What 3D modeling software to use?

This is mainly a question to the indie developer around here. What 3D modeling software do you use to create your static meshes? Did you actually buy one of the professional editors for thousands of dollars? Are you using cracks? Or do you use something free, like Blender? I tried Blender and I find it highly unintuitive. At my university I was able to use Maya for a while, which I found much easier to use, but of course I can’t use that for commercial things.

Hi there!

I use Blender but I’m still learning it. The interface is really different from all the other 3D packages, but once you learn it it’s quite powerfull.

As I am a student I also use the educational version of Softimage XSI ( but Autodesk decided to kill it TT ).

I would also recommend you to use blender:

-easy to use (of course not when you started with 3d max or maya ^^)
-you can nearly do everything in blender that you can also do with the autodesk products

You can get Maya LT for $500 IIRC. It’s a slightly slimmed down version designed for indie devs. There’s a lot of people here who use Blender, it has the capability to do everything you need. 3DS Max has the most usable UI IMO, Maya’s is more complex but that’s mostly a result of it packing more features for stuff like serious rigging and animating.

I’m using blender for 8 years, it’s my current package for all my workflow (modelling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, Render, Composition… )

Blender is a freeware software-modeling and animation application that is great to learn for starters.

If you’re a student at a college, AutoDesk offers free, full licenses to a lot of their software - including 3DSMax and Maya - these are 3 year renewable licenses.

I use, and recommend, Blender. If you make something with the student license of Autodesk and then want to sell it, the $4K is not good.

As far as I can tell, the only things it doesn’t have that other products do are:

  1. Epic’s Rigging Tool for Maya

  2. Nvidia’s various Max/Maya plugins for effects and physx.*

(*I actually don’t know the workflow for these, I’ve never tried them. Blender might have the same functionality as well, using different methods.)

Anyone who is actually an expert at this stuff is welcome to correct me, as I’m not a graphic artist or modeler - but from my understanding Blender tends to get into trouble when working with and trying to model high-poly count models and photo-realism.

Based on what I’ve looked up - Blender, Maya, 3DSMax, Poser, etc. all have their up-sides and down-sides and many graphic artists seem to, based on my observation, use a variety of all of these tools.

My guess is, it’s much like programming languages. Programmers could argue until the cows come home about which programming language is better than another - but true developers understand that having an arsenal of different languages under their belt is much more preferred and realistic, as each language has it’s own pros and cons and picking the right language for the project is an important part of being a developer.

well I am not an expert but blender can make models just as realistic as any other modelling app, you just have to know how;).

things lik maya/max are slightly more mature then blender and so there some tools are a bit more polished but over the last year or so it has caught up. to be honest models can be made to do the same things regardless of the software used to create them, they just have different workflows, the only real limit is the skill of the person using. most people will usually prefer the one they learnt on.

As smokey said, you can create pretty realistic models with blender -> e.g take a look at my photo album that you can find on my profile, there you can see a pretty low poly but in my opinion good looking character

Blender, Max, Maya are tools, they have good and week points. Blender is a start point if you want to learn 3d art and can have the possibility to deploy and sell something without any cost. there’s others options like student versions for Autodesk or others really good software like Modo too. Try it all while learning 3D and chose one to master after =)

Blender don’t make realistic art, artists do it: :stuck_out_tongue:

Personally I use 3dsMax, feels like home to me after so many years.

How much do you have to spend? This will determine what you use.

MayaLT $50/month, it’s the easiest when you learn to use “marking menus”. Nothing beats marking menus! Easy to remember, quick access and eliminates the UI for more work space.

Personally, i prefer 3Ds Max for modeling and Maya for Animation.

DICE uses Maya for Modeling and Animation.

Totally disagree on that. Have you ever used max and or maya? Those programs are as buged and as polished as every other program out there. Propaply a bit worse. And they are totally overpriced. Unfortunaltely the autodesk produkts are still the most used tools out there and therefore the most supported ones.

by more mature I meant max and maya have had a lot more people putting in a lot more time because they are used so much especially by industry pros/studios, as a result they have some features that are more developed, for example I hear max has more advanced UV tools that allow you to unwrap faster, another would be that in max/maya you can set up proper LOD’s and then export to the same file where as in blender you could set up LOD’s in layers or whatever but you would have to export to separate files, and speaking about exporting blenders fbx exporter and importer aren’t as good for obvious reasons although I have a custom fbx exporter that is 100% compatible with UE4 so exporting from blender is all good for me but importing fbx into blender is still not great, I mean static meshes import fine but I have to use a workaround to get skeletal meshes into blender and as far as I am aware there is no way to get animations from an fbx file into blender.

nope I haven’t used maya or max.

I did not know that but its not surprising.

that’s why I haven’t used them, I am not paying that much to use a software so I can do the same things I can do in blender:).


Whilst we’re on the subject, does anyone know how UE interprets the measurements from 3ds Max? - Which is what I generally use (Though Blender was my first love).

I’m working on content - but I need to make sure it’s scaled correctly.


I think this perception stems from Blender’s Internal renderer not being the best. It’s gotten much better recently, but there’s nor reason that game assets should look any better or worse coming from blender vs. another program. It’s also gotten a lot better at handling high poly counts.

Are you considering open sourcing that by any chance? ^.^ We really need good exporter.