Paul Hatton scours the internet to find the top sites that give you – the artist – access to high-quality FREE 3D models...
One thing that I love about the 3D visualization world is its willingness to share and help each other. This is no truer than in the area of 3D models. There are numerous companies and individuals out there who are giving away free 3D content for people to use in their projects. What is even better is that much of this content is also available for use in commercial projects! This is fantastic and makes set dressing a lot easier and quicker. Make sure you check any terms and conditions before downloading though.
10 of my favorite places to find 3D models. There is always some sifting to be done but it's great when you find
something of real quality.
This is a fantastic repository of 3D models from 3D artists all around the world. As of writing they had around 1.5 million downloads which is really impressive. What I love about Dimensiva is their attention to quality. Even though they've got stacks of 3D models available, they don't just post rubbish. You can trust their 3D models are going to be top quality.
The Dimensiva website is quick and easy to navigate
Xoio post a range of different resources including some excellent 3D models. You will no doubt recognize some of them in people's work if you've been paying attention! Downloads are truly completely free as no sign up or registration is required.
Navigation could be clearer on the website but I'm sure you'll find what you need to even if it takes a few clicks
Model + model
I've checked this website out intermittently for the last few years and have always been impressed by the level of quality. I first came across them because of their volumes of models that are available for sale but then I stumbled across some of their freebies. In similar fashion to Xoio, no registration is required!
They keep all of their freebies in one place and you can navigate to it using the ‘free' link in the top menu
Viz People are another provider that sell 3D models but then give away free ones every so often. I have to say that I've probably benefitted most from their free car models, especially the Peugeot 508. They are also giving away a model of the Delorean which is super cool!
All of their free stuff is in one place in the ‘Free stuff' section!
I've found that Design Connected has some absolute gems but it also has some terribly basic models that aren't of use to anyone! If you're happy to sift through their models and pick and what you want then you'll find this to be a great site for your set dressing needs.
Filter by ‘freebie' and sift through to find the gems
"A good 3D artist should both utilize other people's work as well as creating their own"
Now these are some top quality models. This company is based in Vietnam and from what I can tell they only have a Facebook page! If you're happy to use a translation program then you'll find download links to some incredible models, especially furniture.
Keep checking back to their Facebook page for amazing 3D model giveaways.
I would expect that everyone has heard of Turbosquid, if not, where have you been! This is one of the largest warehouses for 3D content and ranges from free to expensive! A lot of people are giving away great content for free, assuming you're happy sifting through a lot of rubbish!
Use their search feature to find exactly what you need
This is a relatively new player to the 3D model repository community. In similar terms to Turbosquid there is a lot of free content that isn't worth the time of day but using their search feature will help you narrow down to the content that you want.
As of writing they had over 220,000 models available
3D sky is another user upload repository with a search functionality. They have a series of categories which can be helpful if you know what you're looking for. They also show the number of downloads and ‘likes' for each item which helps users focus in on the higher quality models.
Click on the ‘Free' filter to isolate all the free models
This is a massively underused resource but it is fantastic. What I love about it is that it contains a load of real world buildings which provide a great starting point for architectural visualisation. The SketchUp format makes it easy for exporting into other formats for other 3D modelling packages too.
Find exactly the right model for your requirements in the 3D warehouse.
"Interior designers draw together other people's work as well as some of their own bespoke pieces to creating amazing spaces"
To download or not to download
There are mixed feelings in the 3D visualization industry about using other people's content to improve their own visualizations. I take a fairly middle of the road view of this believing that a good 3D artist should both utilize other people's work as well as creating their own. Take an interior designer for example. There is no expectation that they will build all their own furniture and all their own art pieces. They draw together other people's work as well as some of their own bespoke pieces to creating amazing spaces. This is how I view the role of a 3D visualizer.
Like free stuff? Check out the free tutorials section
Here are some free textures