As most 3D designers will proudly share, building the right computer rig and adding all the best software can be a huge investment. These powerhouse machines are great for unleashing a landslide of creativity but what happens when you can’t be sitting in front of it in your office/house/whatever – does this mean you can’t be designing?

No way.

Like most advances in software these days, 3D design is moving into the cloud. Javascript, HTML and webGL enable us to work directly in browser over a connection to the web. This is huge if you’re traveling (I’m writing this blog post from a train) or would prefer to be sitting in the sun at the park.

Here are a few (free) recommendations to get you started designing in the cloud:


Tinkercad is of the most accessible 3D apps, Tinkercad (by Autodesk) is a great way to get started with 3D design. Easy to pickup, its great for those who are new to design and want to get started without needing to buy a new computer. Its a beast of a beginner program in that it’s easy to learn even if you’ve never made a 3D design, but chock full of impressive features.

Crank Piston - Jim Shaw

Onshape is awesome as a more advanced CAD system. Built by a group of ex-Solidworks engineers, it brings all the power and precision of solid modeling to browsers and mobile devices for ultimate accessibility. Its also easy to share and collaborate working designs and save multiple versions to help with iterating on a design. Onshape is still in beta but its shaping up to be the new industry standard for mechanical engineers, rocket scientists and anyone else who can run the newest version of google chrome on their computer.


SculptGL is cool for 3D sculpting the organic features that Onshape or tinkercad can’t do. the interface is similar to Sculptris, the free version of Zbrush, making it easy to start pulling and deforming the surface of a model to your heart’s content.



Pixlr is a freebie image editing program that’s reminiscent of photoshop, so you can post process photos or tweak texture maps from your browser.