Very good, free 3D modeler software

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macfrank
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Very good, free 3D modeler software

Post by macfrank » Tue Oct 19, 2004 7:04 pm

While checking out Cardmodels.net I found an article on using Rhino to make a 3D design that can be printed. I'm
not yet ready to start making paper models, but the principals & software involved are very useful in scratchbuilding out of plastic card.

One cool program mentioned is Wings3d. It's an open source 3D modeler, and I figured out how to make and modify a simple shape (I made a spiral staircase) in a few minutes, without even reading any of the documentation. The file types that it can export & import are fairly limited, but it's pretty nice software, and the price is right.

Frank

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Post by d_coombes » Tue Oct 19, 2004 8:11 pm

NICE.
I remember playing with Nendo when that came out and it was very nice... plugs right into pov ray too by the looks of things...

I'm gonna give this a try tonight... Its about time I retired my copy of Truespace... but I'm not quite ready to let go of vrml yet....
I put GMAX on my pc too but I need to get the quake exporter and then write a quake format reader... and it all sounds like a lot of work... but I use 3dMax at work quite a bit...


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Post by d_coombes » Tue Oct 19, 2004 8:19 pm

Ooohhhh... its nice!!
Dave

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Post by uss_columbia » Tue Oct 19, 2004 10:31 pm

d_coombes wrote:Ooohhhh... its nice!!
Dave
You mean 3dmax, or did you try out wings3d in less than 8 minutes? :)

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Re: Very good, free 3D modeler software

Post by ajmadison » Wed Oct 20, 2004 11:36 am

macfrank wrote:While checking out Cardmodels.net I found an article on using Rhino to make a 3D design that can be printed. I'm
not yet ready to start making paper models, but the principals & software involved are very useful in scratchbuilding out of plastic card.

One cool program mentioned is Wings3d. It's an open source 3D modeler, and I figured out how to make and modify a simple shape (I made a spiral staircase) in a few minutes, without even reading any of the documentation. The file types that it can export & import are fairly limited, but it's pretty nice software, and the price is right.

Frank
Oh Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

I've been searching high and low for modeler S/W that wasn't going to break the checking account and this looks this is it. I am f*cking dangerous now, I've had several meshes I've downloaded looking for a tool that would let me manipulate them and looks like I have it.

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Post by uss_columbia » Wed Oct 20, 2004 1:47 pm

I'm told Blender is a good one to check out, too. It's also free software.

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Post by macfrank » Wed Oct 20, 2004 3:14 pm

uss_columbia wrote:I'm told Blender is a good one to check out, too. It's also free software.
Blender is good, but you have to invest a fair chunk of time to figure it out. It is a good program to have, though. The strength of wings3D is that it's pretty intuitive, for a 3D modeler, so there are fewer hoops to jump through between your ideas and their implementation.

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Post by d_coombes » Wed Oct 20, 2004 7:22 pm

This is made in wings in 8 minutes.... I used to use Nendo, so it all come flooding back :-) The version of nendo I had didn't have materials though and wings does.... :-)

http://david.coombes.home.mindspring.com/fighter.htm

Max is hard to learn... you can get a free version of max called gmax and you can use it to make mods for games including ms flight sim I think... so in theory you could make an xwing for flight sim.... :-)
If you want to get data out of gmax you can use the quake format which is widely documented....


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Post by karim » Wed Oct 20, 2004 7:39 pm

I use blender a lot and like it. It is true that the learning curve is very steep, but it's a worthy climb.

These were done all in blender.

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Post by Shinnentai » Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:26 am

I've been trying to get some good 3D freeware for some time. I have the demo versions of Strata and Amapi, as well as POV-RAY. So far Strata's been the best. Amapi is a HUGE memory hog, and less intuative than Strata (very, very important when there isn't a manual offered). POV *may* work, I can't tell what I'm supposed to do with it, and I can't find any manual/tutorial links that don't assume you already know how to use it.

Strata's been a lot of fun to play with. The demo version has a lot of neccisary features disabled, but you can still do a lot of fun stuff with it, like making VERY realistic planets for your photoshopped model pix. I've figured out how to import textures and image maps, which you're not supposed to be able to do the intended way with the demo software. :D

That Wings 3d looks useful, but I can't get the download to work. They're using some kind of esoteric compression format that my computor doesn't recondise. It's also telling me that the dowloaded file is a compressed image file, not an application program. :shock:

The site says Wings 3d doesn't have a built in renderer, but is compatable with POV-RAY. Does anybody out there know of a site that explains the *basic* use of POV for total beginners like myself? At the very least how to use it as a renderer for programs like Wings?

I remember a link to the Gmax site being posted a while back that had a Mac version. All I can find with my web searches now is this "hypersquid" windows-only version. :x Since I run a Mac, this does not help, now matter how much they crow. Does anybody have a link to the Mac version?
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Post by d_coombes » Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:16 am

Povray is a ray tracer and its very similar to renderman which the one used in a lot of movies.
The input is script driven, so you basically have to type it all in by hand.. or write computer programs to generate it...
//ok this is pseudo code.. it woudln't actually work in POV but you'll get the idea
setMaterial "Marble"
cube 100,100,100
cylinder 100,200,800
They have some great docs on their website and some fun tutorials.

If you want to import a poly mesh ( trigangle soup as its sometimes known) you have to generate that in some other program and then reformat the data and paste it into a povray file.

VRML (3d for web-browsers) is a text based file format that most 3d packages can import and export. So what you do is write a python script to read in a vrml file and spit out something that works as a povray script. Its a bit of a pain..... There are a few converters for that sort of thing floating around on the web but I've no idea if they work on your mac. There is one called Moray that looks pretty cool. There is also supposed to be a plugin for wings but I haven't tried it.

There is a plan to have a single unified file format for 3d which would make all of these problems go away at least in the video game space.
http://collada.org/public_forum/welcome.php
which is something I'm involved in.. Its pretty ambitious and hopefully it'll work out because I'm sick of writing converters.

I'm going to rewrite my vrml to tri soup conversion program in python pretty soon ( right now its in C ).. The python version should work on a macintosh... Adding a povray exporter to that would be very easy....
When its done I'll post it up somewhere and let you know.

I gotta say though... I prefer making things, to modelling them in the computer...

Karim,
Nice work on the Star Trek model! Yeah I've been hearing good things about Blender and it supports python scripting... :-)

Dave

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IMHO

Post by ajmadison » Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:27 pm

So I've had a short amount of time to play with both Blender and Wings. Haven't really tried to do to much with Wings vs. Blender, but I can say this, Blender comes up quickly, and loads (nay imports) files very quickly without nary a complaint. Wings takes a very long time to load a mesh/es and its spit up on me several times just importing.

I am now attempting to figure out if these two programs can convert, say Lightwave or 3DS meshes into something turbocad can tolerate. Which I happen to have a free copy of, thanks to one of those UK 3D S/W magazines.

From what I've seen, I'd say that the investment in blender is worth it *IF* your project is fairly complex (and mine are). For something with a small number of verts, sure, wings can do the job. Or see if you can get a cheap version of turbocad.

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Post by macfrank » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:29 pm

Shinnentai wrote: That Wings 3d looks useful, but I can't get the download to work. They're using some kind of esoteric compression format that my computor doesn't recondise. It's also telling me that the dowloaded file is a compressed image file, not an application program.
The Mac version of Wings3D is for OS X. It downloads as a disk image and all you hav eto do is drag the application to your hard disk. If you have OS X and still can't get it installed, download it from a different server.

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Post by Shinnentai » Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:09 pm

d_coombes: Thanks for the info on POVRAY, although 85% ofit was greek to me as I have zero experience wrighting code of any sort. I guess I'll wait and see If I can find one of those comversion importers you mention.

I agree with you that physical modeling is more fun than computor modeling. I was looking into it mostly to make enviornment/background elements for photoshopped pics, and for doing quick "maquette" production art for lighting/color/composition reference in filming.
"Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized."
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Post by d_coombes » Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:54 pm

What you need is one of these....
http://www.rolanddga.com/products/3D/co ... efault.asp

They used one of these to make the new Darth Vader helmet... its on the special features dvd... its a bit out of my price range right now... although my girlfriend has her own jewelry business so maybe I could somehow write it off as a business expense?
!!
Dave

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Post by Shinnentai » Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:42 pm

Ah, so many projects that would help with....

If you like computor toys, dig this. I've been watching this technology for about ten years now. There's about 1001 ideas running through my head on what one could use this for. I'm still surprised none of the practical spfx houses have tried it for puppeteering animatronic creations (or CG ones for that matter).
"Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized."
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Wings vs. Blender

Post by ajmadison » Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:45 am

Or should I say Wings & Blender since the two programs actually compliment each other in features vs. ease of use.

FYI, my goals with working with meshes are two fold. 1. I want to generate accurate (model) construction blueprints. While some of the 'flat' material available on the interest are nice to look at, two views of a subject from perspective renders are not suitable for scratchbuilding. 2. If its feasible, I would like to generate a paper model of the subject on its way to becoming construction plans. I figure that other folks would like to build such topics and having something, anything in a semi-completed form is better than starring at a skeleton of plasticard for over a year.

If your goal is to convert a mesh from a format that's outputted from a professional quality CAD software, Blender is fairily stable and tends to output export meshes that are reasonably sane. Though I had one mesh come out with a varieity of artifacts (stuff that shouldn't have been visible, but were) due to how the original designer used object intersections to construct the vehical of interest. (Sorry if I'm coy about which meshes, e-mail me if you really want details.) Admittedly, I found wings, for casual inspection easier to use than Blender, and I found that the best path to that goal is NOT to convert to wings format from blender. Instead, export from blender to obj format, then import the obj format into wings. Your Mileage May Vary due to meshes of your interest...

I had a couple of astonishing discoveries along the way. One mesh, was wildly inaccurate when I had a chance to view it sans texture maps. That one was not going to be very useful towards generating plans, albeit between previously existing plans and my own research, I have some pretty good blueprints for that ship already, so no biggie there. Fortunately, a different mesh of the same subject was very accurate, alas, it is so memory intensive that any thoughts of doing a quick & dirty conversion to a paper model are on the back burner.

I've managed to successfully convert another mesh that opens without error in wings (see my earlier recommendation about using obj format). This went so smoothly, I was somewhat at a loss, like watching the Red Sox win the ALCS, now what? I'll have to explore converting the mesh so its readable by pepakura. Though the last time I tried it with this same mesh, the mesh was too complicated for pepakura, so I'll have to explore breaking the mesh down into separate assemblies and running those through pepakua.

A third mesh, also converted fairly cleanly, except, it had profile issues. Ordinarily, I wouldn't care at this earily stage of pre-construction, BUT, the profiles are actually excessively complex, and pretty much insure that pepakura will balk at trying to unfold it. To fix this mesh pretty much requires reconstructing the entire fuselage, and my goal wasn't to self teach myself 3D CAD S/W usage.

So the bottom line is wings & blender appear to be very workable solutions towards converting CAD meshes into scratchbuilding references of various forms.

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Post by ivanjs » Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:19 am

Don't forget that if you're a student or educator, you can get software at TREMENDOUS discounts! I got LightWave 3D full version for $299 a few years back because I teach 3D/drawing/photoshop/illustration/graphic design and animation at a design school.

Lightwave rocks!

Other software on the cheap for education:
Illustrator- $89, normally $350
PhotoShop-$250 normally $600
Macromedia Flash-$99 normally in the $300s
and so on.

Here's some educational software sites-
http://www.journeyed.com

http://www.academicsuperstore.com

John

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Post by Darth Tedious » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:54 pm

There is anamazing 3D VIEWING -not editing- software out there called 3D Exploration. They are already with version 3.5 and supports all files but 3DMAX.

It is a renderer as well and in the last version they do perfect ortho views of any design. Unvalublefor a true scratchbuilder.

You can get an evaluation download at www.rightemisphere.com

It is with that software that I made these views of the amazing Acclamator clas mesh by JDR:

http://img100.exs.cx/img100/622/f2-Plano1c.jpg
http://img48.exs.cx/img48/4415/0c-Plano2b.jpg
http://img48.exs.cx/img48/8084/5b-Plano6.jpg
http://img22.exs.cx/img22/4203/40-Plano16.jpg
http://img22.exs.cx/img22/7291/60-Plano17.jpg

Go checkit!
So many projects - so little time!!

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Very good, free 3D modeler software

Post by nitewerx » Thu Dec 23, 2004 10:37 am

if anyone is interested, my favorite weapon of choice is free on a british magazine website. caligari truespace IMHO is one of the best 3d programs at any price.
goto http://www.pcplus.co.uk/downloads/defau ... tionid=362

if interested you can see my work using truespace at the following:
http://www.dismalswamptraders.com/space/index.html

be sure to check out the new "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" section.
http://www.dismalswamptraders.com/space ... -mars.html

enjoy...

Nitewerx (JB)

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Post by d_coombes » Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:15 pm

He He He...
Yeah I still keep a copy of truespace around.... I think mine is version 3.
I think wings is a better modeller though.. and truespace doesn't have much in the way of texture mapping options ( you can't edit uvs directly ) but the renderer is pretty nice.
Maybe exporting vrml files from wings into truespace for rendering... :-)
Dave

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Post by captain_mills » Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:40 pm

3DStudion Max rocks... That's what I use, but it wasn't free... :shock:
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Kronan

Post by Kronan » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:04 pm

Cinema 4D from Maxon is pretty good. Sometimes older versions are free, packaged in with 3D modelling magazines.

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Post by Cmdr.Bubbles » Tue Mar 15, 2005 1:31 pm

d_coombes wrote:What you need is one of these....
http://www.rolanddga.com/products/3D/co ... efault.asp

They used one of these to make the new Darth Vader helmet... its on the special features dvd... its a bit out of my price range right now... although my girlfriend has her own jewelry business so maybe I could somehow write it off as a business expense?
!!
Dave
Only $2,995 (US Dollars) That is not totally insane. Get 4 or 5 guys together. you all chip in...... I wonder if any modeling clubs haven't considered this yet...

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Post by fokkerpilot » Sat Apr 09, 2005 10:11 pm

I have PhotoShop 6.01. I'm interseted in taking a jpeg image of the Runabout and making a "stretch" version of it. Has anyone ever tried this using Phot0Shop?

Thanks

Jack

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Post by HWR MKII » Thu Jun 02, 2005 4:27 pm

Does anyone know of any other sites the program is hosted at? my auto protect isnt allowing it from this site.

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Post by Balok » Sat Oct 28, 2006 10:36 pm

Darth Tedious wrote:There is anamazing 3D VIEWING -not editing- software out there called 3D Exploration. They are already with version 3.5 and supports all files but 3DMAX.

It is a renderer as well and in the last version they do perfect ortho views of any design. Unvalublefor a true scratchbuilder.

You can get an evaluation download at www.rightemisphere.com

It is with that software that I made these views of the amazing Acclamator clas mesh by JDR:

http://img100.exs.cx/img100/622/f2-Plano1c.jpg
http://img48.exs.cx/img48/4415/0c-Plano2b.jpg
http://img48.exs.cx/img48/8084/5b-Plano6.jpg
http://img22.exs.cx/img22/4203/40-Plano16.jpg
http://img22.exs.cx/img22/7291/60-Plano17.jpg

Go checkit!
Damn Darth, I'm impressed! I've been fooling around with Wings for a couple hours, and I ain't got to that. I haven't been able to follow the discussion inteligently and I will find out on my own, but is there anyway to take sections to print out and use as ribs to skin over?
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Post by captain_mills » Sun Oct 29, 2006 6:43 pm

Hey, just in case you guys might be interested, there is a freeware software program on LEGO.COM in which you can build your own 3D Lego model. It's no Bryce/Lightwave/3DSMax/etc... but it is awesome and fun to do...

I'll edit this post and put a link to the Download site and some of the pics of models I've done...

{EDIT}

Here's the website: http://factory.lego.com/getstarted/

And, here's some images...

http://www.teachanddiscover.net/gallery ... itemId=212
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Post by tetsujin » Mon Nov 20, 2006 12:56 pm

macfrank wrote:
uss_columbia wrote:I'm told Blender is a good one to check out, too. It's also free software.
Blender is good, but you have to invest a fair chunk of time to figure it out.
I've been learning Blender - I felt like most of the learning curve for me was just getting a feel for how you get things done in a 3-D mesh editor. So far I've learned a few basic mesh modeling techniques and I've learned to use subsurf modeling to make curves. (The difficulties of precision modeling with subsurf tend to annoy me, though, as the locations of vertices wind up changing as locations of other vertices change, and also may change depending on how many iterations of subsurf you perform... For these reasons I'm hoping that NURBS surfaces or other curve-based techniques will work better...)

One frustrating thing in Blender is that the built-in Boolean operations absolutely suck. Experienced mesh modelers keep telling me to find other ways to make things - but there are times when Booleans are exactly the right conceptual way to reach a goal, and it becomes rather frustrating to have to incorporate all the details into a curved surface as you're forming it.

The whole process has been really exciting, though. I always wanted to know how to make 3-D mesh models and so as I reached the point in the learning process where I could start to accomplish things, it was very gratifying to do so.
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BTW... google's sketchup

Post by ajmadison » Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:22 pm

If you want to do a quick & dirty model of something, google's sketchup is fairly intuitive, or at the very least, the learning curve is not bad. Its fairly good if what you are 'drawing' is made up of objects similar to pre-k building blocks. I even managed to take an existing mesh of the TOS Enterprise, and import it to sketchup. I was trying to see if I could contort the basic components of the TOS Enterprise into the Ships of the Line Calendar April 2006 ship. But the machine I was using, which is actually fairly new, didn't quite have enough horsepower and/or RAM. But where sketchup really doesn't do very well are compound curved objects, like a modern jet fighter. But, for example, it would do fine with most of the craft in the Star Wars Episodes 4 through 6.

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