Sculptris: free, user-friendly 3D modeling and digital sculpting program for the masses

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Sculptris is a free digital sculpting/3D modeling program that is both powerful and extremely easy to use.

It provides a digital modeling experience that is very similar to creating real life models out of clay, whereupon the virtual clay simply materializes from thin air and can be quickly shaped, prodded, cut, modified, and added. In practice the effect is very pleasant; allowing your 3D creations to grow organically, on-the-fly, as the idea(s) come to you.

Sculptris is unlike other 3D modeling programs previously mentioned on this blog in that the interface is extremely easy to use and the program has a relatively small learning curve.

The mouse driven sculpting works very well (see video above), and the modeling is duplicated symmetrically on the fly whereby what you are doing on one side of the object gets immediately emulated on the other (a simple yet brilliant device that is extremely helpful).
Sculptris provides a host of “materials” to choose from and, in addition to the sculpting tools it provides powerful painting/drawing/texturing tools that can be used to finesse your models once they are created.

Despite having tried and even written about a number of 3D modeling programs, I generally tend to avoid reviewing these because I am neither a digital artist nor an expert on this sort of thing. But fifteen minutes playing with Sculptris and it was clear to me that this is a very special program that does something really well, and deserves to be written about.

Here are more notes on this program:

  • Unlimited clay: noteworthy in the sense that you do not have to worry about polygons or staring at wireframe representations and stretching polygons.
  • Symmetry: cuts the work at least in half, since every eye, ear, arm, leg, etc. you create will instantly have a clone on the other side of your creation.
  • Ease of use: the stylish, sparse interface is un-intimidating and intuitive. A few hours is all you need to learn this software.
  • Pressure sensitivity: on a tablet gives a great deal of control over molding and brushing (note: I did not test this myself, as I do not have a tablet).

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: a simply wonderful program. Not only does it have a wonderfully easy to use interface, but as a free alternative to digital sculpting programs such as Zbrush and Mudbox 2009, it is clearly one of the best. Even if you’re only curious about 3D modeling or digital sculpting I would recommend that you give this one a spin; you will be on your way and producing wonderful creations in minutes.

On the other hand, I cannot really speak for the usefulness of these 3D objects in games and projects, and it seems that the models have to be created to size and not be expected to scale up or down (please correct/confirm this in the comments section if you know for sure).

This is the kind of tool that actually inspire you and encourage your creativity rather than curtail it and impose limits. Kudos to the developer for a job very well done!

Version Tested: Alpha 5

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 3.1 megs).