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Old Apr 19, 2012, 06:34 AM   #1
whooleytoo
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Any good 3D modelling software for beginners?

I'm learning Unity at the moment, and am looking for a 3D modelling package to create some placeholder models (i.e. until I can get someone who knows what they're doing to create better ones! )

Blender comes recommended and is free, though I took an instant hatred to the UI - it seems to break every UI convention for the sake of it. But if it's the best option, I'll take the time to learn it.

I've tried Cheetah3D, which seems much easier, and isn't too expensive, 80 euros. It's probably a basic 3D package, but I'm too much of a modelling newbie to understand the limits yet. Any others? Ideally anything cheap, or with the Unity pricing (free to use/learn, but you pay to use commercially/export etc.)
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Old Apr 19, 2012, 07:50 AM   #2
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I use Unity and for 3D modelling use Wings 3D. I found it much easier to use than any of the other similar packages, plus it is free.

It does not have any animation capabilities, but that hasn't been a problem for me. It does help with making it more accessible.

Rather than loads of buttons, it relies on context-sensitive right-click menus. Change the camera mode to Maya and you have the same camera controls as in the Unity Scene window.
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Old Apr 19, 2012, 08:54 AM   #3
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Thanks! Never heard of it, will take a look now.

Just found Strata Design 3D SE as well, looks ok but it seems very cut-down compared to the 'full version (3D CSi 7) - no FBX import is the first missing feature I noticed. And the full version is a bit more than I'd like to spend until I better know what I'm doing.
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 12:30 AM   #4
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Which version of Blender did you try?

2.5+ has a redesigned UI which is quite good and you can learn how to use it simply on YouTube, tons of tutorials on how to do things and a large community, I wouldn't give up on Blender, I suggest spending some time and learning it, even if you buy Maya or Cinema 4D you will be overwhelmed by their UI, this is simply a complex thing to do and learn...
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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Thanks CodingRecipes, of course you're right, this will take time.

I've been trying to get into game development for years, but lacked the patience; I'd get frustrated too quickly. But I tried Unity a few weeks back, and for some reason it just 'clicked'. But I'll need some modelling experience as well, so I'm giving this a go.

I ended up buying Cheetah 3D last night (before I read your post). Of the apps I've tried, it seemed the simplest; and the most "Mac-like" UI, which I like. I've been impressed at how easy it was to pick up the basics. Once I have a better understanding of the concepts/terminology/challenges (i.e. when I have a clue what I'm doing!) I'll definitely start looking at other packages like Blender & Strata and I should be able to pick them up quicker, and better compare them. I'd love to try Maya etc. but there's no way I can afford them until I'm making money from this!

p.s. here my first model, working from a great online tutorial. It's not great, but yesterday I wouldn't have had a clue how to even start this, whereas now I know how the petals are created, I can re-create this from scratch with leaves in about 10 minutes.

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Old Apr 20, 2012, 10:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whooleytoo View Post
Thanks CodingRecipes, of course you're right, this will take time.

I've been trying to get into game development for years, but lacked the patience; I'd get frustrated too quickly. But I tried Unity a few weeks back, and for some reason it just 'clicked'. But I'll need some modelling experience as well, so I'm giving this a go.

I ended up buying Cheetah 3D last night (before I read your post). Of the apps I've tried, it seemed the simplest; and the most "Mac-like" UI, which I like. I've been impressed at how easy it was to pick up the basics. Once I have a better understanding of the concepts/terminology/challenges (i.e. when I have a clue what I'm doing!) I'll definitely start looking at other packages like Blender & Strata and I should be able to pick them up quicker, and better compare them. I'd love to try Maya etc. but there's no way I can afford them until I'm making money from this!

p.s. here my first model, working from a great online tutorial. It's not great, but yesterday I wouldn't have had a clue how to even start this, whereas now I know how the petals are created, I can re-create this from scratch with leaves in about 10 minutes.

Image
Looks nice!

As for game development, let me give you some helpful tips:

1. For learning Unity, try this site:

http://walkerboystudio.com/html/unit...___free__.html

These are some of the best tutorials I've found and their free. Once you go through these there is a course at Digital Tutors to give you some advanced knowledge of Unity as well as discuss the art aspect of game development (That is down the road though).

2. You should be familiar with programming. You don't have to be an expert, as that will come with time but knowing basic things like data types, classes, functions, and the flow of a program will help cut down on frustration immensely. Since you are using Unity a lot of the under the hood work will be done for you and you will only need to script for the most part.

3. Don't give up on Blender! Cheetah does seem nice and easy, and I've never dealt with Wings 3D but the newest version of Blender has a redone UI and is a lot easier to use.

That being said no 3D program is truly easy, they all take lots of time, practice and patience to learn. The payoff though is completely worth it. (I myself use Maya).

Also game assets can take a long time to make. I am making a gun at the moment and here was my workflow:

Model high res gun in Maya -> Sculpt fine detail in ZBrush and create diffuse, spec, and normal map-> Export model to Topogun for generation of a low res mesh -> UV map low res mesh in Maya -> Export low res mesh with high res maps to Marmoset for test rendering -> Import into game engine.

Depending on your graphics style you may not need all those steps, and for a basic game you could get away with making a model in your application of choice, UV mapping it, applying textures and be done.

4. Test your workflow before you start making graphics. Start simple. Export a simple cube or something from your 3D modeling app of choice into Unity. Does it appear correctly? If so do it again with a texture applied to it. Chances are you'll have to manually assign the texture in Unity but no biggie, keep doing it in small steps and you'll be very fast at it eventually and things will sail a lot smoother than if you make 100 assets, import them at once and they're all screwed up.

Anyway I hope none of that scared you away, the key is to start simple and expand. You will learn so much that way and have a much more enjoyable game development experience.

EDIT: Also if you are a student you can get Maya for free from Autodesks website, but honestly I'd suggest learning Blender incase you run into a case where you no longer have access to Maya that way you can still get your work done but for free vs $8500 or whatever Maya costs now.

All of the 3D apps do almost the same thing anyway, and most would say that Maya doesn't have the best modeling tools (those awards usually go to Modo or Cinema4D).
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 12:35 AM   #7
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That looks great, don't worry, I also have Cheetah 3D, since it's more Mac like and was written for Mac to begin with it has some convinient features, like you can open 3DS Max files and their textures are all there, the same thing didn't work for me on Cinema 4D which is around 10x more expensive, this is not the only reason though, it's just easier to work with but the only down side is the lack of material on YouTube etc. although I see more tutorials for it popping up on YouTube which is very nice.

Despite my post about Blender, I use Cheetah and have a whole suite of export tools written in convenient JavaScript… I recommend Blender if you can't afford Cheetah so there you go.

As for game development, if I wanted to start over I would make smaller games, don't go all out, I suggest learning some programming and a good book, I like Game Coding Complete, the 4th edition is out and it's just great, teaches you way more than it promises…

The reason I'm saying this is that I read your post on how you would like to buy Maya when you make some money out of your games, you are ambitious so make your own little engine, Unity is great but you will have to pay licensing fees if you want to sell a game, am I wrong?

Use libraries that are available, get a nice math library, a physics library, there are so many. I know a lot of people say use Unity, use an engine that's already out, but I personally can't, most of the fun of it for me at least is in writing the engine, no matter how simple that engine might be...

Good luck and let me know if you have questions about any of this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by whooleytoo View Post
Thanks CodingRecipes, of course you're right, this will take time.

I've been trying to get into game development for years, but lacked the patience; I'd get frustrated too quickly. But I tried Unity a few weeks back, and for some reason it just 'clicked'. But I'll need some modelling experience as well, so I'm giving this a go.

I ended up buying Cheetah 3D last night (before I read your post). Of the apps I've tried, it seemed the simplest; and the most "Mac-like" UI, which I like. I've been impressed at how easy it was to pick up the basics. Once I have a better understanding of the concepts/terminology/challenges (i.e. when I have a clue what I'm doing!) I'll definitely start looking at other packages like Blender & Strata and I should be able to pick them up quicker, and better compare them. I'd love to try Maya etc. but there's no way I can afford them until I'm making money from this!

p.s. here my first model, working from a great online tutorial. It's not great, but yesterday I wouldn't have had a clue how to even start this, whereas now I know how the petals are created, I can re-create this from scratch with leaves in about 10 minutes.

Image
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrono1081 View Post
Looks nice!

As for game development, let me give you some helpful tips:

1. For learning Unity, try this site:

http://walkerboystudio.com/html/unit...___free__.html

These are some of the best tutorials I've found and their free. Once you go through these there is a course at Digital Tutors to give you some advanced knowledge of Unity as well as discuss the art aspect of game development (That is down the road though).

2. You should be familiar with programming. You don't have to be an expert, as that will come with time but knowing basic things like data types, classes, functions, and the flow of a program will help cut down on frustration immensely. Since you are using Unity a lot of the under the hood work will be done for you and you will only need to script for the most part.

3. Don't give up on Blender! Cheetah does seem nice and easy, and I've never dealt with Wings 3D but the newest version of Blender has a redone UI and is a lot easier to use.

That being said no 3D program is truly easy, they all take lots of time, practice and patience to learn. The payoff though is completely worth it. (I myself use Maya).

Also game assets can take a long time to make. I am making a gun at the moment and here was my workflow:

Model high res gun in Maya -> Sculpt fine detail in ZBrush and create diffuse, spec, and normal map-> Export model to Topogun for generation of a low res mesh -> UV map low res mesh in Maya -> Export low res mesh with high res maps to Marmoset for test rendering -> Import into game engine.

Depending on your graphics style you may not need all those steps, and for a basic game you could get away with making a model in your application of choice, UV mapping it, applying textures and be done.

4. Test your workflow before you start making graphics. Start simple. Export a simple cube or something from your 3D modeling app of choice into Unity. Does it appear correctly? If so do it again with a texture applied to it. Chances are you'll have to manually assign the texture in Unity but no biggie, keep doing it in small steps and you'll be very fast at it eventually and things will sail a lot smoother than if you make 100 assets, import them at once and they're all screwed up.

Anyway I hope none of that scared you away, the key is to start simple and expand. You will learn so much that way and have a much more enjoyable game development experience.

EDIT: Also if you are a student you can get Maya for free from Autodesks website, but honestly I'd suggest learning Blender incase you run into a case where you no longer have access to Maya that way you can still get your work done but for free vs $8500 or whatever Maya costs now.

All of the 3D apps do almost the same thing anyway, and most would say that Maya doesn't have the best modeling tools (those awards usually go to Modo or Cinema4D).
Thanks!

If the cost or complexity of 3D packages haven't scared me, nothing you say can! You don't have to be charitable, I know the model above was a fairly simple first step! If you'd asked me a few days ago how to make a petal, I'd have started by creating 1 polygon, then lining another up right next to it, then another... and it would have taken me several days and looked rubbish. Now I understand how it's done (make a cuboid, divide it into sections, move/resize polygons to reshape the object into a rough approximation of the petal shape, then subdivision to smooth it out to the finished petal), I can

1) Thanks for the Unity tutorial link! LOTS of stuff there to work from! I've gone through 2 (2D and 3D Lerpz games), but those look even more in-depth, excellent!

2) I'm coming from a programming background, so that should be the easier part. I think I'll struggle more with my lack of artistic talent! Making textures/UV mapping for instance is something I may struggle with.

3) Yup, Blender seems to be very widely recommended. I think I'll stick with C3D for now, and keep learning the tools and trying to model different kinds of shapes. Then, I'll try out Blender (and maybe a trial version of one of the others) to see how that compares. I'd like to know which features are app-specific and which are common across all tools.

4) That sounds like good advice. I do have a game concept in mind, which is a big game, but built from small simple scenes with simple modelling; which can easily be added individually. To be honest, I'm not even going to start making the game until I know can model an avatar with (basic) animation, and the objects I need for a simple scene.

Appreciate the advice!
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 07:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whooleytoo View Post
Thanks!

If the cost or complexity of 3D packages haven't scared me, nothing you say can! You don't have to be charitable, I know the model above was a fairly simple first step! If you'd asked me a few days ago how to make a petal, I'd have started by creating 1 polygon, then lining another up right next to it, then another... and it would have taken me several days and looked rubbish. Now I understand how it's done (make a cuboid, divide it into sections, move/resize polygons to reshape the object into a rough approximation of the petal shape, then subdivision to smooth it out to the finished petal), I can

1) Thanks for the Unity tutorial link! LOTS of stuff there to work from! I've gone through 2 (2D and 3D Lerpz games), but those look even more in-depth, excellent!

2) I'm coming from a programming background, so that should be the easier part. I think I'll struggle more with my lack of artistic talent! Making textures/UV mapping for instance is something I may struggle with.

3) Yup, Blender seems to be very widely recommended. I think I'll stick with C3D for now, and keep learning the tools and trying to model different kinds of shapes. Then, I'll try out Blender (and maybe a trial version of one of the others) to see how that compares. I'd like to know which features are app-specific and which are common across all tools.

4) That sounds like good advice. I do have a game concept in mind, which is a big game, but built from small simple scenes with simple modelling; which can easily be added individually. To be honest, I'm not even going to start making the game until I know can model an avatar with (basic) animation, and the objects I need for a simple scene.

Appreciate the advice!
No problem

One more thing I can suggest, when you get to the "animating a 3D model" part, there is a step there called "Rigging". Its the process of creating an animatable skeleton to which you bind your mesh to and it'll deform based on that rigs movements.

Its hell the first few times you do it. Stick with it though, it DOES get better...kind of.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CodingRecipes View Post
That looks great, don't worry, I also have Cheetah 3D, since it's more Mac like and was written for Mac to begin with it has some convinient features, like you can open 3DS Max files and their textures are all there, the same thing didn't work for me on Cinema 4D which is around 10x more expensive, this is not the only reason though, it's just easier to work with but the only down side is the lack of material on YouTube etc. although I see more tutorials for it popping up on YouTube which is very nice.

Despite my post about Blender, I use Cheetah and have a whole suite of export tools written in convenient JavaScript… I recommend Blender if you can't afford Cheetah so there you go.

As for game development, if I wanted to start over I would make smaller games, don't go all out, I suggest learning some programming and a good book, I like Game Coding Complete, the 4th edition is out and it's just great, teaches you way more than it promises…

The reason I'm saying this is that I read your post on how you would like to buy Maya when you make some money out of your games, you are ambitious so make your own little engine, Unity is great but you will have to pay licensing fees if you want to sell a game, am I wrong?

Use libraries that are available, get a nice math library, a physics library, there are so many. I know a lot of people say use Unity, use an engine that's already out, but I personally can't, most of the fun of it for me at least is in writing the engine, no matter how simple that engine might be...

Good luck and let me know if you have questions about any of this...
Funnily enough, Cheetah 3D just popped up in the Mac App Store over the last few days, and is one the top grossing apps so hopefully there will be more of a community springing up.

I do have a game concept built around lots of simple scenes, so if I run out of time, I can just trim down the number of scenes to save time without losing any quality/detail (rather than having to simplify the entire game to save time).

I'd LOVE to put together my own engine, but my problem has always been too much ambition and too little patience. So this time, I'm hoping to just get a game finished and out; and then with that experience (and hopefully a little money), I can take on something more ambitious. Hell, even after a couple of weeks of using Unity, and a few days of Cheetah 3D, I'm already thinking "Oh, I could build a tool so much more intuitive than this..."

As for questions? I have lots! For instance, in Cheetah3D, I tried building a house by making a cube, then 'punching' holes for the windows and doors using the Boolean tool. (Add a Boolean creator, then drag the house cube, and a cuboid the size of the door onto it) and that works fine. But then if I want to repeat the process for a window, I can't see how you do it.

Also I made the (attached) model for fun, but I couldn't see how you join the cone and the plane into one object. Is that possible? And yes, those stars are meant to be 'stuck on' and not part of the texture.

Thanks again for the advice & help!
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 08:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by whooleytoo View Post
Funnily enough, Cheetah 3D just popped up in the Mac App Store over the last few days, and is one the top grossing apps so hopefully there will be more of a community springing up.

I do have a game concept built around lots of simple scenes, so if I run out of time, I can just trim down the number of scenes to save time without losing any quality/detail (rather than having to simplify the entire game to save time).

I'd LOVE to put together my own engine, but my problem has always been too much ambition and too little patience. So this time, I'm hoping to just get a game finished and out; and then with that experience (and hopefully a little money), I can take on something more ambitious. Hell, even after a couple of weeks of using Unity, and a few days of Cheetah 3D, I'm already thinking "Oh, I could build a tool so much more intuitive than this..."

As for questions? I have lots! For instance, in Cheetah3D, I tried building a house by making a cube, then 'punching' holes for the windows and doors using the Boolean tool. (Add a Boolean creator, then drag the house cube, and a cuboid the size of the door onto it) and that works fine. But then if I want to repeat the process for a window, I can't see how you do it.

Also I made the (attached) model for fun, but I couldn't see how you join the cone and the plane into one object. Is that possible? And yes, those stars are meant to be 'stuck on' and not part of the texture.

Thanks again for the advice & help!
Your hat looks nice!

I'm not sure how to do it in Cheetah but generally you can combine a cone and a plane (in the way you have it) by:

1. Deleting the bottom faces of the cone. This will give you an area to "attach" the plane.

2. Make a hole in your plane that has the same number of edges as the base of the cone. For example if your cone has 8 edges around the bottom, you need 8 edges in the hole in your plane.

3. Merge the vertices (points) of the cone, to the plane all around the base of the cone. This should give you a solid piece.

Thats the theory, hopefully someone can chime in with Cheetah specific advice.
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Old Apr 23, 2012, 11:41 PM   #12
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Ok rookie , for the first game your buildings should really have a texture with doors and windows on them not wholes, not real doors, and I suggest posting on Cheetah 3D's forums for Cheetah related questions, you will get quick answers and some users are quite advanced over there…

To get a game out, make it small, resist the temptation, don't generalize, don't make any source files you don't imediately need, don't write a single line of code you don't need, I say it again, resist the temptation.

You are welcome to send me PMs if you need more info etc.

Good luck and I promise, you are in for some serious fun...

Quote:
Originally Posted by whooleytoo View Post
Funnily enough, Cheetah 3D just popped up in the Mac App Store over the last few days, and is one the top grossing apps so hopefully there will be more of a community springing up.

I do have a game concept built around lots of simple scenes, so if I run out of time, I can just trim down the number of scenes to save time without losing any quality/detail (rather than having to simplify the entire game to save time).

I'd LOVE to put together my own engine, but my problem has always been too much ambition and too little patience. So this time, I'm hoping to just get a game finished and out; and then with that experience (and hopefully a little money), I can take on something more ambitious. Hell, even after a couple of weeks of using Unity, and a few days of Cheetah 3D, I'm already thinking "Oh, I could build a tool so much more intuitive than this..."

As for questions? I have lots! For instance, in Cheetah3D, I tried building a house by making a cube, then 'punching' holes for the windows and doors using the Boolean tool. (Add a Boolean creator, then drag the house cube, and a cuboid the size of the door onto it) and that works fine. But then if I want to repeat the process for a window, I can't see how you do it.

Also I made the (attached) model for fun, but I couldn't see how you join the cone and the plane into one object. Is that possible? And yes, those stars are meant to be 'stuck on' and not part of the texture.

Thanks again for the advice & help!
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Old Apr 24, 2012, 06:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrono1081 View Post
Your hat looks nice!

I'm not sure how to do it in Cheetah but generally you can combine a cone and a plane (in the way you have it) by:

1. Deleting the bottom faces of the cone. This will give you an area to "attach" the plane.

2. Make a hole in your plane that has the same number of edges as the base of the cone. For example if your cone has 8 edges around the bottom, you need 8 edges in the hole in your plane.

3. Merge the vertices (points) of the cone, to the plane all around the base of the cone. This should give you a solid piece.

Thats the theory, hopefully someone can chime in with Cheetah specific advice.
So what you're saying is "combine the basic shapes BEFORE you start working on the fine details". Gotcha!

Thanks! I was looking for how you merge points, and then found a link explaining the recommended way for combining objects in C3D. If you're interested:

1) Move your objects so they're touching/overlapping as required.
2) Make both objects editable.
3) In the Object Browser, drag one object onto the other (doesn't matter which) to make it a child of the other.
4) Select the parent object, and from the Tools menu select "Import Children".
5) Delete the child object, it's no longer needed.

Tada! For me it didn't work perfectly though, when I moved the cone upwards, some of the nodes/edges didn't seem merged, leaving 'rips' at the join. Plus, when rendered, there's still a thin line visible through the material. Still, I'm making progress.
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Old Apr 24, 2012, 08:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by CodingRecipes View Post
Ok rookie , for the first game your buildings should really have a texture with doors and windows on them not wholes, not real doors, and I suggest posting on Cheetah 3D's forums for Cheetah related questions, you will get quick answers and some users are quite advanced over there…

To get a game out, make it small, resist the temptation, don't generalize, don't make any source files you don't imediately need, don't write a single line of code you don't need, I say it again, resist the temptation.

You are welcome to send me PMs if you need more info etc.

Good luck and I promise, you are in for some serious fun...
Thanks. Don't worry, I'm just learning how to do the basics (bulging/bending/combining/splitting/extruding/'punching holes' etc) for the moment. If I started making game models now, I'd probably find a better way to do something in a few days time and have to re-do all of them.

As much as possible, I'm trying to figure things out on my own, rather than going to the Cheetah3D forum as a first resort. I figured out how to 'punch' holes (windows, doors etc) in an object: create a boolean object, drop the house object and the door-size object onto it, then make it editable. That combines the two, and you can repeat as often you like. It seems to convert the object surfaces to triangles though, which might make later editing more tricky?

Anyway, speaking of fun, I've been grinning like an idiot every time I start working/playing with Cheetah or Unity! Found a great tutorial on Vimeo for a magnifying glass (handy for modelling 'lathed' shapes), and tweaked it a bit. My favourite model so far (last one I'll post. Promise!)
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Old Jun 26, 2012, 04:03 PM   #15
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p.s. here my first model, working from a great online tutorial. It's not great, but yesterday I wouldn't have had a clue how to even start this, whereas now I know how the petals are created, I can re-create this from scratch with leaves in about 10 minutes.

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Hey, I'm just using Cheetah now, would you mind linking me this great online tutorial or any others you think are useful for a beginner?

Thank you
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Old Jun 26, 2012, 04:23 PM   #16
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It's a PDF rather than a video, but I often prefer them as it's easier to progress at your own pace. If you get stuck on anything, just ask here!

This magnifying glass tutorial one is pretty good too.
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Old Jun 26, 2012, 04:47 PM   #17
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Rhinoceros is a good easy to use software. Its quite easy to learn but it needs some few tutorials at least. Its not cheap though.
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Old Jun 27, 2012, 12:26 AM   #18
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Here

It's a PDF rather than a video, but I often prefer them as it's easier to progress at your own pace. If you get stuck on anything, just ask here!

This magnifying glass tutorial one is pretty good too.
Wow thank you very much! I'll have a go at these later on today
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Old Jul 3, 2012, 03:46 PM   #19
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I'd highly recommend you give Blender a chance. It's free and very powerful if you get used to it. And (I don't really know what you mean by placeholder models) if you want to just make cubes or something, you shouldn't have to mess around with any of the UI. Just hit Shift+A > mesh> cube.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:14 PM   #20
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There are many software in the market like Aurora 3D,Xara 3D Maker,MAGIX 3D Maker etc

I have used 3Ds Max for 3d modeling and i recommend 3Ds Max. It's perfect for 3d modeling designs.

Kind Regards,
Funique
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