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There’s an App for That!

The 5 Best 3D Design Apps Right Now

Picture of Tracy Osborne
by Tracy Osborne
Jul 4, 2018

3D modeling has come a long way. Gone are the days of complicated desktop software suites, giving way to the modern day 3D design app. Beginners and professionals alike can enjoy these fun and capable tools.

The Rise of the App

3DC Source:

3D design apps are quickly making way to smartphones and tablets, where ideas quickly turn into 3D models and prototypes. These models are widely used for 3D printing, gaming, animation, architecture, and industry.

Inadequate 3D modeling apps are becoming a thing of the past. Now, with the advances of the smartphone and tablet software, creating great 3D designs on-the-go is becoming a reality. With the cost of 3D printers constantly dropping, more are making way into the home for personal use. This is causing a surge of interest in 3D design, and supporting that desire for a creative outlet are many apps that you can download right now!

3D Design App #1: Doodle3D Transform

From quick sketches to 3D masterpieces in minutes
From quick sketches to 3D masterpieces in minutes Source: Tracy Osborne / All3DP
  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Cost: Free or $26.99 for the Creator license (lifetime access) 
  • Ideal for: Beginners, children, educators, students

The Doodle3D Transform app is a simple drawing tool that transforms your drawing to 3D in realtime. You can create your first 3D design in minutes. Simply draw in 2D and watch as your 3D creation forms instantly. You can create a new drawing right on the app or import a picture of your drawing.

After you’ve drawn your design, use Doodle3D’s simple tools to easily adapt your 3D model. When you’re satisfied with your masterpiece, download your model for 3D printing or share it with others. Doodle3D Transform makes 3D designing easy, fun and unique. The free version has a limit on the number of files you can save. For more options, you’ll need to purchase the Creator license.

3D Design App #2: Verto Studio 3D

Desktop-class 3D modeling app
Desktop-class 3D modeling app Source:
  • Platform: iOS
  • Cost: $14.99
  • Ideal for: Users with minimal to professional 3D modeling experience

Verto Studio 3D is a 3D design and graphics app that’s both innovative and fully-functional. It’s designed to rival desktop 3D software and runs on top of the most advanced editable graphic system in iOS.

The app offers professional 3D features that combine 3D modeling, lighting, and texture mapping. You can work with basic shapes, import and export files, or draw your own design. With the gesture-driven interface, taps, swipes, pinches and twirls of your fingers alter the scene.

The main object toolbar runs along the top of the screen, but don’t let the simple interface fool you. Many tools await within, such as textures, mesh augmentation, and shaders. Verto Studio 3D allows you to view and edit models of any size while auto-saving your work in the process.

If you’re ready to do more with your 3D models while on-the-go, this could be the 3D design app you’ve been looking for. Although 3D modeling experience is not required for Verto Studio 3D, it is beneficial. Otherwise, the Verto Studio 3D user guide is a helpful tool for getting started.

3D Design App #3: Putty 3D

3D sculpting anytime, anywhere
3D sculpting anytime, anywhere Source: Tracy Osborne / All3DP
  • Platform: iOS
  • Cost: $4.99
  • Ideal for: Beginners and artists

Putty 3D is a simple 3D sculpting app that’s both relaxing and fun. The intuitive tools make it easy to sculpt, carve, and model using only a finger. For more precision, Putty 3D supports pressure sensitive sculpting optimized for Apple Pencil.

Zoom, drag, and rotate with a pinch, swipe, or tap of your fingers. You can customize your 3D putty model by selecting from one of many colors. Virtual materials such as plastic, ceramic, gold and silver are also available, adding visual appeal. Finally, you can share your creative process by taking photos and recording videos.

3D models can be exported as either OBJ or STL files. And though it lacks more advanced sculpting features, the app is the perfect introduction to 3D sculpting.

3D Design App #4: 3DC

Use basic shapes, text or drawings to build your 3D model
Use basic shapes, text or drawings to build your 3D model Source: Tracy Osborne / All3DP
  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Cost: Free, $3.99 for the Education version or $2.99/month or $14.99/year for the Pro version  
  • Ideal for: Beginners, students, educators

If you’re looking for a 3D design app comparable to web-based Tinkercad, 3DC is worth checking out. Most CAD software has a high learning curve, which can be frustrating for beginners. In 3DC, manipulation of basic shapes creates 3D models without the need to learn more complex CAD tools.

This app is a good option for beginners or children who want to start in 3D design. You can build anything using finger gestures to move, rotate, scale, and combine objects. Basic shapes are not your only option in 3DC — you can also draw your own shapes right in the app and add it to your design.

Share your designs and collaborate with others in the gallery, a great place to get inspiration and templates to work with. File export is available for 3D printing or for further editing in another program. Just be sure to save your work as no auto-save function is available in 3DC.

3D Design App #5: Shapr3D

Fully mobile professional CAD app
Fully mobile professional CAD app Source:
  • Platform: iOS (compatible with all iPads supporting Apple Pencil)
  • Cost: Free or $29.99/month or $249.99/year for the Pro version
  • Ideal for: Beginners to professionals

Shapr3D is a professional 3D CAD modeling app exclusive to the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Despite being developed for professional use, it’s nevertheless easy to learn and use. Tutorial courses are available for all levels of 3D designers.

This app offers a desktop-quality experience that is fully mobile. No internet connection is needed. You can draw sketches as you would on paper and have instant results in 3D. The lean interface provides a precise and seamless workflow. Sketches and models are perfectly measured.

Shapr3D is compatible with all major CAD software as well as cloud storage. The free version provides the full set of modeling tools as the pro version but with limited workspaces and export options. Note that, without an Apple Pencil, this app only works as a CAD viewer with no creating or editing capabilities.

License: The text of "The 5 Best 3D Design Apps Right Now" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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