Top Modelling, Animation & Rendering Tools you should know

Popular 3D Modelling, Animation & Rendering Software(Not in any order):

1: Cinema 4D

The program was developed by MAXON Computer GmbH. This 3D Animation software was created for Amiga computers. However, with time the company developed versions which work on Windows and Mac platforms. There are 4 versions available on the market: Prime, Broadcast, Visualize and Studio. Prime is a good choice for beginners, having less features and therefore being easier to master. Broadcast version includes advanced animation toolkit as well, while Visualize has excellent features necessary for quality modeling and rendering of static images. Cinema Studio combines the features of all the three versions. In this article, we’ll mainly concentrate on the beginner’s choice – Cinema 4D Prime.

3D Animation Software for 3D Modeling and Animation

The Use

Cinema4D is popular for Cinema, TV, Advertising and Architecture spheres. As for the films, the software was used for creation of Beowulf, Chronicles of Narnia, Iron Man 3 to name but a few. The 3D Animation Software was also used to create such TV commercials as for Eviivo and Adidas. It is the go to software when it comes to Motion Graphics. Among the example totally worth mentioning of the Use of 4D Cinema is the creation of graphics for The Totally Rad Show and Age of Persuasion.


You can buy the software at around $ 3 700(Ksh.377,400.00)

3D Modeling Features

Cinema 4D includes wonderful toolkits for both polygonal and procedural modeling. It is possible to create practically any shape you like, whether realistic or abstract. One feature Cinema4D is particularly appreciated for is BodyPaint 3D, which allows to paint on UVW meshes. As well as that, Cinema4D can boast of smart UV tools, Optimal Mapping & LSCM Unwrapping, extensive choice of painting and texturing tools.

3D Animation Features

Cinema4D is particularly appreciated for soft and rigid body dynamics, rigging, PyroCluster, character animation, cloth simulation, particle simulations.

Learning Curve

The interface is intuitive and rather easy to learn, especially with the multitude of free tutorials available on the Internet.

2: Autodesk 3ds Max

3Ds Max was developed and is owned by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. It runs on Microsoft Windows platform only though you can still install on a windows operated mac.

The use

This 3D Animation Software is mostly used for creation of video games, commercials, cinematic effects and for architectural rendering. 3Ds Max has been used in film for a while, so the list of examples could go forever. We’ll narrow it down to such 5 iconic movies, as Alice in Wonderland, House of Flying Daggers, Iron Man, The Matrix Reloaded, The Truman Show.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_made_with_Autodesk_3ds_Max

Also See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz8cMq-bQro for Top VFX Studios using 3ds max.

3D Animation Software: One of Market Leaders


A Yearly subscription costs $1,635.00. (Ksh. 166,770 yearly) Of course it comes at a considerable cost, but students can get the software for free and a trial version is also available for 30 days.

Modeling Features

3Ds Max supports Polygonal Modeling, Spline and NURBS tools. It has an extensive library of different modifiers which speed up the modeling process. As well as that, 3D modeling toolkit includes UV mapping, Mesh and surface modeling, texturing and shading, Point Cloud Support, Placement tools.

Thanks to a huge library of different modifiers, 3ds Max can make the modelling process a little easier for new or intermediate 3D artists.

Animation Features

Among the most appreciated features of the software is enhanced animation performance, skinning, animation controllers, Camera Sequencer, character animation, general animation, animated deformers and many others.

Learning Curve

The layout of 3ds Max is known as user-friendly, although if the person is new to 3D Animation Software, getting accustomed takes time.

3: Blender

Blender was developed by Neo Geo Studio and is owned by the Blender foundation. The 3D Animation Software runs on Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux.

The use

Blender is mainly used for game creation. Most importantly, it includes a complete game engine which allows to create a full 3D game. As examples of commercially successful 3D games created with Blender, we may cite Color Cube, Dead Cyborg, Nicoles Nel’s collection.

Furthermore, Blender is rather popular in the Cinema Industry. It was used in creation of Spider-Man 2, Friday or Another Day, The Secret of Kells and many others.

3D Animation Software for Game and Cinema Industries


This is one of the incontestable advantages of Blender: it is available for free.

Modeling Features

Blender has a wide range of options for material creation such as Complete Node and Full Customization Support. It supports a lot of geometric primitives, among which polygon meshes and NURBS surfaces. Additionally, it offers physically correct shaders, for instance, glass, translucency. Most importantly, it has powerful built-in 3D sculpting features.

Animation Features

Blender has a multitude of useful Animation features. For instance, Armature Modifier, Audio Playback, the Non-Linear Animation editor, Character animation pose editor, Particles, Fluid, Smoke, Hair, Cloth and Rigid Body and Dope Sheet.

Learning Curve

Learning Blender is not an easy task, but positively rewarding. For if you master this software tool, you’ll benefit from its numerous customization options.

4: Autodesk Maya

Maya has been developed by Alias Systems Corporation. It now belongs to Autodesk, Inc. A practical feature is that Maya works on Microsoft Windows, MacOS as well as Linux platforms.

The use

The 3D Animation Software is widely used in Cinema Industry, game development as well as TV. The most renowned films it was used for are The Matrix, Spider-Man and Avatar. Furthermore, Maya was used in such iconic cartoons as Finding Nemo, Frozen and Rango. Maya was also a software of choice for special effects creation for series Once Upon a Time, Bones and Walking Dead.

Maya: 3D Animation Multifunctional Software


The software comes at a price, and the cost of subscription is around costs $1,635.00 a year. Though the price seems high, many users assure it’s a good investment.

Modeling Features

Most noteworthy, the modeling Toolkit of Maya includes a particularly sophisticated rigging workflow, symmetry modeling and an extensive UV toolkit. As well as this, it is important to mention that Maya has sculpting tools.

Animation Features

Maya offers users a rich selection of animation tools, among which we can name Fluid Simulator, Cloth Simulation, nCloth, nParticle,Camera Sequencer, Hair, Fur, Particle, Composite, grease pencil, camera sequencer, weight distribution and a choice for more complex projects – motion tracking tools.

Learning Curve

Owing to the number of options available, the layout might seem rather complex for learning.

5: SideFX (Houdini)

SideFX was developed by Side Effects Software, Canada. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, and has a reputation for extremely high-quality graphics.

The use

Houdini is a 3D Animation Software of choice when it comes to creation of cinematic effects. For instance, this software was used for Frozen and Zootopia. Moreover, it is used in commercials and video games development – like “Suki and the Shadow Claw”.

SideFX for Creating 3D Animation


SideFX is a payable software. The price is $2995 for local access, while workstation license costs $ 1995.

3D Modeling Features

The Modeling toolkit of SideFX is not so rich, but it contains everything necessary. Users can find here all the essential geometry: Polygons, NURBs, Bézier, Metaballs and so on. Owing to the incredibly performant rendering engine, it creates extremely realistic pictures.

Animation Features

Though SideFX is considered a professional tool, it is often reproached the absence of additional features that make the image attractive – time warping, for instance, or stereoscopic rendering. However, you can find here all the basics functions.

Learning Curve

Houdini has a reputation for a complicated interface, so learning learning it won’t be easy.

6: Vray Renderer

VRay is the digital cream of the crop:This is arguably the king of rendering software. From 3DS Max, the inventors of computer graphics, this software has remained at the pinnacle of architectural rendering. And for good reason. This is one of the most, if not the most powerful rendering engine available on the market today.

It is suitable for both newbies and professionals. Beginners might find it a bit intimidating at first, but this piece of software is very user-friendly, so mastering it is not actually so difficult.

With an exhaustive list of tools and features to visualize anything from a small room to a skyscraper, the sky is the limit with VRAY.

7: Maxwell

Maxwell is yet another giant in the architectural rendering industry and a very popular choice among both professionals and beginners. It is also open-source and completely free to use and distribute, not to mention that it is incredibly user-friendly.

With a very simple user interface and a plethora of features and tools, Maxwell could be just the thing you need to create beautiful photorealistic images and animations. You can quickly and easily learn to use it, which is precisely why a great number of architecture students choose to start their rendering adventures with this software before moving onto other more complex solutions.

Maxwell also has a user community that is very helpful and resourceful, so you can easily get the right help you need in case you run into some problems with the software. The only drawback to this software solution is that it is a bit slow at rendering, but that shouldn’t put you off since Maxwell is capable of producing truly wonderful renderings. It’s definitely worth the time.

8: Corona Renderer

Corona Renderer is not as popular as the other names on this list, because it is a relatively new software addition to the architectural rendering industry. Nevertheless, it has already proved to be more than worth being placed among all these powerful software solutions.

Although Corona lacks some features, such as velocity render, it is one of the fastest rendering software solutions currently available. It’s not as fast as Octane Render or V-Ray, but it does produce excellent renderings in considerably less time than other similar tools.

Corona Renderer creates very clean animations and fantastic light effects and software updates and patches are provided by the development team on a regular basis, so you would never have to worry about any potential vulnerabilities or hiccups.

The software also enables full integration with 3ds Max, so you can very easily employ complex 3D models without ever worrying about compatibility issues.

9: Lumion 3d

Lumion is yet another very powerful architectural rendering software that boasts extremely fast rendering and can easily turn 3D models into amazing photorealistic images and videos. It has a very easy-to-use user interface and a learning curve that is incredibly friendly, which makes it one of the best rendering software solutions when it comes to actual usability.

Apart from being an absolute pleasure to use, Lumion stands out from other similar 3D rendering pieces of software in that it is compatible with almost every modelling software available. This is a huge plus for all the professionals who regularly deal with clients, students or peers who have their own personal preferences regarding 3D rendering software.

There’s absolutely no reason for anyone not finding Lumion attractive and remarkably useful, but students might find it more convenient than professionals because Lumion offers free educational licenses for students.

10: Octane Render

True to its name, Octane Render is one of the best rendering software on the market, packing a truly powerful rendering engine with a ton of features at your disposal. If you’re already familiar with the rendering landscape, then it might be time to switch to Octane Render from other previous free software.

One of the biggest advantages of Octane Render is the rendering engine, which is incredibly powerful and a lot faster than traditional free software.

11: Artlantis

Artlantis is an excellent architectural rendering software solution for professionals who want to truly impress their clients. Its large set of useful features and a user-friendly interface can help you quickly and easily make fabulous 3D renderings that will certainly be more than satisfactory.

Its lighting features (both indoor and outdoor) and various luminous materials provide a huge number of possibilities for lighting scenes, especially because all the materials are physically based to help you get amazing photorealistic results.

The software also has a built-in render manager that can help you seamlessly deal with the computing load and distribute it evenly among all your local PCs, which is exactly what makes the producing of renderings extremely fast.