Any such thing as really simple beginner's 3D design software?

Discussion in 'Gallery & Designs' started by rlwhitt, Nov 8, 2006.

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  1. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Hi all,

    Lord help me, but my 9 year old is becoming obsessed with card modeling. I know, that's a good thing! But he's not satisfied with building stuff, he's already taken the liberty of designing a few things of his own (not involved mind you, crude things really - but he's 9 after all). Problem is all he knows how to use in a graphics mode is MS Word Drawing mode (I know, ugh!)

    I think he could really have a blast doing something in a real 3D program and letting Pepakura unfold it. Problem is, 3D programs seem pretty unapproachable, even to me. I tried Metasequoia and man, I couldn't even figure that out, much less him.

    So, does something exist that lets someone do REALLY simple shapes and stuff (cylinders, cubes, pyramids, etc), is easy to use, and save the file in a format Pepakura understands?

  2. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    Sadly from personal experience... I would say no.

    He would have to be able to not only understand dimensions in 2D space but the 3rd extra dimension, but....

    If he was able to 'trace something' or perhaps pick a vector model and 'extrude' it you can make a simple 3D model.

    Again from my experience I find my original 3D model and final 3D to paper output model 2 different animals. I'm removing triangles and reducing the polygon count, moving verticies and such.

    But with the way kids learn. I would not be surprised to see a child learn how to navigate software if they enjoy the experience. Moving in steps say from simple 2D designs then to 3D getting more complicated.
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Member


    Grab Siatki 1.0.1 from Gremir Models ..... then report back on progress :)

    As he's decided to dabble for himself at that age I would suspect that he is capable of developing the necessary talent for spatial visualisation.

  4. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    He's right now going throught the pain of drawing out the completed parts with tabs and fold lines and such in 2D as they will appear on paper. I'm amazed at how well he's picked up on the spatial relationships needed in 2D to make a 3D part. And by and large everything is ending up pretty correct, but matching dimensions is of course a big problem doing things this way.

    I just had to imagine making a cube and letting a program unfold it would be easier, but maybe not.

    At the very least, I've surely got to get him using a better graphics program!

  5. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Blender............... it's free........... there are tutorial, yes there is aleaning curve I know I'm in it, but it is not that hard...............

    try it

    it will export in DXF and perpakura wil unfold it.

  6. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member . Some software packages are available in student formats, Solidworks, Rhinoceros etc. I don't know what the criteria for being a 'student' are, but worth investigating.

    Google SketchUp is interesting, but the only way to get a real model out of it is to buy the pro version which exports dxf data, or get Rhino which (v4 will, and is at beta just now) read a sketchup file directly.

    Whichever way you go, DO THE TUTORIALS! Sorry, there is no easy way with 3D, you just gotta slog at it. Your young lad will undoubtably amaze you with how quickly he picks it up!

    Tim P (wunwinglow)
  7. barry

    barry Active Member

    3d for kids

    Let him play with the primatives in metsequoia it's free. I agree with Maurice if you want to spend a little then Siatki as well, with a combination of those two you can design a pretty good cardmodel. Kids have a lot of spatial awareness good luck to him.
  8. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    Wow! I'm just not used to these types of programs. Learning curve? I'd have to say so! :grin:

    Looks like a steep road any way we go, but he'd have a useful skill to be sure. Don't know if he's quite ready for something this heavy duty yet.


  9. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member

    That's a nifty little program, I could have used this about a month ago trying to make a nose cone for my daughters science project bottle rocket! We had to do it the old fashioned way...

    Am I seeing all there is? Looks like it just models and unfolds 4 basic shapes, one at a time. Is this right?


  10. 46rob

    46rob Member

    Why assume he needs to jump into 3d modeling? It sounds like he has a good grasp the relationships between 2 and 3d items.....but, let me ask you this: If your child showed an early aptitude for math, would you buy him a calculator? Or, would you encourage him to learn to use his mind to work things out, rather than punching in numbers? I would get him a 2-d drawing program, if anything at all.....I might settle for a few drawing tools, such as rulers, compass, protractor, etc, and let his mind move beyond the constraints of a software package. In my opinion, as an ex-educator, children need to spend little if any time on computers, and most of their time, experiencing the real world...hands on. My sister-in-law, an elementary teacher--actually had the computers removed from her classroom. Many classroom professionals now believe that computers should not be introduced into curricula until late middle school or high school, as they tend to shortcut the learning process. They do too much for the students, without them being required to master the basics.

    You may beleive you're doing your son a great favor by moving him into specialized modeling programs, but why not wait until such time that he asks for something specific. Working with the basic program he currently uses, forces him to work harder and smarter....not a bad thing.
  11. rlwhitt

    rlwhitt Active Member


    Good points. I think I might meet a lot of resistance and kill his interest if I forced paper and pencil, but you're probably exactly right about the 3D modeling. And after looking at a few of the 3D programs out there, all I can say is they are a wall too tall at this poiht, and like you say, probably overkill anyway. He seems determined to do 2D drawing - he just has a poor tool.

    I just saw someone on another thread mention Visio and I slapped my head and thought, yeah that might be better. Maybe we'll try that, since it's something I already have!

  12. Willja67

    Willja67 Member

    My own 2 cents I guess was that I started out using pencil and paper and then started using autocad then finally moved to Rhino. I think that the computer is an exceptional tool for drafting and starting out using it for drafting purposes is ideal the 3d modeling portion can wait for awhile.
  13. marian

    marian New Member

    I agree with the observation that there is no such thing as "really simple beginner's 3D design software".

    Give Inkskape a try:

    Ciao, MM
  14. barry

    barry Active Member


    I think you have downloaded the free siatki file, the "real" one does much more. However if he understands the freebie then he will understand most of the rest of it. remember computers or their derivatives are part of a modern childs lifestyle. Even the fridge has a computer now.

    If not buy him a drawing board and T square and a cheap set of drawing instruments
  15. Rick Thomson

    Rick Thomson Member

  16. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Thanks for the cone calculator link!
  17. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Maybe another view is, "Is there a better 2D tool". Learning to use a 2D drafting tool is something that doesn't abrogate the education process except that it might prevent better eye hand co-ordination but as Barry said "it's part of a child's lifestyle". Prevention of "the tool will think for you" syndrome is probably operative here...,

  18. Rick Thomson

    Rick Thomson Member

    Hi Gil,

    You have a point, I like that program, but if need be, I could whip out my book with all the formulas from my apprenticeship, and do it the slow way too.

    Druther not though... ;-)
  19. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Yea.......... don't put me back in the pre-PC (Personal Computer) era. Man we suppossed to make things easy on ourselves with his invention................. Yeah Right!

    New ways are great, old ways help you to learn................ um....... can anyone under the age of 50 still work a slide rule?


    I can............. but I'm 49 11/12ths
  20. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Me Too! I just turned 48, but my old man was a designer on Concorde, so it is probably genetic....

    Tim P (wunwinglow)
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