List of 3D Modeling Software

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List of 3D Modeling Software

Xah Lee, 2010-01-06, 2010-07-27

This page is a list of 3D modeling software for various purposes. I don't have experience in using most of them. For those i do have used, the comment will be more elaborate.

Note: 3D modeling software are quite complex and diverse. For examples:

  • Software designed for engineering, architecture, CAD, is almost useless for creating commercial animations that's mostly free-form shapes, and vice versa. Similarly, those from gaming community has its own purposes, features, requirements.
  • Also, the underlying modeling approach is very different. Most popular are mesh/polygon based. (they represent a object by its surface) Then there are solid based, that represent objects with a thickness as in real life. And there are ones focused on spline/nurb free-form curve based. There are ones based on sculpting and painting directly to the surface.
  • Even within a field, the interface is very diverse and totally different.

Architecture, Engineering

Illustration, Art

Most Popular


  • POV-Ray Free. Building a model based on mixing simple primitives like boxes, spheres, cones. Primarily for programers. Input is a script. Not GUI. No interactive feedback of modeling process.

Gaming Oriented

Second Life

Second Life is a Virtual world. It is not much of a 3D molder, but more as a 3D virtual world environment where you can quickly build basic concepts of architecture or a 3D object, quickly, and immediately explore it inworld such as walk-thru or fly thru.

Second Life is not useful as a modeling tool for engineering, CAD, or creating pro quality animations. (you can, of course, make video recoding of the screen). Can't export to standard 3d formats.

To get a quick sense of what building is like in Second Life, see: Second Life 3D-Construction Tutorial

For video of building in Second Life, see: second life building

The Second Life is completely built by its users. For more screenshots and videos, see A Photographic Tour of Life in Second Life.


  • Wings 3d (free) Used mostly for gaming. Notable is that it's written in the Erlang language.
  • Milkshape (free)


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