There is no 3D software that is superior to others in all its aspects. 3D software is very important for creating a 3D configurator. In practice, interesting discussions about different software solutions can be observed, but the old CGI proverb “The designer is responsible for the quality and not the software” can still be confirmed. Nevertheless, one often comes across forum threads in which software users discuss the superiority of one or the other program and unfortunately all too often it is no longer possible to differentiate between “designer” and “program”. However, there is not the best program that can be used universally in every situation. Rather, certain software solutions are better or less suitable depending on the user and situation.

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In the following article we will discuss possible areas of application and strengths of the 3D software Modo.

History of Modo.

Modo was developed by well-known developers of NewTek`s LightWave, after there was no agreement about a revision of the program. Modo is a complete 3D suite born from the need to develop a holistic and efficient 3D solution. Formerly developed by Luxology LLC, Modo is now developed by “The Foundry”, which is also responsible for popular software such as NUKE, MARI and Katana. Modo, along with Foundry’s compositing and management software, has made a name for itself in VFX and film production, and is valued by the industry as a reliable tool for pre-visualization and asset creation.

Now let’s take a look at some of Modo’s key features.


Modo’s subscription costs are around €600 per year, which is quite affordable compared to other popular 3D programs such as C4d or 3ds Max.

The Foundry also offers education licenses for students and institutions for only $156 and $188, respectively, and a 30-day trial of Modo can be downloaded, including introductory training materials.

Learning curve.

The intuitiveness of a program is largely subjective, as the workflow may not be as easy to grasp for others who do otherwise, but the wealth of resources available online for Modo should support you quite well.

The Foundry’s community page is filled with tutorial videos for Modo and has a very active user base. Learning from these videos and asking questions in the forum alone is a good way to quickly familiarize yourself with the software, but there are also a lot of training videos on YouTube. You can also join a lively Modo community on Facebook and interact with users, get feedback for their work and read the many practical tutorials and tips from William Vaughn on his Vimeo channel.


Modo established itself for a while as the model building tool. His modeling tools are known for being suitable for both direct and procedural modeling, which have been repeatedly described as smooth and intuitive, but underneath is a sophisticated workflow that makes working with meshes and their components truly efficient.

The working plane, for example, is the way Modo communicates to them, which coordinate system is used in a scene. Modeling becomes difficult when you start working on parts of a mesh that are not within the main axes, but with a simple hotkey you can catch Modo’s workspace on a polygon, for example, and continue creating it in the coordinate space of that polygon.

Modo has a variety of selection tools that make selecting mesh components and the meshes themselves quick and easy. You can select a pattern with alternating edges, enlarge the patterned selection with the UP key and select the loops of these edges with the L key. Falloff deformers allow you to configure selections and process mesh components more skulturally. You can also select different objects in the scene with a variety of options using the Select Pattern tool.

Geometry constraints offer several ways to snap a mesh to a mesh in the backgrounds based on an index of one of its components.

MeshFusion allows you to perform real-time Boolean operations on subdivision surface meshes and then procedurally edit them via a node network, making modeling hard surfaces a breeze. You can change Boolean roles for any number of meshes that are part of the fusion, drag one mesh to another and assign an operation from a drop-down menu, edit the profile of the intersection between two meshes, and access presets from a circular menu with a simple hotkey combination (Ctrl + F).

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Modos Topology Pen is a well-known tool for the retopologization of chiseled meshes and for the fast representation of the polygon edge flow. With the associated hotkeys, you can create loops with a degree of intuitivity that allow you to focus on finding better ways to improve your topology. Modo also comes with an auto repology tool that generates quad-based meshes from their sculpts with just a few clicks.

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Texturing and shading.

You can use a variety of mats and textures to better visualize your models in advance without unpacking and shadowing them. Functions such as Texture Layer Variation allow you to apply different values to your meshes based on multiple parameters, such as mesh parts, particles or elements (objects).

Modo’s texture painting toolset provides the same kind of tool interoperability as modeling. Custom brushes, templates, mesh height maps, tabletozzle options, and more are available with a responsiveness that allows you to instantly display any change on both the viewport and preview renderer.

The shader tree operates on a layer-based hierarchy similar to Photoshop, but with each layer you can quickly switch between specific shading attributes for the view preview, easily assign material layers to elements or mesh components, and Modo also has a nice collection of presets for quickly and easily defining surfaces for your models.

Rigging and animation.

Modo’s rigging and animation features are not negligible.

Modo’s node-based rigging workflow makes it easy to prepare and reuse complicated rigs. Enabling Intersection when creating connections with the Skeleton Tool allows you to quickly plot nodes on your character by snapping them into the center of the volume of each part of the mesh to which they are applied. Modo’s weight containers allow you to map weights to elements outside your mesh, which can then serve as weight maps for other meshes.

Rigging’s setup feature allows them to make rig adjustments while retaining their animations, and the order of operations feature allows them to move their morph deformations without affecting other morph values you’ve been looking for.

With the Actor, Pose, and Action Modo Animation System, you can animate in a light-linear way by exchanging clips and poses to customize different scenes.

Virtually any Modo attribute or channel can be animated, bypassing tedious processes that need to be performed in other software, such as animation between active render cameras.


Modo’s native rendering engines are designed to deliver breathtaking results in a very short time than external render engines and have been using physical realistic materials since release 10. However, this does not mean that Modo cannot be used with industry standard engines. Renderers such as V-Ray and Octane fully support Modo. Other interesting features in Modo’s rendering toolset are Passes and Pass Groups. A Pass Group can contain any number of passes that store different values for assigned channels, i.e. you can switch between multiple iterations of their scene elements and organize these interactions as you wish. Imagine how much faster your turnarounds could be.

Support from third-party rendering service providers.

Many modo rendering farms are available on the market and the strong competition means competitive prices and a high level of technical support. This factor is an integral part of a serious designer’s assessment of which program to invest in, as professional work often takes place under very tight deadlines, which would be difficult to manage without the procurement of a render farm or high investment in hardware. Most Modo farms support Modo’s native renderer and feature set, plug-ins and external renderers. We personally love Modo’s asset management, which can be a real time saver for us in times of troubleshooting and testing.


The Foundry and its partners provide many useful plugins that complement Modo’s already extensive features and add the necessary functionality to extend other aspects of the program. The close collaboration between “The Foundry” and third parties ensures that plugins with the latest versions of Modo are up to date, well documented and tested, but the fact that the core functionality of Modo is more than you normally need cannot be repeated often enough.

So is Modo something for you?

If you’re looking for a tool that does the job intuitively and efficiently, is able to produce 3D replicas of a concept more quickly, is responsive, and offers good value for money, Modo is a good choice. If you’re looking for a program with an active community and many available learning resources, you can’t go wrong with Modo. It’s an ideal choice for anyone working as a modeller, concept designer or industrial visualiser and can be a good solution for you if a design or illusion job has a demanding turnaround time. To learn more about this useful engine, take a look at the PixelFondue, run by William Vaughn and his company, packed with concise and useful tips and insights into the many features of Modos.

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