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Autodesk has a broad portfolio of 3D design software programs to help people imagine, design, and create anything.

Image courtesy of Briggs Automotive Company Ltd.

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What is 3D design?

3D design is the process of using software to create a mathematical representation of a 3-dimensional object or shape. The created object is called a 3D model and these 3-dimensional models are used for computer-generated (CG) design. 3D design is used in a variety of industries to help artists shape, communicate, document, analyze, and share their ideas.

3D model of a Bac Mono supercar

Types of 3D design

These are just a few of the types of 3D design methods used across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, media, and entertainment industries.

  • 3D CAD

    Used by architects, engineers, and other professionals, 3D CAD provides an extra dimension to precisely visualize and share designs.


    3D modeling—using software to creating 3D models—is used broadly across many industries to visualize, simulate, and render graphic designs.


    Visual effects (VFX) artists create compelling effects, believable 3D characters, and stunning environments for film, TV, and games.


    Virtual reality (VR) replaces the real world with a simulated one in 3D, transforming a 2D design into an interactive, immersive digital model.


    Manufacturers and product designers use 3D design tools to design products, automobiles, factories, buildings, and industrial equipment.

  • Building information modeling


    BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a 3D model-based process that helps professionals more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

  • Generative design


    Generative design uses computer algorithms to make thousands of optimized designs, along with the data to prove which designs perform best.


    CAD/CAM uses computer software to both design a product and program manufacturing processes, specifically, CNC milling and machining.

3D design software for architecture, construction and engineering

Get Revit + AutoCAD + Civil 3D + more—Powerful BIM tools for architecture, engineering, and construction projects

Professional design software for 2D and 3D CAD

BIM software to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure

AutoCAD functionality, plus tools just for architects

Cost-effective 2D CAD software for drafting and documentation

Civil engineering design and construction documentation

3D design software for product design and manufacturing

Get Inventor + AutoCAD + Fusion 360 + more—Professional-grade tools for product development and manufacturing planning

Mechanical design and 3D CAD software for product development

Cloud-based 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software for industrial and product design

CAM software for high-speed and 5-axis machining

Cost-effective 3D mechanical CAD with part-level parametric modeling

AutoCAD functionality, plus electrical design CAD features

3D design software for games, VFX, film, and TV

Get Maya + 3ds Max + Arnold + more—End-to-end creative tools for entertainment creation

3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software for film, games, and TV

3D modeling, animation, and rendering software for games and design visualization

Tools for 3D visual effects, finishing, and 3D compositing

Cost-effective 3D modeling and game development software

Digital modeling, sculpting and painting software

Additional 3D design resources

Get started with 3D design with these tutorials, guides, and tips.

  • Learn from Autodesk University experts, hone your skills, and see what’s possible with Autodesk software.

  • We give students, educators, and educational institutions free access to our design software, creativity apps, and learning resources.

  • Get the most out of your AutoCAD trial with these tutorials, tips, and free resources.

  • Get started with modeling, sketching, 2D drawings, and assemblies with these quick tutorials.

  • Autodesk's official CG community. View free tutorials on modeling and animation and get the latest industry news.

  • Get shortcut keys and commands lists for popular Autodesk products.