CAD software

I wrote out a massive, rambling post about a little project I am cooking up. But i sound like a complete lunatic so i deleted it and ill just get to the point.

Ive never done any design, other than pen and paper napkin. I need to design something, i need something simple to get me going. Ive got a long time to learn and dont mind putting in the effort.

Any ideas on where to start?

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2D or 3D?

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I’d go for Blender.

Relatively easy to learn, free, and lots of tutorials available.

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Tinkercad is a free basic 3d design tool, that can give you an intro in to the design process, it’s not super complex but you can use it to build 3d modules and then export it for printing


Google sketch up always seemed to me the perfect thing for total newbs

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Perfect, thats what i was looking at. As an aside, can a mortal do it. Without a degree in computers and just some practise and work

Plus is scale an issue with these things? The thing i am working on is large, like very very large. Do these things scale like that ?

Blender works from submillimeter precision to kilometers.

People are building models for 3D printing with it, and I have used it for constructing buildings to import into MSFS.

When I first used it I had some experience with other 3D modeling programs, but IMO it is doable for beginners.

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exactly depends of what you want to do and if you want to spend or not.
Because Blender is very popular not because the best, its because its capable of doing almost all and its free. About interface its far away of being the easy or intuitive ones.
If everything that cost more than zero for you is too much costy, so don’t look further and go to Blender, free, popular, plenty of tutorials!!!

Also exist many other solutions some free others very costy:

  • Autodesk AutoCAD the nr1 reference and costy
  • Autodesk Revit nowadays a reference for architecture because the BIM (building information modeling) also very costy
  • Autodesk Solidworks very costy and a reference for mechanical parts
  • AC3D very affordable price and convert and imports to many formats
  • Amabilis very cheap and very dedicated to build locomotive models to train sims
  • FormZ not cheap, but my favorite because very powerful and easy to build something. Mechanic and also architecture.
  • ZWCAD like AutoCAD but more cheaper
  • even exist some free ones very strictly dedicated, like the Sweet Home 3D, free but only homes

You have many others, some more parametric 3D modeling others more artistic free style, so it always depends of what you want to do in details

Also you want to render? and 3D wrapping? because exist very powerfull dedicated tools for that like:
Maxwell Render
Marmoset Toolbag
Substancial Painter

Even exist some funny ones like the Pepakura to build 3D paper models (dedicated tool to unfold 3D models)

You told about scale, large, large is a relative term, what is large for someone can be small to others.
The professional ones like Autocad, Revit, ZWCAD, FormZ etc you can build things in the scale of astronomical size and even put there details in sub milimetric scale. All there are pure numbers and math vectors. You can build our solar system in 1:1 and insert a word much smaller than 1mm without issues.


Is this for 3D, 3D printing, engineering design, etc?

Sketchup is a free product that if you all you need is a 3D drafting capability, works well, is intuitive and is free. There is also a gigantic library of prebuilt objects you can use to add to your own work.

Blender is an excellent choice for 3D art.

Fusion 360 for actual engineering design is a good choice and there are free use licenses .

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Pretty much this, i need to build a 3d model of a space that i want to build,
The idea being that it will be a while before i can afford to start the actual construction so this will give me time to finalise the layout and check for snags in the design before i start chopping expensive pieces of aluminium and fiberglass up.
I cant really “do” any of this so this seems like it may be a fun skill to learn as i go for the future

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I don’t want to sound like a broken record but I’d say that Google sketchUp is what you need.

It’s super simple and has a variety of items (that can be modified too) to populate a room.
I think you’ll find it pretty easy to begin too, at my first try I used it to create my actual sim desk, that still stands…

I’m not going to exaggerate it, once you done a rough version of that you’ll probably need Blender to make a more refined and better looking version, but IIRC you can export from SketchUp literally to any format so…

I would seriously give it a look.

You can easily find short videos that will give you all the necessary skills to sketch up your space in no time.


That sounds like a good plan to me @komemiute

Before my house was built I created a 3D model using Sketchup so I could visualize it for me and my Wife, and simulate Sun angles and shadows, for example.

I started out absolutely clueless but was done in two evenings either way. Very effective, and you can go deeper using Blender any time.


Try the free version of FormZ

Its very easy to learn and build 3D models.

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Haven’t seen that one before. Must give it a try…

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OFC its not the full featured FormZ, but it’s capable and super easy to build objects. They reduced many clicks that are common in other CAD apps.


Instruction videos:


Really appreciate all this guys. Ill update on my progress as it…progresses

For now

A hint


Nice, a military truck…