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3D graphics programs are the demand of the day. 3D printers, for example, can be used in classrooms, requiring prior design and modeling. Yes, 3D design and modeling, a magnificent exercise in abstraction, creativity and creativity that has given us a foothold for this entry.
What 3D graphics programs can we use to learn how to model? Of all the existing ones, we propose a selection of free programs, accompanied by tutorials and resources that will introduce us to the theme.
Microsoft Paint 3D
This expected evolution of the classic Paint is included by default in the Windows operating system. Microsoft Paint 3D graphics programs adds the third dimension and does it in a very simple way to allow you to create your own 3D models and take your first steps in digital design. One of its most interesting features is the use of devices such as digital pens and touch screens, as common in school devices, in addition to its possibilities as a tool for content customization. It is currently in a preliminary version that requires to be part of the Windows Insider program, but the version compatible with Windows 10 systems can be downloaded free from here.
The story of SketchUp has had several ups and downs, with the maximum point in the purchase of the parent company by Google, who got rid of the program in 2012 by selling it to a third company. SketchUp has always been an excellent starting point for 3D modeling, a tremendously intuitive software to use even for younger users. It has paid versions and also SketchUp Make, a completely free option thought for the public maker and with 3D printing in the spotlight. In its favor is the huge existing community, including tutorials to get started and content for all levels.
Who does not know Blender? One of the most versatile programs on the market, with open-source license and completely free, is a professional tool but can be adapted to all types of levels. For the creation of the simplest and also the most advanced 3D models, Blender has 20 years of experience behind it and a lot of content to start with, from the official tutorials to almost everything we imagine on Youtube, from Very guided way. As we said, it is completely free.
Autodesk’s big name is AutoCAD, but it’s not the only program of this giant development company that has traditionally been focused on more technical design. Autodesk 123D is a suite of multiple applications, all related to 3D design in various areas. Of all the programs the most interesting is 123D Design, a free software to model at our whim and that has a gallery of more than 10,000 models that we can view and download. As with the previous ones, the section of tutorials will be essential to take the first steps in this software oriented to 3D printing.
Tinkercad also belongs to the Autodesk 123D suite, but it deserves a separate space. A free software, which runs in browser – does not need to install any software – and that its creators, define as easy to learn, and that anyone can use to create models to print in 3D. Tinkercad can be a very attractive option for children, especially if accompanied by a 3D printer. The official website has all the information you need to get started, including a ‘learn’ section to get started with this software.
Created by the community of Thingiverse, Customizer is a web platform in which you can design, create and share products in 3D, modifying existing ones or adding new ones. Taking into account the millions of articles that exist in this community and how simple it is to use this application, we can include it as an activity in class; In addition, it is even easier to export the design to get it through a 3D printer. Especially interesting are the educational options they propose from Thingiverse, and they can give ideas to the teachers to apply the tools in their classrooms.
An online tool with a lot to offer and can be considered as one of the most intuitive 3D design programs for children to begin modeling. 3DSlash is a web platform of 3D graphics programs very intuitive and agile, with limited possibilities compared to other options of the market but enough to serve as introduction to the world of the 3D. They have free and other payment plans, with specific discounts for school entities, and plenty of tutorials to learn how to handle the environment.
The most professional 3D graphics programs
Having already mentioned our best four proposals, we cannot forget the great 3D modeling programs on the market. Options generally very advanced and also not very economical, but we need to mention for all those who have already passed the first phase of learning and look for something more. We list them below:
3DS MAX: a classic among the classics, was bought by Autodesk – who clearly dominate this market – in 2005.
AutoCAD: another one from Autodesk that has traditionally been focused, as its name suggests, to CAD – Computer-aided design, but that also has been opened to the modeling in three dimensions.
Autodesk Maya: The third in this brief Autodesk compilation, this one much more focused on the generation of 3D graphics, animation and rendering.
Solidworks: traditionally the competitor of Autocad, and as such another option typically oriented to the professional field of computer-aided design.