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Good choice for a low-end beginner 3D package

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by hsparra, Oct 29, 2005.

  1. hsparra

    hsparra

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    I was looking to get a low-end (read inexpensive) 3D package to begin exploring that side of game development and was wondering what my fellow forum members would recommend. I would mainly be using the package in prototyping or proofing and would probably get someone with talent for final production. However, it would be nice to know if I actually did something decent that I could use it.

    My criteria in priority order:
    1. Easy to use
    2. Works with Unity with minimal fuss
    3. Inexpensive (would like under $200, but I could go higher)
    4. Easy to use
    5. Nice feature set (problem is that I do not know what features I need). I do have Photoshop CS and Illustrator if that makes a difference.

    What little I know:
    a. Blender - free, but may have a steep learning curve for the commands. I seem to remember seeing post that certain key combinations are needed to perform certain tasks.
    b. Cheeta3D - Seems nice, but not sure about ease and features
    c. Carrera 5 - Seems nice, but not sure about ease and features. Standard version is a little above $200, but that is ok if the ease and features warrant.

    It looks like the $500-$700 range has some products, are these worth the jump for a complete beginner that does not know how much they will be using this in the end?

    Thank you for any input :D


    <edit> I should mention I will not being doing character animations, ragdolls, or whatever they are called, in the near future</edit>
     
  2. Pavlov

    Pavlov

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  3. hsparra

    hsparra

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    Pavlov, I had not heard of Silo, which is not really that surprising. Looks interesting, I may just have to download an play with it. Have you ever used it?
     
  4. Pavlov

    Pavlov

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    I tried out some tutorials before the demo expired. For $109 it's pretty powerful. Version 2.0 looks even better. But no animation support, alas.

    Shadow and Carrara looked great but cost around $500+ each. Shadow didn't have support for .fbx. ZPaint looked impressive (also about $500 or so). Cinema 4d, again, great. See a pattern here? Hard to beat the price for Blender but not too crazy about the interface.

    Animation Master looked really impressive but heard some bad things about the support. Oh well. I think it's subscription based.

    I went through the tutorials for Cheetah and it's good for beginners. Overall there's TONS of modelers/animation packages for the Mac (Lightwave, Maya, Cinema 4d, Carrara, etc etc etc). Not very many are inexpensive. If you want something with a lot of features you're probably going to have to pony up some $$$ or go OSS with Blender.

    Cheetah caught my eye with it's native OS X interface, ease of use, and animation support for .fbx and .jas files (2.5 just came out BTW). And they just integerated it's native .jas file format into Unity. But with the demo you can't save so I don't know how well it works with Unity.

    For me I'm going to go with Cheetah because I'm a total newbie when it comes to 3d. My knowledge should grow as more and more features are added to the app and it's actively supported.

    But doing the research on what's available for OS X in the arena of modeling/animation was fun.
     
  5. NicholasFrancis

    NicholasFrancis

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    About Cheetah3D...

    The guy who made it has put in a large effort in Unity integration, so it is as good as can be. If you tell him you're using it with Unity, he'll be happy to know that his efforts were worthwhile....

    Overall, Cheetah3D and Maya have the smoothest import pipeline. In both cases we read the native files. It just works.
     
  6. NCarter

    NCarter

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    I've already mentioned this to lfrog in the IRC channel, but for the benefit of anyone else who cares.... ;)

    I'm using Cheetah3D as my main sketching and modelling tool. It excels at low poly modelling, face extrusion and similar things which are helpful when making game asset models. It doesn't have mesh animation or sophisticated UV mapping tools yet, but it's still very useful.

    I agree with Nicholas that importing Cheetah3D .jas files into Unity is about as easy as it could possibly be. Keep your models in your assets folder and you don't need to do any extra work exporting things.

    Since C3D's UV tools are fairly limited, I have to switch to Blender to to UV unwrapping. Blender is a bit of a pain to use, but if you read through some basic tutorials first, it's not to difficult to figure it out. If you're never used it before you really need to read the bit of the manual which explains how the GUI works. The UV mapping tools are reasonably good, but you might want to try the Archimap plugin to give yourself an alternative way of unwrapping objects.

    Incidentally, a future version C3D is scheduled to have a UV unwrapper and editor, so at some point it will be possible for me to drop Blender altogether. :)

    Beyond those two tools, I sometimes drop into FormZ for anything which is really tricky. FormZ is cumbersome for things like face extrusion, but on the other hand it's very accurate and it has some very powerful tools. Also, FormZ's boolean tools can handle virtually anything without breaking. Unfortunately, FormZ isn't exactly cheap.
     
  7. Marble

    Marble

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    What about bones? How helpful would it be to have a modeler that can create a skeleton to animate with, and can any of these tools you use do it?

    As for UV Mapping, there's a free program here that seems fairly straightforward. Any experience with this or how it might compare to other texture-mapping tools?
     
  8. NCarter

    NCarter

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    Blender appears to have bones (it calls them armatures). I haven't used them myself so I couldn't comment on how well they work. Cheetah3D doesn't have bones and won't have for some time, and FormZ is unlikely to ever support boned animation.

    That looks diabolical to me. As far as I can see, you have to work blind (no interactive preview) and the program is clearly unfinished. Maybe the Windows version is better, but I don't think the OSX version is worth the effort.

    Blender's UV mapping tools are better than UV Mapper's and you also get an interactive preview.
     
  9. Marble

    Marble

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    Thanks for the advice!

    Would you say that bones or armatures are very useful for animation? From a theoretical standpoint, it seems like they'd be a boon for complex character movements and that sort of thing. Pardon the inexperience!
     
  10. Joachim_Ante

    Joachim_Ante

    Unity Technologies

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    If you want to do real character animation, you need bones.
     
  11. Martin

    Martin

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    Hi NCarter,
    you are right. But Unity is one of the main reasons why I addressed the UV mapping tools in the upcoming version 3.0. v3.0 will offer a powerful UV editor and UV unwraping tools. Plus many things more. So uv mapping even the complexest meshes should be no problem any longer.

    Check out the following link to see a screenshot of the upcoming UV Tools in Cheetah3D.

    http://cheetah3d.de/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=332

    By,
    Martin
     
  12. Pavlov

    Pavlov

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    Martin, daddy likes! Cheetah is sexy and getting sexier. I got a copy (legally of course) over the weekend and the integration between Cheetah and Unity go together like peas and carrots. But then again, it's only been about 24 hours.
     
  13. NCarter

    NCarter

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    I am very much looking forward to seeing the finished UV features. :D
     
  14. DaveyJJ

    DaveyJJ

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    This is great news, Martin! Thanks!
     
  15. klindeman

    klindeman

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    All I can say is :eek:
     
  16. Jonathan Czeck

    Jonathan Czeck

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    How do you pronounce " :eek: " ? Heh heh heh
     
  17. Martin

    Martin

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    Hi,
    it's nice to hear that you like it. :D :D It's good to know that I'm on the right track.

    By,
    Martin
     
  18. NCarter

    NCarter

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    A fellow forum member asked me privately how to install the Archimap Blender plugin, but I thought it might be sensible to post the answer here since it's probably useful to a few people. Especially since it's silly. ;)

    The simplest solution is to choose Go->Go to Folder from the Finder menu, then type this:

    Code (csharp):
    1. /Applications/Blender/blender.app/Contents/MacOS/.blender
    This only works if Blender is in a folder called 'Blender' in the Applications folder. If it isn't, either put it there or edit the path in the above command.

    Once you've done that, you'll see a window containing a folder called 'scripts'. Dump archimap.py (and anything else you fancy) into that folder, then start Blender. Plugins appear in various places throughout the program's menus. In the case of the Archimap plugin, it appears in the UVs menu in the UV/Image Editor pane.

    Hope this helps others to avoid scratching their head for ages like me. ;)
     
  19. AngryAnt

    AngryAnt

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    Short-cut guy with a short message: Shift+command+G
     
  20. mrswebb

    mrswebb

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    try truspace

    http://www.caligari.com/