Autodesk 123D Sculpt Review

19Aug11

Last week I heard about a new app release for the iPad; a 3D modelling program put out by Autodesk (autodesk.com). How could I NOT get excited? They make the absolutely solid 3D program: Maya. And the thought that I’d be able to create models using the touch of my fingers intrigued me. Plus, even better, IT’S FREE! …or at least it was when I downloaded it. It was a can’t miss. Well, after downloading and using 123D Sculpt (123D Page) for a while it both hit and missed my expectations.

The program allows you to choose from different shapes (cube, cylinder, sphere) but you can also choose from premade organic and geometrical models (human, dog, plane). Not being able to create models from scratch may put some 3D artists off, but it allows beginners to be able to work on a full model, without having to go through a program like Maya or 3D Studio Maxx.

Once you get into the modelling screen you may be a little shocked. The interface is incredibly simple. In fact, it may actually be too simple. the tools you need are there: extrude, layer, smooth, etc. You can move around in 3D space (turning around the model to be able to see various sides). The best feature I’ve seen in 123D are the texture brushes and the ability to color your models.

But, being an app designed for the iPad, it doesn’t have the full functionality of other 3D modellers. You can export images, and even movies where the model spins around in 3D space. But, that’s pretty much all you can do with a final model. The iPad saves images and movies into the built-in camera roll gallery, so you can post to the web, email, and share what you did, but there is no way to further you model, or to add animation.

Overall, it’s a fun app to mess around with. And, if you’re new to 3D modelling, it’s a nice way to get a feel for some of the basic tools. It’s a good time killer if you’ve got a long commute on a train or bus. Plus, it’s reminiscent of finger painting; which everyone loved as a kid. But, if you’re an experienced modeller, looking for something more robust, you’re not getting it with 123D Sculpt.

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