Best 3d tool (Blender, Wings3d, SketchUp)

What 3d modeling tool should i use with jME? I know that is a very broad question… Basically it should fit these criteria:

  1. Free or low cost That is why i mentioned Blender Wings3d and SketchUp… But I'm open to other suggestions
  2. Easy to learn
  3. Easy to import into a jME project.

    Also, any other info I need to know about the tools and incorporating them into a jME project are welcome!!

I would say Blender is really probably going to be your best shot and I believe there is a Collada exporter available for it as well.


I used blender…2 years ago (maybe more)…

I have always heard good things about blender, but I was under the impression it had a steep learning curve…

Is that true? Anything else I should know about Blender and how in will interact with jME?

I'm not really an expert on Blender or modeling for that matter, but it's is commonly used around here, has a large following, it's free, and can export Collada…that's about it. :wink:

Did anyone ever succesfully export a COLLADA from blender to jME though?

Sketchup uses COLLADA as it's native format I believe… but it's much more limited in what you can actually create.

Does that mean SketchUp is slightly better for importing just due to the fact it has been imported successfully?

What about Wings3d? Isn't that what the Maggie demo used?

  • I have used blender and the illusoft collada exporter ( ) to export from blender to jME lately. It worked.

(The following Information can be found in various threads in this forum, I just repeat it here for convenience)
  • Should collada fail for you, you could still fall back to the jME xml exporter ( ).

  • Skeletal mesh export, however, is a feature (and the only useful one, afaik) that is missing in both approaches - for that, you can resort to md5 for now ( ).

So, yes, I think blender is pretty complete in it's "jME support", even if skeletal animations can not be done using collada right now. Illusoft seems to be working on that, though, so that might be there soon.

Soooo…If i understand things correctly…

Because SketchUp and Blender both export the collada format, they should both work fairly well with jME?

If that is the case, then according to the criteria in my first post, the only deciding point would be ease of use. I've heard blender is fairly complex to learn. Conversely, it seems SketchUp is easy to learn.

Any thing else I should know?

hevee said:
  • Skeletal mesh export, however, is a feature (and the only useful one, afaik) that is missing in both approaches - for that, you can resort to md5 for now ( ).
  • [/list]

    Even if I am the author of the MD5 Reader 2 fix, and I am proud that my effort have been mentioned, we should not forget the great Cal3D loader created by kman ( I also fixed one of the existing scripts ( to export meshes correctly into kman's Cal3D loader.

    JustATinker said:
    If that is the case, then according to the criteria in my first post, the only deciding point would be ease of use. I've heard blender is fairly complex to learn. Conversely, it seems SketchUp is easy to learn.

    Any thing else I should know?

    Blender's only obstacle is the first approach with UI and ViewPorts/Objects transformations/management. You can learn them in about an hour following some of the tutorials available online or reading the manual from the begining.

    SketchUp is an architect program, if you need skeletal animation or organic characters, it is not a god choice.

    i find wings3d excellent for modelling. it is also very easy to learn.

    i didn't try sketchup yet, but i'm about to :wink:

    JustATinker said:

    What about Wings3d? Isn't that what the Maggie demo used?

    the maggie demo is done with jme. only the model was fixed using wings3d. i don't know how it was initially created.

    i think it's not good to limit yourself to a single application. so if you feel better modelling with wings, then do it that way, then import your model into blender and animate it.

    To me Wings is the best modeler on earth (and that includes Blender :wink: )

    At least for modelling characters, monsters, animals, objects, plants, etc…well, all in a game. I know as I've used in several game companies as my only modelling tool(crude fight, often). And team production speed or superior. (superior, but I should be humble from time to time…)

    But note how I say "modelling".

    You can't animate with Wings.

    In game companies, I'm used to have to actually use loads of tools. Even if all is centered in a package, is the same, you'll end up needin to use an inhouse tool, which sometimes is 20 times harder to use. After that you'r ready to whatever…

    My usual path is:

    -I model with Wings.

    -Uv map with : Wings, Ultimate unwrap, or blender. All are good for that.(prefer u.unwrap)

    -texture with gimp, ps, psp,dp, whatever I can handle. In a job, PS is the only used.

    The whole thing till here can be very well done with just wings and gimp: did many times so.

    -Then, I import into the whatever the animation/game integration main package, usually common to all the team/staff (while the modeler is sometimes personal choice, all the rest of times, maya or max)

    In my case, that anim or general tool maybe: xsi, gmax, blender, max. All are good to go for animation, imo.(I just dont know maya, neither have been required) I really like max or char anim (only), but ppl say am weird.

    Ive gone very often just wings->gimp(or similar)->blender.->game format.( used x(weighted, bones, anim…all) , md5(same), md2, md3(both vertex anim), like xml of hevee, obj (statics), even made tests with wrl and an old ase blender script.)

    My advice is import the model(already modeled, uvmapped, textured) as obj or native *.wings format, as, happily, blender imports that. Sometimes one of the two is broken, but never was in the point of having both broken, not since a very older version of blender.

    If you prefer have all in one, Blender is good to go…

    I went int he export way of md5, using der_ton's exporter, and worked like charm in jme engine, or at least supported what I require. The xml of hevee, is not bones animation, but imo is the way to go for blender and vertex animation format.

    As ease of use. Would be a lie to say blender is easy… But is also very powerful. You can do these days anything, and it's getting for next release, lightmaps. I just prefer way more modelling part with wings, and uvmapping with other tools.

    I keep preferring choosing my fav tool for evey task of the procces, I know well bout formats/conversions, and know by lots of experience that these routes can be done (so, if you wanted to know it…yep, it's quite possible.)

    As for level scenery, there we found some more probs… But usually, obj and surely custom adding tricks to port extra features(vertex colors, reflection maps, lightmaps & several uv channels… )…My hopes in jme are mainly, for scenery, in collada, as is very complete. have not made a single test of it, but as I see it, my xsi collada export would be the best way, as illusoft plugin for blender has started very recently and not many features yet, tho it goes fast…

    Note that…blender hasnt such rich support of smoothing normal tools as XSI, Max, Wings or Maya…yet tho, have several tricks to break the mesh and get so the hard edges…

    @snaga: i wondered when you will answer to this thread :wink:

    i can only agree about what snaga says about wings as a modeler (it’s my favorite too).

    the wings->gimp->blender path is probably the best (and cheapest) for beginners and hobby projects.

    another noteworthy tool is TextureMaker. it’s just amazing what it can do.

    Agree also with texture maker...

    And deep paint 3d rocks fav 3d painter.I have zbrush bought too, but it varies a bit the bitmap with each 'pick', and I dont like that for game textures. Me am weird, I know.

    for those not so eager to waste that money...Tatoo does the same till an extent... (direct painting over 3d meshes)

    And even more, there's some support of this in Blender already.

    Oh, sketchup may be easy to handle, but beware, is no allowed its use for comercial projects...

    There's an importer plugin for sketchup scenes into blender, quite well done it seems...

    heck, I should be studying my videos and books bout xsi..they all came incldued...butnever have time, and somewhat dont feel as comfortable with that huge software...

    yeh, sfera, I think you know well my timing in this themes… :wink:

    There are another alternative: Art Of Illusion (

    It is Java based application for 3d modeling, completly free. First I thought that it lack a lot of features comparing, say, Blender but I was wrong. It is worth looking.

    the last time i tried AOI it did indeed lack many features. but maybe it's time to give it another try.  :smiley:

    It's cool, but not of the type of UI I like. This is very personal, but I prefer other animation workflow, specially for characters/poses.

    Other than that, is cool, I say. Does really nice rendering also, very nice. very deep in features and power in what is rendering, imho.

    The tools are intuitive, more than Blender.

    But I prefer Wings3d and Blender by quite. (and of course, Max!)

    yet though this means nothing. You can do 3d with whatever, and seems is quite a complete and good tool. I put it on pair of the big names in free 3d tools (imho surpassing easily many mid cost tools) : Wings, Blender, Anim8or, AOI. yep , there are more, but am lazy, and this are my mainly considered ones :wink:

    The modelling aproach, I think has its possibilities.

    Looks it has a really powerful scripting system to make plugins: much ppl here could do wonders; one of the stopping things may be little ppl know the tool…

    But I am speaking of 2.0…the latest could be loads better…gonna download, for in case I wanna add something later (only if for good :wink: )

    Of this kind of nice things,(some jewells I dont use as arent of much use in my workflow, or which UI is not of my style) is also jpatch. A similar tool  to hamapatch, to model with pacthes (~nurbs, but dont get me wrong) , …as you guessed, jpatch is made in java…Last time I checked they were making an animation addon…It did seem really sweet for modelling with splines stuff.