A list of essential software for animation/modeling etc?

Hi guys.

I was wondering if you could list me the software that you class as essential in the fields of animation and modelling etc. (Self portrait, sculpting, short film, still shot etc)?

Are there software that allows me to clothe 3d models?

Are there great software that many don’t know about but you do?

Any help will do.


Well each software is just a tool. blender, maya, max should all be seen as different tools. Some people will tell you that one of these programs are better than another but those people are ignorant. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses and so the only way to learn what works best for you is to try all of them. But there is no need to try learning them all at once. They can all give good results if you are willing to learn the program. As for “industry standard” most places use maya for animation and modeling. Zbrush is a sculpting program that just about everyone uses because it handles high polygon counts extremely well. Mudbox is an alternative sculpting program that also handles high polygon counts well and has a lot of cool features too. Photoshop or gimp both work great for your texturing needs. Then there are programs specifically designed for doing one thing well. Like ddo is one that’s really good for making dirty metal textures among other things. Real flow is really great for liquids. The list goes on. I hope this helped some!

Since you mention short film, a video editor and audio editor/daw are essential. A compositor is essential for anything effects-related. Image creation is used for a textures and some 2D effects. There are hundreds of each of those, in addition to modelling, sculpting and texturing, so it’s up to you to find what works unless you’re specifically looking for “industry standard,” in which case I don’t know. Blender, Audacity, Gimp, and HitFilm are the three programs I use most often.

What I use and believe to be essential:

  • 3D Modeling - Blender (of course)
  • photo/texture/general 2D - Photoshop, GIMP (yes, I use both since I discovered the InsaneBump plugin for GIMP)
  • DAW - Sonar X3 Producer (you can also use Audacity for mixing music, but I don’t know of a free one that does a good job of syncing picture and sound, so see below under “video editing”)
  • compositing - After Effects (no ideas for free stuff here; apparently, you can do this with Blender, but I never tried)
  • video editing: Premiere Pro (you can also use HitFilm 2 Express or LightWorks although LightWorks doesn’t really get interesting until you go to the non-free version)
  • reference footage - HitFilm (I’d use Premiere, but it doesn’t load AVCHD straight from my video camera and spit out something useable in Blender; HitFilm does)
  • structured drawing - Inkscape
  • file management - CKRename, FreeFileSync, Windows Explorer
  • text editing - PSPad
  • math - Excel (but you could use any of the spreadsheet apps that come with free office packages, too)
  • browsing - Firefox with Chrome as a second in case Firefox screws up (and it does from time to time)
  • texture generation - Genetica Viewer 3.5 (free if you can find it; later versions are NOT the same animal at all)
  • scriptwriting - MovieDraft, Final Draft (you can use Celtx for free)
  • mounting disc images - Virtual Clone Drive (simulates a DVD/CD ROM drive)

And that’s just the software. Don’t get me started on the hardware. :wink:

I’d put in something about camera tracking, too, but I have yet to dive into that pond.

You’re on the forum that backs up a very powerful and extensive program. All of the above can be answered with one word: Blender.

My variation of rontarrant’s list (including only free - as in beer software):

  • 3D Modeling - Blender
  • photo/texture/general 2D - Gimp
  • DAW - LMMS and Audacity
  • compositing - Blender
  • video editing: Blender, LightWorks (with Eyeframe converter or FFMPEG)
  • reference footage - N/A
  • structured drawing - Inkscape
  • file management - Windows Explorer sometimes command line.
  • text editing - usually notepad or some word processor for Python : Blender, maybe Eclipse
  • math - N/A
  • browsing - Firefox/Chrome
  • texture generation - N/A
  • scriptwriting - LibreOffice
  • mounting disc images - Linux

To those I’d add:

  • character generation - Makehuman
  • tree generation - Arboro

Of these, I find only Blender, Gimp, Makehuman, Firefox and an office package (LibreOffice these days) are essential, but Lightworks is nice to have, because it makes it easier to edit live footage.

Blender 2.86a
Blender is the perfect introduction to all that 3D software has to offer animators. It has most of the features you’ll find on the top-of-line 3D modeling programs’ bullet point boast lists, but it’s 100% free.
Poser pro 2014:
Basically, Poser tries to solve this problem: “I’ve got 99 assets but an animation ain’t one.” If you want to make a 3D animation, steps 1 through 99 often all involve the advanced and tedious tasks of making the 3D characters, scenes, props, textures, lighting, and plenty of other lengthy dropdown menus that get in your way if all you want to do is animate. Poser gives you all of the 3D supplies you need, and the rest is up to you.
This Web software is a do-it-yourself animation package that has over five million users, and I’d bet half of them don’t even consider themselves “artists” because that’s how damn easy GoAnimate is to use. Sign up to their site and you have access to thousands of character models, scene backdrops, audio recording, lip-syncing features, and art asset props.
SketchBook Pro 6:
Yes, Autodesk isn’t just dominating the 3D industry anymore, and with a few SketchBook Pro iterations under their belt in the past few years they’ve quickly assembled a digital drawing and painting application that’s essential for every form of 2D artist. It still needs a few more versions of updates to propel it to the top of the charts against its competition, but its well on its way. What it currently lacks in true power, it makes up for in speed.

what is essential depends on how you work and what you produce. here is what i use:
sketchup 8 (for initial modelling)
su2kt (a sketchup script for exporting to kerkythea xml files)
jkt2obj (a batch script for converting those xml files to obj files)
blender(for finishing models, animating and rendering)
paint(ordinary microsoft paint, for basic picture editing)
gimp(for most of the image editing tasks)

for a short while i also used, but no longer use
windows movie maker (for final sequencing of clips into a finished video and adding sound clips to silent videos)
wax 2.0 (for greenscreening and some compositing)

i believe both wax 2.0 and windows movie maker can be replaced using various features within blender, but there are some things i did with both that i have not tried since i stopped using them.

as other useful software to have
vlc (for playing videos)
google chrome(for web browsing)
notepad (for quickly holding text i want to copy/save/etc)

for maths i just use my head, a scientific calculator and some old piles of paper, i also use them for writing notes to myself and drafting up quick concept sketches. if i’m looking for examples of a complex phenomena i’m trying to depict i hunt for videos of it on youtube. for sound effects i usually record things myself with a microphone but i also have some old sound clips lying around which i play over each other to create other sounds.

really what you need depends on exactly what your desired end product is and what your workflow is.

For painting, Krita is exceptional, and features a wrap mode, so that you can paint tiling textures easily. It’s brushes are far superior to anything else out there in the open source catagory.
(edit) as with most paint programs, a graphics tablet is very helpful.

Blender has its strengths and its weaknesses like all others software. I have developed a pipeline that I follow. At the end what matters is what works best for you. Here is my list.

Modo for Modeling
Vue and World Machine/Zbrush for Landscape creation
Texturing in Zbrush/Photoshop
Blender/Modo for animation.
Octane or Blender for rendering. I use Modo’s internal renderer as well.
Adobe Premier for editing
Photoshop/After Affects for final composting
Houdini Apprentice HD for fluids, smoke and dynamics simulations