3D design, although it seems quite modern, started less than half a century ago. Interestingly, the first project, which was entirely based on a 3D graphics program, was… a giant Easter egg! In 1977 the first program for creating 3D graphics was created.

Although it is really difficult to compare its functionality to modern solutions at that time it was a big breakthrough in computer graphics, which opened new doors and completely new possibilities for graphic designers. What are the most popular 3D design programs? Who will really need them?

What is 3D graphics for?

Graphic designs made in 3D allow the graphic designers to present what they could not show when working on 2D projects. An example that best illustrates this statement is, for example, creating a design of an apartment or character that can be viewed from any perspective. In the case of 2D graphics it is not possible because the object is shown as a single projection.

Creating a full picture of a character or object in 2D technology is therefore more time consuming than designing one model in 3D. Thanks to 3D modeling it is easier to simply present and understand the structure of shapes in the context of the surrounding space.

However, the advantages of 3D modeling do not end with time and efficiency savings. 3D models have revolutionized virtually every industry, from the design of animations, games, cars and apartments to the medical industry, which enters a new, higher level with 3D design.

The most popular programs for creating 3D graphics and animation

Cinema 4D

The studio’s 3D graphics program, which will benefit both learners and first steps in 3D design as well as professional professionals. Cinema 4D program, thanks to available plugins (e.g. V-Ray) has almost unlimited possibilities. It will be used in animation, visualization and illustration. The program is available in several versions. Beginners can start with, advanced people will surely appreciate the full possibilities. Cinema 4D offers a comprehensive set of tools for parametric CAD modeling.

After Effects CC

Adobe After Effects CC is a basic tool in the daily work of people in the film and television industry. It is thanks to After Effects that viewers in the cinema can admire, for example, spectacular special effects so realistic that they have no idea that they are looking at the work of a graphic designer rather than the recording. Animators, filmmakers and any other person associated with film graphics have had to deal with this tool at least once.


Maya is one of the most frequently mentioned tools for 3D design. At the same time it is rated as one of the better and more powerful on the market. It is right next to Adobe After Effects, the basic tool for 3D designers’ work, which can be used in virtually any industry. It has a really huge range of different functions and tools for animation and rigging, which can also be a disadvantage. In order to work with Maya, you need to have the knowledge that you gain the fastest after a multi-stage training period.


Modo is one of the most popular applications for rendering, modeling and texturing in 3D. Although some user reviews have a negative impact, such as the advanced modelling tools, most of the overall feedback on Modo is definitely positive. Modo is a real chameleon! From a simple and very feature-rich modeler it has become an advanced 3D design application with a cult UV editor.


ZBrush is a very popular 3D graphics program, which is great for people who design models for 3D printers (but not only!). ZBrush, although initially difficult to master due to its characteristic interface, is equipped with very advanced features that will be appreciated by people working with digital sculpture and illustration. ZBrush is also used for UV mapping, i.e. applying a 2D image to a 3D object and painting textures, so the designer can create a professional project ready for rendering.

3D Coat

A 3D design program that is also the biggest competition for the popular ZBrush. 3D Coat was developed in the original version as a 3D modeling application based on coke. Nowadays it is an advanced program for UV mapping, retopology, rendering and texture painting. 3D Coat is a really big set of design tools with quite unusual interface (too fancy for some).


Unity is an integrated program, which is mainly used to create computer games in 2D and 3D. However, its operation is also used by people who prepare CG animations, visualizations and other interactive projects. Thanks to a really substantial amount of features with the use of Unity, it is possible to design very high-tech games, whose creator has full access to many analytical tools.

Substance Suite

The complete Substance Suite from Adobe includes essential tools. Although each of them has a slightly different application, they are integrated with each other. Substance Source will be useful for downloading extensive, high quality material. Substance Designer allows you to design materials and textures with extreme precision. Alchemist is used to create material libraries for 3D, and Substance Painter is a tool for painting textures in 3D.

3DS Max

3DS Max is an advanced tool for creating 3D product visualization, creating games and designing animations. With the Arnold rendering module – the same as in the classic 3D program market – Maya, you can create and render amazing scenes using features similar to Maya. The big advantage of 3DS Max is that it is compatible with many rendering modules, so you can create amazing graphics for visualization and other scenery.


SketchUp is quite common and popular tool for 3D modeling. It works well in the creation of games, interior design, architectural industry, creating films, animations, etc. SketchUp is available in three versions. The first two, free of charge – SketchUp Make and the web application SketchUp, are quite limited and can be used for home use, learning 3D design and entertainment.


Blender is an open source tool with an impressive set of modern features. Its strong point is also a well-developed community, thanks to which many problems can be solved while working on the project. People with a slightly more limited budget can be very happy with Blender. It is free software for animation, rendering, texturing and 3D modeling.

Adobe Fuse CC

The Adobe Fuse application is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud package (free version for CC subscribers). It allows you to design and create your own 3D models from scratch and transfer them to other applications (e.g. Photoshop). Adobe Fuse, thanks to almost unlimited possibilities of creating 3D characters, is useful in advertising, marketing, visualization and other such projects.

Adobe Dimension CC

Like After Effects CC and Fuse CC, Dimension is a component of the Adobe Creative Cloud package and can also be purchased as a standalone application. It is a comprehensive program, allowing you to create realistic visualizations and compositions combining 3D and 2D resources. Intuitive and similar to other Adobe applications, the interface will not be a problem even for a novice graphic designer.