3D Modelling for beginners, what to choose?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Latino, Sep 21, 2003.

  1. Latino macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2003
    London, UK
    Hi guys and gals

    I'm interested in taking my first steps into 3D modelling and design, and simply put, I don't know where to start.

    Basically, I need to decide what modeller to use. My one and only requirement is that whatever I choose, must have a Mac, as well as a PC version.

    So far, i believe there are mainly three choices: Lightwave, Maya or Cinema 4D.

    I also had Softimage XSI in my list, but unless there is a very good reason for me to go down that route, I rather not, as it's not available for Mac.

    So far, all I've been able to dig out is that Maya is very powerful, but very hard to learn, so I think I'll cross that one of my list, as I just want to play around, and not create very realistic models, as I won't have time for that.

    I have a friend that swears by Lightwave, but I thought I would raise my question to you guys.

    What would be the best 3D modeller for a beginner, that has a Mac and a PC version? Do you guys know any other good modellers not in this list?

    It also helps if there are trials or limited functionality versions I can use for free first, of course

  2. mnkeybsness macrumors 68030


    Jun 25, 2001
    Moneyapolis, Minnesota
    well you said you just want to play around and you don't want to take much time to learn anything...

    so go with Bryce

    it's cheap...easy to use...and doesn't get too detailed.
  3. Latino thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2003
    London, UK
    Well, when I say play around, I mean I don't intend to create cinema quality graphics. I don't mind if my results don't look 'real', but if I get into it, I'll certainly want a feature rich environment.

    You mention bryce, and it is something I had not thought of before. I'll look into it. If it is as easy and cheap as you make it sound, it may be good as a first step, to start messing around, and then, move onto other more serious alternatives.

    Thanks for your input. I think I'll go and look for info on bryce now. :)
  4. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    My first 3D program was Ray Dream Studio (newest version Carrara Studio 3 was JUST released) and I found that the interface was used friendly, and that the documentation very helpful. If I had the $249 I would upgrade, but alas, with the purchase of a new 1.25 GHz 15inch AluBook I am broke.
  5. revenuee macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2003
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    one question you should as is how much your willing to spend

    Cinema 4D costs $600

    while Maya, last i checked cost over $10000

    thats a lot of money to spend on something your not sure you'll like doing.

    I like your thinking about Trial versions, check out the company website and
    along with Cnet's www.download.com for trial versions

    another thing to do, is to check out magazines that come with free software

    This month as a matter of fact the british magazine DIGIT is offering a full version of Carrara 1.1 included in your magazine purchase. The magazine costs around $12 to buy and you get a variaty of software with it to try and like this one in particular a full version, you can check out the magazine at

    www.digitmag.co.uk and it's available in the US and Canada at major magazine stands. you can always check back ever month with the magazine to see what other offers they have.

    Good luck
  6. revenuee macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2003
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    one other thing,

    that magazine also offers great, indepth, reviews of software packages so you can get so clearer answers there,
  7. tyson12zoll macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2003
    The "last time you checked" must have been years and years ago. Maya Complete for the mac is $1999.

    I would check out Maya. I'm incredibly biased being a user, but I could also recommend lightwave as i've used that too.
    Lightwave has an arguably more powerful modeler. Its just a very non intuitive GUI in many aspects...all text, lined up on the side.
    Any of these apps are gonna take some time to learn. A 3d app that doesn't have a steep learning curve isn't worth its weight.
    Download Maya PLE (personal learning edition) when it is available (or find 4.5 out there somewhere). Paint effects are very cool.
    I'm thinking C4D has a demo you can download. Might be worth looking into as they offer different packages of tools to meet various peoples needs.
  8. revenuee macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2003
    A place where i am supreme emporer
    Oops, sorry about that, i tried checking the Alias website before i posted but it wouldn't load. made me out to be an ass, oh well

    and yes it was, i think last time i looked was around the release of OS X 1.0
    not much need for 3D modelling when doing wedding video's so i havn't stayed upto date

    never the less... $2000 is still a lot of money if your just starting and not sure if your going to really enjoy or want to do it.

    one thing i do know is that Maya is holywood grade, and has a lot of powerfull features that someone just starting out may never use, at least not at the begging, so my point was try something a little cheaper, and see if this is for you.

    but thats just my thinking,

    and i'm sorry for the misleading information
  9. tyson12zoll macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2003
    I think C4D would be an excellent choice for this fellow. Only about 600 and very upgradable for the future. The other choices either suck or are much more money.
  10. tyson12zoll macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2003
    Unless you just looking into modeling (didn't hear anything about animation interests). In that case jump on some shareware. There are awesome modelers out there for free. They can get you started.
  11. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    I'm in a similar position to you, I wanted to have a look at 3D modelling, but nothing serious. I picked up the free version of Maya and didn't find it too difficult. It's the only one I've used. I might get Bryce one day and take a look at that too.
  12. 4409723 Suspended


    Jun 22, 2001
    I love Cinema 4D, it was designed from the ground up to be easy to use, yet powerful, this is an image I made a few days ago for a competition.

    Before you ask, the image had to have contrast, light and dark, young and old. So why not an igloo on fire? Dukestreet ahem, I mean Mr. Anderson is great at lightwave so you may want to talk to him.

    EDIT: You can get a fully functional Cinema 4D demo after filling in this form: http://www.maxoncomputer.com/download_demo.asp

    It's about 47 megs I think and works for 30 days.

    Attached Files:

  13. Latino thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2003
    London, UK
    First of all, thanks all for your commets. This is proving quite helpful so far.

    I'll try to reply to a few people all at once. Sorry about the delay, but it was bedtime here in the UK, and I had to work today. :)

    Stoid: That is one I had never heard of before. I checked the website, and there is a trial available for PC and Mac (i think it's 30 days), so when I get a spare minute, I may give that a go to see how I fare. It's also not very expensive at £119!

    Revenuee: Just checked Cinema 4D online. It's not as cheap, at £500, but they do have a demo version. Do you know if it's a fully functional, time limited trial? or is it feature crippled?

    Also, I stopped at WH Smiths (big newsagents in the UK) but I couldn't find a copy of Digit. However, yesterday evening I quickly checked Carrara Studio on the web, and they have a trial of version 3, so I may have a look at that

    Tyson12zoll: Maya is in my mind, mostly because they have the PLE version, which I believe is fully functional, but it puts a big backdrop on all your renders. Am I correct? I don't mind the backdrop, as the stuff I'll be doing is mostly for my own personal use. By the time I'm able to do funky stuff to enter competitions or to make cool animations, I should probably buy the full version. However, I have heard that Maya has an incredibly steep learning curve, which puts me off big time.

    May be you are right. If I want to do it right, I have to learn the tool properly. The problem is that if I start with very complicated things, I'm going to get very bored, very quickly, and give up.

    I have a friend that has been trying to learn Maya for quite a while, and while he has learnt a bit, he is going very slowly. Mostly because he finds it complicated and hard to motivate himself. I don't want to fall in the same trap. :)

    Yes, Cinema 4D has a demo, which I'll check out this week.

    With regards to animation, you are correct, I haven't mentioned anything. That's because I plan on learning to crawl first, then walk, may be then run, and possibly jump one day as well. If I start aiming too high, I'm gonna fall and break a leg. So I want to get my head around modelling and texturing, before I even think about animating. :)

    Wes: That image looks pretty cool. Just one piece of constructive criticism from a 'know nothing' about 3D. The source of the fire comming out of the top of the iglu seems weird, in that it's a perfect straight line, with a small exception on the right side.

    Unless you are implying that the fire comes out from the joints of the two layers of ice briks. Just an observation. Pretty cool idea. :)

    Cinema 4D is in my radar


    Well, so far, without having actually tried the applications themselves, I have Bryce, which is nice and cheap, wlthough I haven't found a demo or trial version anywhere, Carrara Studio, which is quite cheap, and has a demo which I'm going to try, and Cinema 4D, with also a demo, but a bit more expensive.

    Do any or all of those do animation? I'm not interested in animation right away, but I may do some in the future.

    Also, other than a brief comment from Tyson12zoll, no one has commented on Lightwave. I have a friend from university that uses that quite heavily, so he could offer me help if I needed it with Lightwave. I can't find a demo anywhere, but I have seen it before, and I could go and play with my mate's version. It's not cheap though...
  14. hvfsl macrumors 68000


    Jul 9, 2001
    London, UK
    I use 3D ToolKit which costs between $100-$200 and comes with a disk that includes both a Mac 9/x and PC version. It is very good for begininers and has lots of good help including movies that show how to do things. There is also a 30day trial on the site www.dvgarage.com.

    You can get Maya PLE version for free for both Mac and PC. Maya is a better package than 3D ToolKit, but it is a lot harder to use. The free version of Maya is only meant to be used by people learning 3D modelling. It is basically a cut down version of the pro Maya and cannot use any of the commercial Maya plugins.
  15. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3


    Feb 7, 2002
    while maya has a ton of stuff to learn. it's not very hard to get some good learner's books, and get some pretty darn cool results, pretty quickly and easily

    the first tutorial in the learning book is a ball bouncing through a ring of fire and shooting sparks... cheesy, but it walks you through it, and it looks pretty neat (considering)

    maya ple is an awesome option, and yeah, i believe the watermark on the renders is the only difference. however, the maya ple files won't work with the regular maya program. so you couldn't work in ple, and then render in maya or anything.

    but i think ple is a great way for people to learn an expensive, awesome program without having to shell out the cash right away.
  16. tyson12zoll macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2003
    I got started with Maya PLE. I was SO disappointed when I found I couldn't open my PLE files with Maya Complete. I had really gotten into a project and then had to scrap it.
    Although the watermark is the only difference any beginner would notice about PLE, its also in ALL the previews. Perspective, left, right, front...it actually does get in the way when your modeling.
    Its not at all as bad as I'm making it sound though...I would work for hours and totally forget about the watermark.

    I got the hang of Maya modeling pretty quick (about a month to become proficient with sub-d modeling). This was with about a year prior working with Lightwave. I can tell you, however, that learning to model VERY complicated objects in lightwave (providing the right tuts and books) can be easier. Maya has all of its deform tools hidden away in the animation department. Not even to mention the power of Lightwaves bolean tools compared to mayas. (let me know if im getting to far ahead here).

    C4D is gaining a lot of respect in the industry for being a serious package for little dough. I haven't touched it personally, but it seems the most economical of all the available packages.
    If I'm correct, you can buy dynamics, particle effects, and so on separately. Make sure you wont need any of these before buying. A fully decked out version of C4D costs more than Maya Complete.

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