As wonderful as Vue is, the fact remains that it’s not a modeling application. Sure, you can try to create models using Boolean operations on primitives, but this is just as clunky in Vue as it ever was in Bryce. Vue is a dedicated landscape generation tool, and using it to create models of, say, starships or rocking chairs is slightly masochistic, in my opinion. So, if you use Vue but don’t know your way around a true 3D modeling app such as 3DS Max, Maya, or Cinema 4D, you need to rely on others to create your 3D models for you. And this can rapidly run to some serious dollars. Most of the time, to get a really good, highly-detailed model you’re going to need to pay for it. But as with stock photography, you can find some good quality models for free, if you know where to look. Here are 25 websites with good, useful models available for download, for free. Make sure you take note of the usage terms on these models. Some are unrestricted, some are not. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality on these sites. Enjoy!
3DM3.com reminds me of the CG Society’s website, in that it’s a community site with a forum, articles and a gallery, but on a much smaller scale. Unlike CG Talk, however, this site offers over 300 free models for download, and they seem to be of higher-than-usual quality for free models. One downside is that the site does not mention what filetype a particular model is, so you won’t know until you’ve downloaded it. Some models are 3ds format, which Vue can read natively. If the filetype is MAX, however, you’ll need to find a way to convert it before using it in Vue.
If you’re looking for low-to-middle quality free models, this site is worth a look. Here you’ll find over 200 models, all free, of various quality. There are also some low-cost CD collections for sale here.
This is a commercial site offering 60 or so models for free. It’s a small collection, but if you’re looking for an Italian dagger or Christmas tree ornaments, your search is over.
Turbo Squid is a huge, well-known marketplace for selling and buying 3D models, and they offer quite a few for free. To find them, select “3D Model” as your “media type.” Then, sort by lowest price, and the free ones will come to the top. Free registration is required to download.
Primarily known for their high-quality textures, 3D Total has a nice group of models for free download. Look for the “Free Stuff” link at the top of the page, and select “models” from the dropdown.
Renderosity has a huge number of free 3D models in various file formats. The overall quality is quite low, but there’s a few gems among the clunkers. To get to the models, hover over the “Free Stuff” button in the top navigation area, and click on “Search Free Stuff” in the dropdown.
This site has an whole IKEA’s worth of contemporary 3D furniture available for free download. There’s over one hundred pieces of architectural-rendering-grade stuff here.
In addition to a TON of great, free tutorials for Vue, Hexagon, and others, Geek At Play always has a page or so of free models available for download. Just another reason a visit to their site is time well spent.
This site has some very impressive, free models for download. It’s a very well-designed, eye-pleasing site, as well. Plan to spend a good while here.
DD Freebies is a blog with a small but unusual grouping of models. If you happen to be looking for intricate, abstract forms, take a look.
If you use Vue 7 Infinite (or any program that supports the new Collada file format), you can import models from Google Sketchup. Choose the Collada format and download. Then import the file, as you would a 3DS file. If your object appears totally transparent and ghostly, you’ll need to turn the global transparency down for every material in the object. Kind of a pain, but it works. Add some world-famous landmarks to your models collection!
This French site has some very nice models in 3DS (and other) formats. Registration is required. You may need to supply your own textures for some of the models.
Exchange 3D has a fair number of good quality, free models available in various formats.
This site seems to be more of a community than a commercial site, with a decided emphasis on Lightwave. There are a ton of some of the best models I’ve ever seen, for free no less…with an interesting catch: you must register and participate. After 6 posts to the forum, you can download to your heart’s desire. If you’re into starships, this site has got your number. We’re talking nearly 100 Star Trek models alone. Definitely worth checking out. Engage.
ShareCG is, as the name implies, a file sharing site, and it’s free to use. There are lots of models here, easily findable using categories for file format, genre, and usage restrictions, sortable by date, rating, and number of views. While you’re here, check out the tutorials and the forum. This looks like a site to keep an eye on.
3D Commune has a lot of what they call Free Stuff available, once you’ve registered with them. It’s all arranged by software type, so all of the Vue materials, atmospheres, and objects are grouped together. There’s a lot of good quality free stuff here.
To be honest, I really don’t know what this, except that there’s over 15,000 models on this site. Most of them are hosted elsewhere, and some are restricted, but good golly there’s a lot of stuff here.
If you are at all into WWII fighter planes, you need to visit this site. Some wonderful, fully textured models, as well as some making-of documentation, blueprints. Great stuff.
Max Realms offers 700 3DS models free to download, with registration. They also offer the whole lot on a CD for $20, if you don’t want to spend hours paging through the models.
PlanIt 3D has a small but well-organized group of models for download, plus some articles, reviews, and a forum.
A small collection of free models for Vue users, including that most rare of all freebies: a SolidGrowth plant! Some good tutorials and other stuff of interest to Vue folks.
For Vue only, there are some nice models here provided by a generous person named Tablesaw. There are some great tree trunks and other landscape-related objects. And a steak.
Some nice models created in Rhino, with a number provided in VOB (Vue object) format.
I love Cornucopia. If you’re lookng for good, reasonably-priced models, look no further. For Vue, these have to be the best deal going. Many of the generous vendors have free models available here, but unlike nearly every other site in this list, Cornucopia does not gather them together nicely in a pile marked “Free Stuff.” Even using the search function won’t help you. Think of it as a treasure hunt, I guess: find the free objects!
Some great castle models here, probably the best free castles on the Internet. If you need help getting your realm started, here’s the place to start. Rodluc2001 (Luca Rodolfi) is a well-known digital master. These models, along with the fighter planes by Anders Lejczak, listed above, are the cream of the crop on this list, from two very talented and generous masters of the craft.
Updates and Additions
Altair has 1500 models for free. This may just be a limited time offer, so check ‘em out before they’re gone.
This site claims to have over 10,000 free models. Probably something you could use here!