The 4 best 3D software updates of 2015

We reveal the best 3D software updates of 2015, as voted for by the community in the CG awards.

For the last few months, 3D enthusiasts all over the globe have been nominating and voting in the 3D World CG Awards. Now, the results are in, and one of the biggest stirs was caused in the hotly contested Software Update category.

Read on discover the winner and runners up in this category, and what makes them tick...

01. ZBrush 4R7

A radical update that added game-changing tools

With ZBrush 4R7 Pixologic introduced innovative tools, like the new dynamic subdivision mode, the bridge to KeyShot and ZModeler. It's tools like these that have really impressed: "ZModeler has been a game changer for a lot of artists because it enables them to focus on a model's shape rather than accuracy of its topology," says Thomas Roussel, marketing director and 3D specialist at Pixologic.

These features impressed judge Ken McCuen, matte painter and concept artist on feature films: "As a traditionally trained artist I have a high respect for developers who make the transition from painting/sculpting in real life to the digital medium easier. I've found ZBush to be excellent at providing tools to quickly create maquettes as a basis for my work."

02. Modo 801

Modo 801 review

The already excellent UV system in Modo has been enhanced with new unwrapping tools

The Foundry's Modo 801 added node-based shading, improved animation and dynamics tools, and new features across the board.

According to Modo's product marketing manager, Shane Griffith, there's a simple recipe the team follows: "There is never a shortage of ideas or feature requests. The trick is to implement them as generally and as robustly as possible so users can add their innovation and creativity to leverage those tools in ways we never could have imagined."

03. 3DS 2016

3D Review

3ds Max provides new features that integrate into your production workflow

Autodesk packed 3ds Max 2016 with new features, such as the Max Creation Graph, a node-based scripting environment enabling artists to create custom-scripted tools, without writing a single line of code.

These tools can be packaged and shared with other artists, enabling you to collaborate and work at speed. As well as cloud-based rendering and new templates, it was the MCG tool that drew readers to nominate: "Max Creation Graph is a huge innovation for 3D artists," says Goulahs Mesa.

04. Vue XStream 2015

Create rich, realistic nature environments with Vue xStream 2015

With Vue xStream 2015 e-on software delivered expansions on old tools and new features to expand the reach of its solution for creating rich, realistic nature environments.

Fully immersed within 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave and Cinema 4D it's "powerful software at prices hobbyists can afford," says 3D World reader Patrick Robinson.

3D World magazine reader Julien Desreumaux Julot agrees, highlighting the NPR render engine and adding, "the customisable interface is also a strong improvement, and the faster render
scene preview."

Find out more about all the winners and runners up of the CG Awards in the latest issue of 3D World – on sale now!