Tag Archive for: 3D Software

My 3D Software Biography

I’ve decided to write my own 3D software biography having watched Entagma’s nerd rant on their software biography. It’s interesting, at least to me, that there are many interesting ways of entry into this beautiful world of 3D computer graphics. I’ll also leave my opinions and impressions of the software based on what I last used, tested or researched on them. You’re most welcome to disagree with my opinions and impressions and I’m interested to hear your point of view. Likely, the differences in opinion will stem from the fact that we use the software for different purposes. Still, happy to hear from you!

SoftwareTypeFirst UsedLast UsedOpinions and Last impressions
TrueSpaceFull DCC20032004My first 3D software, it had a raytracer and floating shelfs. It was cool.
Swift3DModelling20042005A very friendly looking 3D software I used to get 3D designs into Flash and onto websites. Did I just mention Flash? That’s probably indicative of how irrelevant this software is
LightWave 3DFull DCC20052005It was good while it lasted, had some nice modelling workflows.
Rhinoceros 3DModelling20052005Did some modelling in there once to realise that the whole software was meant more for actual production/fabrication modelling than for design/animation purposes.
Mental RayRenderer20052016Produces photo-realistic results had quite a messing shading module, but it works.
3ds MaxFull DCC20072009Great for architechtural visualization but I suspect it’s largely due to the legacy library of presets and materials built over the years
Wings 3DModelling20072007A free poly-modelling toolkit that looked promising back in day, but there’s Blender now, so…
MayaFull DCC20082021The go-to for character animation but the development of new tools is slow and often disjointed
ZbrushModelling20082021The go-to for sculpting, not so great for hard-surface stuff, people keep complaining about its strange navigation from other 3D softwares and I agree, but I’ve also developed the intuition for it in 2 weeks so it’s not that big of a deal
MudboxModelling20092015A Zbrush with less strange navigation, but didn’t have Dynamesh or powerful retopologizing tools so it lost the race to Zbrush, but got shoved into Maya as a sculpting module. Great move.
MotionbuilderMotion Capture20092009Used it for optical motion capture and clean up, but now we use inertia based mocap and the clean up module is somewhat half implemented directly into Maya, so it’s not so relevant as of 2021
ModoModelling20102010Used to be extremely hyped for it’s modelling prowess, can’t say the same now
SketchUpModelling20112011It was not very flexible or intuitive, but then again, I last used it in 2011
NukeCompositing20132021The go-to for compositing, I just wish it’s more affordable
SoftimageFull DCC20152016It was very similar to Maya, except slightly more powerful, slightly less popular, so I can understand why it was acquired and killed
Cinema 4DFull DCC20172017The go-to for 3D motion graphics, useful for a single designer environments
ZmodellerModelling20172017When you want to poly-model hard surfaces in Zbrush. If you come from a more “traditional” software like Maya, it doesn’t offer much more than those legacy poly-modelling tools.
Arnold CPURenderer20172019Very powerful and intuitive shading module, beautiful and natural-looking details and colors, too slow for small studios / freelancers.
V-RayRenderer20172018Shading module is very similar to mental ray so I felt at home when transiting to V-Ray, except that the IPR was actually interactive. Of course, then GPU rendering came along.
FusionCompositing20182018Tried it once, not as intuitive as Nuke, but a much more cost-effective
BlenderFull DCC20182021The go-to for getting started in 3D because it’s free and capable, and the development is exciting and fun
MixamoMotion Capture20182021Superb library for motion capture clips. I have found it largely largely difficult to implement library motion clips into real-world projects because we usually need customized action and there’s still quite a bit of retime and collision fixes to make on top of library clips.
V-Ray GPURenderer20182019Very capable and decently fast renderer with nice details and colors. SSS is relatively slow, but usable.
HoudiniFull DCC20192021The go-to for VFX and procedural animation, steep learning curve for people unfamiliar with node-based workflows
Arnold GPURenderer20192021Either broken or very unstable the last I tried in early 2021. The CPU on the other hand still is beautiful.
MantraRenderer20192019Houdini’s built-in renderer. The time to first pixel can go up to a minute for a simple scene, while renderers like Redshift is a couple of seconds, so I find this renderer not very usuable in a small-studio design oriented production environment
RedshiftRenderer20192021Extremely capable and blazing fast renderer with decent details and colors. Perfect for small studios.
ResolveColoring20202021The go-to for coloring / grading
3DCoatModelling20202020Don’t know much about it except I tried their auto-retopologizing tool. Pretty good results, but Exoside’s Quadremesher results were still better
CyclesRenderer20212021Nice production renderer with speeds comparable to other paid renderers. It’s mind-blowing
EeveeRenderer20212021Nice volume lights, great for mood and concepts
Daz StudioGeneratorHaven’t used it but it looks like a character generator for fantasy / game-ish characters
SpeedtreeGeneratorThe go-to for 3D trees
ClarisseRendererLearnt of this software in mid-2021, and I find it interesting, but that’s about it. Sounds like a little Solaris of sorts which I find mildly cumbersome but I acknowledge its ability to handle large amounts of geometry efficiently.
OctaneRendererBack when I was using Mental Ray and V-Ray, Octane looked extremely tempting
RenderMan XPURendererXPU delivers identical pixels from both CPUs and GPUs, but it’s on an indefinitely release date as of mid 2021, so who knows if it’s actually practical?

Maya vs Houdini. Blender vs C4D. Which is the best 3D software?

DCC Wars

Here are some statements I hear all too often:

“Maya is the best 3D package. You cannot find any other 3D package that can do the broad spectrum of CGI work it can do for its price point”

“Cinema4D is so much easier to pick up than all the other softwares. Everybody should be using C4D”

“Houdini is the end game 3D software, don’t bother with anything else”

– passionate 3D people

Yes, I’m sure the software you use is the best 3D software…

for you! It could very well be the worst software for others!

We chose it because it fits our production/creative objectives. We then need to acknowledge that not all 3D production artists/companies do the same type of work. Some companies work on hyper realistic creatures, others work with 3D typography and simple geometric forms, while others specialize in heavy destruction VFX work.

So the question isn’t so much about which is the absolute best 3D software, but what are your 3D production/creative needs? That determines which DCC you pick!

I’ll write about my personal experience using these various softwares, and update this space!

Good luck and happy creating!