<img src="https://certify.alexametrics.com/atrk.gif?account=43vOv1Y1Mn20Io" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">

The top 3D modelling software packages for filmmakers

Photo credit Houdini
3 minute read
Photo credit Houdini

We'll dive into five fantastic 3D software options that will take your filmmaking game to another level with mind-blowing visuals. Get ready to sculpt, animate, and create awe-inspiring worlds with the following 3D software!

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya breathes effortlessly life into your characters and crafts captivating visual effects. Maya is a professional 3D animation, modelling, simulation, and rendering toolset, designed for creating realistic characters and blockbuster-worthy effects. Maya's user-friendly interface and industry-standard tools make it perfect for filmmakers of all levels. Ultimately, it is designed for 3D modellers, animators, lighting artists, and FX artists across the film, TV, and games industries.

This 3D computer graphics application runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Unleash your creativity and watch your characters dance, dragons fly, and spaceships soar through the cosmos. From epic action scenes to heartwarming animated stories, Maya has got you covered!

Autodesk Maya has been widely used in the film, television, and gaming industries for creating special effects and computer-generated imagery (CGI). Avatar (2009) relied on Maya for the creation of the immersive world of Pandora and its native creatures. It also was used in creating fantastical creatures, landscapes, and epic battles in the Lord of the Rings (2001-2003).

The different subscriptions available are either £246/monthly or £1,968/annually.


Calling all aspiring filmmakers on a budget! Blender is open-source software that packs a punch with its extensive toolkit and remarkable community support. Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software tool set used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D-printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and, formerly, video games. 

Blender includes a production-ready camera and object tracking, which allows you to import raw footage, track the footage, mask areas and see the camera movements live in your 3D scene. Thanks to the high-quality rigging and animation tools, Blender is being used for numerous short films, advertisements, TV series, and feature films now. Create breathtaking scenes, characters, and animations without breaking the bank. Blender's got you covered from character modelling to rendering, and its ever-evolving features keep you at the forefront of filmmaking technology. 

Due to its open-source nature, Blender has become a popular choice for artists and studios looking for powerful and cost-effective 3D animation and VFX solutions.

Blender is free and you can download it here.


Pixologic ZBrush is a digital sculpting tool that combines 3D/2.5D modeling, texturing, and painting. ZBrush sets the industry standard for digital sculpting and painting. Its features enable you to use customizable brushes to shape, texture, and paint virtual clay in a real-time environment that provides instant feedback. Because ZBrush works with tens of millions of polygons in real-time, you can paint and sculpt directly on the surface of the model without first assigning a texture map or UVs. It supports multiple key file formats and has real-time integration with a number of popular software packages.

Craft expressive and lifelike characters, creatures, and props with intricate detailing that'll leave audiences in awe. ZBrush's intuitive sculpting tools will make you feel like a true sculpting virtuoso, and your characters will radiate personality and emotion. In short, ZBrush is an art tool created by artists, for artists.

ZBrush's ability to sculpt intricate details and create organic shapes has made it a popular choice in the industry for projects such as Avatar (2009), The Hobbit, Game of Thrones and Stranger Things.

ZBrush is available for both Windows and macOS platforms, and the licensing is dual platform so you can run on both or change between them at any time. You can buy it here for £26.90/monthly or £322.80/annually.


Houdini is a 3D animation software used to produce different effects such as complex reflections, animations, and particles system. Visual effects artists choose Houdini because its procedural workflow is ideal for creating sophisticated particle and dynamic simulations. Effects are typically designed to react to actions taking place in a shot and a procedural solution “automates” these reactions providing studios with more creative control and more rapid turnaround. With the Houdini Engine, you can share assets in other applications such as Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, C4D, UE4, and Unity with the asset’s procedural controls available in the host app.

Looking to add a touch of dynamism and physics to your filmmaking? Houdini is your go-to 3D software for creating mind-blowing visual effects and interactive scenes. With Houdini's procedural workflows, you can craft dazzling explosions, realistic fluid simulations, and much more with ease. 

Houdini was used in the creation of dragons, wildfire explosions, and destruction sequences in battles of Game of Thrones. It was also used to create the intricate and realistic snow and ice effects throughout the animated film Frozen (2013).

Houdini offers multiple subscription models for different users here with education licenses staring at $75 per annum. There's also a free learning edition.

Foundry Modo

Modo is a polygon and subdivision surface modeling, sculpting, 3D painting, animation, and rendering program. With the industry’s claimed fastest modelling toolset, it offers fast direct modelling, flexible procedural modelling, the award-winning MeshFusion Boolean toolset, and built-in sculpting tools all working together. It supports Max, Windows, and Linux systems.

This versatile software offers an all-in-one package for modelling, sculpting, texturing, and rendering. It's perfect for filmmakers who want to streamline their creative process without sacrificing quality. Create stunning visuals, believable characters, and awe-inspiring environments with Modo's user-friendly interface and powerful tools. 

Modo was used for certain 3D modeling and visualization tasks in both Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). Other big productions include Game of Thrones and Mandalorian.

It offers two subscription models for individuals: Modo Maintenance (£416 annually) and Modo Subscription (£60/monthly or £599/annually). Try out for free here.


Tags: Apps & Software 3D