Getting started as a visualization artist or designer canoften be an uphill climb. Not only are you grappling with a demanding series ofclasses and certifications, but the price of admission for the slew of programsyou’ll need to learn is as steep as it comes. These obstacles can be adeterrent to those who think they might develop a passion for graphic design,animation, or architectural design.
Thankfully, there are a handful of free, capable CADprograms that will help beginners get their feet wet before fully taking theplunge into the deep end of a new career. Some of these programs are evenrobust enough to use as a professional, which makes for an easy transition foramateurs looking to finally earn the fruits of their labor. Here is 5 free CADprograms that will help bridge the gap between the newbies and the experts.
For true first-timers, TinkerCAD is a browser based programthat should help scratch that initial itch of getting into the visualizationindustry. It’s incredibly intuitive and easy to use, and a fun programto...well...tinker around in. The program is now owned by Autodesk, a giant inthe CAD industry, so upgrading from TinkerCAD to a more advanced, paid piece ofsoftware will be a bit easier on the learning curve. If you’re looking for astarting point, this is probably your best bet to get the most out of yourearly experience.
SketchUp has caused quite the shake-up to the 3D modelingand CAD world in the past 10 years. It was the first program to show what’spossible in digital modeling with a small, easy-to-understand toolset that youcould teach your grandmother how to navigate. Since then, the software has beeniterated upon by architects and designers, bought by a Silicon Valley giant,and made its way into more homes than any other piece of modeling software onthe market.
The aptly named FreeCAD is a parametric, solid free modelingprogram that is primarily used for designing and modeling real-world objects.It is a component and value based program, which allows you to modify and alteryour 3D models with a series of numeric inputs. It isn’t the most user-friendlyof CAD programs, but for people with a more technical mind, it is a great toolfor fine-tuning the more intricate details of your design project.
Blender is the do-it-all 3D modeler and rendering enginethat has been bucking industry trends and norms since it went public in 2002.It is entirely open-source and has one of the most dedicated community of artistsand designers supporting not only its evolution, but the education of itsusers. The results you can pull out of Blender are on par with the likes ofVRAY, Maxwell, and Lumion 3D. If you’re new to the game or been around sincethe start, Blender should have a permanent spot on your applications bar.
If you’re looking for nothing more than a no-frills,traditional 2D CAD program, DraftSight has your name on it. It’s crystal clearinterface combined with just the right amount of 2D CAD tools make it perfectfor someone who is looking to transition from ruler and pencil to mouse andkeyboard. It’s clean. It’s easy. It’s what most DIYers and weekend tinkerershave been missing from their lives.