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Showing posts from 2008

Free Open Beta of Vue Pioneer

When you register for a Cornucopia3D account (the free Vue community site), you can participate in the free Open Beta test for Vue Pioneer, the entry level version of the powerful landscape and environment modeling, rendering and animation software. Versions are available for Windows and OSX, in both 32-bit and 64-bit. Information at . You may keep the full version, but some limitations apply: renderings up to full HD (1920x1080), with a Vue Logo no loading of external models (except when bought from Cornucopia store no commercial usage allowed The first and last are fine for students, but the second makes it impossible to use for architectural designers when modeling in CAD software... so they might as well go to one of the more complete versions.

Open Source Game "Yo Frankie!" released

The Open Source Game "Yo Frankie!" is available now, for Windows, Linux and OSX at . You can download not only the game itself, but (soon) also all resources which have been used to create the game, such as the different applications (most prominently Blender and Crystal Space game engine) with source code but also the artwork, models, textures, animations. If I remember correctly, some aspects such as the music, were not made with Open Source software... since the page from the music author talks about the software in use (Logic Studio, Ableton Live...) and the platforms and that is clearly not Open Source (but the applications are good, I have to say. But this part you usually don't read in the articles.

Shapeshop Free Modeling

Shapeshop is a Windows-only modeling application, for 3D sculpting and sketching. It's not CAD and it's not ZBrush, but it tries to be easy to use. Check You can export models in OBJ, Collada and STL format for use in other applications. Modeling only, so full texturing, rendering and animation is done in other software.

A/CAD LT Express - free CAD?

A new (?) CAD application will soon be launched. Really free? 2D-only? Windows-only? I assume the answers would be: yes (but with limitations), yes (with limitations), yes. Check out . If LT is up to compete against AutoCAD LT ($1200 is not cheap, I believe), than it might be interesting. You can submit your mail address and some info to receive notification mail.

Processing 1.0 released

The cross-platform, Open Source Processing environment has just turned into an official 1.0 release. It is available on all platforms, uses Java and is free to use and to adapt. It can be used for teaching and learning programming, with a strong emphasis on interaction and visualization. You still have to write code, but the treshold has diminished to a very low level, which makes it accessible for many more people than, let's say, C++ or C#, certainly when you are interested in graphics, video, animation, 3D, audio, PDF and all kinds of other things. Highly recommended, but remember that you still have to write code and you need to have a basic understanding about mathematics. And if it's good enough for video clips from Radiohead, TV-commercials, several highly respected universities and visual artists, than it might as well work out for you as well. [sorry for the slightly less objective posting...]

Make Fractal Trees in SketchUp with RpTreeMaker This free beta-plugin for SketchUp allows for the creation of 2D trees, based on fractals. The tree is stored as an image in a component. Currently, the polygon outline to generate proper shadows is not created. Available for Windows as a 30 day trial, so it seems...

3D STL output from SketchUp

A free (for non-commercial usage) plugin for SketchUp to assist with the delivery of proper meshes for output to a 3D printer. It has some additional new tools for SketchUp too. Currently available for Windows (SKUP 6+7) and OSX (SKUP 7).

From SketchUp to Parametrics

With this plugin from the Russian LEDAS company, you can add (some) parametric capabilities into SketchUp: modify the dimension and the connected geometry is modified. They will try to add more parametric features into this plugin and also enable it for other software programs. Freely available, but only for the Windows version of SketchUp Pro 6.

Lumina, Open Source GLSL editor

Lumina is an Open Source editor for the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL). It is using Qt from Nokia (formerly Trolltech). It should work on Windows, OSX and Linux. I have downloaded the sources and with some editing , I was able to compile in with Visual Studio 2005. I believe it was written to use the gcc-compiler.


Equinox3D is a free 3D modeling, rendering and animation application, slightly inspired by the old Softimage|3D. It has some nice rendering features, directly in the viewports. It is available for Linux and Intel Macs.

Open Source Office

On you can download a version of Open Office that was spun of from the regular Open Office. They claim it's faster and more compatible, so it could be worth it if you are hesitating about still buying MS Office. It is available for Linux and Windows, not for OSX.

Free edition of Quadrispace

As read on tenlinks , Quadrispace has made the Personal Edition of Document3D available. While not as complete as the full package, it might be worth to investigate. Go to Quadrispace Downloads to obtain the software (Windows-only). There are different versions of the software: Pages3D for website documents, 3D PDF, CD-ROMs and executables. Publisher3D has vectorial illustrations and animations Document3D combines all features of the two packages

Esperient 3D visual computing Community Edition

Esperienct Creator is a visual computing system for Windows PCs. They recently launched the free Community Edition, which enables you to see if it works for you. The "free" edition displays a watermark, is not allowing commercial usage and has severe file size limits. These limitations obviously do not apply to the non-free editions.

Free rendering plugin for SketchUp

IDX had a rendering plugin for SketchUp, but they decided to release a free version with limited resolution (640x480 pixels) and two non-free editions with higher resolution. Currently, the MAC version is not ready. See for more info. Read on WorldCAD Access blog

Free e-book on the history of CAD

Go to for a link to a free e-book on the history of CAD (mostly oriented towards Mechanical CAD, but there are chapters on different companies). You are encouraged by the author to donate for the research on cancer.

Microsoft Truespace 7.6 now free

The acquisition of Caligari (creators of Truespace) by Microsoft has lead to the release of Truespace 7.6 for free. Microsoft hopes it will help people to create content for their Virtual Earth system, not unlike the use of the free version of SketchUp to create models for Google Earth... This is a full version, including modeling, animation, rendering and customization, but for Windows only. And you have to get used to the icon-based interface (hundreds of icons for most functions. The interactive widgets in the viewport and the realtime rendering features in the modeling view are compelling features.

Rendering for SketchUp

From but too interesting to just reference. However, I had to make some corrections, such as indicating the free but not Open Source applications. Commerical Products Podium, , $178, Direct SketchUp Integration. IDX Renditioner, , $199, Direct SketchUp Integration, formerly TurboSketch. Vue 6 xStream, , $695 and up, imports .skp files. Vue 6 infinite, , $895 and up, imports .skp files. Piranesi, , $750, non-photorealistic, requires plug-in for SketchUp. Artlantis, , $795, requires SketchUp exporter plug-in. Vray for SketchUp, , $799, Direct SketchUp integration. Maxwell Render, , $995, requires SketchUp exporter plug-in. FryRender, , $1240, requires plug-in. Free Products Indigo, , unbiased renderer, requires SketchUp exporter plug-

Open Source CAD Applications

There are different Open Source CAD applications, which might be worth to keep an eye on. Some of them are actively being developed, but not fully usable yet. wildcat full CAD system, using MCAD concepts, but in early development (no end-user application yet) CADEMIA 2D generic CAD in Java, an academic research project thancad 2D CAD for engineers, using Python PythonCAD 2D CAD in Python JCad 2D CAD in Java QCad 2D CAD in C++ Archimedes 2D AutoCAD-clone FreeCAD 3D MCAD in C++ (feature based parametric modeler) B-processor Building Information Modeling in Java, an academic research project BRL-CAD general Solid Modeling and Raytracing by the US Army Most of them are cross-platform. Some of them exist in a free (and Open) community edition and commercial add-ons. But it might be an approach to build further on an existing toolset.

AccuRender nXt

The new generation of AccuRender is called nXt . It is a rendering plugin for AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp or Rhino. The software will be commercial, but you can currently subscribe to test a pre-release version. This is free. You can indicate if you are a Mac user, but the software is currently targeting Windows applications mostly. But when you know that Rhino is being ported to OSX, AccuRender might follow.

DualCAD free DGN editor

DualCAD is a free Windows-only 2D CAD program to edit MicroStation DGN files. It is a full application, used to demonstrate the capabilities of the PcsCustom ActiveX control from the developer (not free), which can be used to develop a Windows-based CAD application.

Explicit History in Rhino

The "Explicit History" plugin for Rhino 4.0 is currently in development. It provides an interface to make the history of modeling steps explicit (visible) instead of being hidden behind the scenes. It allows users to define a parametric history tree for modeling, not unlike Bentley Generative Components. Beware that it is still in development and that many steps in the Rhino modeling flow are not exposed with history at all. System requirements: Rhino 4.0 SP3 A nice example of the possibilities of this plugin can be followed at the DesignReform blog.

Antics Realtime animation in free and pro version

Antics provides a solution to develop realtime animations. It is used for pre-visualization, machinima and general multimedia purposes. There are two versions: free and pro, with different content available and with better integration in the pro version. Available for Windows only.

Free (but last) nVidia Gelato GPU rendering

nVidia will provide the latest (and last) version of Gelato for free. This is a rendering system which utilizes your graphics adapter (but it has to be an nVidia Quadro card!). The software was previously available in a free and non-free pro version. The pro version will not be developed anymore and has become free now. Available for Windows and Linux and with integration for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya.

Architectural visualization with Blender video

Vaclav Chaloupka created a three-part video tutorial, explaining how to use Blender for a full architectural visualization animation. Tutorial: building a house in Blender 3d software - part 1 from Vaclav Chaloupka on Vimeo . Part 1 - building the house shell. For more see The tutorial has 3 parts. Walk through the process of creating a 3D model of a house from scratch to the final visualization. The final result can be seen on Blender ( Blender a free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.

[tutorial] Getting a SketchUp model into Blender

Here is a nice tutorial describing how to get a 3D Model from SketchUp (even the free version) into Blender, for visualization. It involves exporting to a Google Earth file, renaming it to a ZIP-file, unpacking it and discovering the Collada file that is inside.

Hugin Open Source Panoramic Image Stitcher

Hugin is an Open Source, Cross-Platform application to create seamless panoramic images by stitching. A free and open alternative to RealVIZ Stitcher (now bought by Autodesk). Go to and download the precompiled application (OSX, Linux, Windows) or the sources if you know what you are doing. Added: You can also use if for the correction of perspective, removal of distortion. It can call some external tools for automatic stitching (autopano) and automatic blending (enblend).

Pencil - Open Source vectorial drawing/animation

The Pencil application is an Open Source vectorial drawing application, with animation support. It uses the Qt toolkit making it compatible with Windows, OSX and Linux. You can also create bitmap images and the support for "onion skinning" allows you to see previous (and next) frames when creating animations. As always with this kind of applications, having a Tablet/Pen/Stylus and artistic feeling will improve your results.

Free Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express is a new variation on Photoshop, for 'any' user, without cost. Sing up at and see what happens. We have been using Photoshop Elements in our classroom, instead of the full version, since it does enough for our students and the educational price was reasonable (which is not true for the full version).

SketchUp Has Style

Read on : The SketchUp Style Builder is currently in Beta for SketchUp 6 Pro (Win+Mac). It can be found at and is free (for now?). It adds a new application alongside SketchUp to thoroughly improve the styles possibilities from SketchUp, which were already impressive.

Free OZ Plants

OZBreed provides australian plants and provides a sample of their offerings as a freely downloadable set of files for ArchiCAD, SketchUp, Photoshop or in plain TIFF, TGA and JPEG formats. High resolution and usable in any application, but the plants might not be relevant for where you live...

Many Operating Systems on one laptop

Not strictly CAD or 3D, but this page gives an overview of someone who installed several different Operating Systems on his laptop (a Mac Powerbook). . When you have a more recent computer, there is much better support for multiple systems, especially when your processor supports "virtualization". You can use VMWare (or fusion for IntelMacs), Virtual PC (Windows only), Parallels (PC's and IntelMacs) and some Open Source solutions (qemu, PearPC etc). I wouldn't advice using this for intensive 3D applications, but for many more common tasks it is usable. In the case of CAD software (e.g. running AutoCAD or Revit or 3ds max on a Mac, you are best to use Bootcamp from Apple to boot into Windows, to take full advantage of Hardware Acceleration of the graphics). Graphics Acceleration is still the bottleneck in many emulations or virtualization applications.

Blender Video Tutorials (list)

The official Blender page has a section on video tutorials available on . Additionally, on the 3D Buzz forum, someone has compiled a full list of video tutorials on the free and Open Source Blender 3D Animation software.

Robobat ROBOT Freeware

ROBOT Millenium Freeware is a Windows-only structural engineering program, with a direct link to Revit Structure, 2D and 3D Frames (limited to 200 members) and plates and shells (up to 1500 nodes). Registration is required. Edit: it seems that the page is unavailable at the moment. Would the acquisition by Autodesk have something to do with it?

Pftrack match moving trial works as a PLE version

When you register and download the evaluation version of PFTrack (PC/MAC/Linux) it will continue to work as a Personal Learning Editio n (although with all exports disabled). You can save your project and work with the full functionality to learn about matchmoving. The commercial version is not cheap, although there is also a student version available. Register for the trial/PLE version This firm also sells a cheap version called PFHoe which is not free (about EUR 50), but is fast and streamlined and can be used in many cases. As an historic aside, the software was originally developed in an academic project, called Icarus , where it was freely available for quite some time.