Which 3d modeling software do you use and why?

For my 3d modeling, I’ve mainly used Inventor and Rhino. I watch tutorials on how to do it and follow them.

Rhino was much easier for me to make simple “pretty” stuff so currently I like it more than Inventor. But before I decide to purchase it (been using the 90 day trial) I want to know what others think.

I’ll mainly be using it to make jewelry that I’ll cast (from prints made on the Form2) and to make some figurines and stuff. My artistic levels are pretty low so I’ve mainly just been looking at pictures, tracing them, and adding depth. With what I’m doing in Rhino seems alright, but at times it seems kind of janky, like I’m doing things wrong. All the youtube tutorials I watch on Rhino for making a 3d version of a 2d sketch seem to deal with cars or other simpler shapes. So when I run into issues on how to do something in Rhino, it seems kind of hard to find the right video that shows me how to get around the learning hurdle.

For example, I have a surface that is flat (and open) on the bottom, rounded on the top. I want to add an eye that is more recessed than the original surface. I can’t figure out how to do it yet. Reversely, adding an eyebrow that kind of sits on top of the surface was easy for me to figure out. Built the eyebrow surface and joined them and wallah! it worked.

So with things like that it makes me think that maybe there is a better tool that I should be using instead of Rhino. I"ve seen things like Zbrush but not sure if its just more of the same.

Zbrush is totally different tbh, much more free. If you want to get a taste of how it works, try sculptris (it’s free and from the same guys)


It’s really better to use sculpting software with a graphics tablet, it’s more like sketching in 3d than plotting, so just be aware of that!

1 Like

I primarily use Rhino & 3DCoat; cage deforming objects in Rhino is OK, but it isn’t (yet) sub-D modelling as such. I’ve got Clayoo, but I prefer to take the model into 3DCoat & modify it there.

Agree on the graphics tablet - even a cheap one is a massive jump in productivity.

A great pity ZBrush still doesn’t support 3D mice, but there’s plenty of other sw still in the dark ages on that - like Preform, for example.

Solidworks for everything I do from “scratch”. For modifying or enhancing scanned models I use MeshMixer, and for mesh repair I use NetFabb

Thanks for the responses. Is 3Dcoat kind of like ZBrush then?

What kind of limitations will I have if I try to stick with Rhino 3d for designing stuff to print? I might want to try to take images and turn them into 3d models to print and then paint or something.

Are there other programs that are like Rhino that I should look into before I spend the money on Rhino?

Have you looked at AutoCAD’s Fusion360? It’s free for small-scale use. I’m not a huge fan of AutoCAD, but the program seems pretty powerful for precise modeling. I take those models (or models from Moment of Inspiration) into ZBrush and then sculpt.

I had responded earlier in this thread, but recently started playing around with Fusion360.

@nrbelk, I primarily use ZBrush for modeling, but I do more organic and sculpted jewelry designs, possibly like what you’re describing. I had just snapped this picture of a couple earrings to show “cured” and “uncured” colors of castable resin (there is a little wax dust on them, not a print issue…they are very smooth). The hole for the stone is actually smaller, so it would be drilled out with a bur, but the next version will be a little different.

There is a new version of ZBrush called ZBrush Core, and I’m working on tutorials for ZBrush Core…it’s regularly $295, and as of February 2, 2017 there is a bundle with a medium Wacom tablet for $199.95…a great deal, since the full version is $795, and I actually bought that tablet alone on Amazon for $169. I’m familiar with both versions of ZBrush, and although it is missing many tools and features, it is simpler and contains enough functionality to do almost anything you might want to do. It’s like sculpting clay on the screen. The more expensive version has a hard-surface modeling feature called ZModeler that provides hard-surface, almost “parametric” modeling features. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but Pixologic has some newer videos specific to ZBrush Core on their site that are very good.

You also mentioned figurines…ZBrush is used in the real-world for modeling movie monsters, so it’s perfect for that. Additionally, you could model a figurine, then “squash” it front to back to make a flattened version for jewelry.

On the earrings below, I created a mandala in an online kaleidoscope program, then brought it into ZBrush and sculpted details. I added the custom supports for PreForm in ZBrush as well, using a feature called “ZSpheres.”

Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions.

Msged you, I think. If it worked.

Got it…switching to private messaging…check your “N” logo on the upper right to see messages. I’ll give you some examples of both here so it may benefit others.

This guy, “Alex O,” is very masterful with the hard-surface type modeling of ZBrush. Instead of starting with a “lump of clay” and sculpting, he is using distinct geometric shapes and a parametric-like modeling (without the numerical precision) to make a complex ring. However, know that this “ZModeler” feature is only available in the FULL version of ZBrush ($795). He is also using a built-in “Movie” feature of the full version of ZBrush to record time-lapse modeling…seems popular with these guys to show off their talents without doing a full tutorial. At the end he uses another program called Keyshot to get the rendering so metallic. There is a basic rendering engine in ZBrush, but if you want this level of realism you would render outside the program.

Here is another fascinating video of him making a skull ring with ZModeler…after basic hard-surface modeling, he uses something called “polygroups,” shown as different colors, around 2:30 to be able to isolate certain areas, like the frame around the parts of the face. Around 2:38 he converts the “hard-surface modeling” into a mesh that can be sculpted, and he brings in "alpha’ masks (grayscale images) to add the scrolls to the skull ring, which he “raises” around 2:58. Around 3:04 he switches to Keyshot for the beautiful rendering. So it’s a really good example of the blending of hard surface modeling (very parametric-like) and using masks to get a sculpted appearance without actually doing any sculpting. I hope this is helpful to show some of the features!