Computer-aided design (CAD) programs have been used since the 1980s for industrial design, automotive and ship building, movie special effects, and architectural design. The rapid evolution in home computers has brought about a rise in simple, hobbyist CAD programs. Today we will look at four free, fun, and simple to use programs. Be sure to check out the tutorial videos listed on each website to help you get started.
Trimble SketchUp Originally as a plugin to Google Earth, SketchUp has evolved into a full-range 3D modeling program created for simplicity.
Autodesk's 123D This desktop hobbyist CAD program is similar to SketchUp, but with more bells and whistles.
123D Sculpt Available on iPad, Sculpt allows you to sculpt digital clay into a 3D model.
123D Catch Available on desktop or iPad, this photo-based CAD program makes 3D models based on photos that you take of an object. You can easily export photos of your model from any angle. The image that you see above was created using iPad photos of the George D. Prentice sculpture located at the Main Library.