3D rendering software enables creating 3D renders to help clients visualize a project before its development. Earlier, renders were only generated for high-end projects. But today, it is developed for all kinds of projects, be it big or small. This happened because buyers and customers of all categories are now expecting to see 3D visualizations before making a purchase or investment.

Besides, do you know a project that can be pre-visualized have a better chance of selling? Let’s compare a simple photograph of a product or property with that of a 3D one having realistic views with perfect lighting and shadows. There's a higher chance of a customer purchasing the same by viewing the latter.

Today, you will find a lot of 3D software available for free to help you create renders. They may not be completely free of cost but often come with a free trial version. In this article, we will have a look at the list of those free 3D rendering software.

Autodesk

The 3D rendering software offered by Autodesk is a complete package of an advanced software collection spanning construction and architecture (BIM), engineering and product design, industrial equipment manufacturing, media and entertainment, and a line of software for consumers, etc., empowering 3D artists worldwide to develop high-end renders.

Autodesk’s broad range of design, engineering, and entertainment software includes various tools, including SFX and VFX options, motion graphics, texture mapping, shading and shadows, and much more. With a gamut of software, Autodesk is considered the best software suite for animation, game development, and design visualization.

Key features of Autodesk’s software suite:

  • Help render various types, including cloud, hardware, software, vector, and more.
  • Assist in the smooth and fast rendering of entire scenes.

Autodesk includes the following software

  • Arnold Renderer

    Arnold

    An end-to-end advanced Monte Carlo ray tracing renderer widely used for photorealistic 3D rendering in feature-length animation and visual effects in video games. Professional renderers can render high-quality 3D images and get immediate results with interactive real-time rendering.

    Features :

    • Extensible API
    • USD Support
    • Stand-alone command-line renderer and more

    Pricing:

    • $50/paid monthly
    • $380/paid annually
    • $1,085/paid every 3 years

    OS compatibility: Windows, mac OS X, Linux

  • Revit

    Revit is an advanced BIM (Building Information Modelling) software for designers, builders, and CAD specialists. The software helps architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) teams model shapes, structures, and systems in 3D with parametric accuracy and precision.

    Features :

    • Parameter-rich for designing
    • Centrally shared work sharing model
    • Multi-discipline toolsets and more

    Cost:

    • $7,625/paid every 3 years
    • $2,675/paid annually
    • $335/paid monthly

    OS compatibility: Windows 10 or Windows 11

  • Autodesk Cloud-Based Rendering

    A high-speed, HD cloud rendering service offered by Autodesk to create high-quality, photorealistic images in less time. Autodesk Rendering is accessible anytime, anywhere, with an advanced library featuring high-resolution textures, additional controls, and dramatic quality improvements.

    Features :

    • Panoramas, solar studies, illuminance
    • Advanced materials
    • Accessible anytime, anywhere

    Cost:

    This service uses Flex tokens ($3/token)

    • 500 tokens = $1500
    • 1000 tokens = $3000

    OS compatibility: Web browser, can be accessed through any gadget, tablet, laptop, Mac, or PC.

  • Alias

    It is a single software source for 3D design, from concept through production surfacing. 3D rendering artists can render high-quality, desirable images and seamlessly collaborate across different workflows and disciplines.

    Features :

    • Concept modelling
    • Automated surfacing
    • Computational design and more

    Cost:

    • $13,965/paid every 3 years
    • $4,900/paid annually
    • $615/paid monthly

    OS compatibility: Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1

  • VRED

    VRED helps to develop high-dimensional renderings and digital prototypes on-premises or in the cloud. The professional 3D visualization software also assists renderers in visualizing, reviewing, and validating a digital twin of the product for use with absolute ease and accuracy.

    Features :

    • Data preparation
    • Virtual prototyping
    • Visual simulation and more

    Cost:

    • $38,805/paid every 3 years
    • $13,615/paid annually
    • $1,700/paid monthly

    OS compatibility: Windows 10, Windows 8.1 Professional

  • 3DS Max

    3DS Max powers the creativity of a 3D rendering artist to produce professional-grade renders and expansive 3D environments with full artistic control. With this 3DS Max’s intuitive texturing, easy-to-use shading tools, and an artist-friendly UI, creating realistic characters and landscapes is extremely easy.

    Features :

    • Retopology tools
    • Smart extrude
    • OSL support and more

    Cost:

    • $5,085/paid every 3 years
    • $1,785/paid annually
    • $225/paid monthly

    OS compatibility: Windows 11, Windows 10

  • Maya

    Maya is the globally preferred professional 3D software used to create believable characters, expansive 3D worlds, complex shots, and add details to characters and scenes. Maya is mostly used by top artists in the 3D industry for shaping 3D objects and scenes with intuitive modeling tools and adding blockbuster-worthy effects.

    Features :

    • Bifrost for Maya
    • Fast playback
    • NURBS & polygonal modeling and more

    Cost:

    • $5,085/paid every 3 years
    • $1,785/paid annually
    • $225/paid monthly

    OS compatibility: Windows 10, Mac OS 10.13.x and newer, Linux RedHat Enterprise 8.2, 7.6-7.9 WS, Linux CentOS 8.2, 7.6-7.9

  • Lumion 3D

    Lumion 3d

    It is a 3D rendering software aimed especially at architects who work with exteriors. Lumion 3D has one of the most user-friendly interfaces for architectural rendering, making it one of the easiest 3D rendering software programs to use.

    It includes a vast library of realistic material items like people, sky, grass, water, plants, trees, etc.

    Features :

    • Volumetric spotlights
    • Surface decals
    • Animated phasing and more

    Cost: Starting from €1499

    OS compatibility: Windows

  • SketchUp

    SketchUp is a fantastic tool primarily developed for easy 3D modeling and 3D rendering for construction, architecture design, etc.

    Apart from these, SketchUp can also be availed for furniture production, wood processing on machine tools, landscape designing, 3D printing, generating 3D walkthrough and flythrough animations, etc.

    Features :

    • Textures
    • Lighting effects
    • Layer manager and more

    Cost:

    Free versions for personal use and training at €109 per year

    OS compatibility: Windows, macOS

  • Octane Render

    Octane Render

    Developed by OTOY Inc., a graphics software company based in California, Octane Render is a powerful and reliable 3D renderer and the first unbiased raytracer available for commercial use, that fully utilizes the GPU. Octane Render has become a great choice for 3D artists and designers because it allows them to modify scenes close to real-time without the speed glitch of CPU rendering.

    The software is pretty easy to use and has a wide range of features that help create stunning 3D renders. With the recent updates to the software, Octane Render now seamlessly integrates with Blender, making it the perfect choice for anyone who works with 3D graphics.

    Features :

    • Volumetric Rendering
    • Deep Pixel Rendering
    • Live Texture Baking and more

    Cost: 19.99 €/month

    OS compatibility: Windows 7 or higher (64-bit), Linux (64-bit), mac OS 10.13.6 High Sierra

  • KeyShot

    Keyshot Render

    KeyShot is an incredible piece of software that allows for real-time 3D rendering with instant results display and reduced time to create realistic product visuals. With KeyShot, it is easy to communicate ideas and explore newer concepts. It includes native support for 30+ leading 3D file formats and 750+ preset materials, with thousands more on the KeyShot Cloud.

    KeyShot has two primary products, the KeyShot Pro and the KeyVR, both of which offer powerful lighting, studio, and image tools to apply textures, labels, variations, etc., with ease.

    • CPU Rendering
    • Global Illumination
    • HDRI Lighting and more

    Cost: $99.00/m

    OS compatibility: mac, Windows

  • Artlantis

    Artlantis

    Artlantis is a pioneer in architectural visualization for creating photorealistic renderings and animations and is compatible with most of the leading 3D software available. The software has a user-friendly UI that beginners, intermediates, and advanced rendering artists alike can operate.

    Also, the software is immensely easy to learn without having much graphics knowledge. The best aspect of Artlantis is the “Real-time Preview” option that offers a preview of the scene, allowing renderers to make changes and have control over each change.

    Features :

    • Real time preview
    • Shaders & Textures
    • Integrated media catalog and more

    Cost:

    Full License - 650€

    OS compatibility: mac OS X 10.12, Windows 7, 8.1, 10

  • D5 Render

    D5 Render is a simple yet powerful real-time rendering software that offers intuitive control over lighting, perspectives, and materials essential to visualize a story. D5 Render goes through continuous updates to help designers in construction and architecture, landscape, banquet hall design, and interior design areas.

    The software supports importing materials maps in .tif, .tiff, or .tga formats and can seamlessly connect with 3DS Max, SketchUp, Revit, Blender, etc.

    Features :

    • D5 Global Illumination Solution
    • Real-time Ray tracing
    • Deep Learning Super Sampling and more

    Cost:

    D5 Render PRO - $38/month, $360/year

    OS compatibility: Windows 10 v1809 or higher

  • Clara.io

    Clara.io is a full-featured cloud-based 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software tool that can create complex 3D models and beautiful photorealistic renderings without installing any software programs.

    The software runs in web browsers and offers a bunch of polygon mesh tools, modifiers and operators, subdivision surfaces, UV editing tools, and much more. Optimized performance. Clara.io comes with a vast array of photorealistic material libraries and supports 30+ standard 3D file formats.

    Features :

    • VRay Cloud Rendering
    • Multi-Platform
    • Easy Sharing + Embedding and more

    Cost: Free

    OS compatibility: Multi-Platform - Chrome, Firefox, IE11, Edge, Windows, Apple OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS.

  • Cedreo

    One of the best performing, cloud-based software for 3D rendering of interior and exterior home design. With Cedreo, one can create photorealistic 3D renderings with accurate lighting and precise surface shading in less than 5 minutes.

    The UI is artist-friendly, easy to use, and doesn’t require a separate, powerfully configured computer to generate the renderings. Since all the designs are connected by their servers, one can even make design changes on the fly for client presentations.

    The perspective of the building, camera placement, lighting, sunlight or natural light, image resolution - everything can be custom-selected before each rendering.

    Cost:

    • Personal - $49/project
    • Professional - $40.83/month
    • Enterprise - $57.5/user/month

    OS compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 10.10+

6 practical tips for selecting the best 3D rendering software

Amidst so many tools and software available for 3D rendering, which one should be your pick? That’s the tricky part of carrying out an end-to-end 3D design project. This is the step that a renderer must master in order to choose the best software for their needs.

Follow the checklists below before making up your mind about a specific software.

  1. Whether the software is competent to meet the requirements

    Consider your project’s or your client’s needs before every other metric. Make sure the software you select can meet all the requirements adequately. Figure out how effectively each tool performs the project’s rendering objectives.

    Once you gather these data, you may go for it, or scrap it off your list!

  2. Has a simple and easy-to-use UI

    Too much of a complex software might be hard to follow and work on, making your workflow slow. Never let a complicated interface harm your efficiency and TAT. So, don't just prioritize features; also consider how simple the interface and tools are.

  3. Has the latest features

    Although simplicity and user-friendliness are the two main factors to consider, the features available in the software must be up-to-date with the latest trends and offer the most recent add-ons that help reduce the workload. You shall find many software offering advanced features, yet having a user-friendly UI.

  4. Look out for the file formats the software supports

    Never forget that the files you provide your client with will be viewed by others as well. Thus, the files must be in a universal format that most computers are compatible with. Examine the file formats supported by the software and in which you intend to export your files.

  5. Offers proper trial, training, and technical assistance

    While onboarding a new software, it is normal for you or your team to ask for a trial, a demonstration, or training. See if the software offers these dedicated services or not. Also, make a note of whether they offer tech support, as you might run into several technical hurdles with your new software.

  6. Finally, if it suits your budget

    This is super important. Always go with a software that comes withing your budget and doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Subscriptions or licenses of high-end software usually do not come cheap; nevertheless, keep an eye out for alternatives and bulk discount offers.

    Offshoring your rendering projects to a dedicated third-party agency can save you a lot of dollars, as professional rendering agencies work at a fraction of the cost of high-end software subscriptions.

In case you need the assistance of a professional, you can reach us. ThePro3DStudio provides an entire gamut of 3D design services and employs advanced software to work on the clients' projects. So, if you need futuristic 3D rendering services or any other service for your business, get in touch with us to discuss!


Contact Us

Related Blog Posts

Sushmita Roy   linkedin   instagram   twitter

A seasoned 3D professional with a creative focused, and a knack for diverse 3D designs, software and the technology. She's associated with ThePro3DStudio for long enough to prove her mettle and make every 3D projects successful. When she’s not busy working for a new project, she shares valuable insights from her own experience.