We’re looking at an alternative web-based 3D modeling tool that might just work for you: Leopoly.
The service, by Leonar3Do International of Hungary, has a tag line of “Finally, 3D is Laughingly Easy!”. That’s their goal we think they succeed.
Like other web-based 3D modelers, it requires only a modern browser and reasonably capable PC. But one interesting feature that should help many new to 3D modeling is how you begin modeling: you can choose from several different “modes”, such as sculpting, selecting one of several template objects or even a complex featured object. You can even build a model using cubes, like Minecraft. It’s all about making things easy for you.
They have a well-stocked repository of existing 3D models and you’re able to customize any of them. The models are largely provided by Leopoly’s growing community, who can use any of the several social features of Leopoly. We’re told there are around 15,000 models currently, although many are actually works-in-progress.
Interesting features we noted include the ability to color a model (although not immediately useful unless you have a color 3D printer handy, but fun regardless) and engraving a message or shape on any surface.
Once you’ve completed your 3D model, Leopoly has direct links to several services capable of 3D printing it. So far they’re able to connect with Sculpteo, i.Materialise, Shapeways and makexyz. We understand they’ll soon be connected to more than ten services. If you don’t want to use a service, Leopoly permits direct download of the 3D model for your own use.
Leopoly representatives told us one of their main target markets is education. To aid in their efforts, they’ve created sample lessons on 3D modeling and found 45 minute classes are optimum. Teachers can create a personalized gallery of 3D models, ideal for class project management.
They’re also targeting businesses. They’ve been able to leverage the underlying 3D “engine” by white-labeling it for use by other companies. The engine can drive a customized 3D model on a website, for example. You might be using Leopoly and not know it!
Leopoly is offered to the public at no charge. However, they do offer a pay-for service that provides some extras. For USD$8 per month or USD$80 per year, the upgraded service includes the ability to have a private gallery (all models in the free service are shared by everyone); several advanced 3D model export formats become unlocked; and you can download an offline version to use when you’re off net.
Is Leopoly the only 3D tool you’ll need. No, certainly not – but it could be a great way to introduce someone new to the world of 3D modeling and 3D printing.