December 22, 2010

Free-sources for everyone

~SlightlyChaotic and the guys at the 3D-Artists group on deviantART have kindly agreed to let me blog for them. So every now and then I'm going to be ranting about one of my favourite subjects - Free Software.

More importantly this blog will be about free software and resources which can help and inspire the aspiring and experienced 3D artist. I'll be honest, I don't use and haven't used any paid for software in my 3D 'lifetime' (My paid work is as an Architectural Technician using paid for 2d CAD packages like AutoCad Lt and Caddie which I consider a necessary evil, I have also had a brief stint on SketchUp Pro at work.) So I don't have any useful experience of 3DS Max or any of the other big industry names. I started out on a free version of Bryce 4 back in the pre-DAZ days and was completely sold on SketchUp 3 when I was first introduced of it and have used it ever since as my main 3d modeller. Last year I was introduced to the Kerkythea rendering engine, and was blown away by the capabilities of this free software.

This blog is not going to be a 'SketchUp and Kerkythea only' zone, being well aware of their limitations, I am constantly on the look out for new, free, things that will do help me to create the images I want to create.

So where to start... If you're reading this blog you probably already have a preferred modelling and rendering programme in place so I'm not going to try and convert you to the way of The Freegan quite yet so I'll start off by exploring resources which can support the 3d artist regardless of the software they use.

Lets start at the beginning. At some point it may be useful to use some pre-made 3d Models to support your already fantastic scene, so short of pointing you towards the SketchUp 3D warehouse (You know where it is, if you don't, google it!), here are some alternative resources.

First up is This is a fairly massive library of over 25,000 3d models in a very wide variety of categories.
The models all seem to be of a reasonable quality and are supplied in *.3DS and *.GSM formats. Importantly, these can be used in commercial projects if that’s what you need. A word of warning, any site like this which collects their models from many sources is likely to have a certain amount of variability in what they catalogue. and I have found some models that don't appear to work to well with my software.

3D Meshes Research Database - 80000 models to choose from including a lot of Sci-Fi (I found myself reminiscing after seeing a Starfury or two from Babylon 5). This site allows non-commercial use only, so remember its only polite to attribute. This one was suggested to me by nanaki-murasaki

As good as these models are, there's a good chance you will want to texture them to your own tastes. One of the best places to start (other than the masses of textures on deviantART) is this is an amazing site full of some great textures and I suspect the large majority of you are already aware of it and I am mentioning it just for those who don't know about it. Whilst you can pay for membership, non members get to download up to 15mb on texture per day, and whilst you don't get access to the really large textures, what you get is access to over 50,000 textures over 3000 of which are tiled.

As an alternative to the all conquering, you may want to try Mayangs Free Texture Library This is a much smaller library at 3800 textures, but useful as it provides a different perspective.

Now, I could start going on about the massive amount of resources here on deviantART, but that subject has been covered extensively already, see =Cymae's excellent post here its a must.

I think I've taken up enough of your time for the moment, I look forward to hearing your comments. And if you have any suggestions for additional resources for models and textures that I've not covered here, then please mention in the comments... its good to share!

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