3D Programs. What is everyone using to make 3D

I have V-Carve Pro and I want to start making my own 3D files from pictures. V-Carve Pro wont let you design in 3D. I have watched tutorial videos on other free to use programs but right now don’t have a clue how to start or what I should be learning on. What have you guys been using to make your 3D files, what programs or tutorials have you watched. What do you recommend?


Not sure what you mean by 3D files from pictures, whether you want to use the pictures as a reference or generate 3D automatically from pictures.

Blender is good for organic modeling especially if you are artistic. It has sculpting which is especially good if you have a drawing tablet.

PureRef is a nice program for displaying your reference photos.

OpenSCAD is nice for some things if you like programming. You type code to create models instead of using a user interface.

Meshroom is a photogrammetry program that can automatically create 3D models from a bunch of pictures you take from multiple angles.

All of these are free and good software in my opinion, just depends on what you want to do.

@Troym If you have a somewhat large budget, Vectric Aspire is excellent. You can download a trial to see what you think. On Youtube, Michael Mezalick is one of the best for tutorials. Both Vectric and Mark Lindsay are very good, too.

I just want to learn how to do 3D programing from making a 3D File from a Jpeg picture to designing from scratch something that can be cut on a CNC. I’m probably wording it wrong. I have a family picture of my grandparents that I would like to cut in a 3D style for my mom. That’s what I’m trying to learn how to do. I’m sure the skill would prove very useful for other things as well.

Thanks for the info you shared. I appreciate it.

When I was trying to decide what program to use I watched a lot of tutorial videos from Mark Lindsay. His videos are why I decided to buy the V-Carve Pro program. Once I was learning the ways of V-Carve, That’s when I realized that I should have saved up and bought Aspire instead.

Thanks for the info, I will watch Michaels tutorial videos and go from there.

@Troym Aspire is far outside of my snack bracket. It is an excellent application, though.

I really only use fusion 360 to design 3d files for both 3d printing and Longmill projects. Learning curve is kinda steep but it has a free hobbyist license. It’s super feature rich and worth the time to learn. If you’re interested just binge some YouTube tutorials.

I looked into the " Upgrade" from V-Carve to Aspire. I thought if its an extra $500 or so on top of the $11 or 12 hundred I paid for V-Carve then I would do it up. As soon as I figured out that for me to Upgrade was going to run me $1600.00 I said Nope. I would love to get Aspire but they want way too much for it. I do have Fusion 360 and have played with it a bit but have no clue how to work it. I guess I am going to have to watch more videos and learn it. Thanks for the advise everyone. Learning curve here I come.

I can’t believe you paid that much for VCarve anything.

VCarve Desktop is $349. (I’ve been using this commercially for 3D carvings for several years. It just can’t create 3D.)

VCarve Pro is $699.

Unique to Vectric, you pay the difference to upgrade to Aspire, which is $1,995. (The difference is either $1,646 or $1,296.)

Obviously, Aspire is angled more for commercial designers, but not limited to them.

1 Like

Think you should check out this site.

I recently used it for a familiy picture. I first modified the background of the pic with gimp to black, used the website, and finally carved the stl into oak. Result is ok.

@CrookedWoodTex It depends on where you live, Tex. In Ontario, Canada, the current price for VCarvePro, taxes in, is just over $1000. Aspire is $2900. So, the difference is about $1900. That’s a lot of converting 2D to 3D. As a hobbyist, it’s simply out of my snack bracket.

1 Like

Believe me I didn’t want to have to pay as much as I did. But I had no choice, Its the program I wanted to use.
I live in Saskatchewan. So $700 plug exchange rate and taxes add up to a lot more then I wanted to spend. I would like to upgrade to Aspire some day when I win the Lotto but I don’t see that happening any time soon. For now I will make use of the programs I have available and recommendations for community members like yourselves.

1 Like

Thanks for the Info, I will save it to my favs and play with it, See what I can come up with.

I decided to bite the bullet and learn FreeCad. It’s not as easy to learn as others,. It isn’t as intuitive as Fusion 360 but it’s free, powerful, and not limited to non commercial use as the free version Fusion 360 is. FreeCad has the Path module for CAM and a bunch of add-ons too. Also lots of instructional videos for FreeCad on Youtube. So far no cuts on the Longmill though, it hasn’t arrived yet. Lots of 3D prints though.
I have been very happy with my choice.

Thank you Gadget047 for the encouragement to persist with FreeCAD. I downloaded and installed it and watched some great tutorials but cannot seem to get past the most basic step of closing a 2D shape. Not even a simple circle would close for me to allow extruding into a cylinder. Can you suggest any additional step you figured out is required but that is not clearly outlined in the videos? Thanks so much!

Try zooming in, way in. Then follow your line, eventually you will be able to see the opening in the line if you zoomed enough. Then click both end dots with the control key pressed and click on the X with a dot in the middle in the toolbar of sketcher. This will connect the lines.

1 Like

Thank you sooooo much! :slightly_smiling_face:

Have you continued to use freecad for longmill cuts? I’ve been using Fusion 360 since 2016 to make STL’s for 3D printing. I took a couple Udemy courses to lean fusion 360 cam. It’s really great but it nerfs your rapid moves if you’re using the free version. I considered writing an Autohotkey script to edit the rapids back into the gcode but I’d rather just have something I own and can download. I looked at vcarve but it seems very abstract and way less intuitive than fusion. Freecad looks good but I couldn’t find any advanced tutorials on the path workbench.

I’ve used Freecad for all of my mechanical type designs and export them as STL into VCarve to create the tool paths. I haven’t put enough time into the Path function in Freecad to make sense of it yet but I will keep pecking away at it until I have it figured out. One of the biggest draws to Freecad is you can use it for commercial purposes and not have to worry about violating any license agreements.
Also, a lot of my FreeCad designs are created for my 3D printer and the slicer program takes care of tool paths for that.