I need advice on 3d software, and Modo specifically.


Any thoughts on Modo?

As a student I'm looking to invest a significant amount of time training myself in 3d software. I'll be able to create those hot renderings of ridiculous forms and structures, and in future job hunts it'll make me more marketable. My current internship's viz team uses Modo almost exclusively, and they feel that its modeling capabilities and UI are much better than 3dsMax, and will be much better than other options when modo 401 is released.

ANYways. Modo seems really convenient as it can run natively on my macbook pro.

My questions are:

1) What is the most used (in firms), and most valuable to know, piece of 3d visualization software?

I'm guessing Rhino and 3ds?

2) If I learn Modo, will it be a simple matter to pick up one of the others? What about from Rhino to 3ds? Vice versa?

Thanks a million for all your help!

May 8, 09 11:53 am

i'd choose Rhino over Modo. Rhino is as capable as doing 'regular' forms as it is for blobs, parametric shapes etc. I have not used Modo much, but i have heard it is closer to Maya than to anything else.
3ds max is great, but mostly for rendering. Nothing beats Rhino in that department.

But then again, if you talk about Construction Docs etc, then Revit is the way to go. It will also make you more 'employable' as more and more offices turn to BIM.

May 8, 09 2:33 pm  · 

Yea, I already know and work with Revit moderately well. So Rhino's the way to go, apparently?

I heard they're developing a mac version - hope that goes through soon.

May 8, 09 2:51 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

from the little I have seen of Modo, it seems like the Kmart Maya. If your interest is in doing this kind of design:

then you would be better served learning maya and getting all the features of the software. also, if you are interested in doing animation, Maya is one of the industry standards.

however, on a professional level, rhino is probably the way to go for modeling and then learning a rendering plug-in. a previous rhino discussion can be found here. A mac version is being developed and you can download the beta version for free.

May 8, 09 4:55 pm  · 
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

I've played with modo, and I think its a pretty tight piece of software - not kmart at all. I've also been playing with the Rhino mac beta, and that's really nice.

In reality, it wouldn't be that hard to transfer skills from one program to another, unless you're doing something very specific.

May 8, 09 5:40 pm  · 

i am loving v5 you can get Rhino for 130 bux at novedge and have access to v5.

May 8, 09 6:22 pm  · 

both have their strengths and Modo now has a Rhino import/export plugin which would come in very handy when doing some high-end renderings that require complex texture mapping as Rhino's UV mapping tools are awful.

plus modo has some cool sculpting and 3D painting tools…

I've been considering it because I don't want to upgrade my license of Maya to the Autodesk version (even though it's not all that bad) and deal with Autodesk's licensing hoop-jumping. Modo is licensed to you, not your computer so you can use it on any machine you're working on.

May 8, 09 6:25 pm  · 

Is there anyplace that a person can compare all of the different modeling/rendering programs?

They all have their advocates. But it seems like it's mostly based on what people learned in school or in an office, rather than an objective look at individual programs. I'd love to see how each of these software packages models and renders a similar scheme, for instance.

May 8, 09 6:40 pm  · 

first off, if you can produce teh hotness in modo, then all you need to do is show your awesome renderings in your portfolio. it all comes down to design and rendering talent - it shouldn't matter what software you use.

that said...

modo is great if you are really into polygonal sub-d modeling (it was used to model most of the characters in Wall-e). I've been using it for a few years now. I love it for modeling smaller things and the renderer is pretty slick (no needed add-ons), but it's been slow-going for me in terms of architectural modeling. I typically use sketchup for day-to-day stuff, and bring-in the sketchup model to render in modo if I have the time. Otherwise I tend to outsource most of my rendering work to 3D shops.

sketchup + photoshop is probably the most used modeler/renderer combo in firms for grunt work in-house stuff (quick and dirty) - max+v-ray is pretty typical in larger firms with dedicated viz people... rhino is more used in schools - although some boutique firms use it. I think rhino is great to learn in terms of scripting capabilities and doing fun/interesting forms, but you won't be doing any recursively designed structures in a typical firm any time soon - and besides - only a handful of firms actually use rhino.

I do think modo is potentially a future contender - but not many people have heard of it, and most firms have legacy versions of max that they invested in and want to hire people who know how to use it. IMO, many firms who own max (and list specific software on their job requirements) aren't smart enough to recognize that 3D skills are transferable to other software packages - so I think if you are mostly concerned about job security, you should have "max" and "sketchup" on your list of software skills - but really spend the time developing your design/drawing/composition skills using whatever tool is most comfortable.

May 8, 09 6:51 pm  · 

Thanks guys.

Since someone pointed out that Rhino's Mac beta is a free dl - I dl'd it along with some tutorials and am going to commit myself to learning it over Modo, I think.

I do see alot of grad students using it as well as alot of high-end firms, so I think it's a good idea.

Can I, however, get rendering and parametric plug-ins for this mac beta version? What will i need to do to create really sexy-looking images?

May 9, 09 6:15 pm  · 

bootcamp it?
Ya, I was at one of the largest Architecture firms in the world and was using it on both a production and a visualization level at the same time on both major chain retail big and small boxes as well as state county federal and military LEED facilities, I had a nice flow going, innovation is challenging and fun and when you have such great teamwork on so many levels both from the worker owned mcneel developers, other user that are peers and your own company people that support you, you can do well to succeed.

Philosophically the best choice as well.

It would be nice if everything changes(the world economy) work picks back up and i get hired back. I don't see that happening... But having it on a solo level for as-built stuffs and other small odd jobs i find no better software either with so many a versicle uses.

May 9, 09 8:52 pm  · 

I would give you first my general opinion about 3D and its relationship to architecture. First, 3D world is going through rapid changes and it made enormous strides in the past 7 years. 7 years form now who knows? Huge. Just look at rendering technologies and how many are available now; a lot even free.
This being said I am focusing on the first element. Which software is powerful enough and YOU feel comfortable with to use and grow with? Yes, there are standards (arch.) out there in the field - 3DMax & 3DStudio are one of the longest running, but, also, Sketch Up and Rhino 3D are becoming legendary.
However, I know that huge amount of amazing 3D content published on the website did not come directly form the 3D concept/form but directly from physical models and sketching. It's a fact and it's even true of the Film industry and FX industry. I do not even want to go into Games arena. Frank Gehry does all his forms in the physical model FIRST. Of course, there are other options and people that have only 3D workflow. This is more a personal question

Now back to software tech. element:

- Modo professional version costs 774 and with the advent of 401 I think this is the easiest all encompassing sub-D modeling software for visualization. You do not need anything extra. Further, it exchanges flawlessly files between AutoCad, Rhino 3d, Maya, 3D Max and Skecth-Up. I know it can do everything that Maya does even more or more easily in the modeling & ArchViz field. Animation is a different story. It is super easy to learn, but to master it you need to spend a little bit of time.
- 3DStudio Max. By far the most compelling and amount of work has been churned out out of this software. You can do anything with this Apps - Animation Modelling, Movies, Games, Arch Viz & FXs. A lot of support, huge community & amount of 3d party plugins. Of course, this is the oldest running 3D modeling Apps on the market by far. It also costs a lot more 3495...New version as sleek and egronomic as Modo by far.
- Maya. I can say similar things as about 3DStudioMax, but I think egronomically and feature wise it is less friendly and suitable for your type of work. It also costs tons of money. It takes a long time to master it.
- XSI. ingenuine piece of software engineering. The most stabile application that I have ever used. Never crashes. Amazing. I can say, same thing as about Maya but it costs even more (full version) It has a long learning curve. It's well organized for full production and growth. Almost infinite possibilities.
- Ligtwave 3D. Similar, but less powerful package in terms of feature sets than 3DMax, but it's far easier to learn, at least modeling. It does not take much time. However, performance is not as good as it is the case with Modo, 3DMax or XSI. I tested all of them on my laptop. And it's interface just like Blender scares some people. But, to be honest Maya frustrated and scared me.
However, it's cheap. It only costs, at the moment, 795. Student version only 175. Also, like 3DMax it's the second or almost the longest running 3D application. It's due for complete rewrite.
Amazing work has been done on this Application. I can prove it to you.
-SketchUp- It's good for super fast learning, conceptualizing in Digital Form and easy rendering (a lot of free 3rd party rendering plugings are available) Super-hard, and time consuming for complex shapes and non-standard modeling.
- Cinema 4D, again similar to 3DMax, Maya & XSI. Amazing work has been done with this app. Super expensive, even for student versions, and unfriendly support. Do not know much about the app. Very popular in EU
- Blender. Free, similar toolset to XSI, 3DMax and Maya. I am using it and it's not easy to render stuff. Takes a long time to master it. Modeling is not nearly as good as in LW, 3DMax, Modo or even XSI. But there are great works done in Blender, hands down.
Again it's free, it has great community and a lot of free plugins.

- Rhino 3D. Cheap, great company & even better community. Easy to learn. It's Nurbz modeler and if you come with Arch., Autocad background super easy to learn. Friendly and egronomic design of the software. You can do everything within Rhino including rendering - FryRender, Maxwell, Brazil and Vray are all well integrated directly into the Rhino but at extra cost) However, it's not Polygonal modeler and sometimes you really miss this, especially if you do other stuff than ArchViz and love to texture. Texturing absolutely sucks in Rhino 3D. Also, some things are much easier to do in Polygonal modeling. If you work in Games industry your models are not usable. You have to make mesh out of them which takes a long time. Do not use conversion plugins or built-in saving features since results are not
satisfactory. This is why you also have mesh tools in Rhino.
Further, its scripting VB language is easy to learn and it has visual object based programming tools - grasshopper. It's a great tool in your arsenal especially for difficuilt forms. IT CAN DO BIM.

There are a lot more choices believe me. None is wrong option as long as you know how to use it and it can cut for you.
Silo 3D is just one example. Generally, it takes long time to truly become master of the application (maybe, Sketch Up excluded). This the last element of my advice. Whatever you choose stick to at least one app. long enough and continuously.

Bottom line is:
- if you do not use cracked software, what software you are comfortable with to use, and produce good results. How productive it is to use? And at the same time can you afford it? Period
- if you use cracked software same things apply except your choices are infinite.
- if you want to be specialist in the 3DViz arena than Sketch-Up and 3dMax are your choices, period. Maybe Rhino 3D and Sketch-Up, sometimes it works.

I did not forget to mention ArchiCad or Revit but these are things of future and I know that ArchViz will always or at least for a long while stay as the separate arena. Again, you can do everything in BIM. Rojkind studio of Mexico City did amazing work in ArchiCad. So, as you can see than you do not need anything else. But, this is only my opinion, if you want to conceptualize, present fast, or experiment (milling, 3d printing, 3d scanning, physical modeling etc.) BIM is not well suited for these tasks and it is diffcuilt to master.

May 18, 09 3:48 pm  · 

to: .._. .._ _._. _._

Modo can do that b.t.w.

May 18, 09 3:57 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

I'm not saying it does or doesn't and since I haven't done anything with MODO besides the 3 minute demonstration I got from a coworker, I'm just calling it what it looked like, a Kmart Maya. No use buying the mini-van when you want to be a racecar driver.

My point was more that if you are interested in the sub-d, animation based modeling ala Greg Lynn it would be a good idea to compare feature to feature the various tools and see. I know for a fact, having been in studios taught by the various names and faces that have pioneered this design aesthetic that they all use Maya. Also, I think you will find in academic settings, you are told which software to use.

Maybe MODO will be what all the new archi-hipsters use. Probably by next year it will be something else. In the end, doesn't matter what you used, as long as it got the job done.

May 18, 09 4:15 pm  · 

I've used Maya, Max, Sketchup, Rhino.... and will recommend Rhino. I started with Maya and with a grasp of the concept, it wasn't hard to learn Max and Rhino...

With Rhino, it feels like I can kill 3 birds with one stone. I have the accuracy of autocad, flexibility of nurbs modelling, ability to transfer the models into 2D line drawings, grasshopper scripting and easy to convert the models into physical prototypes etc

May 19, 09 1:34 am  · 

to: .._. .._ _._. _._

I agree on your ending. However everything else is wrong. To say least to use an expensive software that you uncomfortable with is unreasonable or unworthy of conscious craftman. The second thing: you should not buy or use any piece of software because it is hip or fad or because your instructor tell you so. Wrong, it's just a tool. I know people that feel very uncomfortable using Rhino, creatively speaking, but they use it for specific tasks - fabrication, milling, translations etc., basically funcionality. I also know someone who was die-hard autocad modeler (yes this was very common in early days) who tried to convince us (assitants) to do the same. Now, he is using Rhino. Short, he was afraid of the change. Lastly, Modo is not a toy. Yes, Pixar, Disney, Electronic Arts, Embassy VFX and many many more all use MODO. It is a race car. The presentation for the new Tate Gallery Building, by the Herzog and De Meuron office, was modeled and done in Modo. Further, 80-90 of software today are not toys anymore. You should update yourself.

May 19, 09 11:04 am  · 

update to t-Splines? you 'could' i wouldn't say should because that would deny you the choice not to ;)

May 19, 09 11:17 am  · 
Cherith Cutestory


again, you misunderstand what I am saying.

Generally in academia you are instructed to use a particular program for studio, etc. You could choose to use something else, but generally your instructor will frown upon it. Also, there is usually some motive they have to make you use one software over another. The point made here is that if the intent is to learn something for school, better to wait until you get there or contact them before going to see which softwares are used in that program.

Same goes for an office. You might use Rhino, but you'll end up at an office that uses SketchUp. In the end, it's all a wash. Some programs will be a little more universal than others and whatever you learn will invariably help you learn the others. But there really is no right or wrong answer.

Which brings me to my point about fads, because all of these programs are just that. One year everyone is using 3DStudio MAX, then next year everyone is using Maya, and then... Unlike diamonds, software is not forever. I never said I committed myself to one program or another, as the last post stupidly assumed. But I am also not about to wet myself over each and every new program that hits the market either. I don't have the time, patience or money therefore unless a program proves itself to surpass the tools I am already using, then I really have no interest. You can call it "afraid of the change", I'll call it filtering and efficiency.

Congrats zivotinja on knowing how many offices uses MODO. Get over it.

May 19, 09 11:23 am  · 

that is where interoperability comes in important. in a office that used sketchup it was no problem to open the files and continue to work on them in rhino and give them back to the user of sketchup. and the same would be true for and the reason why you see so many other programs open rhino files . the format is a open standard.

knowledge is power no need to get over that. share it.

May 19, 09 11:38 am  · 

I downloaded a trial copy of MODO a couple of weeks ago and within a few hours I was doing things that it took me days, if not weeks, to learn how to do in Maya.

It's an incredibly well organized program, graphically appealing, with some powerful capabilities. I don't know that it's the "Kmart Maya" —do you say that because it's not as intimidating as Maya? Have you tested Modo's limits? Do you know for a fact that it can't create Xefirotarch parasitic blobs?

People tend to get fixated and patriotic about their own modeling programs, sort of like they do about political parties.

May 19, 09 5:00 pm  · 

I've decided to go with Rhino. Reason being, I see it more often than not on job listings here on Archinect, along with 3DMax.

I've got SketchUp and Revit in the bag, so I figure if I become proficient with Rhino and familiar with 3DMax, a whole bunch of job opportunity doors will be open for me when I graduate.

May 19, 09 5:01 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

"...a whole bunch of job opportunity doors will be open for me when I graduate"

good luck with that. hopefully you still have 3+ years in school.

May 19, 09 5:32 pm  · 

Yup I do, thank God. =P

May 19, 09 8:09 pm  · 

good choice.
a guy (landscape architect on a sustainable energy site) payed me today to tutor him in max after i showed him rhino he forgot all about max and didn't want to learn any more about it.

speed, simple complexity, precision and accuracy too much to compromise

May 19, 09 10:01 pm  · 

Clearly you are either working or paid by Autodesk or its predecessor. I can not say Autodesk since 3dMax is also their flagship product. Going back to your snide remarks to me in relationship to what this gentleman is asking about. You are not making sense because you are proscribing Maya as a formula for 'a good design,' or in short, TV advertising logic - wear Yves Saint Laurent to look smart and at the same time sexy. This does not work and it never worked. This gentlemen wants to start from scratch and obviously he is looking into CURRENT choices being offered. Modo is one of them, rhino other etc. Let me tell you about school and longevity of the true projects. The studio crits that I attended, I am seeing less and less work done in Maya. In the Studio I worked software was not driving force. Idea was. Lastly, even at schools where through staff, such as your hero Mr. Alfonso, Maya used to get promoted, today I see less and less Maya and more 3dMax than anything else. At the Columbia U., Steven Hall does not give a damn about the software you use. If anything he prefers Physical model of your idea. F. Gehry does not use computer or BIM for design, only for construction purposes and documentation. I can tell you that since I worked there. I have not seen anyone modelng in Autocad either at schoold. I could be wrong but probably very very few. Simple statistics. At firms Maya is not norm not even by a long stretch. Of course, some small studio do use it. Skecth Up, 3D max or Rhino are; then Revit, Vectorworks etc. So, I really do not know what 'field' you are talking about. However, this was not an issue. I believe Jk3hl wanted to get a legit piece of software that is being used widely in the field. I have nothing against Maya, but I do not understand how is that better choice than Modo. It's perfectly fine that you stick to your guns or the tool of your preference, Maya, but you should not impose this as a formula for a good design. It's ridiculous.
lastly, Modo does cost 774 and Maya, well I am sure you know better.

of the fad, fund kids who after skateborading jump on the Vizualising next cool thing architecture.

May 20, 09 4:38 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

touché good sir. touché.

May 20, 09 4:44 pm  · 

i want to see a video tutorial of somebody working in it

May 20, 09 7:34 pm  · 

An educational license of Modo is super-cheap. And with it, you can model, texture, render—everything. No need for multiple packages, multiple programs and all that jazz.

May 20, 09 8:42 pm  · 


maybe this will help

May 26, 09 11:38 am  · 

i've used autocad in the past, and currently use microstation which i find to be really intuitive, and quicker (modeling etc) than autocad. it has only crashed a handful of times as well in the few years that ive been using it.

anyway luxology is out in the current version, and does photorealistic renderings easily with zero to no tweaking of hidden geek settings (draft renderings can be had in minutes). if i were to buy one software now it would be microstation hands down.

some guy's cool renderings

Jun 10, 09 8:43 pm  · 

Playing around with modo 401, i have to say that placing materials and rendering is a snap. Also the new version has asset sharing so you can populate your design with user generated objects like furniture.

I think in the end you should use what you feel comfortable with, most of the software features within these packages are similar and if you can model in one then you can switch to another if you need to.

Modo has a Rhino import and export plugin which makes things easier and i would agree that learning Rhino is becoming essential, but something like modo or another piece of software will help give your final images extra polish. In the end it's about selling your ideas and convincing other people, they won't care what software you're using as long as you can do what you do well.

Jul 16, 09 1:05 pm  · 

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