I'm fairly new to this 'creating models' and shapes on an online program. I'm willing to create a model for a Digital Design class I take and wonder what program to use.

I've made an account for scratchcad, but need a WEBGL in order to use it and not too sure if I can do this on the device that I have...

My idea is a small device that converts sound energy to electrical energy and it looks like a speaker, because it would use that energy collected to fuel it's own power to play music.

  • You're designing a physical product for a digital design class?
    – Summer
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:44
  • FYI, WebGL is supported by all major browsers so if your computer should support it. Your hardware might just be slow because it can be intensive Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 14:45
  • Hi. This is a bit of a broad and vague question as it stands. Can you edit your question to narrow it down a bit? i.e. What hardware have you got? Which operating system? Budget? Level of expertise? Current software? Quality of output required... cad/sketch/photorealistic?
    – Westside
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 16:17
  • Models of what? Coice of tool is heavoly dependent on what you need
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


Seemingly you have tried ScratchyCAD and saw it quite clunky, blocky and uninspiring tool for artistic work. Rather you want to draw and drag like in drawing programs and probably you have the ultimate dream of some 3D input device that makes possible to sculpt like a sculptor does with clay.

The ultimate option is only a dream only until a few thousand dollars is available for one seat. But free 3D is available in more intuitive form than ScratchyCAD. As proposed, the free version of Trimble Skethcup is a viable start. It's not a cloud application, but an installable one. WebGL export is possible by installing an extension for that. Skehtcup has a vast collection of downloadable extensions and 3D models in its web warehouses. Those warehouses hold free and commercial stuff.

Sketchup is not the best tool for organic 3D shapes, but there exists many extensions that help to make more easily free form 3D shapes than the basic from 2D to 3D extrusion tools (Push, Pull, Follow a curve)

Another freebie for getting easily into 3D is DesignSpark Mechanical. It has more advanced, but still intuitive 3D tools available than Sketchup. Even the paid version of Sketchup does not be as flexible as DesignSpark's.

DesignSpark Mechanical is not good for organic shapes. It's a bare bone version of top notch CAD program SpaceClaim Engineer. The full version costs a fortune and can handle highly complex surfaces and volumes, but it still is a CAD tool, not designed for the creative artist who likes to create human figures, animals, flowers etc...

DesignSpark Mechanical exports its stuff as polygon mesh and it's very well importable to Sketchup. So, the way to WebGL exists also from DesignSpark's.

The following elementary furniture is hammred together in DesignSpark's and imported to Sketchup for coloring and simple rendering with perspective and shadows.

enter image description here

Blender is often mentioned as a good freebie for 3D and that it is. Complex videogane figures can get their births in Blender, but its usage is not intuitive due its enormous abilities. The beginner easily looses his idea when trying to figure out, which tool or parameter is the right.

More free and commercial 3D software is presented here http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/25-free-3d-modelling-applications-you-should-not-miss/

3D software for artists differ radically from CAD software. The main goal is to make possible totally free form modelling. The clunky CAD like tools are there definitely in the secondary bank of the means. One example: ZBrush by Pixologic. They have a freebie, too. It's their Sculptris, a clay modeller that really reveals, if you have got what it takes to get high quality results with free form 3D software.

Finally: a couple of links to online (run in your web browser) 3D modelling software sites that are free to use or at least have a free option





For a user who's just starting out, and needs an engineer's toolset in 3D, I recommend Onshape highly. See this thread for more details:

Modeling Simple 3D Drawings

Has the tools you'll need, a nice learning curve and tutorials, is free, and if you become decent with the tool, easily allows collaborative work if your classes get you to the point of shared project work.


The second part of your question is irrelevant. It does not matter what you want to create.

The best option is blender, but due your limitations on hardware the last version wont work, so you probably need to use version 2.76

In the remote case that does not work either try an earlier version but keep it above version 2.57.


Another option is Sketchup Make that is a free version but it is more limited in features, but it is very easy to use.


A 3d model normally is rendered into a still image or video. to interact with it you need to have the program itself installed on the target computer, or exported to a generic 3d model language, like webgl.

  • Actually it does matter.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:59
  • "a small device that converts sound energy to electrical energy and it looks like a speaker, because it would use that energy collected to fuel it's own power to play music" The only important thing is "like a speaker"
    – Rafael
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 16:45
  • A paremetric CAD application like Catia, Creo, Solidworks or say the free Fusion 360 is MUCH better for physical product design than using blender for example, and far more intuitive for that use. My point is that it does matter what you do. But all of this is guessing the OP is not terribly specific. I mean all they might be after is just Box Designer
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 17:08
  • Oh. Probably you are right...
    – Rafael
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 17:11

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