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File: ImpStarDestroyer-SWI125.jpg (325 KB, 1920x1160)
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I am a welder who wants to make metal art in my free time. Things like models or figurines to place outside (pic related is my first project).

About 15 years ago I messed around with Maya to do some 3d modeling and I'd like to get back into it so I can design/preview my builds on the pc before making it in steel.

What program would you recommend for this? Currently running a trial of 3ds Max 2017 but maybe AutoCAD would be better suited since it's sort of for real life construction?
>pic related is my first project
>posts picture of Ansel Hsiao's model of star destroyer

Their project is to recreate that with welding.
You should've specified what primitives of metal you are going to use. Tubes, sheet metal, blocks, square tubes, solid pieces(I guess not), but whatever, or is it sculptures out of solid metal(your best bet is a 3d modelling package such as 3dsmax, modo, blender, etc). Then what kind of detail do you want, is it going to be low detail, only a resemblance, or are you going to make it as close as posible using your types of metal. Then we could give you somewhat of a correct answer.
For example if you're welding tubes, you should use SolidWorks or anything like it(Inventor, CATIA), it has an excellent welding feature where you draw a 3d drawing out of lines, press a button with your selected pipes and it does everything, using real life pipe sizes. you can then manually rotate every part, etc.
If it's sheet metal that and that etc.

This star destroyer will be mostly sheet metal cut to size and welded together. Once I get the large shapes done I'll try to add more detail but that's difficult to do with the equipment I have.
The full model will be around a meter in length so the small detail would only be millimeters in size and I don't have a TIG welding station yet.

Another idea I had was making wireframe constructions using 3-10mm steel bars and have plants grow through it to create a combination of steel and nature.

So it's mostly working with basic shapes.

That welding feature sounds great for my wireframe model idea.

SolidWorks, Inventor and CATIA are overkill and AutoCAD is a relic.

Give Rhino a try. It's basically a full 3D CAD that's made for any industrial/product/jewellry/etc design and you can take your models straight to CAM after.
some examples: rhino3d.com/gallery/4.3

I recommend Fusion 360. It's best suited for mechanical/hard surfaced objects of varying complexity. The material can be set to metal. It's part of Autodesk and works with Maya and 3DS. Look up a video on how to make a vehicle, for example, if that's what you need it for. Otherwise for creatures I suggest ZBrush. Always look up youtube videos too. Once you see how easy it is it will help you get a hard-on to make stuff.
Personally id use cad software because youd get the exact measurements.
But it can also be done with 3dsmax for example because its pretty good with distances.
Id also download a good model that already exists online somewhere or rip it out of a game so i can build it faster. It kind of scummy but who gives a fuck
+1 for rhino

It's pretty straight forward to learn and very precise. There's also a plugin for Rhino and Grasshopper called Bowerbird. It allows you to slice up a mesh into a waffle model or layered model ready to lasercut, and can give you section cuts in seconds.
Might be useful for working with metal since you can easily create templates or stencils or w/e.

Rhino also has 90 day free evaluation license so plenty of time to try.
OP could also use the tons of free models on 3d warehouse or turbosquid or whatever. They might not be as good but I guess tiny details dont matter so much when welding huge pieces of art. Or he can buy decent models and use those

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