Free 3-D graphics software

Where can I find it?

I have been making a few personal plug ins for the Original Escape Velocity for a while now, and I am now getting ready to buy Escape Velocity Nova. Is there a piece of free 3-D modeling software somewhere out there that can be used to make decent ships? I'm not too concerned with making things like 3-D movies (although that may be something I might want to do someday for a Nova plug). At the momment, I am just concerned with ease of use (I'm a novice), compatability (G4 Powerbook, 1 Ghz, Mac OS 10.2.8), appearance (I don't want a program that can't make decent shadows and/or textures), and price (free or less than $40 US).

Any of you out there have any ideas?

Did you try searching? This question has been asked many times. The answers you'll get are mostly Wings3D and Blender, but there are probably other suggestions too. Since you're on a Mac, you can use Mechanisto as well. Try the Just Graphics board.

You could also try demo versions of the high end software. Sometimes they make one of the demo's drawbacks the maximum rendering resolution, but since none of the images needed for Nova are very large, you should be fine.

Here, next tiem just search it up on board or google. You'll find what you want...ususally. :laugh:


POV-Ray (free), Wings 3D (free), Blender (free), Modo ($895), Alias Maya 5.0 Personal Learning Edition (free - not full featured w/ watermarks), Softimage XSI Experience ($19.95 - not full featured w/ less obtrusive watermarks than PLE), Animation Master ($299), Zbrush ($399), Eovia Carrara Studio 3 ($399), Maxon Cinema 4D 9 ($595), Strata 3DPro 3.9 ($695), Eovia Amapi 7 Pro ($799), Rhinoceros 3.0 ($895), Houdini 6.x ($1299-$17000), Softimage 3D 4.0 ($1495), Newtek Lightwave 3D 8.1 ($1595), Softimage XSI (no price quoted, but probably more expensive than Lightwave), Alias Maya Complete 6.0 ($1999), Discreet 3D Studio Max 7 ($3055), Alias Maya Unlimited 6.0 ($6999)

My advice is to start with Wings, Blender, Mechanisto, or basically anything free, and work with it until you figure out that you aren't getting the results that you want with it. For instance, if you want to make a complex shape that you simply can't make with the free programs. It's at this point that you want to move on to a more expensive program. The "Big Four" programs are Maya, 3DSMax, Softimage, and Lightwave. If you plan on going into a graphics career in the gaming industry, then 3DSMax is your best bet, because it's probably the most prevalent program (Halflife 2, UT2K4, etc.). Maya, Soft, and Lightwave are more widespread in the movie industry. Strata and Carrara are still good, but basically choose a program that fits your modeling style, etc. It'll be a bit easier to choose which expensive program you want to invest in when you have the experience to know what you want from the program. Pretty much all of these programs are available for all platforms except for (to the best of my knowledge) Houdini, Softimage, Rhinoceros, and 3DSMax, which are not available for the Macintosh.

Maya, Max, Soft, and Lightwave (maybe Strata, but I'm not sure) can be bought at significantly reduced student prices from sites like

Thanks, guys.

I'd give Wings ago first, if I were you 🙂

I agree with tycho, wings is a good starter program as it is easy to use and free. A couple of tutorials will get you up and running fairly quickly. 🙂

Except for that menu bug... 😞

If you ever decided to move onto a more substantial 3D application, Cinema 4D is excellent. Cinema 4D just won the "best 3D software" award from MacWorld.

C4D is, in my opinion, the easiest 3D software to use and actually make something good. Plus, there are a fair number of users here.

See my sig for The C4D forums and a great place for tutorials.


Log in to reply