Best 3D Sculpting Software Online - 3D Studio (2023)


Creating high-end 3D models with an exceptional level of detail and varied complexity is how you could describe digital sculpting in one sentence. It is one of the best technologies to use for creating detailed organic models with lower polygon count and faster rendering.

Though digital sculpting often gets less attention than 3D modeling, it has a lot to bring to the table. That’s why almost all the best 3D modeling software provides sculpting tools for better workflow.

Today, you’ll learn about the benefits of digital sculpting and where you could apply it.

What is Digital Sculpting?

Digital sculpting, also known as 3D sculpting, is a process of creating a detailed 3D object by pushing, pulling, smoothing, and pinching the material called digitized clay.

Digital sculpting does exactly what the name implies ーit takes real-life sculpting to the digital level. The 3D sculptor uses the clay to manipulate the shape until the final forms start to come up, just like a real sculptor but in the digital environment.

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Artists use complicated calculations and various virtual tools and materials to make polygon mesh act like real clay. Besides, depending on the complexity of the model, digital sculpting can take hours or hundreds of hours. But the final result is always worth it.

And the process is not that complicated.

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What is the Process?

Digital sculpting is very much like real-life sculpting since it is also a multi-layer process of dividing a model into blocks. It all starts with the formless mesh and a basic silhouette of a future object. However, it could be either a basic model created with the 3D modeling software or a simple shape.

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Then digital sculptor starts to tweak the geometry of the object with a digital brush to twist, carve, and stretch the mesh until the basic form is achieved. At this stage, the artist can remove some layers or create a more meticulous mesh.

The most popular brushes to use here are:

  • Smooth brush 一 to turn rough surfaces smooth
  • Curve brush 一 to create indentations and curves
  • Groom brush 一 to modify fiber-based objects
  • Clip brush 一 to cut away materials
  • Curve bridge brush 一 to meld bridges between curves
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The next step in a digital sculpting process is to subdivide the geometry to achieve more details.

The subdivision continues until the digital sculptor reaches the desired level of detail.

Note: 3D sculpting used a lot of computer resources, so the process will get slower and require more power to process with each layer.

Texturing is the final step in digital sculpting where the sculptor applies texture maps to add minor details to the final object and get a more realistic output.

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It is quite similar to 3D modeling. So the main question is 一 how is it different from it?

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3D Modeling vs 3D Sculpting

3D modeling is a broad concept that shades other technologies used in a 3D environment. Whereas modeling and sculpting are quite similar, there still is some contrast between the two.

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To start with, the main difference between these two technologies is the nature of the generated 3D objects, though both provide an outstanding level of detail.

3D modeling relies heavily on the geometry of the object and mathematical calculations. So the main “tools” it deploys are polygons, lines, vector points, and different geometric shapes. These are perfect for hard surface modeling used in architecture and product visualization.

3D sculpting, on the other hand, is a perfect choice for organic models that come out having smoother outlines and curves. The geometry is manipulated with the brush tool to get softer edges and strikingly real 3D objects. So, sculpting is ideal for 3D character modeling.

If you’re wondering whether it’s best to use one over the other ー the answer is no. Both 3D sculpting and modeling provide great results depending on the object you want to create.

Best 3D Sculpting Software Online - 3D Studio (6)

Nevertheless, sometimes you can even use both technologies. If your object is to be animated, it has to be modeled first and sent for sculpting. Only after this does it gets layered over the animation and rendered.

So, you can’t compare them since they’re often used interchangeably.

Digital Sculpting Real-life Application

If 50 years ago you told someone that creating a real-life object in 3D space would be possible they’ll react the same as people told about TV a century ago. Technology develops and 3D modeling, digital sculpting in particular, is avidly used throughout a variety of industries.

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Modern cinema has become so immersive, it is even hard to define when it is real and when generated in 3D space. So, there is a growing need for more advanced and impeccably realistic 3D characters created via digital sculpting.

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Product Design

Digital sculpting provides you with seamless opportunities to achieve unconventional product designs with any type of curve or shape. That’s why it is used for product design, prototyping and development too.


Gaming is the industry that relies heavily on 3D sculpting to get the most out of their characters. High-end games use digital sculpt texture maps to reduce the polygon count and overall size of the game.

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Since design plays a huge role in grabbing customers’ attention it is vital to use uniform models and objects in advertising. That’s what 3D sculpting is there for. So you’ll find a lot of sculpted faces and form on posters and billboards these days.

Best Digital Sculpting Software

As you can see digital sculpting is an in-demand skill that doesn’t come naturally, The process is completely different from 3D modeling. So you need the best tools to hone your skills.

ZBrush 一 is the best 3D sculpting software out there that has become a standard for highly detailed models. It offers a wide range of options from 3D modeling and texturing to sculpting to rendering. ZBrush is an all-in-one tool that has complex features, so it is aimed at more experienced users.

Mudbox 一 is a perfect tool if you want to start sculpting a model from a polygon mesh. It uses a layers approach to pass details onto the object and multiple other tools to manipulate the forms. So, it’s very intuitive and perfect for beginners.

Meshmixer 一 is considered too basic when compared to other top-notch software. However, it allows creating objects with a much lower polygon count while maintaining a high level of detail. Moreover, Meshmixer offers an online manual which makes it recommended for any 3D sculpting novices.

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Pros and Cons of 3D Sculpting

3D sculpting is not as hard as it seems before you start. However, don’t get too agitated to jump right into it, especially if you’re new to the world of 3D. It has some pitfalls too.

To sum up, let’s go through the benefits and drawbacks of digital sculpting:

  • Objects are created faster than in modeling
  • Allows you to manipulate the object easier
  • Maintains a high level of detail
  • Mostly used to create organic objects
  • Easier to add corrections
  • Requires a certain level of skill to master
  • Doesn’t fit the requirements of the large scope objects
  • Takes a lot of time to create hard surface models with even edges
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At this point, you should have the question about 一 What is digital sculpting? 一 totally covered. It is a growing trend in a 3D environment for a variety of reasons like an impeccable level of detail or a straightforward and intuitive modeling process.

Though it requires certain skills to achieve great results, as soon as you start 3D sculpting you’ll realize it is easier than you’d expect. After all, it is a great asset to your modeler’s skill set, especially when you learn how to 3D model.

Give it a shot and you won’t regret it.


What software is used for 3D sculpting? ›

3D Sculpting Software n°1: ZBrush

It is considered to be one of the best and most popular software for creating 3D models. ZBrush does not use any CAD programs to create its models. Instead, it uses a “3D pixels” technology which is similar to sculpture.

What is the most realistic 3D software? ›

Top 10 3D Rendering Software
  • Maya.
  • 3ds Max Design.
  • KeyShot.
  • D5 Render.
  • Lumion.
  • Cinema 4D.
  • V-Ray.
  • Autodesk Arnold.

Which 3D Modelling software is the easiest to learn? ›

Top 6 easy software for beginners
  • Tinkercad is a product of Autodesk, leader of the most popular 3D modeling and CAD software. It's free software available online. It's very intuitive and shows you the basics of 3D by using primitive shapes. ...
  • Morphi.
  • 3D Slash.
  • SelfCAD.

Which is better ZBrush or Blender? ›

ZBrush has been part of various companies, and studio productions on a large scale for better results such as photorealistic and production-quality sculpts. In Blender, the ways of treating high-quality 3D render and production-quality sculpts aren't as better compared to ZBrush.

What is the difference between 3D modeling and 3D sculpting? ›

The Main Difference. The major distinction between 3D modeling and sculpting is that 3D modeling focuses on the direct lines of vertices, edges, and polygon mesh, whereas sculpting focuses on the indirect lines of vertices, sub-object level, shaping of a large mesh, such as sculptor.

What 3D program does NASA use? ›

NASA uses several CAD software packages. They use CATIA, Unigraphics and CADDS.

What is the hardest 3D software to learn? ›

3ds Max is likely the most difficult software to learn on this list. Its UI is rather obtuse, so it may have the largest learning curve for users yet unfamiliar with 3D modeling.

Is Maya better than Blender? ›

Speaking of Maya vs Blender in terms of being a better tool for beginners, Blender is by far the leader. The workstation as of 2022 is a user-friendly zone that won't make a novice recoil from the screen in horror. One of Blender's most interesting modeling tools is modifiers.

Is 3D modeling oversaturated? ›

Currently, the job market is oversaturated with 3D artists working in illustration or book design, so these might be the fields that are currently best-avoided. Some of the growing job categories for 3D artists include mobile advertising, social media marketing, and video editing and design.

Is blender good for 3D Modelling? ›

Blender is a free and open source 3D application from Blender Foundation. It has great tools for modeling, rigging, rendering, animation, simulation, motion tracking and some game and video creation options. You can also use it for low poly and UV maps.

Which free software is best for 3D building design? ›

15 Free Architecture Software Tools
  1. Blender. Blender is a free and open-source 3D-modeling solution. ...
  2. FreeCAD. This free architecture software is a parametric 3D modeler built for creating models of real-life objects. ...
  3. LibreCAD. ...
  4. OpenSCAD. ...
  5. My Virtual Home. ...
  6. Floorplanner. ...
  7. Sweet Home 3D. ...
  8. Live Home 3D.

How many hours does it take to learn 3D modeling? ›

On average, learning the basics of 3D design takes from 6 to 12 months, while mastering all its tools may last for years.

Why 3D modeling is difficult? ›

It needs proper practice and resources to get perfect. When you have proper training, it's relatively easier. But when you go into advanced projects, it becomes a bit harder. Hence, related genres of 3D modeling like sculpting need intense expertise and time.

Is Sketchup good for 3D Modelling? ›

Sketchup is the most easy-to-learn and easy-to-use 3D modeling software there is. Some people say that it not as professional as other 3D software. But it's certainly not the case. If you learn most of its capabilities, you'll be able to model in a very accurate and precise way.

Do professional 3D artists use Blender? ›

It isn't industry standard.

Blender software is great for learning the ropes and working on solo projects, whether they're paid gigs or just for fun. However, if you take on a project and join someone's team, it's unlikely they'll use Blender for 3D animation.

Why do professionals not use Blender? ›

Because Blender is “A Jack of all trades, Master of none” type of software. And it's open-source so unlimited possibilities. Industry-standard software concentrates and solves numerous critical production problems. Fully specialized software for a specific industry.

Are professionals using Blender? ›

Blender is a free computer graphic tool widely appropriate for digitally modeling objects, scenarios, and all types of artistic creations. The open-source software has a huge community and is a suitable tool for professionals, beginners, and even casual artists.

How long does it take to be good at 3D sculpting? ›

It takes between 1 to 4 years to become a 3D artist.

While some argue that it takes roughly four months to understand 3D modeling, learning art theory and developing your style and niche as a 3D artist will take some time.

Is 3D sculpting in demand? ›

Luckily, 3D modelers enjoy incredibly high demand for their talents. Not only does it take dedication to develop the skills necessary to create at a professional level, but there are some main pillars of entertainment that are responsible for the explosion of 3D modeling demand.

Can you make money with 3D sculpting? ›

If you're good at creating 3D models, you can make a pretty penny by selling them online. Several websites allow you to upload and sell your 3D models, such as TurboSquid and CGTrader. You'll typically earn a commission on each sale, so make sure to price your models accordingly.

What 3D modeling software does SpaceX use? ›

The PLM solution included NX software, Femap software, and Teamcenter software. The NX software is used for the entire SpaceX rocket, Siemens said.

What software do SpaceX engineers use? ›

C/ C++ Obviously, there will be C++ involved (it's rocket science!). In SpaceX, both C and C++ are used for flight software.

Is NASA using Python? ›

Here's how it works: Data from NASA's Deep Space Network feeds down into the Space Telescope Science Institute's processing systems using Python. “And that's where my code comes in,” Mike Swam, the data processing team lead who worked on JWST, said on an episode of the podcast Talk Python to Me in March 2022.

Is becoming a 3D artist worth it? ›

Yes, being a 3D artist is a good career.

3D artists can easily land jobs in the movie industry, game development, architecture, and marketing in today's technologically advanced world. There should be plenty of job opportunities for them in the coming year, especially in the fields of movie animation and video games.

Is SketchUp easier than Blender? ›

SketchUp has a is quite easy to use for beginners. You can also choose a SketchUp model to start with, as there is quite a large collection of models inside their famous 3D warehouse. Blender can be a little bit more difficult to use, as you have to know exactly what you want to create while starting your project.

Is Rhino or SketchUp easier? ›

SketchUp has an upper hand over most 3D modelling software as it is user friendly and takes very little time to master while allowing for a lot of flexibility. Correcting mistakes is very easy with SketchUp because it involves a lot less technicality than Rhino 3D.

Why do companies use Maya instead of Blender? ›

Maya has been the industry standard for 3D modeling and animation for years, whereas Blender 3D painting and sculpting tools are not at par with a standard like Maya. Maya is better to fit large studio productions, whereas Blender is the ideal choice for small start-ups.

What can Blender do that Maya cant? ›

Blender and Maya also have rendering functions. In Blender, you can use one of two available rendering engines (Cycles and Eevee), or you can use third-party engines. That said, Blender's built-in rendering engines are good, and they're actually faster than Maya's rendering.

Is Maya no longer free? ›

For commercial use, Maya is available as a monthly subscription for USD 1505/year or Rs. 87,423 for India, and Maya LT is available for USD 245/year or Rs. 11, 308/year for India. You can use the 30 day Maya free trials of both for commercial purposes.

Do 3D artists make a lot of money? ›

The salaries of 3D Artists in the US range from $19,140 to $114,171 , with a median salary of $46,904 . The middle 57% of 3D Artists makes between $46,904 and $68,610, with the top 86% making $114,171.

Can you make a career out of 3D modeling? ›

The process of creating these representations is known as three-dimensional design, and it is a career path that many people choose to pursue. Careers in 3D design can span across various industries and applications, as many needs for three-dimensional representations exist.

What are the disadvantages of 3D modeling? ›

Like with almost any other process there are also drawbacks of 3D printing technology which should be considered before opting to use this process.
  • Limited Materials. ...
  • Restricted Build Size. ...
  • Post Processing. ...
  • Large Volumes. ...
  • Part Structure. ...
  • Reduction in Manufacturing Jobs. ...
  • Design Inaccuracies. ...
  • Copyright Issues.

What is needed to start 3D sculpting? ›

3D modeling requires a unique combination of technical and artistic skills.
Choosing a Specific Field in 3D Modeling
  1. Rigging and animating.
  2. Shaders.
  3. Particles.
  4. Materials.
  5. Game optimization.
  6. UV mapping.
  7. Scripting.
  8. Lighting.
Jul 9, 2021

Can you use Blender for 3D sculpting? ›

By offering the sculpting and the polygonal modeling toolsets side by side, Blender greatly simplifies the transition between conceptual research and final model production. Experience the joy of sculpting organic subjects using the built-in sculpting feature set of Blender.

How much does ZBrush cost? ›

The prices for the full ZBrush suite are: Single User Perpetual Licence: $895. Monthly subscription: $39.95 per month. Annual subscription: $359.


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