October 24, 2020
best free 3d software modeling tools for beginners cover

Top 10 Best Free 3D Modeling Software (For Beginners) 2020

There are now hundreds of different free 3Db software tools available for people looking to create their own 3D models. Users can export their models and either 3D print them or post them online so fans can download them.

These 3D software modeling tools range from being easily used by even the newest of beginners, to having learning curves that can take years to traverse. Therefore, we created our list of the 10 best free 3D software tools out there to help you find the perfect 3D software for you.

Some run in your browser, some need to be downloaded, but all are at least free in the short-term.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a comprehensive professional 3D software ranking, click here.

Best Free 3D Software 2020: Criteria

Here are some of the criteria we used to evaluate the best free 3D modeling software tools for 2020:

  • Ease of use: free software tools are often used by beginners so this is important.
  • Depth of 3D software: being easy to use because there isn’t much you can do with the software doesn’t count as a plus. The ideal free 3D modeling software tool is not only easy to learn and use, but with a wide and deep range of tools to create professional 3D models.
  • Novelty: a ranking of ten 3D software tools that perform the exact same function is boring. Bonus points were given to a 3D software program that took a completely new approach to creating 3D designs.

Note: these are researched opinion pieces, and are not to be taken as objective fact. We have simply picked ten of our favorite 3D software programs you can download for free today based on the factors mentioned above.

1. Daz Studio by Daz 3D

  • How free is it: Completely free to download, with optional paid extras & downloadable 3D assets
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: Download

Daz 3D, the creator of Daz Studio, offers some of the most fascinating and accessible innovations in the 3D software industry. As well as their free 3D modeling platform, the Daz Shop contains thousands of customizable 3D models for you to create with. Best of all, anyone can try out Daz 3D’s tools for themselves – Daz Studio is completely free to download, and comes with starter packages of free 3D models.

Features that stand out in Daz Studio include:

Face Transfer and Morphing

Have you ever wanted to see what you’d look like if you were half-hippo, or how you’d look with crazy new hair? Daz 3D’s Face Transfer allows you to do all of those, and more.

Simply take a photo of yourself and upload it; the software will take care of converting the photograph to create an accurate 3D model of your face and map your intricacies on a 3D model. Your bone structure will adjust accurately as you morph (combine) your 3D model with any other, no matter how outlandish your changes are. Once you’re satisfied with your half-hippo look, you can even animate yourself, and make your character dance!

You aren’t limited to just half-and-half morphs either. Feel free to customize and morph any two figures – for example, an alien and a werewolf – and create something 80% one character, and 20% the other. The possibilities are endless.

Free Face Transfer allows 3 completely free renders without any watermarks in Daz Studio, which you can download here, and Face Transfer Unlimited lets you make as many Face Transfers as you can think of.

dForce Movement Simulator

Another innovative tool available in the free-to-download Daz Studio is their dForce cloth simulating feature. We’ve all been frustrated by unrealistic or static clothing or hair on characters in animations or video games. With dForce Movement Simulator, you can create stunning and lifelike hair and clothing that reacts to its environment.

Intricate aspects of clothes and hair move based on gravity, wind and character movement, and can be simulated to a hyper-realistic level. Whether you want a running character’s clothes to move in the wind, or an athlete’s hair adjust to a jump, you can do it all with dForce in Daz Studio.

Despite being an advanced feature, dForce is also included in Daz Studio for free. Daz 3D also offers a number of tutorials and examples on-site, and if you want to purchase any additional 3D models or assets such as people, animals of all shapes and sizes, or props and environments, you can do that too.

2. TinkerCAD

  • How free is it: Completely free!
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: Browser-based 3D software

One of the many 3D software tools offered by 3D CAD software giant Autodesk, TinkerCAD is a deceptively deep tool. Though it looks fairly basic due to how easy it is to use, TinkerCAD has proved time and time again that it is up with the best 3D software out there for creating 3D models.

Utilizing what some might consider to be basic shapes, TinkerCAD allows you to create detailed 3D models by connecting different shapes together. The learning curve is far shorter than some of the more in-depth 3D software out there, making TinkerCAD the perfect 3D software for beginners or children. It’s ideal for teaching kids 3D printing by creating the models to print.

Further showing TinkerCAD’s ease of use, it’s the most used 3D software in schools and classes worldwide. What’s more, you can download the TinkerCAD app and play around with your favorite models via your smartphone or tablet!

Though Autodesk make a number of different software for various industries, TinkerCAD is perfect for beginners who want to play around with 3D design software and maybe make something cool. You can then export your models as STL files or any other file format, and send them to a 3D printer to be 3D printed. Though once you gain more experience you may want to advance to something more complex like AutoCAD, TinkerCAD is a great place to start your 3D CAD design career.

tinkercad free 3d software
Tinkercad is known as one of simplest free 3D software modeling tools out there.

3. SketchUp

  • How free is it: Free version, $650 for Pro version
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: Download, browser (depending on free/pro)

Created by Lastsoftware in 2000, SketchUp is a veteran of the 3D modeling software industry. A versatile and powerful option, Google acquired the software in 2006 to implement into their services, though it has since been sold to Trimble Inc.

Now offering a free version of its well-reputed 3D design software, SketchUp is a great choice for budding designers. Similar to TinkerCAD, SketchUp has a shorter learning curve than most 3D software out there, and comes stocked with tools for almost everything you could ever need.

Despite being currently known mostly in the architectural scene and for its affiliation with Google, SketchUp is becoming more relevant in the 3D printing scene. They are working to become better integrated with creating STL files, and the tools are surprisingly compatible with those who wish to create 3D CAD files. You can currently download the SketchUp STL extension to enable STL files to be created within SketchUp.

SketchUp features an easy-to-use interface without being overloaded with information. You can figure out the basics behind this free 3D software in a few hours easily and be on your way to creating detailed 3D models on your first day that look so realistic they could have been scanned on a 3D scanner. You can easily view your models in 3D, and upload them to 3D Warehouse when you’re happy with the finished product.

sketchup free 3d software
Sketchup is another great option for designers looking for a 3D modeling software.

4. Blender

  • How free is it: Completely free!
  • Company based: The Netherlands
  • Accessibility: Download

Arguably the most popular 3D design software, Blender has a huge, active community who share their STL files and 3D models as well as information. A quick Google search or YouTube entry will yield thousands of results with people eager to showcase their 3D designs or teach you how to use the Blender 3D software. This is down to Blender being a 100% free 3D software tool which is open source, and gives users freedom to create just about anything with its huge range of tools.

Though it has a steeper learning curve, Blender has huge depth to it, making it one of the most holistic free 3D software tools out there. This depth makes it a very versatile 3D modeling tool, with uses ranging from film VFX, video games, 3D model design, and more. Furthermore, Blender even comes with an integrated game engine, as well as detailed sculpting tools and video editing capabilities.

It isn’t for beginners, or probably even for intermediates, but it is an incredible free 3D modeling software that is ideal for game developers and experienced 3D modelers.

blender free 3d software
Despite being completely free, Blender is a 3D software with huge depth, shown by the 3D model created above.

5. Meshmixer

  • How free is it: Completely free
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: Download

Meshmixer is an interesting 3D software, in the unique position that doesn’t fit into any one particular category. Another one of Autodesk’s 3D software, Meshmixer differs from its rivals in that it enables you to edit existing models with a variety of useful tools including animation, hollowing/filling, and repairing models.

Meshmixer is therefore a fantastic free 3D modeling software for modifying designs to ensure their quality. This makes it a very useful software for beginners and experts alike, allowing them to polish their models so that they’re ready for 3D printing.

Another main selling point of Meshmixer is its use in topological optimization. With its simple hollowing and similar tools available within the free 3D software, parts can be made lighter, saving weight and costs. This is especially useful in industries such as the aerospace and automotive sectors where cutting weight is very important.

Overall, Meshmixer is a versatile and consistent option for those who need to polish their 3D files. It’s perfect for beginners who want to modify their designs, as well as experts who need to optimize their industrial designs. Therefore, Meshmixer is a great free 3D software which encompasses many sectors.

meshmixer free 3d software
Meshmixer is a 3D software built with 3D printing in mind, allowing for support generation before printing.

6. Fusion 360

  • How free is it: Free 3 year education license, Pro version is around $500/year
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: Download

Created with schools and academic institutes in mind, Fusion 360 is yet another 3D software created by Autodesk. It’s undoubtedly a 3D software modeling tool for experts, however it is user-friendly enough for an educated beginner to be able to use. Packed to the brim with innovative features, Fusion 360 is a very collaborative 3D software that allows users to share STL files via the cloud, and make edits to each others files.

With powerful tools for accomplishing almost any industrial 3D design, Fusion 360 really is an incredible piece of software. It has built-in features to assess stresses that components of your 3D design will encounter, allowing designers to locate potential weak points before printing. Once created, you can then easily export your 3D model as an STL file or any other file format.

Having recently been made free for students, startups, and more, Fusion 360 is a more accessible 3D software than ever before. If you’ve got some experience, or looking to level up your 3D design skills, this is the perfect 3D software for you.

3d software fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a 3D software that offers the ability to create extremely detailed 3D models, but isn’t the best option for beginners.

7. SelfCAD

  • How free is it: Free for education, otherwise $4.99 per month
  • Company based: USA
  • Accessibility: browser-based 3D software

SelfCAD focuses on being the best browser-based 3D software for students all around the world, allowing people to design 3D files without having to download anything. This has made it a popular choice in the US for schools looking to teach students 3D design.

Focused on simplicity and ease of use, SelfCAD offers all the necessary tools to create whilst still retaining a short learning curve that beginners can use. Built with 3D printing in mind, SelfCAD also includes browser-based slicing tools for preparing your STL or GCODE files for 3D printing.

Overall, SelfCAD is a simple 3D modeling software program with a clean layout that doesn’t scare you off. It includes all the tools necessary for students and beginners to create amazing 3D models to print, without the steep learning curve involved in some other 3D software tools. There’s a reason it is becoming increasingly adopted in schools worldwide.

selfcad free 3d software
SelfCAD’s 3D software is completely browser-based and doesn’t require any downloads.

8. OpenSCAD

  • How free is it: Completely free!
  • Accessibility: Download

Though a free to download 3D CAD software, OpenSCAD looks intimidating as you are enveloped in code and scripts. It’s a powerful tool – but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted or for those who aren’t used to coding.

Launched back in 2010 by Marius Kintel and Clifford Wolf and maintained by regular updates and patches, OpenSCAD has attracted a niche cult following among 3D designers who prefer the scripting rather than artistic method of design. It is also worth noting that you can design 3D parts in OpenSCAD with just a mouse, though this is not the sole intent of the program.

Overall, we’re impressed with OpenSCAD for offering something new – and doing it for free. We recommend at least intermediate knowledge of computer languages and scripts before trying it however, or you’d probably be better off with one of the other 3D CAD software options on our list.

openscad free 3d software

9. BlocksCAD

  • How free is it: Free to use, costs $149/year to teach up to 30 students as an educator
  • Company based: USA

At 3DSourced our priority is to educate, and therefore we have a soft spot for any individual or company with similar priorities. BlocksCAD is one of those; created to teach children and adults how to use CAD software and work their way through gaining 3D software skills.

Designed to collaborate closely with OpenSCAD, BlocksCAD is designed to be simple, fun, and child-friendly. 3D designs can be created through colorful, easy-to-manipulate blocks, which can then be exported either as STL files or as files to be opened and edited in OpenSCAD. For complete beginners, BlocksCAD offer extensive tutorials on the basics of 3D modeling, and how to use their 3D software.

blockscad free 3d software

10. FreeCAD

  • How free is it: Free and opensource!
  • Accessibility: Download

FreeCAD is a 3D modeling software with some real skin in the game, having been initially released back in 2002, and despite still being in beta stage development has progressed significantly.

Though designed with mechanical engineering in mind, FreeCAD complements 3D printing as complex, interesting shapes and figures can be created with relative ease – despite not being as complicated as some CAD programs on this list. What’s more, FreeCAD is opensource, so if you wish to tinker with the software itself, you’re free to do so, with Python.

freecad free 3d software