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Showing posts from 2009

Free meshmixer for Windows

A nice freeware application, which allows you to mix and match mesh geometry from different models. The video displays it better than I could in a short text. Maybe the mesh topology (the clean edges and aligned series of edges) will suffer from it, but as a sculptural approach to modeling with library objects, it seems to function really well and smart. Freely available but Windows-only. Or to use the description from the owner: meshmixer is an experimental 3D modeling tool developed by Ryan Schmidt, a computer graphics researcher at the University of Toronto who is also responsible for ShapeShop and some other stuff .

Free beta version of Punch! Shark

If you like to test unreleased applications, you can apply for the free beta-test of "Shark" by Punch! Available for Windows and OSX. Shark is the "professional" CAD application while ViaCAD is a much cheaper "consumer" version. Check both as you might have enough tools at your disposal with ViaCAD. And if you are on OSX, it is good to know, since not too many CAD applications run on this OS. Apply on the punchcad blog .

Free Unreal Development Kit 3

If you have interest in using a professional game engine freely, at least in a non-commercial context, you can try the Unreal Development Kit . This is the Unreal 3 Engine and the kit is complete with the runtime engine and the editors required to make levels and interaction. PC-only and ensure you have a decent graphics adapter with support for shaders.

Autodesk Project Cooper : free drawing tool (for now?)

Project Cooper is a new and user-friendly drawing and presentation application, which should appeal to casual users, people with no CAD background and home-users. But nothing prevents you from trying it out as professional architects. It actually contains enough precision for proper drawing on scale and uses the DWG format for interoperability with CAD software. As most Autodesk Labs projects, specifications and availability are subject to change and no info is given on later possible commercial pricing. Current release expires on April 30, 2010 and available in US and Canada only. Windows XP or Vista (32-bit) are required. More info on .

Free version of Balancer Polygon reduction

Atangeo Balancer is a tool that puts your 3D polygonal models in balance. With Balancer you can quickly and easily find your perfect balance between visual appearance and the number of polygons; optimize your models even further for best visualization performance depending on your rendering method. Limited in amount of polygons in the free version (which actually defeats its purpose, so you might need the full version to do real optimizations). Check the Atangeo website for details.

Open Source HDRI application

Initially, when I learned about High Dynamic Range Images, I looked at the HDRshop application, which was simple, but at the time more than welcome. I just found out about Qtpfsgui, which is an Open Source application to load bracketed images (with different exposure) and turn them into real HDR images. Cross-platform (Windows, Linux and OSX) and Open Source.

Pixelstruct - Open Source alternative to Microsoft Photosynth

Have you been impressed by Photosynth from Microsoft ? Well, the same underlying algorithms have now been used in an Open Source application, which has a similar goal: reconstructing the environment through combining several pictures. Points in the pictures are related and the more pictures you receive, the more complete the display becomes. Each picture is mapped to the same point-cloud-like reconstruction.

Open Source : Sweet Home 3D

I just read about through a Sourceforge mailing. Apparently, it is a cross-platform (Windows, OSX and Linux) and Open Source home modeling application, with the possibility of running online. The export to 2D drawings uses Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which is slightly similar to PDF, but in an open XML-based format and the 3D model can be exported into an OBJ file (the old ASCII-format from Alias Wavefront software, before it became Maya).

List of free Vector-drawing programs

If you want to look at alternatives for CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, this list gives a brief overview of some possible applications to look at. They all handle drawing, layout of (usually) single pages and insertion of bitmap images. Go to . I have used Inkscape twice, to create posters. Starting from a PDF and once starting from a PowerPoint template saved as a PNG file to use as background. Support of layers, snaps and grids is there and also insertion of images, clipping, Boolean operations and decent font support. While I still believe I am more flexible and productive in CoreDRAW (which I used quite a lot), it gets the job done. On Windows, OSX and Linux, no less. Native format is SVG, but it has decent support for other formats too. I don't know Xare Xtreme , but if it used to be commercial, it might have some good productivity laying behind it. I tried the 3.0.0 version of Draw once and it b

Free version of netfabb studio available

netfabb Studio is a new version of this software to manipulate 3D models in the context of fabrication. STL files can be loaded but also assessed and even fixed. It might not be a full Magics alternative, but it has a free (Windows) version and a non-free more extensive version. Check it out at

Updated connection between ArchiCAD and Cinema4D

After a very long time, there is an updated version of the Exchange Plugin, which is a free add-on for ArchiCAD 12 and Cinema4D (R10.5 or 11), for Windows and OSX. It replaces the deprecated MaxonForm and allows you to combine work from ArchiCAD and Cinema4D in two major ways: render your ArchiCAD project in Cinema4D and update the geometry from ArchiCAD embed freeform Cinema4D geometry as GDL object inside ArchiCAD and even update them again in Cinema4D There have been long complaints about the combination of both, so I hope they finally got it right with this update.

Free Image Stitching from Microsoft

The researchers from Microsoft created this free gem, called Microsoft ICE, which is to be found at . You can use it to merge your snapshots into stunning panoramic images (or other projections). Windows-only, obviously.

CraftAnimations freeware addons

On you can register to download a series of free plugins (+ demo versions of commercial plugins) which work in all (recent) versions of 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema4D (on all of their platforms and in 32+64 bit). Mainly targeted at improving animation of cars, planes or camera's, these utilities can assist with different animation tasks.

Modelur Urban Modeling for SketchUp

The Modelur software is a plug-in for SketchUp which is currently entering beta-testing. There are some YouTube movies to watch and you can register to test the software.

The end is near for Truespace

After Microsoft bought Caligari, it turned Truespace free. But apparently, the crisis is having an effect on the future of Truespace. It is assumed that the Truespace software and everything around it will be cancelled. Read a notice from the founder of Truespace: .

Envisioneer Express for free

According to the Novedge blog, CadSoft releases a free version of their CAD software for residential design, called Envisioneer Express. Read more at . Direct link to the product page for this software at .

new Open Movie project "Durian"

After "Elephants Dream" and "Big Buck Bunny", the third Open Movie project tied to the Blender Foundation developments to improve Blender in a real project is announced:

Kerkythea will go commercial

In a slight reversal of most of the mails on this blog, it appears that both Kerkythea and Indigo renderers will try the commercial route. They were not Open Source, but free. Let's see if they can stand up against the other commercial engines...

Rhino 5.0 WIP freely available for Rhino 4.0 users

If you are a current Rhino 4.0 for Windows user, you can (with your CD-key) register for the public test version of the upcoming Rhino 5.0. This Work-In-Progress version gives you a sneak peak to what Rhino 5.0 will be and allows full testing on a time-limited but unrestricted version. The Mac OSX version of Rhino 4.0 is also free to try, by the way, if you did not know already.

Cinema4D free for educational use

At least in Belgium and the Netherlands, students and schools can request a free license of Cinema4D (any edition: XL, Studio, Architecture, Engineering). It is compatible with Windows and OSX and is a very decent modeller, rendering and animation workhorse. C4D rendering from Palais Stoclet (Hoffmann) modeled by Kristof Lesaffre. C4D rendering from Vitra Pavillion (Tadao Ando) modeled by Leentje Verfaillie.

Allplan free for Students and Teachers

Nemetschek is more and more opening their software tools for educational users. Register at the , provide a copy of your student ID and they will see if you qualify. You can download the software Allplan for free and access forums and e-learning courses. Last time I checked, the Allplan software was Windows-only.

OpenCAD - how to write a CAD program

The "OpenCAD - A Step by Step Guide to Developing a Professional CAD Application" book by Deelip Menezes describes in a single book how (with the assistance of the DWGdirect SDK. Focused on a single library and on Windows applications using MFC, but interesting nonetheless. PDF and physical copies are available.

A/CAD LT Express? It will be DoubleCAD

The free alternative to AutoCAD LT, announced by IMSI initially under the name of A/CAD, will be called DoubleCAD. It is meant to be "better than LT", 2D-CAD including compatibility with all DWG versions, self-healing walls (compatible with AutoCAD Architecture), etc... Windows-only, as usual. The "Pro" version should be about half the price of LT, which bases it somewhere around $500-$700.

Not free, but new: LightWave CORE

Newtek, developer of the popular LightWave 3D modeling, rendering and animation software, will soon release its next generation engine: LightWave CORE. It will be more expensive (+/- $1500) than current LightWave (+/- $800), with higher subscription pricing (+/- 500), but more open for customization: CSS-based user interface, same Software Developers Kit as internal Newtek team and cross-platform: Windows, OSX and Linux, in 32 and 64-bit. It uses Qt for the GUI, Python for scripting, C++ for development and Collada as file format (extended, I assume). It looks like a mixture of modern development, but still in the context of traditional desktop applications, which seems appropriate for animation software.

bonzai3d public beta

Autodessys, the makers of FormZ, will soon release bonzai3d, a new generation modeling application, for a "low" price ($500). It is meant to be easy to use, accurate and still pretty powerful. I assume it will be positioned as an entry-level program, competing with SketchUp, but more focusing on curved, freeform geometry. And assumably, there will be a migration path to FormZ as a more complete solution. Check the information about the Open Beta on . For Mac OSX and Windows.

Vue 7 PLE Released

The Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of VUE did exist, but is now updated to version 7. This is the full software, with all functionality, but with some limitations to prevent commercial usage. It exists in a standalone and an integrated version, which can be used with some popular commercial 3D Animation applications: 3ds Max, Maya, XSI, C4D, Lightwave. The PLE is for personal, non-commercial use only, files cannot be exchanged with other PLE users and are not compatible with other versions of Vue, renders may be watermarked and carry a logo. Thank you for reminding me about it, "Xabier Urrutia"!