The 5 best new 3D tools for March

It's always good to stay abreast of current 3D art trends, the latest software upgrades, free 3D models, and newcomers to the options available to us as 3D artists but chances are you spend most of your time at your monitor, buried deep in your current project, concentrating on your subdivisions and keyframes.

When it comes to render time you are more likely to slope off for a coffee than to stay staring at a screen, so I've done the legwork and here are the results – the five best things to know about as a 3D artist this month.

01. HDRI Light Studio 5.3

5 best new tools for 3D artists in March 2016

The ability to use area lights make this already formidable lighting tool the top of the pack

For anybody working in 3D you are probably aware of this product, as it has rapidly gained a reputation as one of the most elegant lighting solutions around, for most of the main 3D applications. The only thing it was lacking was the ability to use area lights but that has all changed. Version 5.3 which has just launched offers everything it did before but with area lights added to the arsenal, a win for every user.

02. Paintstorm Studio

5 best new tools for 3D artists in March 2016

A fast and versatile painting app for Mac and PC

This is a new painting application from and, although it's aimed at 2D artists, it's a fantastic tool for anybody needing to paint textures. As well as the obligatory PSD file support it's the most customisable bit of software I've seen. The UI is as versatile as it gets and you can control just about any aspect of any brush with a few simple clicks. On top of that it's currently at an introductory price of $19, so you'd be mad to miss it.

03. Polybrush

5 best new tools for 3D artists in March 2016

Grab the newest tool on the 3d sculpting scene, free from

Another newcomer to the scene this one is starting a lot of conversations among the 3D community. Polybrush is a free form sculpting app that is aimed at rapid concepting, with fully customisable user brushes, which allow you to create a brush from any object. Finished sculpts can then be exported to your app of choice as an OBJ file. Currently free as an alpha the download is small too, at just 4MB.

04. Fabric Engine 2.1

5 best new tools for 3D artists in March 2016

Fabric engine brings visual programming to the tool development arena

Although maybe not of as much use to lone artist as it is to teams, Fabric Engine's latest release adds huge amounts of development to it's pipeline tool creation software. Node based editors seem to be the future, with more and more software moving to this very visual style of working. Nodes aren't new to FE but there are far more additions here than can be mentioned, so head over to to learn more.

05. Mash joins Maya

5 best new tools for 3D artists in March 2016

The big daddy of VFX hires in some mograph big guns

The recent news that Mash, the motion graphics toolset plugin, has been bought and is being incorporated into Maya is big news for anybody working in motion graphics. If you were on the fence about what software to go with this makes the decision even harder, as now Maya closes the gap between it and the sector leader, Cinema 4D. That and the news that Maya can now be bought on a subscription basis makes for some interesting times ahead for broadcast artists.

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Rob Redman

Rob Redman is the editor of 3D World and ImagineFX magazines and has a background in animation, visual effects, and photography. As a 3D artist he created the mothership in the Webby winning Plot Device and was animator on the follow-up; Order up. He has created training for Cinema 4D and Blackmagic Design Fusion artists. He's been a published product and food photographer since the age of 15. As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, Rob is also an avid beard grower.