Mastering 3D animation requires the use of powerful and efficient software and tools. 

In this article, written by professional 3D artists, we've curated a list of top choices to streamline and enhance your 3D animation experience.


Top 3D Software 

Every 3D artist knows the pivotal role that software plays in shaping their creative vision. From industry giants to emerging stars, the right 3D software is the artist's trusty companion on the journey to digital excellence.


  • Blender

If you are new to the 3D world, you probably heard of or even tried Blender.

  • Most versatile 3D software that is completely free and open-source.
  • You can handle every aspect of your production, from modeling to rendering.
  • It allows you to blend 3D with 2D thanks to the Grease Pencil tool → Very useful for pre-production (storyboard) or post-production for adding 2D effects on top of your 3D model.
  • Compatible with Polywink services, you only have to choose the FBX option to be able to import your blend shapes into the software.

→ Pushed by a strong community, many plugins are being developed to ease your journey on the software. And many blogs can answer your questions!

We recommend it for beginners or people who want economical and efficient production.

Download Blender here:


  • Autodesk Maya

Maya is one of the most popular 3D software

→ Maybe you heard of its Autodesk cousin, 3DS Max, but Maya is more popular amongst studios. 

Maya has been democratized by most of the big Studios in the industry. From cinema to video games, the software is powerful. 

  • It provides a workflow for an entire production, from modeling to rendering.

Currently, Maya is the main software we use at Polywink. Rigging is a part of the 3D workflow that undeniably goes through Maya. 

  • Its user-friendly interface and the plurality of its deformer solutions allow 3D artists to create useful, optimized, and efficient rigs.

If you know Maya, no 3D software will scare you. That is our motto.

If you have a restricted budget but want efficient software to work your 3D, Maya is definitely the go-to choice.

Download Autodesk Maya here:


  • Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine was probably the most trendy software at the time I am writing these lines.

  • Free of use and very performant, the software is being updated so quickly that it challenges all the other software in the industry.
  • Well known for its real-time performance, Unreal Engine also provides the MetaHumans, a realistic creator of humans, rigged, and textured, ready-to-use.

Thanks to the application of many talents, the software is being tested out in full production length and many studios are thinking of switching some of the production aspects into it.

With strong tools of rigs and retargeting since UE 2.1, it has become more and more used in production and most of our services offer the ability to have an Unreal Engine project as a result.

We definitely recommend it for newcomers, the only issue would be about modelization and sculpting. All these aspects must be treated in other software and then imported into Unreal Engine. But keep an eye on the updates, it evolves really fast!

Otherwise, lighting and rendering have never been so easy!

Download Unreal Engine here: 


  • Houdini 

No, it’s not the famous magician but a 3D software that is making more and more noise in the industry.

  • Well installed thanks to its VFX capacity.
  • Based on procedural tools (nodal system), you can easily create templates that will be very useful for automatization and complex mathematical and physical systems.
  • An incredibly powerful tool for procedural modelization, replication, and environment creation

It is safe to say that Houdini is one of the main 3D actors of today and it has the ambition to grow as a complete software that could handle a pipeline on its own.

Nevertheless, Houdini is expensive software and its current features leave it as a pre-production/post-production software used by few people in a studio.

Download Houdini here:


Best tools for 3D Artists 

While a 3D artist's primary canvas is their chosen software, the brushes they use are equally crucial. Let's explore some indispensable tools that can amplify your creative prowess.


  • Sculpting

As you’ll do with a bit of clay, when you want more organic shapes sculpting may be your solution! It will allow you to add substance and dig into it. Especially if you are used to sculpt with your hands, go from the clay on your finger to the clean sculpt on your screen.


  • ZBrush 

For artists who relish the tactile feel of sculpting, ZBrush is a digital sculpting powerhouse. Its innovative tools and dynamic interface make it the go-to choice for artists who want to push the boundaries of what's possible in the realm of 3D character design.

Download ZBrush here:


  • Mudbox

The traditional Mudbox might be the solution for you if you already know Autodesk software such as 3DS Max or Maya, and it allows a seamless flow between those software.

But if you work on Maya or Blender there are also sculpt tools in these systems!

Download MudBox here:


  • Texturing

Now that your model is finished you want to give it colors and textures, make it feel real! There are numerous ways to create your maps, you can try different ways until you find the solution that works for you.


  • Mari

Mari is a texturing software from the foundry, well used in the industry, Mari can be easily put in a production pipeline, and its interface is 3D-user friendly and gives you all the tools needed to create the finest texture possible. The only limit will be your creativity.

Download Mari here:


  • Substance Painter

Substance Painter is a 3D painting tool made by Adobe, it has now become an industry standard. If you are used to working with Photoshop, here is the 3D alternative! It’s a powerful tool to quickly edit and create texture for your models. 

You can also create textures in Blender or Photoshop. 

Download Substance Painter here:


  • Scripts

One of the most unknown 3D tools is Script.

Indeed, scripts in MEL or Python (for Maya, Houdini, Blender), or C++ (for Unreal Engine) can be a real painkiller for your 3D work.

Working with scripts can drastically reduce your work time. It allows you to automatize repetitive tasks and create complex systems in a single click. Having a notion in Python (the most common coding language in 3D software) will allow you to be more productive and efficient


Polywink's Rigging service

Polywink is an online platform dedicated from A to Z to 3D animation, from character creation to rigging and motion capture solutions. It opens up a world of possibilities for 3D artists, animators and creators

Whether you're a novice or an expert, our intuitive services let you bring your character and wildest ideas to life and explore unique animated worlds.

At Polywink, we understand the challenges faced by 3D artists in the fast-paced world of animation. Our mission is to empower you with tools that not only simplify complex processes but elevate your artistic expression to new heights.


Visit our website to discover how Polywink can revolutionize your approach to character animation.

Join the Polywink community and happy animating!