sets, including sculpting, animation, and rendering tools, making it suitable for a wide range of creative projects.
In addition, it is always under constant development thanks to its open-source nature, and with an active and passionate user community coupled with extensive online resources, it is suitable for artists of all experience levels.
- Free and open-source
- Plenty of advanced tools
- Takes time to master
In today’s digital age, 3D modeling has become an essential tool for artists, designers, engineers, and hobbyists alike. Whether you’re creating stunning visual effects, prototyping products, or simply indulging your creative side, finding the right 3D modeling software can make all the difference.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a pretty penny to get your hands on quality 3D modeling software. In this article, we’ll explore the best free 3D modeling software options, highlighting their features, capabilities, and suitability for various needs.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your 3D modeling journey, our aim is to help you discover the perfect software to bring your ideas to life without breaking the bank.
If you would like to invest in paid software instead, make sure to check out our other articles, such as the best 3D rendering software, the best home design software, the best animation software, and the best interior design software.
You will also need a device that can keep up with your daily work, so make sure to read about the best laptops for 3D modeling and rendering.
10 Best FREE 3D Modeling Software 2023 – Overview
- Blender — The best free 3D modeling software overall (Editor’s Choice)
- Autodesk Maya — The best free 3D modeling software for professionals
- SketchUp — The best free 3D modeling software for architecture
- Fusion 360 — The best free 3D modeling software for 3D printing enthusiasts
- Tinkercad — The best free 3D modeling software for beginners
- Meshmixer — The best free 3D modeling software for optimizing 3D models
- Vectary — The most easy to use free 3D modeling software
- Wings3D — The best free 3D mesh modeler
- BlocksCAD — The best free OpenSCAD 3D modeling software
- SculptGL — The best free 3D modeling software for sculpting
What is 3D Modeling Software?
3D modeling software is a powerful tool used in various industries to create 3D representations of objects, environments, characters, and more. These digital models can be used for a wide range of purposes, from visualizing architectural designs and engineering prototypes to creating stunning visual effects in movies and video games.
Why Use 3D Modeling Software
3D modeling software is used to create an accurate and real-life representation of what a design could look like before it hits production. For example: building a model of a house before it is actually built, creating a product design to test feasibility, or just using it to create virtual models for games.
Detailed Reviews of the 10 Best FREE 3D Modeling Software
1. Blender (Editor’s Choice)
The best free 3D modeling software overall
Blender is often the first introduction to 3D artists looking to learn the ropes of 3D modeling. It’s not just another tool; it’s a Swiss Army knife of 3D software that supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline, from modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, and compositing to motion tracking and video editing.
What separates Blender from other 3D modeling software is not just that it is free but also its versatility. With capabilities that rival even paid counterparts, Blender enables creatives to craft full-length animated films such as Next Gen that grace platforms like Netflix.
The wealth of 3D modeling methods offer is staggering, ensuring that your creative vision can manifest with unparalleled precision. However, this formidable power comes with a learning curve that may seem daunting to newcomers. Yet, fear not, for Blender’s thriving community provides a safety net of resources and tutorials, making it accessible to all, regardless of whether you have experience or not.
It also allows you to seamlessly import and export videos in various formats, from MPEG to QuickTime and AVI, and its array of keyboard shortcuts streamlines the creative process, ensuring that your ideas flow effortlessly from your mind to the screen.
In addition, Blender’s arsenal of industry-standard animation tools, such as a path tracer for realistic rendering, real-time previews of 3D scenes, and the ability to transform, sculpt, and edit models with finesse, simplifies the design process to a breathtaking degree.
Blender is open-source, so it receives consistent community updates. It is also cross-platform, running equally well on Linux, Windows, and Mac.
To summarize, if you seek software that combines advanced features with versatility, and an enthusiastic community, Blender is the best free 3D modeling software that you can find.
|➕Free and open-source||➖Steep learning curve|
|➕End-to-end 3D solution||➖Requires decent hardware|
|➕Large user community|
The best free 3D modeling software for professionals
If you have worked in the field of design, you will have at least heard about Autodesk at some point in your career. Autodesk is responsible for making some of the greatest software in design and visualization fields, and Maya is no exception.
Considered the industry standard for 3D modeling, especially for videos and animated films, it is the go-to software for many 3D artists today.
This software, known for its versatility, caters to various creative needs, from game design and 3D modeling to animation and VFX in blockbuster franchises such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. Maya’s extensive capabilities encompass animation, modeling, sculpting, simulation, and rendering, making it an indispensable tool for professionals and hobbyists.
Maya’s complexity can be intimidating, but mastering its robust toolset also serves as a foundation for working with other 3D graphics software. Autodesk also offers a free version through a student Autodesk account, but without it, Maya comes with a price tag of around $230 per month, $1,800 annually, or $5,100 for a 3-year license. They do offer a free trial though.
All in all, while it’s paid software with a steep learning curve, its extensive feature set more than compensates for the initial challenge. If you want to churn out professional quality results that will impress you, Autodesk Maya is one of the best options available.
|➕Industry-standard software||➖Suitable for advanced 3D modelers|
|➕Offers scripting and customization||➖Pricey plans|
|➕Free for students|
|➕Works seamlessly with other Autodesk products|
The best free 3D modeling software for architecture
SketchUp is hands down the best free 3D modeling software for architecture, and we’ve personally put it through its paces. What sets it apart is its intuitive direct modeling approach. You start with a 2D sketch and then extrude it into the third dimension.
It might sound simplistic, but SketchUp’s power lies in its simplicity, making it accessible for beginners while maintaining the depth for professionals.
It offers a streamlined selection of design tools with a user-friendly interface. Plus, a helpful integrated instructor will guide you through the process. And let’s not forget the SketchUp Warehouse, a treasure trove of pre-existing models to jumpstart your designs.
For those eyeing the advanced programs, starting with SketchUp Free is a smart move. You’ll be well-versed in the software’s core tools and interface. Plus, it generously offers 10GB of cloud storage with no strings attached.
If you’re a beginner looking to hone your 3D modeling skills, you can find plenty of tutorials on SketchUp Campus or across various YouTube channels and blogs.
SketchUp doesn’t just stop at free versions; it scales up with SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Makeup for those who crave more power. Its compatibility across multiple operating systems makes file-sharing a breeze, ensuring seamless collaboration with clients and peers.
Lastly, SketchUp is also quite versatile. You can customize your 3D workspace, collaborate effortlessly with others, easily manage layers, and craft stunning lighting effects. The support for numerous plugins further extends its functionality, allowing you to tailor the software to your specific needs.
In summary, SketchUp is a 3D modeling juggernaut that offers an excellent free version, SketchUp Free, ideal for beginners looking to explore 3D modeling in a user-friendly environment. With its accessible interface, ample tutorials, and cloud storage, it’s a great alternative to paid software if you are an architect.
|➕Easy to use and web-based||➖Limited features in the free plan|
|➕Excellent for both exterior and interior design||➖Not the best option for complex models|
|➕Useful lighting effects|
|➕Free plan includes 10GB of cloud storage|
4. Fusion 360
The best free 3D modeling software for 3D printing enthusiasts
If you are a 3D printing enthusiast, you will love Fusion 360. Having personally explored its capabilities with growing fascination, we are convinced of its unmatched prowess, particularly for 3D printing enthusiasts.
Beyond 3D modeling, the list of features in Fusion 360 is extensive and covers everything from sketching tools to rapid prototyping, sheet metal design, generative design, PCB engineering, and more. And with its cloud collaboration capabilities, photo-realistic rendering, and advanced simulation, Fusion 360 has become a comprehensive solution for professionals across industries.
Fusion 360 also boasts a user-friendly interface. It strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and functionality, ensuring a clutter-free workspace where essential tools and commands are easily accessible. This intuitive design also minimizes the learning curve.
It is still paid software, just like other tools by Autodesk, but if you’re a student, educator, or a budding manufacturing startup, Fusion 360 accommodates your needs with its free licenses, making it accessible for educational purposes and small businesses alike.
All things considered, Fusion 360 is not just a 3D modeling software; it’s a versatile toolkit that empowers creators to bring their ideas to life with precision and efficiency.
|➕Extensive set of tools||➖Aimed at those with experience|
|➕Free license available for students, educators, and small businesses||➖Requires a subscription for professional users|
|➕Seamless integration with CAM and simulation tools|
The best free 3D modeling software for beginners
Tinkercad, in our review, emerged as the best 3D modeling software for beginners, and here’s why it’s an absolute gem in the world of digital design. It boasts a simple, vibrant interface that welcomes newcomers with open arms. You don’t need to be a CAD expert to dive in, and it’s a browser-based tool, making it accessible virtually anywhere.
With over 50 million designers using Tinkercad, it’s clear that this software has won the hearts of many. It introduces you to the world of 3D modeling through the intuitive drag-and-drop method, employing shapes like cubes and spheres.
You can effortlessly manipulate, rotate, scale, and even create intricate 3D models through shape grouping. The in-built shortcuts are an additional bonus.
Another big advantage of Tinkercad is its educational resources. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by other CAD interfaces, Tinkercad’s learning page is your sanctuary. It offers step-by-step lessons for every aspect, making it ideal for children and beginners.
Whether you’re taking baby steps or diving into more complex projects, Tinkercad’s tutorials and projects section will guide you every step of the way.
Tinkercad also goes beyond traditional 3D modeling; it offers the ability to design, program, and simulate electronic assemblies. The inclusion of Codeblocks, a feature using code to create 3D objects with OpenSCAD, makes it an incredibly versatile tool. While it lacks advanced tools, it has everything you need to get started as a beginner.
In essence, Tinkercad is tailor-made for entry-level students and individuals with zero prior experience in 3D modeling. It’s the gateway to a world of creativity, and its gentle learning curve, coupled with abundant reference materials, ensures that anyone can confidently embark on their 3D design journey.
|➕User-friendly interface||➖Lacks advanced features|
The best free 3D modeling software for optimizing 3D models
Meshmixer is a software that is well known for its ability to optimize existing 3D models. It showcases its versatility by effortlessly allowing users to manipulate, combine, repair, and optimize 3D models.
While it may possess a slightly steeper learning curve compared to beginner-friendly alternatives, Autodesk has thoughtfully provided a comprehensive manual to bridge the knowledge gap.
One of Meshmixer’s strengths lies in its tailored support for 3D printing. Not only can you design and mend 3D models within the program, but it also boasts the capability to add support structures, orient models for optimal printing, and utilize a range of unique optimization tools to prepare your designs for physical realization. And with its simple drag-and-drop system, it is incredibly effortless to use.
This singular focus on 3D printing optimization distinguishes Meshmixer as a tool that comprehensively caters to the needs of the maker community.
The only caveat is its age and lack of recent updates, but Meshmixer still remains a reliable companion. Its compatibility with Windows and third-party sources for macOS ensures accessibility for a broad user base.
|➕Perfect for 3D printers with its full suite of tools||➖Slightly outdated|
The most easy to use free 3D modeling software
Vectary is a browser-based 3D modeling software that claims to be the “easiest online 3D and AR design tool”, and we find it hard to disagree. Vectary’s commitment to simplicity without sacrificing functionality is remarkable.
It caters to graphic, product, and game design professionals, but anyone with a basic understanding of design concepts can also use it.
Its intuitive user interface streamlines the 3D modeling process, and its feature-rich offering includes high-quality templates, drag-and-drop 3D model placement, and various fully textured materials.
Vectary supports more than 60 file formats, including OBJ, STL, JPG, PNG, FBX, SVG, DXF, STEP, and IGES, simplifying the 3D modeling process even more. Furthermore, Vectary even empowers you to enhance your designs with AR technology, which is steadily growing in popularity.
For ease of use, it even incorporates smart shortcuts for efficiency and photorealistic rendering with a single click. Collaboration is made easy, and you can print your designs on a 3D printer, all within this user-friendly platform.
While this feature is locked behind a $15 monthly subscription, the free “Starter” tier remains a powerful option, albeit with some project limitations.
Overall, whether you’re a 3D modeling novice or an experienced designer seeking a tool for creating stunning presentations, Vectary delivers.
Its intuitive interface, compatibility with design platforms like Figma, and support for a multitude of file formats make it a standout choice. You can start from scratch or leverage the extensive 3D asset library.
|➕Incredibly easy to use||➖Extra features require a subscription|
|➕Allows real-time collaboration|
|➕ Large library of 3D assets|
|➕ Compatible with a wide range of file formats and platforms|
The best free 3D mesh modeler
If you’ve been looking for a mesh modeler, consider Wings3D. It’s an open-source subdivision modeler that looks and feels like a sculpting program, but it is different in the sense that it shows users the “mesh” that makes up a CAD object.
Wings3D has a simple interface with a right-click menu that displays only the commands relevant to your current selection. It’s like having a digital mentor guiding your every move. Hover over a command, and a brief description pops up to help beginners work on their models. With Wings3D, you can create models for 3D printing and export them in STL or OBJ formats.
However, what we love most about Wings3D is its AutoUV feature. It allows you to map images and textures onto your 3D creations seamlessly. It has other advanced features, which is a surprise for free software, but there are limitations; it won’t handle rendering or animation, but for 3D printing and modeling, it’s a reliable choice.
Now, let’s talk about the community. Wings 3D has been around since 2001, and its community has grown into a thriving ecosystem since then, so you will find a ton of tutorials to help you with your projects. So, if you’re ready to spread your creative wings, give Wings 3D a try; it might just be what you are looking for.
|➕Excels in mesh editing and sculpting||➖Limited features|
|➕ Easy to use|
The best free OpenSCAD 3D modeling software
BlocksCAD was initially crafted to nurture young minds in the art of 3D modeling while imparting valuable coding skills. It is where mathematics, logic, and creativity converge seamlessly, making it an invaluable resource for students and those eager to delve into the world of OpenSCAD scripting.
BlocksCAD’s primary focus is on education, but it doesn’t skimp on functionality. You can render 3D models on the fly for inspection, laying the groundwork for precise and controlled design.
However, it’s worth noting that saving your creations as STL files isn’t a direct option. Instead, you save the colorful BlocksCAD script, which you can later import into OpenSCAD to access various file formats for 3D printing.
Another disadvantage is that in terms of tutorials and community support, BlocksCAD doesn’t have an extensive library. But if you still seek a beginner-friendly path to precision-driven 3D modeling, BlocksCAD is still a solid option, especially if you are an educator.
|➕Excellent choice for students and educators||➖Designed primarily for educational purposes|
|➕Block-based programming||➖Does not have many tutorials|
|➕Easy to use even for kids|
The best free 3D modeling software for sculpting
SculptGL is an open-source, browser-based sculpting program that provides a basic yet accessible platform for those curious about the art of 3D sculpting.
Upon launching, SculptGL offers a digital lump of clay, ready to be molded with essential tools for sculpting, including brushes. While it lacks the bells and whistles of more advanced software, SculptGL excels in simplicity and ease of use.
If your artistic ambitions extend beyond the basics, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Still, SculptGL serves as an excellent starting point for those wanting to dip their toes into the world of 3D sculpting without commitment.
SculptGL’s online and offline versions offer identical functionality, ensuring accessibility regardless of your internet connection. Additionally, if you prefer to sculpt with a pen tablet, the creator has developed Nomad Sculpt for iOS and Android users, with the latter enjoying free access while iOS enthusiasts must shell out $14.99.
All in all, SculptGL shines as a free and open-source 3D modeling software. Its user-friendly interface, coupled with the ease of finding and utilizing its tools, ensures a seamless sculpting experience.
While it may lack advanced features and comprehensive tutorials, SculptGL serves as an ideal platform for experimental sculpting and quick practice sessions, all for free.
|➕Simple UI||➖Only useful for sculpting|
|➕Also available on Android on iOS|
How to Choose the Best Free 3D Modeling Software – Key Features
First and foremost before selecting a 3D modeling software, you need to consider which platform you will be using it on. Is your laptop running Windows or macOS, or do you plan to use the software on your phone or tablet like SculptGL.
Before selecting the best 3D modeling software, it’s crucial to identify your specific use case. Different software tools are better suited for various applications. Here are some common use cases: Fusion 360 for product design, Blender for game development, and SketchUp Free for architectural visualization.
To run 3D modeling software efficiently and keep rendering times as low as possible, you will need a device with powerful hardware. Consider our selection of the best laptops for 3D modeling and rendering to find the best ones and our buying guide on what makes a laptop great for 3D modeling.
The learning curve of 3D modeling software can vary significantly. Consider your experience level and willingness to invest time in learning the software when making your choice. For example, programs like Tinkercad, Vectary, and SketchUp Free are more suited for beginners, whereas those at an intermediate or advanced level might prefer using software like Blender.
Final Thoughts: Choosing the Ideal 3D Modeling Software
Finding the best free 3D modeling software begins with a clear understanding of your unique needs and objectives. Whether you’re a hobbyist, a professional in product design, game development, architectural visualization, or an artist, there is a free 3D modeling tool out there for everyone.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the right 3D modeling software, and we hope that our selection of the best ones has helped you make a decision.