The 22 best 3D texturing software

In 3D Texturing, Apps and Software review, Art by Christian Justamante Jacobs

Computers have become powerful in the last decade. They could barely make complex calculations during their earliest existence. Now computers are creating images close to reality with the help of 3d texturing software.

If you’ve ever seen a media — image or video that is very detailed so that it looks real, then, it must have been textured. Also, If you’re reading this article, then you already know what 3d texturing software are and how they work.

3D artists use varieties of 3d texturing software to bring their models to life. The software used ranges from Substance Painter, and Armor Paint to Zbrush, and many more.

Armor paint

Amor paint is a stand-alone visual software. You would have to import your 3D models to the texture on the software.  While you work in Amory paint, you get instant feedback on the process of your work via the viewport.

The 3D texturing on Amor paint is Node-based. The software runs purely on GPU. You get a 4K 3D painting and texturing experience. However, it goes up to 16K if you’re using a high-end graphics card.

The experience is smooth and seamless. There is new development available for testing — Livelink. You can link your works in Amor paint to an existing 3D software like the Unreal engine.

Mari

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This one is for the real timers. If you’re just doing 3D stuff for fun, this isn’t likely to be your go-to software. The realism that Mari brings to 3D painting is mind-blowing.  According to an article on foundry.com, Mari is the 3D painting tool used in the Avatar Movie that was realized in 2009.

Mari is expensive. The good thing is you can run the 3D texturing software for some time. Then, Mari expires, leaving you with no other choice but to pay for subsequent use. It has been able to handle up to 32k textures since 2010.

Foundry develops the software. It is available on the macOS, Linux and Windows.

Sculptris

Sculptris is a free 3D painting software. The software it´s been used on commercial projects, this shows how good the software is despite its free subscription status. Users need not worry about complex usage; hence,  the software allows them to focus on the creative aspect of the 3D work. You can use the application for modeling, texturing, and 3D painting

The application is more inclined towards sculpting than texturing, which makes it lack some advanced tool that pure texturing software have. Another downside to the software is that it is hardly compatible with other applications.

Substance Painter

Substance Painter is relatively new when compared to other software on this list. You need to see Substance Painter works. The texturing and painting are mind-blowing.  

Substance Painter prides in the flexibility of its app. In their website, for example, the developers endear you not to be scared to experiment because you effortlessly get back to previous stages.

The texturing is so realistic that you can apply wear, tear and scratches on your 3D works.

The software works on multiple platforms; Windows, Mac and Linux. Allegorithmic made Substance Painter, but Adobe has now acquired the software making its tools available on the Creative Cloud.  

The software is paid. However, you can try it for free.

BodyPaint 3d

Sincerely, BodyPaint 3D  is not in the good book of many graphic artists and 3D designers. However, You will make the final decision because the software is a complete one. The application can do all the necessary things required by 3D modeling and texturing software. 

It has an extensive collection of tools. You will get decent, high-quality textures. The software can do 3D painting, and it is capable of UV mapping.

Maxon Computer developed BodyPaint 3D. The software is also available on Windows and macOS

Photoshop

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Almost everyone knows Photoshop. It’s so common that the mention of it makes it seem worthless. But let’s give the software a round of applause and give it the prestige it deserves. 

Photoshop can do a lot of manipulative graphic work. It can also be used for 3D texturing.

The Photoshop application is available in Windows and Mac operating systems.

Modo

Modo can be used for 3D object modeling. For sculpting and effects. The software is so powerful that it even packs 3D painting, animation and rendering among its features.  You can create high-quality forms with in-depth detail.

Considering the fact the 3D modeling and texturing are tedious tasks. Modo has a toolset that makes the whole procedure easier. 

With less stress, you can tune into your creative mind easily rather than stressing with the interface of the software.

The software works on multiple platforms which include;  Windows, Linux, and macOS.

The Foundry developed Modo since 2004. The software is available for free during a trial period. After that, you must pay to use the application.

Bitmap 2 material

This texturing software is a tool that allows you to create PBR materials from single diffuse images. The application can be launched as a stand-alone; bitmap2material app.

Also, the bitmap2material is a substance application, and it can be launched within any compatible substance app.

The B2M as it is alternatively referred to as, can resize images when exporting bitmaps, this depends on the software used. Since Adobe has acquired the substance software, Bitmap2material has become an Adobe product. The stand-alone version is available on Windows and  Mac OS.

Mudbox

Okay, you need to know that Mudbox isn’t free.  The Developers of the famous Maya software own Mudbox — Autodesk. Autodesk had acquired the software from SkyMatter Ltd. The software offers decent digital 3D painting and sculpting. 

The Mudbox is paid, but you can enjoy a fair price.  You can subscribe for as little as 10 $ per month. The software interface doesn’t require any intense learning process. It has an unlimited 8K 3D painting and supports UV-less PTEX  painting.  

The Mudbox software work with polygon models. You can import models from other applications to work with Mudbox.

Mudbox is available on various PC operating systems.  The software works on Windows and macOS. It also works on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Fedora Linux.

3D Coat

You know what about 3D Coat? You can take any of your 3D models to a production-ready and full textured model. It doesn’t matter if you want it hard textured like a material model or soft textured like an organic model.

You get all the necessary professional tools by using this software. The software is based on advanced technology of voxel manipulations. The 3D coat also supports the use of polygons.

Pilgway development studio makes 3D coat. The software is available on Windows and macOS.

Zbrush

Sculpting is the major highlight of this 3D texturing software. You can also do modeling and  3D painting in it. However, ZBrush is not flexible because it is only suitable for material design. 

The ZBrush textures in very high quality. The polygon count is high. However, you can reduce the polygon count. The software can work with other software via AppLink.  ZBrush’s quality is an industry-standard which makes it irresistible when it comes to material designs.

The software has ‘ZBrush Movie’, this allows you to record your work progress. 

Pixologic develops ZBrush. It is available on Windows and the Mac OS.

Maya

This is another software from the stables of Autodesk. The Maya software is a pure 3D application that involves modeling, texturing, and rendering objects. Maya has highly effective sets of tools that make texturing fun and worthwhile.

As you should know, Autodesk never disappoints, but you have to pay after a few days of trial. The software is compatible with Windows, Fedora, Cent and RHEL operating systems.

UV layout

This software is stand-alone software that works on creating and editing UV texture coordinates.  This 3D texturing is a ‘Man of the People’ — it can be used by professionals, hobbyists and students too.

The application boasts a swift texturing process. The first impression on the Headus UV layout website reads ‘In Minutes Not Hours’.  The software can produce high-quality, low distortion UVs in significantly less time compared to other traditional texturing software.

Developed by Headus, the software works on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

3ds Max

This software provides a complete solution for 3D graphics. 3dsmax can do Modelling, texturing, and rendering. Professionals and students are heavy users of the software.

3dsMax products are highly realistic.  Just like every other Autodesk application the software is available for free on trial for a period after which it is mandatory to pay.

The software is available on Microsoft Windows.

Geomagic Freeform

3D Systems develops this Magic.  The 3D images produced by the software are surreal. The software is a multipurpose sculpting software. You can build models from scratch. Geomagic  Freeform makes it easy to generate complex organic models

Although the interface is not easy to learn, neither is it hard. It comes with simple controls and an intuitive interface. The application is available on free trial for a designated period. Then you have to pay for the subsequent use of the application.  The software is only available on the Windows OS.

Blacksmith3D

This software is also an excellent 3D texturing software. Blacksmith3D portrays organic textures most. Most of the 3D textures are on human renderings. The software contains tools that help you achieve highly realistic visuals.

You can add 3D figure assets and some other Add-ons to customize the textures you’re working.

The software is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.

Substance Designer

Substance Designer is purely about textures.  You can get anything from smooth, silky surfaces to medium to hard, gritty textures. What makes substance designer stand out is that you can create your materials and textures from scratch.

Substance Designer allows you to start with the presets that come with the software by default. Author your stuff with unlimited control. 

The software packs a lot of filters and tools and power generators. The materials rendered on this software works seamlessly with game engines. Including the unreal engine.

Adobe has acquired the Substance designer, just like Substance Painter. Both software was initially owned by allegorithmic. The  Substance Designer also works well on  Linux, Mac and Windows operating systems.

xNormal

This 3D texturing software only works on the Windows operating system. xNormal is a freemium software that creates displacement maps.  The software can project high polygon texture models on to the low poly mesh.

The application isn’t heavy. It requires a minimum of 4GB RAM on any CPU architecture. The software is compatible with Windows 7 and above.

Knald

Knald is excellent and straightforward. One crucial aspect of Knald is that the developers had users in mind while creating it.  Knald Technologies have created a software that is easy for designers to maneuver.

Therefore, you don’t have to spend precious time learning how to use the tools because that application is easy to understand. Knald is a quick GPU solution for 3D texturing. You can generate high-quality polygonal mesh onto low poly using the baker 2d source texture. 

Knald Technologies is working towards being a world-class and next-generation software solutions developer. The  Knald software has a commercial license, and it is available on the Windows operating system. 

UltimateUnwrap3d

The software is only compatible with the Windows operating system. It functions as a 3D texturing software —  it unwraps and unfolds 3D models. The software is also used for UV mapping. The software is fast and easy to incorporate into workflows. Simple but very efficient, there might be a need for the developers to consider a version available for the macOS.

Paintcube

This 3D painting software is web-based. And that’s amazing. You can paint directly into your models easily. You can easily customize the materials on this software so that they look and feel precisely the way you want it.

 You can export your textures from Paintcube to any game engine of your choice. You can also ship to Photoshop for any additional adjustments. 

The application will work on any device — PC and Tablets. However, the software’s website indicates ‘coming soon’ for the tablets. 

Blender

Blender is a free and open-source application that is purely for 3D works.  The Blender application can create models and apply textures. However, it takes some devotion to learn how to use the app.

It is like a one-time learning thing. The application also has a scary amount of shortcuts. The app is very powerful. The application is developed by blender foundation.

It is compatible with several operating systems. Windows, macOS, Linux and FreeBSD. The software is licensed by the General Public License.

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About the author: Christian Justamante is a professional 3d artist working in Elite3D creating characters and assets for the video game industry. His knowledge in 3D makes him an expert in 3DSMax, Maya, Zbrush, Substance Painter, Marvelous Designer, and other similar programs.