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  1. #1

    Best Starter Software for Modeling?

    What would you guys say would be the best starter software for my son who wants to start 3d modeling. He is only 15 years old, but is quite the artist. I want something either free or very affordable.

    Ron

  2. #2
    Super Moderator old man emu's Avatar
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    Give 123D Design a try: http://www.123dapp.com/design It is free, and seems to have enough features to get your son used to using a CAD program. There are several other "clay modelling" programs which might better suit the way he thinks when he is creating objects. He can load 123D to a PC or his iPad, which is handy. He can do some design work while he is on the bus travelling between home and school, then refine his work when he gets home.

    I use Rhino 5, but it is expensive and, for kids his generation, it would be "old school" to him.

    Old Man Emu
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator RobH2's Avatar
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    I agree with OME. It's a good place to start. If he's a really good artist he might get bored with some of the limitations you get with free software. Not that it's crippled but that they often lack more advanced capabilities. I too like Rhino. It's not as expensive as 3ds Max or Maya and it is a different way to model based on NURBS. Don't worry about what NURBS are at this point. Main thing is to get him going. He'll branch out and discover the perfect software as he gets better and better.

    Also, he's a student so do a search for "academic software." Sometimes you can pick up software that costs a few thousand dollars for a couple hundred. They are full versions and just not supposed to be used for commercial purposes. So unless he's setting up a 3d printer sweatshop, he'll be ok. I like the way Autodesk Inventor works. It has a learning curve but it's really powerful. However, if you want a commercial version it's really expensive. 123D Design uses some of the theory of Inventor which makes sense, since both of them are Autodesk products.

    3DCoat is a fun software and is not really too expensive. It allows you to work in a "claylike" environment. You push and pull the surfaces around. If you know what ZBrush is, it's similar. I think it's around $350. That's cheap considering that 3ds Max is around $3500.

    But for now, stay simple. If he gets into it, then upgrade him. Below are some links that might help, or, confuse...depending on how you look at it. If you don't want to think about it, then 123D Design will certainly give him plenty of work to do.

    http://www.3ders.org/3d-software/3d-software-list.html
    http://www.shapeways.com/creator/tools

    Here is the link to 123D Design: http://www.123dapp.com/design (ooops...I see OME has this above for you...sorry) It will also print directly to 3d printers but the list is not that long yet. Yours may not be on the list and I'm not sure how hard it is to add a custom printer. Also, check out the other Apps there. They have some fun ones.

    Finally, if you want a truly powerful 3d program, one that pros use, look at Blender. It's free as it's open-source. It has a steep learning curve like Max and Maya but you can do anything you can imagine with it practically. I'd say download it anyway and while he plays with 123D Design, he and tinker with Blender and see how they compare and how Blender takes it to the next level. Plus, he'll be able to have fun animating in Blender and doing other fun things that you can't do with 123D Design.
    Prusa i3/ Makerfarm (8" rod version) / Dual Hexagon Extruders with Itty Bitty Double Extruder, Simplify 3D Slicer.
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  4. #4
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    i use rhino and i have tried my 10 year old on tinkercad, 132d and a few others but he asks for my help and i cant help him because i just find those entry lvl cad programs frustrating and actually more difficult because of the lack of tools and functionality. i would have your kid start on 123d design atleast for a couple few weeks though just to get his feet wet. rhino is great and really is super easy. it can look very complicated especially to a little guy because of the tons of buttons but you only us 20% of them...normally. i am going to go and set up custom modified tool bars and eliminate all the unused stuff and make a work environment for my kid. just put all the things out that he will use. then if he needs something thats not visible you can just type into the command line. its a good way to a young person to use a professional and powerful cad package without getting overwhelmed and as he grows with it you can bring out new tools and functions.

    btw, if you have a mac you can download the mac version for free. its in development but pretty much completely functional now. i like the mac version better now.

  5. #5
    I second 123d Design. I'm no designer myself, but actually found this software quite simple to use. Best of all, you can make more advance things as you gain more experience. It's a good learning tool for design as well.

  6. #6
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    Tinkercad is good to start as well.
    Easy to use and clean layout.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator RobH2's Avatar
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    I 2nd that and Tinkercad has a really nice and fun beginner tutorial. In fact, you don't even have to install anything to try it. Just click and launch it and it will take you through a tutorial. It's a great one for younger 3d'ers as well as seasoned pros. If you really wanted to knock something simple out very quickly it's a good choice. Although, with practice you can do complex things.
    Prusa i3/ Makerfarm (8" rod version) / Dual Hexagon Extruders with Itty Bitty Double Extruder, Simplify 3D Slicer.
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  8. #8
    I know that I started out with Tinkercad and it was really a piece of cake. Now I use other software because I like having more options, but I too would recommend tinkercad to any beginner.

  9. #9
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    I went through high school learning AutoCAD and into college in Engineering with Inventor, IronCAD, etc, so I started with Blender for 3D modeling and it has been very easy to learn in conjunction with Youtube.

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