Great 3D Apps that you can use with uMake:

If you are new to 3D design, uMake is a great way to start as it is quick and easy to learn, uses an intuitive sketch based interface, and lets you get your ideas out quickly with ease. We like to think of uMake as a highly versatile tool that can allow you to make complete models, or that can be used as a digital 3D sketchbook where you can start an idea, and then finish it in another 3D program. That said, we've compiled the following list with a few suggestions of other 3D programs you may want to check out if you are looking to take your designs further. 


With any new 3D CAD suite, you should be ready to invest some time to get to learn the program, and some of the ones on this list have great resources to help you learn them. 


This list is far from complete-- there are tons of 3D programs out there, but this list covers well recognized ones that are a great place to start. 


So here are our recommendations:

Blender: Free. It's not so easy to learn at first but there are literally thousands of resources out there, and Blender has really grown up over the last decade. It's a great all around tool, with a very supportive community. There are some free and powerful render plugins for it, and Blender can import/ export multiple file formats. It's quite a good product once you master it, but it does take time to learn it and master it.

https://www.blender.org


Onshape: Free (Pro plans available). OnShape was developed by former Solidworks developers, and the idea was to create a Parametric 3D CAD program that existed in the cloud that could be accessed from anywhere-- on your phone, your tablet, or your computer. It is direct competition to true CAD programs such as Solidworks, SolidEdge, Catia etc and is quite feature rich. Great program for creating parts that may need to be machined/ printed/ milled, but less great for more exploratory "fun" design.  


https://www.onshape.com

Autodesk Fusion 360: Free when you register for a startup license). Fusion 360 is Autodesk's way of trying to create a easy to learn and use cloud based 3D design program. It uses NURBS and T-Splines, and it is quite powerful, but is very much a CAD approach to design and this can be limiting both in the learning curve but also its features in that like OnShape, it is more 'CAD' versus fun. 


http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview


Moment of Inspiration 3D (MOI 3D): $295. MOI is a very easy, NURBS modeling program that is cross platform (Mac/ Win) and is very powerful, yet very simple to use and understand.You can jump right in and start modeling complex shapes quite easily very quickly. What is even cooler is you can import vector files (like illustrator files) right into it. It has boolean functions, chamfer and bevel, primitive curves and shapes, and a simple interface. MOI is an incredible value for how powerful it is, and how simple and quick it is to use. Don't be fooled by the website or some of the screenshots-- the power to do great work is really there. It's a really nice program and the developer behind it is always taking care of the MOI3D community. A truly great tool. 


http://moi3d.com


Rhino: (for mac $500, for Windows $999). Rhino is an industry standard tool in jewelry, product and fashion design, so if you take the time to learn Rhino, then your models will be useable and you could begin working with professionals without any translation issue. Rhino is very powerful, but its command centric interface (you type commands to quickly get to tools) can be tricky to learn and remember at first. Rhino for Mac is very powerful but lacks a few features that the windows counterpart has, and in addition, there is only minimal support for Rhino for Mac currently as it is so new (just launched officially last fall). McNeel (the developer) is a rally great company and Rhino is constantly receiving updates. Rhino works really great with uMake and is probably the most compatible app in this list with uMake. If you starting out with 3D programs, you simply can't go wrong with Rhino for the value it offers and the power it gives you. 


https://www.rhino3d.com


3D Coat: $379. Many concept artists we know are huge fans of 3D coat. You can achieve really great results very quickly. 3D coat is a Voxel modeling program, which is kind of like a mixture of sculpting and polygon modeling (think 3DS max mashed with ZBrush). It's a good program because you can do organic shapes quite easily as well as technical/ hard surfacing shapes easily as well. It has a ton of very interesting and unique features and the learning curve is similar to Rhino. It's not really a true NURBS modeling program so this does create a few constraints on compatibility. 


http://3dcoat.com/home/


FormZ: (free to $2000 depending on License) FormZ is another program you might find interesting-- quick modeling with unique and interesting tools. While it has been updated over the years, it really feels and looks like it got stuck in the late 90's and 2000's but it does have some really neat features. It is very powerful for designing things like spaces (interior design) and other architectural features including furniture. What is cool is that they have a powerful free version that you can test out, and then upgrade when you want to. 


http://www.formz.com

ZBrush: $800 ZBrush is a really great and powerful tool that is like sculpting in digital clay. It is a unique approach to 3D but can be very, very powerful. You need a Wacom tablet to use it though, and ideally you would use a Cintiq. It's quite lightweight and doesn't require a super powerful computer. ZBrush also has ZClassroom as well as ZBrush Central, both incredible resources to learn and be inspired about ZBrush. The price includes all future upgrades, and ZBrush is updating the app on average every year. Compatibility with uMake is ok-- it works well with the OBJ files, but since it is not NURBS based, it's not the most compatible app in this list.  Very nice tool for organic modeling, terrific support community, great tutorials. 


http://pixologic.com


Modo: ~$2000. Modo is a very powerful subdivisional polygon modeler with a great community and good support. It is a bit pricy but the program is quite powerful and has good support. It has unique tools not found in any other App and is heavily used by concept artists. Scott Robertson is a big user of Modo for example. Modo is also a great file converter as well and has some powerful rendering capabilities. 


https://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/modo/


Keyshot: $995-$1995. Keyshot is a terrific, quick and easy to use rendering app. It is not a modeling application but to create quick, beautiful renders of your uMake creations, Keyshot does a great job. It comes complete with a large library of environments and materials to make you models look great. It is also super quick and easy to learn, and when used in conjunction with uMake, and apps like Procreate, Pixelmator, Affinity photo or Photoshop, it can create incredibly nice results. 


https://www.keyshot.com


We hope this list is helpful for those looking to start out or add another tool to compliment their uMake experience. IF you have any suggestions or additions to the list, feel free to add them in the comments! 

If you are new to 3D design, uMake is a great way to start as it is quick and easy to learn, uses an intuitive sketch based interface, and lets you get your ideas out quickly with ease. We like to think of uMake as a highly versatile tool that can allow you to make complete models, or that can be used as a digital 3D sketchbook where you can start an idea, and then finish it in another 3D program. That said, we've compiled the following list with a few suggestions of other 3D programs you may want to check out if you are looking to take your designs further. 


With any new 3D CAD suite, you should be ready to invest some time to get to learn the program, and some of the ones on this list have great resources to help you learn them. 


This list is far from complete-- there are tons of 3D programs out there, but this list covers well recognized ones that are a great place to start. 


So here are our recommendations:

Blender: Free. It's not so easy to learn at first but there are literally thousands of resources out there, and Blender has really grown up over the last decade. It's a great all around tool, with a very supportive community. There are some free and powerful render plugins for it, and Blender can import/ export multiple file formats. It's quite a good product once you master it, but it does take time to learn it and master it.

https://www.blender.org


Onshape: Free (Pro plans available). OnShape was developed by former Solidworks developers, and the idea was to create a Parametric 3D CAD program that existed in the cloud that could be accessed from anywhere-- on your phone, your tablet, or your computer. It is direct competition to true CAD programs such as Solidworks, SolidEdge, Catia etc and is quite feature rich. Great program for creating parts that may need to be machined/ printed/ milled, but less great for more exploratory "fun" design.  


https://www.onshape.com

Autodesk Fusion 360: Free when you register for a startup license). Fusion 360 is Autodesk's way of trying to create a easy to learn and use cloud based 3D design program. It uses NURBS and T-Splines, and it is quite powerful, but is very much a CAD approach to design and this can be limiting both in the learning curve but also its features in that like OnShape, it is more 'CAD' versus fun. 


http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview


Moment of Inspiration 3D (MOI 3D): $295. MOI is a very easy, NURBS modeling program that is cross platform (Mac/ Win) and is very powerful, yet very simple to use and understand.You can jump right in and start modeling complex shapes quite easily very quickly. What is even cooler is you can import vector files (like illustrator files) right into it. It has boolean functions, chamfer and bevel, primitive curves and shapes, and a simple interface. MOI is an incredible value for how powerful it is, and how simple and quick it is to use. Don't be fooled by the website or some of the screenshots-- the power to do great work is really there. It's a really nice program and the developer behind it is always taking care of the MOI3D community. A truly great tool. 


http://moi3d.com


Rhino: (for mac $500, for Windows $999). Rhino is an industry standard tool in jewelry, product and fashion design, so if you take the time to learn Rhino, then your models will be useable and you could begin working with professionals without any translation issue. Rhino is very powerful, but its command centric interface (you type commands to quickly get to tools) can be tricky to learn and remember at first. Rhino for Mac is very powerful but lacks a few features that the windows counterpart has, and in addition, there is only minimal support for Rhino for Mac currently as it is so new (just launched officially last fall). McNeel (the developer) is a rally great company and Rhino is constantly receiving updates. Rhino works really great with uMake and is probably the most compatible app in this list with uMake. If you starting out with 3D programs, you simply can't go wrong with Rhino for the value it offers and the power it gives you. 


https://www.rhino3d.com


3D Coat: $379. Many concept artists we know are huge fans of 3D coat. You can achieve really great results very quickly. 3D coat is a Voxel modeling program, which is kind of like a mixture of sculpting and polygon modeling (think 3DS max mashed with ZBrush). It's a good program because you can do organic shapes quite easily as well as technical/ hard surfacing shapes easily as well. It has a ton of very interesting and unique features and the learning curve is similar to Rhino. It's not really a true NURBS modeling program so this does create a few constraints on compatibility. 


http://3dcoat.com/home/


FormZ: (free to $2000 depending on License) FormZ is another program you might find interesting-- quick modeling with unique and interesting tools. While it has been updated over the years, it really feels and looks like it got stuck in the late 90's and 2000's but it does have some really neat features. It is very powerful for designing things like spaces (interior design) and other architectural features including furniture. What is cool is that they have a powerful free version that you can test out, and then upgrade when you want to. 


http://www.formz.com

ZBrush: $800 ZBrush is a really great and powerful tool that is like sculpting in digital clay. It is a unique approach to 3D but can be very, very powerful. You need a Wacom tablet to use it though, and ideally you would use a Cintiq. It's quite lightweight and doesn't require a super powerful computer. ZBrush also has ZClassroom as well as ZBrush Central, both incredible resources to learn and be inspired about ZBrush. The price includes all future upgrades, and ZBrush is updating the app on average every year. Compatibility with uMake is ok-- it works well with the OBJ files, but since it is not NURBS based, it's not the most compatible app in this list.  Very nice tool for organic modeling, terrific support community, great tutorials. 


http://pixologic.com


Modo: ~$2000. Modo is a very powerful subdivisional polygon modeler with a great community and good support. It is a bit pricy but the program is quite powerful and has good support. It has unique tools not found in any other App and is heavily used by concept artists. Scott Robertson is a big user of Modo for example. Modo is also a great file converter as well and has some powerful rendering capabilities. 


https://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/modo/


Keyshot: $995-$1995. Keyshot is a terrific, quick and easy to use rendering app. It is not a modeling application but to create quick, beautiful renders of your uMake creations, Keyshot does a great job. It comes complete with a large library of environments and materials to make you models look great. It is also super quick and easy to learn, and when used in conjunction with uMake, and apps like Procreate, Pixelmator, Affinity photo or Photoshop, it can create incredibly nice results. 


https://www.keyshot.com


We hope this list is helpful for those looking to start out or add another tool to compliment their uMake experience. IF you have any suggestions or additions to the list, feel free to add them in the comments! 

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2 comments
I noticed that Sketchup is not mentioned. Have been battling it for past three years and think I have the requisite 40 odd add on ruby scripts to make it basically function work but that said am not wedded to it: what are your own thoughts ?

Richard, great question! 


I've not mentioned sketchup for a few reasons. The first and foremost is that the compatibility with uMake is minimal-- Sketchup can only import OBJ files and in that case, only looks for surfaces rather than curves, so the experience isn't ideal. 


Secondly, Sketchup was really cool when it came out years ago, and while it is still a good product, I don't feel that it is a great product like the other softwares listed above. I think there is definitely a place for it, and they have done a great job creating a terrific community, but as even you mentioned, you were "battling" it for 3 years.. and the results are never really what you hoped. 

The apps above come recommended as I've used or played with all of them, and found them to be intuitive, well designed, well executed, and powerful. When I put this article together, my focus was, what apps would be great for uMakers to take their ideas and 3D sketches to the next level. 


I hope that helps answer the question. Thanks again for posting! 

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