View Full Version : 3-D mapping software questions

03-26-2009, 07:10 PM
Hello, all! I'm sure this has been posted before, but I have absolutely no idea how to search for it.

I've been trying to write a book, and one of the main settings is a very, very large mansion or factory with irregular geometry, vertically and horizontally. I'd be able to handle the horizontal irregularities on my own, with pen and paper (and maybe a compass or such) but there's the vertical dimension to worry about.

Let me give an example: A room's floor might be two, three feet off of an adjacent room. Ceilings and floors don't have a fixed height between the two. If there's a vaulted ceiling, that doesn't mean that the roof is above it--the floor of the room above it could be slanted. On top of it all, there are small corridors winding througout anywhere that space might be "wasted."

So, I'm looking for a program that would help me render a "map" of the place. I was trying Blender out, but I ran into some trouble. If someone can think of a program that might help, please let me know.


Steel General
03-26-2009, 07:13 PM
Have you looked at Ggoogle Sketchup? - it's free, easy to learn and from some of the examples I've seen here pretty powerful too.

03-26-2009, 07:41 PM
I'd probably have to go with SketchUp as well but I'll warn ya that it has a lot of it's own quirky spots...especially since you're going do be doing a lot of irregular shaped things. I'll help ya thru those spots so just post up a screenshot and I'll guide ya thru or just zip the file, post it here, and I'll snag it then take a gander at it. SU is probably the easiest thing to wrap your brain around and get your feet wet in the 3d world but the results are fairly basic until you learn how to play around with the line properties and making your own pattern fills. You won't get anything like a Pixar movie but you'll get something solid and easy to understand.

03-26-2009, 08:40 PM
Thats quite a toughie. Almost everyone who uses Blender runs into trouble. Sketchup does sound like something that probably would do the job if you dont have extreme desires for the quality of the renders. Its easy to use but fairly basic. I think you might need something heavier but I cant recommend anything that would have that power without it costing a lot and taking a significant amount of learning.

What were the issues with Blender exactly ? It might narrow down whether SU or another is more appropriate. I find Blender both powerful and a PITA.

03-27-2009, 02:55 AM
If I had the money (I don't) to invest in a new top end, but affordable 3D app, I'd go Lightwave ($700 to $900), something more affordable might be Vue 6.0, Cinema 4D ($495 range), less than that, Carrara ($300?) Then there's the free ones, which can be powerful, but not trouble-free or well supported necessarily.

I use Nendo a $50 subdivisional 3D modeling app but I create one object at a time, though sometimes complex objects. Export to .OBJ, import to my old outdated 3D app, texture. setup the camera and render. Then bring it into Xara and composite my map.

There's lots of decent 3D apps out there, but it depends on whether to spend money and if so, how much? Many of them have trial downloads so it might be worth looking, trying them out for a limited time, see how easy or powerful the app is and go from there.

If you're a student or teacher, there are discounts on these apps as well.


03-27-2009, 04:14 AM
It's a lot to ask for somebody to learn Blender. But it is the best thing I invested time in. It took me a few days to get used to the user interface. But after that, simple things can be made in minutes. It has been almost 5 years since I started using Blender and have moved onto 3DMax. It was not really worth the money considering I can do everything in Blender almost in the same time and a huge difference in cost...lol. I suggest free is good. Blender is good. Both and others take the same amount to learn it. But it's not going to be an easy ride.

Good Luck


03-28-2009, 02:52 PM
How about building it out of cardboard?

05-01-2009, 08:42 AM
Have you tried Truespace, Milkshape, Misfit Model or Ayam? They are probably easier to learn than blender. Sketchup isn't bad either.

05-01-2009, 10:19 AM
Certainly I know of those apps. How about Nendo, Cinema 4D, Lightwave 3D, Maya, Carrara and many more.