If you’re a Mac user looking to get into 3D modeling, the first step is to pick your software. However, there are so many different programs out there, so you need to choose carefully to make sure you find the best 3D modeling software for Mac for you.
In this guide, we review the best Mac 3D design software. We’ll cover all the important aspects you need to know, from price and usability to what person each program is best suited for.
Best 3D Modeling Software for Mac- Full Round-Up
- 3D Slash: Easiest Mac 3D Modeling Software for Beginners
- FreeCAD: Free & Open Source Parametric Modeler for Mac
- Blender: Advanced Free Multi-Purpose CAD Software for Mac
- Fusion 360: Best Free Industrial 3D Modeling Software for Mac
- SketchUp: Best Mac 3D CAD Software for Interior & Landscape Design
- ZBrush: Multi-Purpose CAD Software That’s Great for 3D Modeling Characters
- AutoCAD: One of the Most Powerful 3D Modeling Software, Great for Architecture
- Rhino: Extremely Powerful & Flexible 3D Modeling Software for Mac, Best for Jewelry
Which 3D Software is NOT Available on Mac?
Before we jump into looking at the best Mac 3D drawing software, here are some popular programs to avoid since they’re only on Windows.
- Autodesk 3DS Max
- Autodesk Inventor
- Creo Parametric
Best Free 3D Modeling Software for Mac
3D Slash – Easiest Mac 3D Modeling Software for Beginners
One of the simplest 3D modeling software
Free version alongside very affordable subscriptions
Create any type of model which can be used for 3D printing
Very basic and only suitable for novices
3D modeling is generally a fairly complex task and therefore sometimes intimidating for beginners. However, 3D Slash makes the process as simple as possible, even if you’re a complete novice.
This 3D software for Mac uses a highly intuitive block building method, which almost resembles a game like Minecraft, to produce models. For example, you can start with a solid block and then subtract and edit blocks to create the shape of your model, and the software offers a range of colors and design features you can then use to customize it.
You can create all kinds of 3D models using this technique, from model planes and buildings to furniture and decorations. Of course, it’s a lot more limited than other Mac modeling software so it’s not suitable for experienced modelers, but it’s perfect for newbies and is a great way to learn how to create models for 3D printing.
The online version is available to use for free, or you can subscribe to the personal downloadable version for just $24 a year, so it’s super affordable. 3D Slash also offers Educational and Professional license options.
FreeCAD – Free & Open Source Parametric Modeler for Mac
Completely free to use
Intuitive parametric modeling
Supports 2D drawing also
Active user community
Only offers parametric modeling
Another free and beginner-friendly option is FreeCAD, although this program is more advanced than 3D Slash.
FreeCAD uses parametric modeling, which is a process that allows you to easily modify the shape and geometry of your models by going back through the history and altering its parameters. So, it can save a lot of time by making editing easy and it also allows you to automate repetitive functions.
You can also create 2D drawings in FreeCAD, allowing you to draw shapes in 2D and then use them as a base for 3D models. You can also switch between 2D and 3D easily, and you can extract design details to create highly precise, production-ready models.
This is one of the best 3D modeling software for 3D printing with Mac thanks to its flexibility, but it’s also suitable for other applications. For example, FreeCAD is used for product design, mechanical engineering, and architecture.
Another unique aspect of FreeCAD is that it’s open source, unlike most other 3D modeling software for Mac This means that if you have developing skills you can add your own code and even develop your own features and add-ons.
However, bear in mind it doesn’t support other modeling methods like meshes or subdivision modeling.
Blender – Advanced Free Multi-Purpose CAD Software for Mac
Completely free and open source
Add your own features with python scripting
Powerful and complete suite of 3D modeling tools
Also supports sculpting, rendering, rigging, and animation
Intuitive interface & processes can be automated
Fairly steep learning curve
Blender is an open source tool that’s widely considered one of the best free 3D software for Mac as well as Windows.
It’s a very powerful, professional-grade tool that supports each step in the 3D pipeline, including sculpting, rigging, rendering, animating, and simulation as well as modeling.
Blender provides numerous advanced 3D modeling tools, such as modifiers. These are automatic operations that allow you to automatically perform tedious effects like subdivision surfaces without affecting the base geometry of your model, which can help improve efficiency.
There’s a complete range of tools on offer, including curves, meshes, surfaces, geometry nodes, and text. Another highlight is UV unwrapping, which allows you to unwrap meshes inside the software and then add image textures (or paint your own) directly onto your model.
This free 3D design software for Mac also boasts a highly intuitive interface, with keyboard shortcuts, edge slide, collapse, and dissolve, and N-Gon support for speeding up workflows.
As Blender is open source, it’s one of the only 3D design software for Mac that allows you to develop your own custom features and add-ons using python scripting.
Fusion 360 – Best Free Industrial 3D Modeling Software for Mac
Very powerful modeling software ideal for electrical and mechanical modeling
Free version for non-commercial use
Integrated CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB functionality
Excellent data management with cloud collaboration
Supports mesh, direct, parametric, surface, and freeform modeling
Automation tools to improve efficiency
More difficult to learn than other free software
Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is one of the most popular 3D modeling software for Mac and is free for personal use, although you’ll need to pay if you want a commercial license. It’s widely used in industrial 3D modeling of mechanical and electrical parts, but can be used to create any kind of model you like, such as furniture designs.
This is thanks to its range of flexible and powerful modeling tools. You can use freeform modeling to create models in seconds based on t-splines, while mesh modeling allows you to edit mesh files within the program and add parametric features.
It also offers a sheet metal modeling tool, which allows you to flatten, bend, and edit sheet metal designs. Thanks to its integrated CAM environment, Fusion 360 allow supports the manufacturing process (although bear in mind these tools are limited in the free version).
Fusion 360 is particularly popular among mesh modelers. Previously, Autodesk’s Meshmixer was a popular, free and simple option for mesh modeling on Mac. However, the software is no longer supported and the Mac version is removed. Luckily, Fusion 360 incorporates most of the features that were available in Meshmixer.
SketchUp – Best Mac 3D CAD Software for Interior & Landscape Design
Ideal for 3D modeling furniture, interiors, and landscapes
Highly intuitive and easy to use
Unlimited free online version available
VR and AR model viewing with Pro subscription
Hundreds of pre-built models available in SketchUp warehouse
Available on iPad also
Plug-ins needed to create some complex geometries
SketchUp is a popular CAD software that can be used to create any type of models, although it’s particularly well known for its furniture, interior, and landscape design modeling.
There are several different versions of this 3D model for Mac software. SketchUp Go is a free version that allows you to model online, while SketchUp Pro is downloadable for Mac and offers more storage, 2D design documentation, and even VR headset viewing. Pro is also available on iPad and allows you to create 3D models using an Apple Pencil.
SketchUp is a highly intuitive 3D modeling software that’s fairly easy to get to grips with and while it’s best known for its architectural and interior design capabilities, it can also be used for 3D printing.
You can draw whatever you like one element at a time, and its move and scale tools allow you to transform basic shapes into complex structures. You can also manipulate geometry with its Solid tools, so the possibilities are endless.
Another benefit of choosing this 3D modeling Mac program is the SketchUp Warehouse. This provides a vast collection of models from other SketchUp users that you can download and use, either directly or as a base for your own projects.
Best Paid Mac 3D Modeling Software
ZBrush – Multi-Purpose CAD Software That’s Great for 3D Modeling Characters
- Price: from $39.95 per month
Professional level modeling at an affordable price
Rich variety of modeling types and features
Specialized for character modeling but also supports general product design
Excellent sculpting and painting tools
Can take a while to get used to the UI
ZBrush is a little different to the other 3D modeling software that we’ve covered so far in that as well as being used to create practical models that can be 3D printed or manufactured, it’s also widely used for modeling characters in 3D, and it’s widely used in games, TV, and film.
You can start by generating a base mesh using ZBrush’s rich variety of modeling features. For example, you can use the Sculptis Pro function to easily add and remove polygons wherever you like during your brush stroke in real time, removing the usual constraints of polygon distribution.
There’s also the ZModeler which is great for hard surface modeling, Live Boolean for adding models together and subtracting them from each other in real time, and humanoid and animal Mannequins which can be used as modeling templates, so it’s very flexible.
Once you have your base model, you can use ZBrush’s wide variety of painting, sculpting, and texturing tools to bring it to life in professional level quality.
However, while this Macintosh 3D software is best known for character modeling, it’s a versatile tool that can still be used as a general purpose CAD software. For example, ZBrush is used in jewelry design, toy making, scientific visualization, and even vehicle design.
AutoCAD – One of the Most Powerful 3D Modeling Software, Great for Architecture
- Price: from $246 per month
Specialized toolsets for 7 different applications
Very powerful and flexible mesh, surface, and solid modeling tools
Automate processes to boost efficiency
Excellent collaborative features
Web and mobile app
Excellent 2D documentation
AutoCAD is one of the most popular Mac 3D CAD software and is used across a wide variety of niches and applications, from electronics and engineering to architecture.
In fact, it has specialized toolsets for seven different applications – architecture, mechanical, map 3D, MEP, electrical, plant 3D, and raster design. You can design and annotate 3D models using solids, surfaces, and meshes, so it’s a really flexible piece of software.
For example, the mechanical modeling toolset boasts over 700,000 intelligent parts and features, as well as allowing you to customize the properties of object types and build them on custom layers.
AutoCAD is also a great tool for professionals and teams looking to improve efficiency by automating repetitive tasks, as it allows you to automate processes like comparing drawings, object counting, and adding blocks. The AutoCAD website states that across seven studies, on average customers increased productivity by 63% when using the software.
On top of that, you can customize your workspace, benefit from great collaborative features, and model from anywhere using the mobile and web apps.
Rhino – Extremely Powerful & Flexible 3D Modeling Software for Mac, Best for Jewelry
- Price: $995
Very flexible and powerful software
Can create any type of 3D model, particularly good for jewelry
High quality rendering, inspection, and analysis tools
Large and active user community
Can support large projects and teams
Robust mesh tools
Doesn’t run on M1 or M2 chips, Intel only
Rhino is a very powerful and flexible 3D modeling software for Mac that can be used to create just about anything. This is largely due to the fact that it supports most forms of 3D modeling.
This includes surfaces and solids, subdivision geometry, polygon meshes, NURBs curves, and point clouds, with no limit on the size or complexity of your designs. You can check out the Rhino gallery to see what other users have made with the software, which ranges from everything from household appliances like hairdryers to cars and even transformers-style robots.
Rhino is also particularly popular for 3D modeling jewelry and offers several industry-leading plug-ins for this purpose, such as Panther3D and MatrixGold. So if you’re looking for the best jewelry design software with 3D modeling, Rhino is a surefire bet.
While Rhino is suitable for modelers across all different niches, it is fairly expensive and does have a steep learning curve. It does, however, provide some great learning resources to help you get to grips with it.
One thing to bear in mind is that while Rhino runs fine on Mac with Intel chips, it hasn’t yet been updated to run on M1 or M2 chips. You can still run it using Rosetta 2, but it may not always perform perfectly due to not being native to the latest Mac chips.
Buying Guide – Things to consider when choosing 3D modeling software for mac
How well does it run in Mac?
Even if a 3D modeling software is available on Mac, you should check that it performs well and doesn’t have any speed issues caused by it not being ported properly into MacOS. It’s also important to note that some software only perform adequately on Macs with certain specifications.
For example, Rhino runs fine on Macs with Intel chips (although 16GB RAM is recommended) but isn’t suited for Macs with M1 chips. Similarly, programs like SketchUp can run on i5 processors but will perform best on i7s, so makes sure you do your research in this area.
Do you also need 2D modeling capabilities?
Sure, you can jump in and start modeling straight away in 3D, but in many cases it’s useful to have 2D modeling capabilities as well. Many 3D models being as 2D drawings, and 2D drafts are also important for documentation. This is true for many types of 3D modeling, but particularly areas like mechanical engineering and furniture design, which require highly precise measurements.
However, not all the best 3D software for Mac are great at 2D. For example, while AutoCAD excels in it, Rhino doesn’t. You can import 2D designs into 3D software, but if you want a program that can do both with high quality, make sure you check beforehand.
Budget and free trial
Luckily, you don’t even need to pay for some of the best 3D modeling software for Mac. Programs like Blender, SketchUp, and Fusion 360 also offer great quality and can be used for free, as well as simpler options like FreeCAD.
However, with the likes of SketchUp and Fusion 360, they’re not entirely free. SketchUp’s most advanced modeling features are restricted to its Pro version, while the free version of Fusion 360 can’t be used for commercial use.
The most powerful 3D design software for Mac, like AutoCAD, Rhino, and Maya require subscriptions, which are often expensive. These programs are most commonly used by professionals, but if you would like to try one out, most offer free trials – as long as 90 days for the likes of Rhino.
What do you want to design?
3D modeling is a very wide-ranging term and as it’s used across many different applications and industries, some software is tailored to creating certain types of 3D models.
This isn’t so much the case with more basic free software like FreeCAD and 3D Slash, so if you’re a beginner looking to create general 3D models for printing, you could use either of these types of programs.
However, more premium 3D software for Mac is often more specialized. For example, Fusion 360 is geared towards mechanical and electrical engineering design, while SketchUp’s ideal for furniture, interior, and landscape design. Rhino is popular for jewelry design, while ZBrush is best for creating 3D models for use in TV, film and games.
Ease of use
Advanced 3D modeling is a complex process that takes a fair amount of time and skill to master, so if you’re a beginner, it’s advisable to start off with a simpler program while you learn the ropes.
The likes of 3D Slash, FreeCAD, and TinkerCAD are all easy 3D software for Mac which don’t have huge learning curves. Then you can gradually build up to more complex programs like Fusion 360 and Rhino.
Can you do 3D modeling on a Mac?
Yes, there are a number of high quality 3D programs for Mac, including Blender, AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Maya, and Rhino 3D.
Can I use MacBook Pro for 3D modeling?
Yes. MacBook Pros can be used for 3D modeling using software like AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Blender, and TinkerCAD.
Are Macs good for 3D modeling?
Macs provide the power needed for professional 3D modeling, but you’re limited to less software choices than you are if you use Windows.
Are Macs good for 3D rendering?
You can create high quality 3D renderings on Mac with software like Maya and ZBrush. The Macbook Pro 16 with its M1 Max or M1 Pro chip, for example, has more than enough power to create stunning renderings.
Does Tinkercad work on Mac?
Yes. TinkerCAD is a free web app, so you can use it on Mac, Windows, and Linux via a web browser.
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