Sketchup is a great 3D design software that is mainly used for architectural rendering. This tool brings tons of features to visualize your ideas. Unfortunately, you might find Sketchup doesn’t exactly meet your requirements. In this case, you need to find the best free Sketchup alternatives that offer a variety of features and distinct experience.
Finding alternative tools to Sketchup isn’t that hard. Most of them offer a handful of features to support 3D modeling and other capabilities. Check out the following list of Sketchup alternatives and make your decision right away!
10 Best Free Sketchup Alternatives
Sketchup is renowned for its user-friendly interface, built-in rendering capability, and free cost. Luckily, there are many other applications that offer such convenience. If you are bored with Sketchup or need to upgrade your 3D design skills, the following alternatives are worth trying.
Tinkercad is an excellent choice if you need a 3D modeling program without downloading to your computer. The online-based program is free and runs in any web browser, offering convenience to do the project from almost anywhere. Founded in 2010, it has become among the most popular 3D modeling programs recently.
Tinkercad is considered more accessible to any users, even those who are less technical. Thanks to the user-friendly interface and ease-of-use features that allow more beginners to upgrade their 3D drawing skills through this program. For this reason, Tinkercad is one of the best programs for beginners.
The web-based program adopts primitive modeling techniques that are suitable to introduce CAD modeling to newbies. Users can reshape or simply add primitive shapes such as cubes, pyramids, or spheres to build a complex 3D object. Among other features, public 3D model repository and user-friendly interface are the strengths of this free program.
Additionally, Tinkercad enables you to export 3D models to Minecraft Java Edition. For a distinct experience, it allows you to design 3D structures using Lego.
2. Art of Illusion
Open-source software dubbed Art of Illusion is another best alternative to Sketchup. This free software is dependable to create 3D graphics, thanks to a handful of tools and features to build 3D objects from your computer. Released in 1999, the software is now very popular among 3D designers ranging from beginners to pros.
Art of Illusion boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, allowing new designers to easily learn and use the program. The free program comes with basic tools such as creating and mapping textures and animation. Whenever you’re done with the project, it can be transferred for 3D printing. Whenever you need to render 3D objects, this software can easily tackle it with tons of lighting options.
Aside from basic features, Art of Illusion comes with extension features such as scripting, plugins, and translator. It also provides Plug-in Manager that enables the program to be compatible with myriad scripts and plug-ins.
There’re so many things to like about the Art of Illusion. Aside from user-friendliness, free software supports primitive and sculpting modeling techniques. Overall, this program can be a beginners’ best friend.
3. Fusion 360
Developed under the big name of Autodesk, Fusion 360 can be opted to replace your Sketchup. The cloud-based program integrates CAD, CAM, and CAE software for easier use, making it a unified platform to improve work efficiency. Now you can enjoy 3D modeling in a single platform. All your projects will be saved in your Autodesk account, allowing you to access any project from any computer.
Compared to other programs, Fusion 360 adopts a quite challenging interface, especially for beginners. If it’s your first time, you will need more time to be familiar with the interface. But behind that, you can enjoy impressive modeling capabilities. Compared to Sketchup, Fusion 360 boasts more features such as post-modeling and CAM tools. You can also find simulation, animation, and 3D rendering.
What you can’t find in Sketchup is the built-in 3D slicer. This feature enables the program to design and slice using the same program. Overall, Fusion 360 is suitable for precise and bulky modeling. Using parametric and sculpting techniques, it’s suitable for designers with intermediate to expert skill levels.
If you are a user of Apple Pencil and iPad, Shapr3D is a great Sketchup alternative. This CAD software was exclusively developed for iPads in 2016 as iPad Pro was released at that time. It allows 3D designers to work professionally from almost anywhere.
This best free Sketchup alternative boasts a clean and intuitive user interface that meets the portability of iPads. However, beginners may find the software is rather complex as it uses Siemens engines so you need more time to learn how to use it properly. When it comes to 3D designing, all you need is an Apple Pencil. With this tool, you can enjoy all the features provided by this software.
Who is the software made for? Shapr3D is suitable for iPad Pro users who need CAD software. It uses direct and parametric modeling, so it works great for pro designers. The best things to enjoy from this program is intuitive experience and easy integration. Shapr3D is basically free but you can upgrade to the Pro version that costs $240 per year.
Inventor by Autodesk is an excellent 3D CAD program to replace Sketchup. As with Fusion 360, the software is specifically developed for professional use, though students and educators can use it. The program has been around for over 20 years and still becomes a major competitor to SolidWorks.
Engineers and designers can enjoy tons of features such as 2D and 3D mechanical design, visualization, simulation, and documentation. It makes Inventor a powerful 3D CAD modeling tool that helps create great products for industrial application. The program is dependable to reduce development costs as well as get into the market faster.
If you are looking for a CAD modeling software for professionals, Inventor should be included on the list. The program uses free-form, parametric, and direct modeling that meets the demand of professional designers and engineers. Good news, inventor is free for students and educational purposes.
6. Sweet Home 3D
Another best alternative to Sketchup is Sweet Home 3D that helps visualize your dream house. The software is specially developed for interior design, starting from house plan to furniture arrangement. Once you’re done, visit the results in 3D.
Compared to Sketchup, Sweet Home 3D is far more specific as it focuses on home interior application. It allows you to draw walls, insert doors and walls, as well as add furniture. You can simultaneously check the result in 3D while designing in 2D. When the project is finished, the print and export feature enables you to save the project in standard file formats.
Sweet Home 3D is suitable for beginners and hobbyists. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to use, not to mention ease-of-use features that help improve your 3D designing skills. The software is downloadable so you can work right from the computer. But it also provides an online program that lets you work from any computer device.
LibreCAD is a 2D CAD software that works well for beginners. It is open-sourced and completely free, allowing you to take advantages from the software without spending a dime. The application supports various OS ranging from Linux, Windows, and Apple.
LibreCAD is fully-featured software to support your modeling hobby or job. You don’t need to worry about the language barrier as it provides 30 different languages worldwide. Interestingly, the open-source application is developed by an experienced team and the dedicated community, including you, can get involved.
The software is ideal for beginners who start to learn 2D modeling. It’s a good alternative to Sketchup, even though it doesn’t support 3D modeling. Overall, LibreCAD is an excellent choice to get used to graphic design and modeling. You have nothing to lose when using this free software.
If you are more into clay modeling, Sculptris can be a great alternative to Sketchup. This free software allows you to model 3D clays and visualize your ideas. You can push, pinch, pull, and twist the clay to create a 3D object as desired. It’s commonly used to sculpt a character and organic models. Just like Sweet Home 3D, Sculptris is more specific than Sketchup.
It comes with attractive features such as dynamic tessellation that helps divide the area under the brush when there are not enough triangles to meet your details. It also supports symmetry mode that allows you to sculpt the clay symmetrically only from one side. The material feature lets you choose between available materials for the sculpting simulation.
Sculptris is a free application that is ideal for all skill levels. Easy user-interface makes newbies get familiar to this software without too much effort. But if you want to go beyond the basic features, you can upgrade to ZBrush that offers more advanced features for experienced designers.
9. Wings 3D
Another free and open-source 3D modeling software is Wings 3D. Developed since 2001, this program is powerful yet easy to use. The software is inspired by Nendo and Mirai, so it makes sense if you find some similarities between the programs. Currently, Wings 3D is maintained by Dan and there’s a large community that helps with the maintenance.
The free software works well to model as well as texture polygon models ranging from low to mid-range. It doesn’t support animation and comes only with OpenGL rendering. However, you can export the result to other rendering software.
Wings 3D is developed for advanced modelers and it brings context-sensitive menus. It has four different modeling modes including Edge, Face, Vertex, and Body. Currently, users can add textures and materials to their 3D models which help upgrade the user’s experience.
The last but not least free Sketchup alternative is BRL-CAD that works well for geometry modeling. The open-source software has been around for over 20 years and it remains a dependable program for 3D modeling. Delivering a powerful and robust system, the program is suitable for advanced users.
BRL-CAD delivers myriad capabilities such as ray tracing support, interactive geometry editor, and scripting. The program primarily uses constructive solid geometry rather than boundary representation. However, BRL-CAD is considered more applicable to ballistic and electromagnetic analysis rather than graphic application.
The cross-platform software works well on Mac, Windows, and Linux. If you are a geometric modeler who needs a specific tool with specific purposes such as ray tracing geometry, creating, editing, and image handling, BRL-CAD can be the best free Sketchup alternative.