What is the Best 3D Modeling Software for Architects?

What is the Best 3D Modeling Software for Architects?

Having a large number of apps is a good thing because it provides architects with more options, identifying the best option for your work can be challenging. To help you out, here is a closer look at the best 3D modeling software for architects, starting with the latest, CAD and BIM apps.

March 15, 2022

Professional architects today do not use pens and pencils to design houses. Instead, everything, from initial sketches to the final instructions, is now done digitally with architectural software, such as SketchUp, AutoCAD or Digital Blue Foam. As a result, a lot of developers have joined the industry and are producing new programs for architects. The latest of these programs are 3D modeling software architecture.

Although having a large number of apps is a good thing because it provides architects with more options, identifying the best option for your work can be challenging. To help you out, here is a closer look at the best 3D modeling software for architects, starting with the latest, CAD and BIM apps.

A Closer Look at the Difference between BIM and CAD

The two most advanced 3D apps for architects are, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Computer-Aided Design (CAD). In some cases, CAD can also add a third D for Drafting. CAD uses computer systems to help architects with design. On the other hand, BIM is an integrated workflow created on coordinated and reliable information about the project starting from the building design to its construction.

Note that although most BIM tools are mainly CAD apps, architects often use the term CAD with reference to drafting apps. The lovely thing about CAD and BIM tools is that they are more than drawing and drafting tools. Instead, they are important sets of tools for rapid building designs and easy collaboration of team members.

The Best 3D Modeling Software for Architects

1.  FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a three-dimension architecture program developed around parametric modeling, and you can use it for designing any type of structure. There is also the modular architecture that assists the app’s functionality by including specialized modules. You can use these modules to get a wide range of  modeling capabilities.

If you are looking forward to creating a unique building design, FreeCAD can be an excellent choice because it allows you to work with irregular shapes. Therefore, you are sure of creating unique 3D models for your work that would have been challenging with other apps.

FreeCAD stands out from other programs used in building architecture because it is pretty easy to use. Like other 3D programs such as Revit and Chief Architect, even starters are sure of learning how to use the app fast and create outstanding building designs. Finally, you will love this: the program has an open-source code and you can use the free version to prepare all your building designs.

2.  SketchUp

This is another top-rated and popular 3D modeling software that you can use for 3D building designing. You can use SketchUp for a wide range of projects, from commercial to residential buildings. The most notable point of SketchUp is the large library of extensions that make it possible to customize the app for different preferences. The program is also very easy for architects to use, especially when getting introduced to 3D building design.

SketchUp comes with a large library of 3D objects, including materials and surfaces with varying textures. Therefore, whether you want to design a high-rise building or a residential bungalow, SketchUp can be an excellent choice. SketchUp is also considered one of the best software for collaboration and 2D presentation in architecture. 

If you are new to the architectural designing discipline, Sketchup will be amazing because you can grasp most of its concepts within a very short time. Within a very short time, you can learn how to create new building designs and start working on complex commercial models. This is why a lot of architects prefer it to other CAD programs on the market today. Remember that you can also enjoy using the program’s 30-day trial session for free.  For new architects or building design professionals, this can be an excellent point to start.

3.  Digital Blue Foam

Digital Blue Foam tool is a game-changing web-based 3D modelling tool that allows designers to generate sustainable building designs according to the latest demands of built-environment. Powered by AI and generative design, it reduces a significant amount of time spent by designers on initial study and form conception. It uses the world's real-time data for analysis and design generation.

4.  AutoCAD

Created in 1992, AutoCAD is one of the leading apps for building design today. It was the first CAD program to be used on personal computers and became the most used app by the close of the 1980s. Over the years, the program has undergone multiple upgrades and now boasts of the most advanced features in the building design industry. Indeed, most of the top architects and new ones alike are likely to have used AutoCAD during their years in college. 

For most building designers, AutoCAD is the go-to app for 2D drawings, especially when working on floor plans and elevations. Furthermore, it allows you to easily convert your 2D drawings into 3D models with different mesh objects, solids, and surfaces for realistic renderings. To extend the 3D utility of AutoCAD, Autodesk, the parent company, also offers additional tools that easily integrate with it.

When developing building designs with AutoCAD, it allows you to select objects that give your buildings a real-world appearance. These include walls, windows and doors, among other objects. You can also adjust their measurements and outlook to complete your house designs easily with AutoCAD.

5.  Rhino

This is a 3D graphics and CAD app designed in 1998. It uses an advanced non-uniform rational basis spline (NURBS) mathematical system, which is a deviation from the traditional mesh-based application used in other 3D apps. With NURBS, you are able to create more mathematically precise designs of freeform and curved surfaces. So, if you are looking forward to creating advanced 3D models, Rhino can also be a good selection.

The strength of Rhino is in its ability to model complex intersections of unique surfaces, such as roofing. As an architect, Rhino also allows you to design freeform structures and standard surfaces. This is why many architects prefer it when targeting to develop unique house designs.

Further, importing drawings and models to Rhino is also easy. So, you do not need to start from scratch when learning or working on 3D projects. You can also use the Rhino CAD program’s large library of objects to complete the projects at hand even faster. 

The only challenge of using Rhino is that its learning curve can be pretty steep. Therefore, you might need some time to learn and be able to use all the features well. However, it will be a worthy undertaking because you will be able to create unique architectural designs for your projects.

6.  Maya

If you look at most 3D modeling software options out there, there is a sort of a feeling of limitation. Some of the programs in use appear to limit designer’s creativity and potential with their specificity. Maya was created to provide some freedom from these shackles. Well, lack of constraints has, at times, made some designers argue that Maya is too general, but this is where the freedom for architects comes from.

Maya allows architects to explore the concepts of building design that go beyond what common software for building designs offer. By providing you with freedom in your building design work, Maya helps to promote innovation. It is because of this that many architects are now turning to Maya to create new ideas and then transferring the models to other apps for further processing. You can even download additional tools for more advanced design work in Maya.

If you are getting started in 3D modeling, Maya can be an awesome learning platform. You will find it an excellent option to practice core concepts of crafting top-rated 3D models without any constraints. It also comes with a large community that helps not just with program development but also simplifies what looks complex. Last, but not the least, Maya software comes with a 30-day free trial phase that you can use to test the design features, learn, and make the decision about buying the full version.

7.  Modo

Developed by the team that created LightWave 3D, Modo is an outstanding app that you can rely on for all 3D modeling designs. Originally, Modo was created to help designers handle basic subdivision tasks, but it is now loaded with tools and features for more diverse applications. Let’s look at the main features of the program.

With 3D modeling as the core of the Modo program, it is considered one of the top programs for creating varying forms. You can even design polygon forms in no time, either using procedural techniques or direct tools on the app. Again, its user interface is awesome, allowing you to access different tools and run simulations with ease. Even if you are new to 3D designs, Modo makes learning the basics pretty easy.

Although some architects indicate that Modo lacks advanced dynamics, such as those present in Maya or Rhino, you can still make stunning artwork and create impressive 3D renders.

To craft good building designs, it is important to start by understanding and selecting the right programs. In this post on the best 3d modeling software architecture, we have highlighted the top apps you can consider on the market today. Remember that you need to progressively hone your skills in building design to create even better models.

Read more about architecture sketch ideas.

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