I'm interested in 3D. What program should I use to get started? There really isn't a definitive answer since each program has a slightly different focus. And they range in price from free to thousands of dollars. Now, if you're new to the 3D scene and simply want to get your feet wet, you probably aren't willing to drop a month's paycheck just to see if you're inclined to pursue your interest. To that end, I've complied a list of freeware and shareware software programs that are great to get a start with. If you find that the field is still of interest to you after you've spent countless hours learing these programs, then maybe you'd be a good candidate for one of the more expensive applications. On the other hand, if you find these programs too difficult, or too time consuming, well, at least you haven't spent a wad of cash. Download a few and try 'em out! Happy animating....

Terragen 0.8.11
This excellent and easy to use 3D landscape designer is capable of rendering beautifully realistic scenes and animations.Terragen exports your landscape as a Lightwave .lwo file, so unless you use Lightwave you must translate your new world into a format that would be useable elsewhere.


System: Windows 95/98/NT/2000
Free for non-commercial use. Register for commercial use.
File size: 4MB

Blender 2.0.4
Blender is a powerful animation, modelling and rendering tool that can create superb 3D scenes and animations.Blender has many of the same functions as such apps as LightWave and 3D Studio MAX, although it's more difficult to learn and use. But hey, it's free!
System: Win 95/98/2K/NT, Linux and others
Full free software
File size 1.2Mb

A functional and efficient 3D file translator, with eight file formats including POVray, 3ds, Wavefront (.obj) and DXF, that can be imported and viewed in wire frame. Notably, doesn't support Lightwave files.
System: Windows 95/98/NT/2000
File size: 2MB System

Openfx v1.0
A well equipped, open source modular 3D animation suite. Features a standard four-pane layout in both modeling and animation
modules. Models can be built with NURBS patches, drawing tools or edited
primitives. Also includes kinematics and a separate rendering module.
System: Windows 95/98/NT/2000, soon Linux
Free subject to the terms of the GNU General Public Licence - see http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.
File size: 40MB


A powerful modeling and animation package ideal for those new to the field, and the download is just 2MB. Anim8or can import .3DS, Lightwave and Wavefront objects.
System: Windows 95/98/NT/2000.
Win 95 users need the OpenGL32.dll patch.
File size: 2MB



3D Canvas 4
A versatile 3D package with wide range of import and export facilities.  A 'lite' little brother of 3D Canvas Pro.
System: Windows 95/98/2000, DirectX 7
File size: 11MB  



Strata 3D 3.0.2
A.limited version of Strata StudioPro that's complete with modelling, rendering and animation capabilities. An excellent package, and one of the few to support the Mac.
System: Windows 95/98, Macintosh
Full free software
File size: 24M

POV-Ray 3.1
The amazing Persistance Of Vision Raytracer offers outstanding professional results. You can download it for Windows, DOS, Mac, Linux and SunOS. It's a great all round package.
System: Windows 95/98/NT, Mac, Linux and others
Totally free - source code also available
File size: 5.2MB


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