3 top tools every 3D artist should know about

Everyone working in CG should know about these handy applications; do you?

A fruity scene created using Corona Renderer

Which 3D tools are the best on the market? That's a difficult question to answer definitively, but what we can tell you is which ones artists like the most. That's because every year, the CG Awards sees the industry vote for their favourite tech. And in the Best New Application category, these are the three tools that came out on top in 2014.

Win clients & work smarter with our FREE ebook: get it now!

This year's awards – which honour both software and the artists that use it – are now open for nominations (details here), so you can nominate your favourites today at thecgawards.com.

In the meantime, here are the tools that were voted overall winner and runners up, respectively, in last year's awards...

01. Substance Painter

An empowering tool that brings fun back to texturing

Allegorithmic has a reputation for working closely with its customers, a process continued through the ongoing public beta of Substance Painter, its innovative 3D painting app tailored to the needs of game artists.

As well as more standard features like layers, symmetry painting and masks, Substance Painter rethinks the texture painter's toolset for next-generation games, providing a physically based viewport, physically based materials, and an innovative set of particle brushes that enable users to paint procedural details like dirt, weathering or damage onto a mesh. Workflow is fully non-destructive, making the process of asset development faster and more flexible.

Substance Painter is a game-changer, putting powerful new tools in the hands of artists, and bringing the fun back to texturing – a fact highlighted by Allegorithmic CEO Sébastien Deguy. Texturing should not be painful, he argues: "In our opinion, the feeling of empowerment and fun that you get when using Substance Painter is really great."

Also read: How to create a 3D leak effect with Substance Painter

02. ChronoSculpt

A tool for sculpting and modifying animation caches

Released last year, ChronoSculpt is NewTek's new application for sculpting and modifying animation caches in VFX and feature animation pipelines. The tool enables artists to 'paint out' errors in simulations manually, or to sculpt additional layers of deformation on top of an existing animation.

In many ways, ChronoSculpt is a fusion of several indispensable tools, with a timeline that allows users to replace the arduous process of correcting errors in animation and dynamic situations with a straightforward manual workflow.

Read the full review of Chronosculpt here

03. Corona Renderer

A high-quality unbiased renderer, available as a plugin or standalone app

Developed since 2009 and still officially in alpha, Render Legion's Corona Renderer is a high-quality unbiased renderer, available as a 3ds Max plug-in or standalone app.

It's production-ready, proudly CPU-based, and currently boasts 35,000 downloads. Developer and founding partner Ondra Karlík highlights the fact that important stages of Corona's development were driven via consultation with the user community on its forum: something he believes differentiates Corona from its competitors, and made its nomination for a CG Award possible.