• MapLeo Design

Top 10 Sculpting Program

1. ZBrush

Image credit: Zbrush website

Without any doubt, ZBrush is the most popular and most powerful digital sculpting program out there. It offers the world’s most advanced tools for everyone from art enthusiasts to major film and games studios.

Launched in 1999 as 2.5D modeling software, it is now the go-to solution for 3D sculptors and painters. Jody Garrett, who printed the goat skull that you can see below with ZBrush, calls the software a “hands-down tour-de-force of digital tools.”

Heads up though: ZBrush comes with a rather steep learning curve and a price of 795 USD. To get a feel for the software without taking any risks you can start ZBrush’s 45-day-trial version here. You should also check out our tutorial about how to prepare your ZBrush models for 3D printing here.

By: Pixologic

Price: 795 USD

2. Mudbox

Image Credit: Autodesk Forum

ZBrush’s biggest competitor is Mudbox, which was developed in 2007 and acquired by Autodesk. Mudbox digital painting and sculpting software provides 3D artists with an intuitive and tactile toolset for creating and modifying 3D geometry and textures.

By: Autodesk

Price: 10 USD/month or 80 USD/year

It’s hard to say which of these two programs (ZBrush or Mudbox) is really better, but here are some points to consider:

Mudbox’s sculpting style differs somewhat to that of ZBrush and can be considered as more beginner-friendly.

The main difference between both programs is that ZBrush is much better at generating a base geometry to start modeling with than Mudbox. With Mudbox, you need to use integrations with Maya or 3ds Max to generate a base geometry more easily.

Overall, ZBrush and Mudbox feature similar sets of tools and brushes. However, ZBrush beats Mudbox in terms of functionality.

ZBrush is often considered to be superior to Mudbox when it comes to painting the model.

Mudbox costs 10 USD/month, whereas ZBrush costs 795 USD for a single user license.

Since both ZBrush and Mudbox come as free trial versions, you might want to check them both out first and then choose the program you like most.

3. Meshmixer


If you don’t want to jump into the cold water right away, you might want to get started with some free sculpting apps first. Meshmixer is one of the free 3D-sculpting-based CAD programs created by Autodesk – and it is also one of their simpler, more beginner-friendly programs. Meshmixer can be used to intuitively sculpt designs, hollow them out, cut them apart, and combine parts together without wrecking your mesh’s internal or external geometry. It’s a very cool tool to prepare your design for 3D printing as well.

You can mash, mix, sculpt, stamp or paint your own 3D designs from scratch, or start from over 10,000 models in the 123D Gallery. Our very own mascot (the Piguin; see below), was created in this great program. If you also want to give it a try, be sure to take a look at our extensive Meshmixer beginner’s guide.

By: Autodesk

Price: Free

4. 3D Coat

Image credit: 3D Coat website, Gallery