Wings 3D is a free, open source and easy-to-use 3D modelling tool perfect for low poly mesh generation. If you are looking for something to get the job done without all of the clutter of additional bells and whistles this could easily be the one for you.
What Wings 3D has on offer:
- Free: Not just a time or functionality limited demo.
- Open Source: If you’d like to dig in to the code you can, or join in on its future development.
- Current: Supported and still in use, with plenty of online tutorials.
- Immediate: Anyone should be able to pick it up and do something useful right away.
- Chunky: Good for making low poly models.
- Export friendly: By default it easily exports models into a variety of formats, including OBJs, 3DS, FBX and just about any other format you could want!
- Portable: Runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.
- Stable: The program rarely crashed on us.
- Flexible: A large number of predefined camera control options and the ability to define your own hotkeys, so you can use the tool however you are most comfortable.
- Simple: While the program includes basic rendering and texturing options, this tool is really just for making models.
You can get Wings 3D here.
When we first looked into Wings 3D we were a bit worried by the right-click-for-everything design. However, after jumping in and having a play we found it to be remarkably intuitive. None-the-less, there are some things you will want to know and do before getting started.
First things first, when working in Wings 3D you will want to remember that Left Click is used to select and deselect single faces (no modifier) and Space is used to deselect all. With nothing selected, the Right Click menu is used to create objects. Or with something selected Right Click opens the modifiers menu. You may also want to use Tab to toggle between working and shaded mode.
Secondly, we recommend you change your camera settings:
- Open the Preferences window Edit->Preferences
- Click on Camera and change the Camera Mode to something you are comfortable with. We chose Maya.
Now, the lack of a gizmo can slow down your workflow a fair bit. So, to make moving and rotating faster we recommend you assign some hot keys for this. In vertex mode:
- select a vert
- Right Click to open the menu
- click on .Move.
- with the menu open highlight X (but don’t click)
- press <insert> on the keyboard
- with the x-direction option still highlighted type <X>
Your hotkey for moving verts on the x direction should now be set. You will want to do this for the rest of the movement commands.
Here’s what we have:
- Normal = N
- Free = F
- X = X
- Y = Y
- Z = Z
You will have to do this with verts, edges, faces and the entire object individually.
Note that any function inside of two dots (.function.) can not have a hot key assigned to it.
Now that your workplace is set up you’ll want to have a play. Here are some neat things you can do in Wings 3D:
- Mirror geometry select any face on the model and it will mirror the rest of the model along it as part of the same piece of geometry. Or use Tools->Virtual Mirror->Create to model symmetrically.
- Intrude select multiple faces on an object and click intrude, the object will hollow out with the faces you selected as the openings.
- Smooth preview this is how we always used to model in 3D Studio Max, create a low res model and then an instanced smoothed version. You could then edit the low res version but get the results on the smooth one. This is a cool set up here because it’s just built in, no need in instance anything. Use Shift-Tab to toggle between smooth preview and normal.
- Increase your selections there’s a really easy and intuitive way to increase your selection by just tapping the face, verts or edge button multiple times. Each time you tap the selection grows.
Wings 3D is not a texturing tool. However, it can do some basic uv work. Check out this video to see how:
While Wings 3D is short on additional features it’s still a great tool and it really plays to its strengths. If you’re not worried about having the most powerful tool and just want something to get the job done, Wings 3D could be for you. We recommend you give it a try.