As you can imagine, with such a large industry of different designers working in their specific areas, there’s a lot of conjecture around which kind of software is going to give you the best options for product visualisation. In truth, any fairly good 3D modelling and rending packages are going to be valuable in the hands of a skilled artist. That said, here are a few of our top picks for 3D which are especially useful in product visualisation or industrial design.
TinkerCAD /free/ brower (https://www.tinkercad.com/)
An offshoot of the discontinued 123D Design from Autodesk, TinkerCAD is a simple yet powerful 3D modeller that runs right from your browser. Through its simple interface and easy to learn interface, TinkerCAD is obviously popular with the hobbyist crowd, but you might not know that may industrial designers keep it on hand as a quick 3D modelling tool, especially as it is a great 3D printing tool. The perfect place for any beginner to start 3D sculpting.
SketchUp – /from $695/ win, mac (https://www.sketchup.com/)
SketchUp is a brilliant tool for designers starting out in product rendering thanks to its ease of use the speed at which it works. If you want an intuitive solution with a gentle learning curve that will let you knock up stunning visualisations quickly and effectively, SketchUp is worth considering.
Rhinoceros 3D /from $695 / win, osx (https://www.rhino3d.com)
Much like its namesake, Rhinoceros 3D is an absolute beast of an engine and comes with literally thousands of built-in sculpting tools for modelling and editing. Throw in the fact that it is compatible with almost every design, rendering or animation software you can think of, Rhino might be one of the most versatile tools on the market for a visualisation.
Adobe Photoshop 3D / from £19 per month/ win, mac (www.adobe.com)
Whether it is used for a project from start to finish or just to add those finishing touches to a render from a different program, Photoshop is an industry standard, and anyone with experience using it will know exactly why. With tools for rendering, editing, lighting and 3D animation, Photoshop is proficient in every area, and its license fees is barely a fraction of what other engines cost.
Zbrush /from $795/ win, osx / (http://pixologic.com/features)
Zbrush might be known for its use in HD graphics for games and films, but it is also a firm favourite with product visualisers due to its powerful plugins like NanoMesh, Arraymesh and GoZ. Zbrush is known for allowing artists to cram an astounding amount of detail into their renders while still keeping a relatively low polygon count, and as such, it is used extensively in industries where very complex designs are required.
Autodesk Product Designer Suite /from £3,500/ win, mac (https://www.autodesk.com/suites/product-design-suite/overview)
The name really says it all here. This package doesn’t come cheap, but it gives you a number of brilliant Autodesk programs, including industry stables like as Inventor, Vault and AutoCAD, making sure that you are fully equipped for whatever problems the product visualisation industry can throw at you.
Punch Home Design Studio / $399.99 / win, mac (http://www.punchsoftware.com/)
With the word “punch” in the title, you know that this software has to have some power behind it, and that it does. This is without a doubt one of the most powerful and versatile rendering tool available on the market. Even if you are still learning and consider yourself a newbie, this tool is one of the best places to jump right in and start learning. With intuitive and comprehensive design tools you really won’t have a problem getting started and mastering the basics right away.
Cinema 4D / Starts at $600.00 and goes up/ win, mac (http://www.maxon.net/)
Cinema 4D is a powerful tool for beginners and experts that are looking to achieve breathtaking results fast and easy. With its wide range of tools and complete reliability this is the perfect tool for any fast-paced architect that needs to meet demands in a hurry.
MODO / $1799.00 a year / windows, Linux / (http://www.foundry.com/)
There is a good chance that you have probably never heard of MODO, but now is most certainly the time to check it out. Not only does it comes with an extremely powerful modeling program, but the on-board features are so easy to use. However, do not be fooled by the simplicity user interface, because this software has a unique set of cutting edge tools that other programs may not offer.
Octane Render / Starts at $399.00/ windows, mac, Linux / (http://home.otoy.com/)
Here is another 3D visualization software that is backed by a great brand. You know anything with the name Octane in the title is going to be bringing some firepower. This tool without a doubt lives up to the name, as it offers a large variety of textures and tutorials. When it comes to texture and lighting you will simply not find a tool with more options.
Lumion 3D / $1,857.94 / windows / (http://lumion.com/)
The biggest benefit of this software has got to be its compatibility. This software is compatible with just about any type 3D program you can think of. When you combine this with its walkthrough capabilities and animation integration, this really is a go-to 3D visualization program for any beginner looking to enhance their skills.
VRAY Maya/ $1,500 / windows, mac / (http://vray.us/)
When it comes to rendering software, VRAY has got to be at the top of the mountain. Even though it is already the best, it continues to evolve with continuous updates that are even impressing the most qualified experts in the field. Of course, you are going to have to pay for these kinds of features.