What's the best (probably paid) polygon modelling application?

Hello there.
I was evaluating some 3D apps, and I found that none of the ones I’ve tried are exceptional in terms of poly modelling, when I tried to reproduce the following steps none of them worked as expected:

1-Add a Cube (Convert to mesh/poly if needed)
2-Bevel all the edges
3-Make a hole in the center by subtracting a cylinder using boolean
4-Bevel the edges of the hole (flip normals if needed) (most of them fall short here)
6-Apply mesh smoothing (tesselate if needed).
-The resulting mesh should be a smooth, slightly spherized cube, with a smooth hole in the center.

I’m attaching the result of the above steps done in Blender and a model modelled by hand using a cube, subdivisions and looptools.

I know that a nurbs modeller would be a better option specifically for this model, but I’m not interested. I’m looking for a smart and reliable polygon modeller.

The apps I’ve tried so far:

3Ds Max - It’s a royal pain, you have to convert the stuff to poly all the time (the cube and the proboolean obj), and the bevel of the hole edges generates some serious artifacts. The push modifier is very rudimentary. It’s not possible select the holes edges loops with the loop select, you have to use the special “cylinder cap loop select” tool which selects also the edges of the cube itself, very unusual. Tesselation (Quadify) is good, could be much better though.

C4D - Bevel generates overlaps and artifacts very easily. Not bad but crashes like hell.

Modo - The modelling tools aren’t very smart imho, or at least they’re very different from the ones I’m used to. Boolean doesn’t fuse the things together and it’s a pain to do manually. Also crashes like a b*tch.

Maya - The bevel of the holes edges goes crazy, doesn’t work at all and besides having many tools and many options, most of them doesn’t perform as expected.

Softimage - I really loved the interface, however, it also generates crazy stuff at step 4.

LightWave - Another interface that I really liked. It also goes crazy at step 4, it seems that the n-gon it generates when applying the boolean doesn’t support beveling because as soon as you apply it an edge linking the n-gon hole and an edge of the cube appears and it doesn’t produce a clean result.

Silo - Booleans don’t fuse the meshes, although it seems quite capable and really good overall.

Wings3D - No booleans at all. EDIT: There’s a “mlab” version that has booleans, however, after applying the boolean the bevel produces almost exactly the same artifact as lightwave, except two edges appear after applying the boolean.

So, any recommendation? I have plenty of space in my HDD for trials/demos :).
I’m not considering sculpting apps at the moment.

Thank you in advance.


so model by hand then if booleans arn’t up to the job.

it isnt really a clear indication that a program isnt up to scratch because one operation is consistently poor across all software models. more it is simply clear that booleans are not the tool for this particular task. anywhere.

Hey, hello there. I just updated the list with two more apps.

Uhm… that’s not quite the kind of answer I was expecting… Anyway, I don’t want to model by hand while I think it’s quite possible to have a software that will do the hard job for me, at least in theory it’s absolutely possible.

Just lemme know what’s the software I’m looking for :). I’ll probably pay “big money” for it. If I need my brains to do repetitive and boring stuff like calculus, what are the computer for? Just a “techie” canvas? I’d rather draw on toilet paper instead :D.

PS: Imho, adding vertexes and loops by hand to make holes is so 00’s.

well on behalf of the entire CG industry We apologise for not being tecnologically advanced enough for you!

You make some very good points, halgfx.

I don’t have any suggestions for you as to what software to buy/get. But, as Small Troll said (albeit in a trollish way) 3D software is only as good as those who program it. Unfortunately, to come up with a better way to do booleans will take someone who can think laterally and, since most people think booleans are old school and therefore not sexy, all the lateral thinkers are occupied elsewhere.

I am, however, impressed with how beveling got really good in Blender over the last year.

Might I also suggest that if what you need is a rounded-corner cube with a hole in it, that you rethink your process. After all, rethinking process is what makes one an artist. At least, that’s what they told me in art college. :slight_smile:

@Small Troll: Nope, I don’t apology (of course I forgive Blender devs exceptionally), you (the CG “industry”) won’t have my money so soon :D.

@rontarrant: Yeah, that’s not the bestest way to model that mesh, I am using it just to test different softwares as generally they are easily accessible in obvious menus, so I don’t have to read the manual :slight_smile: and these functions are kinda complex also, (especially bevel, tesselation and boolean) so, imho, they are a good way to measure the modelling capabilities.

Anyway, I don’t want something that doesn’t exist already. If I do the entire process in blender except for step 6, where I export the mesh for 3ds and apply a quadify modifier, then you can apply subsurf on blender of turbosmooth on 3ds, but anyways, you’ll end up with a fairly good mesh, very similar to the one modelled by hand. So, it’s possible to do what I want using a combination of two softwares, I just want to know if there is a software that put all the good stuff together and ditches the non-working stuff.

@dConclusionman: Thanks for the recommendations.

You shouldn’t just class booleans as being the end all of good modelling. Their are applications that do booleans really well such as Groboto but everything else it does I find really unintuitive ( and some people think blender is idiosyncratic)

Yes, I’m trying Groboto at the moment, but I couldn’t find a way to bevel edges (if possible at all) and don’t want to watch those long videos to figure out. It seems a very good application though, the viewport rendering is really impressive and performant. The booleans work a treat and are extremely fast. Too bad the thing is so unintuitive.

For the cylindrical hole, you could’ve just built a subdivided plane in each side of the cube and then used looptools to round the border to a circle and bridge the sides to make a hole.

Boolean operations in general are one of those rare tools which simply do not work good in nearly all the fully featured software solutions. Blender’s booleans have improved quite a bit with the integration of the carve library, but they haven’t been enhanced to take full advantage of Bmesh. There are many other ways which you can test the capability of the modeling in each app. and I think those will show that some of the apps. like Modo are very good in the modeling department.

That’s exactly how I’ve modelled by hand. It’s okay for this simple model, but for more complex stuff decent booleans can really save the day. At the moment, provided you know what you’re doing, Blender has the 2nd best booleans in a poly modeller I’ve ever seen. It’s not always click and go, for example, if you cut a cylindrical hole in a cube and after that want to bevel the edges of the cube, it won’t work as expected unless you add 4 ngons on the sides. After you know things like that, it’s easy peasy sandwich squeezy.

Boolean operations in general are one of those rare tools which simply do not work good in nearly all the fully featured software solutions. Blender’s booleans have improved quite a bit with the integration of the carve library, but they haven’t been enhanced to take full advantage of Bmesh. There are many other ways which you can test the capability of the modeling in each app. and I think those will show that some of the apps. like Modo are very good in the modeling department.

Besides 3ds probooleans, blender’s booleans are the bestest, of course it doesn’t generate ngons, but I don’t really care. Ngons in max are quite bugged also, you have to retriangulate all the time and even though operations like chamfer and inset sometimes never work as expected depending on the complexity of the ngon.

I’d recommend worrying less about the tool you are using, and just get on with it.

Yeah, f*ck this shit, I’m gonna stick with Blender and cheapo V-ray standalone :).

Well said! Sounds like an Earl Hickey-ism. :slight_smile:

I am not sure how you went about creating those cubes with all those artefacts around the holes, but this is what I got after a couple of minutes of work and experimenting:

  • bevel cube in edit mode with bevel command
  • use boolean with cylinder in object mode
  • bevel each hole one at a time in edit mode with bevel command
  • add sub-d modifier
  • add deform mesh to deform with mesh deform modifier

The cube on the far left had a much more subtle bevel to start with, while the other two had large bevels set.

Btw, the new bevel really works well now.

edit forcing C4D to crash also tells me that you may want to change the workflow in each application - you should be able to get smooth results in just about any 3d package now. The overall workflow to get there might be very different, though.

I think the shapes looks good only because you have applied them a 5-level subsurfacing. And also, I’m sure that you need a nicely quadified mesh in order to achieve those results. Applying booleans generates triangles and a very ugly mesh, beveling doesn’t change the topology that much afaik, and if you apply subsurface you won’t get a smooth cube like that, so those steps aren’t consistent.

If you want smooth-ish beveled cubes with a hole, you got to sub-d many times. In order to sub-d cleanly you have to have a quadbased topology. And those are facts not up for discussion.
Your problem is, you’re trying the wrong apps.

You’re most likely looking for a parametric 3D-CAD tool like SolidEdge, Catia or such.
Free alternatives would be:



Where I’d recommend heeks.

When you use bevel, spin the mouse wheel and the triangles go away. If your mouse is like mine (very likely) just click it over once and you’ll have all quads.

I agree with Arexma and Rontarrant: quads and good topology will get you what you want. And a lot of sub-d’s are not really required (in the example I posted I had left the second sub-d modifier in the stack, but that one was unnecessary). I also think it is a good idea to come up with a strategy first - for example, I tend to work with a number of faces that is divisible by four and results in an even number: that way I can be certain no triangles are left, only quads. In the below example a cylinder with 12 sides would have been problematic (12/4=3), resulting in triangles.

@halgfx: And I would be interested in knowing how you got those artifacts - can you post a wire?
For more complex work I would probably avoid booleans, and either use pure sub-d modeling, and/or use a tool like Moi3d (http://moi3d.com/)

Here’s a quick example of how I would model the cube with a hole in it (only a sub-d 2 required for quality result):

good explanation this kind of modeling is very tricky you need to prepare the mesh before applying booleans and combined whit other tools like bevel, @halgfx you need to learn topology flow and understand how polygon distribution work to achieve good result and clean meshes…:yes:

With just about every model I build, I find myself diving in and running into problems. Then I stop, rethink, do some planning and finally end up getting on track. The conclusion I’ve come to is that you can’t just click a couple of buttons and have magic happen. It’s just software and although we’d sometimes like to think it’s doing the work for us, it really isn’t. Having a good basic understanding of an object’s form, which primitive shapes make it and how they fit together is absolutely essential for modeling well.

And I learned all that from my years in art college, mostly in drawing classes. Yes, we can all likely build stuff without a lick of training in traditional art, but it’ll either take longer or look like crap.

My point? Even if you don’t learn to draw, learn to deconstruct forms. Do it in your head, on paper, in clay, whatever works for you. Then it won’t matter if bevel works the way you think it should. You’ll find another way, just like all those 3D artists who toiled away at this art form before the bevel tool was invented.