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JoshC January 26 2004 01:42 AM

3D Software?
 
I'm sorry, I know this question has been asked here a million times, but I've never needed to know the answer so I didn't really pay attention. What 3D modeling software does everyone use? I want to *try* to design a couple of ships for a fanfic I'm involved in but I don't have the slightest idea what program to use. I'm probably in way over my head because I have absolutely NO artistic ability whatsoever, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions for me, particularly anything that's not too difficult for a complete newbie to figure out, I'd be forever grateful.

Deks January 26 2004 03:13 AM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Everyone uses a different 3D prgram... well, there are groups of people who use 1 same program of course... :D

my reccomendation... find some information online regarding the 3D sotware... here's an example :

3D studion Max 5 (or 6),
Lightwave,
Maya... etc...

compare their functions...and decide which one you want to buy... to be frank with you, I use Max 4.2 myself, and I can tell you that making images or specific designs depends on how well an artist knows his/hers program ;)

so basically, each of those 3D programs is more than capable for just about anything you want it to do ;)

The Axeman January 26 2004 11:49 AM

Re: 3D Software?
 
3D Rendering and Animation

POV-RAY http://www.povray.org
Free-source available but restricted. Windows,Mac or Linux/Unix
Was once the most widely used free renderer on the planet. Script based and very flexable but very difficult to master. Creation of complex shapes requires the use of a 3rd party modeler, unless you have the brain of a supercomputer. Great for abstracts though.

Wings3D http://www.wings3d.com
Free-open source. Windows, Mac OSX or Linux
Extrusion box modeler, useful in conjunction with POV-Ray. Easy to use but no rendering or animation support, a dedicated model-making program.

Anim8or http://www.anim8or.com
Free. Windows
Basic modeler and animating package. Relatively easy to use but not widely used for much outside the Anim8tor community.

Blender http://www.blender.org
Free open-source. Windows, Linux/unix and Mac
Full modeling, animation and rendering package. Somewhat hard to learn but reasonably powerful. Recently open-sourced, so expect upgrades and plugins to start rolling in to increase usability.

Truespace 3D http://www.caligari.com
Cost varies by version, older versions given away free
An older package but still with many adherents. The rendering engine can't touch the top packages, but for free it's fine. Objects not as commonly available as they used to be, but still plenty out there for the finding.

Lightwave 3D http://www.newtek.com
$1000 to $2000, Windows, Mac, Linux
Professional broadcast-quality 3D modeling, animation and rendering tool. Extensively used for TV and movie VFX. Expensive but very powerful and reasonably easy to use. Fast renderering but with poor character animation support, although third-party plugins are curing this. Substantial student discounts available, and a free restricted-use 'learning edition' demo is available.

3DStudio MAX http://www.discreet.com/
$500 upwards, Windows.
Professional-quality 3D modeling, animation and rendering tool. Extensively used in the games industry and by hobbyists. Not regarded as good enough for broadcast or movie VFX use without an add-on rendering plugin. File formats not readily portable to other tools, and is a bit of a resource hog. Considered somewhat unstable and difficult to use when compared to Lightwave or Maya. A dedicated cut-down version called G-Max for games modelling is now freely available.

Maya http://www.aliaswavefront.com
$1500 to $17000+ WIndows, Mac, Linux
The Premier 3D modeling, animation and rendering package. Used for many movie VFX, but the full version sells for $17,000! Cheaper versions and demos are available for substantially less, but have accordingly smaller feature sets. Considered by many as the state of the art for 3D tools, superb for character animation but the rendering engine is knocked by some. Many VFX companies build and animate in Maya, then do the final rendering in Lightwave or a custom engine instead.

Vulcan January 26 2004 04:50 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
If you're looking for a free 3D program, I'd go with Anim8or. Although I've never used anything else. If you download Anim8or and have questions, don't hesitate to PM me. I have a few months (aboot 6) of experience with it. :)And I dare say I'm pretty good at using it. :p

The Axeman January 26 2004 05:27 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Likewise if you get a hold of Lightwave in any of it's forms, always ready to lend a hand. Whichever package you pick to try, always remember that there are usually plenty of other people who have been using it for a while and will be willing to give advice to a newbie. You'll also find user groups and peoples websites with invaluable info and tutorials that will help you through the worst of it.

Best advice is find a package you can at least get to grips with and practice, practice, practice! It will undoubtedly be difficult at first but the rewards if you stick with it are excellent. Remember, nothing worth having is ever easy to obtain!

Four Mad Men January 26 2004 07:24 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Same goes for me if you get Blender. The GUI is being re-worked and they have exposed much much more of the functionality in the menus (whereas before you just had to know the keyboard commands). Also the feature list is growing day by day. The daily builds also include Yafray (ray tracer) integration. Lots of good tutorials out there and as Axeman said, "practice, practice, practice!".

And as a side note, Blender has a dedicated CAD program in the works (first Alpha release a few weeds ago). I don't know if it will stand alone or not, but I'd be suprised if it didn't work with Blender in some fashion.

Vulcan January 26 2004 09:41 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
How powerful is blender? Because it seems to be a whole lot better than Anim8or. I checked out blender.com and it seemed like Blender had more accessories and stuff. :)

January 26 2004 10:51 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Does anyone know of a freeware program that would at least allow someone to view an already constructed Lightwave file?

Also, anyone interested in modeling/blueprinting the TOS Galileo shuttlecraft please feel free to check out the thread at:

http://www.hobbytalk.com/bbs1/showth...95&goto=postid

Four Mad Men January 26 2004 11:11 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Blender has a whole host of features I've not even used yet. There are some new mesh editing tools like "loop subdivide" and "knife subdivide" that makes the overall building process MUCH easier. No one on the project has tackled to problems with the booleans so these features are very much appreciated by myself (and others I'm sure). It's got all the standard stuff you can think of: UV Mapping, Multichannel textures, a whole host of lamp types, and the list goes on and on.

Some of the advanced stuff in modeling is the ability to create bones so you could create a "being" (human, animal, whatever) whose components move relative to how the bones are attached. Another really nice thing is Blender uses Python as a scripting language and there are some really interesting scripts out there for things like creating hair, grass, flocking behaviour (like in birds). Again the list of scripts is quite long. One nice script is an extrude along the face normal, this is quite handy for creating hull panels (extrude it, bevel the top edge and viola!). I myself have written a script that creates a spotlight for each vertex of a mesh (typically I use an Icosphere) and directs each lamp towards the center. Each lamp uses the same datablock for it's properties so a change to one affects all the others. I wrote this soon after Vector's GI lighting tutorial to decrease my ligthing setup time.

The introduction of Yafray integration (in the daily builds) is something people are raving about. I've not had a chance to play with it much but it has a GI setting with a ton of options.

Blender's animation tools (which include some audio tools by the way) are another area I'm not completely familiar with but it has a physics engine for the game engine that was recently re-actived. On a more day to day level you can create paths for objects to follow, or you can let Blender tween the objects motion by simply setting the location, rotation, etc. of an object for each frame and Blender will fill in the "gaps". All the setting (IPOs they're called) are modifyable as graphs if the changing them in the 3D space gets too unwieldy.

I'm the King of never-finished-projects but there are plenty of people out there who have created some really nice stuff with Blender. In fact I recently download the Refeit enterprise which has some nice detail. Including the spotlights you see that illuminate various parts of the hull. The impuse engines on it stunk but I just happened to be reading some tutorials on halos so I spiced those up, created a simulated GI lighting setup and it is now is my desktop wallpaper. I'd post the image but I'm not sure I can identify the author of the mesh. There are however a ton of galleries on the web with people you used Blender and Yafray so I don't think you'd have too much trouble finding examples of can be done with Blender.

That's probably too much information for you but it's just such a nice program (and getting nicer every day -- literally).

Four Mad Men January 26 2004 11:17 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Quote:

Posted by Chuckpr:
Does anyone know of a freeware program that would at least allow someone to view an already constructed Lightwave file?

Also, anyone interested in modeling/blueprinting the TOS Galileo shuttlecraft please feel free to check out the thread at:

http://www.hobbytalk.com/bbs1/showth...95&goto=postid

There an import/export suite (written in Python) available for blender and I believe it has the ability to handle Lightwave files.

As to the shuttle: What a coincedence I was looking for my shuttle craft this morning and could not find it (guess it got deleted), and was just this minute thinking about re-creating it -- although it (get ready) "was never finished" (suprise!) so I might just not-finish it again.

Lindley January 26 2004 11:21 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Are any of these programs decent at cityscapes?

(I'm downloading Blender now. Going to play around with it a bit.)

January 26 2004 11:28 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Quote:

Posted by Four Mad Men:
Quote:

Posted by Chuckpr:
Does anyone know of a freeware program that would at least allow someone to view an already constructed Lightwave file?

Also, anyone interested in modeling/blueprinting the TOS Galileo shuttlecraft please feel free to check out the thread at:

http://www.hobbytalk.com/bbs1/showth...95&goto=postid

There an import/export suite (written in Python) available for blender and I believe it has the ability to handle Lightwave files.

As to the shuttle: What a coincedence I was looking for my shuttle craft this morning and could not find it (guess it got deleted), and was just this minute thinking about re-creating it -- although it (get ready) "was never finished" (suprise!) so I might just not-finish it again.

Great! Feel free to join us. In the first page of the thread you will find links to a lot of reference photos.

Four Mad Men January 26 2004 11:32 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Well I hate to be known as Blender-Script-Man but there is a blender (python) script that creates city blocks (although when I say "block" I do mean block).

Here's a link to the Blender script list effort over at elysiun.com. I'm not sure if the city block script is in this list (I don't think it is) but It's in that forum.

And a reminder: If your looking for the latest and greatest go to the fourms at http://www.blender.org and download the latest daily build (Yafray, some additional features for the loop subdivide, bug fixes, etc.)

Four Mad Men January 26 2004 11:38 PM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Quote:

Posted by Lindley:
Are any of these programs decent at cityscapes?

(I'm downloading Blender now. Going to play around with it a bit.)

A quick tip. When in edit mode turn on show faces and edges. I't gives a nice visual cue to what your doing.

The Axeman January 27 2004 12:45 AM

Re: 3D Software?
 
Ages ago there was someone who asked my permission to turn a load of my old objects into Blender format for his site, so I assume there's some sort of import function out there for converting them. Lightwave itself can export as .lwo .3ds .dxf and .obj if any of those are of any use.


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