Love or hate the iPad, there has always been a case for getting rid of the mouse going back to practically the time when the mouse was invented. Some things are just more intuitive by using your hands and fingers, like swiping to turn a page, and two fingers to rotate. We have seen it in television and film countless times where there are a lot of areas in computer graphics where gestures just make more sense.

In the early 90’s, some UX pioneers created crazy 3D applications such as Zoom 3D which was almost all mouse-based gestures, and Amapi which included “throwing” a tool away with a mouse gesture to deselect that tool before you were able to grab another. These days, the iPad is a pretty good platform for this type of experimentation in finding new ways to interact with 3D objects and different workflows for building such objects. Here are 10 3D apps for the iPad that are early in trying, some are successes, and some are misses, and some are just nothing but fun… however, this might be just the beginning of a progression to something greater.


iGlass is a glassblowing simulation that allows the user to manipulate molten glass on the end of a pipe. The user can push or pull the glass, spin the pipe around, pinch to shrink/expand it, and iPhone users can blow into the microphone to expand it as well. When the creation is complete, there is an annealing oven that renders the work as glass. The glass can be moved, rotated and scaled, and snapshots of the glass can be saved to Pictures.

Archipelis3D HD

Archipelis3D HD was on of the first 3D modeler available on iPad. This innovative concept is extremely easy to use: just draw an outline from a background image to make a 3D textured model! Or you can use a blank view and just draw the shapes you want from scratch. It’s the most intuitive approach to sketch out the shapes and enhance them with textures and photos.


iDough from CrateSoft is a digital sculpting app, letting you bring the art shop along anywhere you go. iDough allows beginners to get into digital sculpting and professionals to do their work on the go.

Phyzios Sculptor & Phyzios Sculptor Pro

PHYZIOS Sculptor Pro

PHYZIOS Sculptor Pro is the “high-end” version of PHYZIOS Sculptor the free application released in June 2009, which ranked No.1 in Italy and No.2 in Japan as a free iPhone application. Since its launch in June 2009, PHYZIOS Sculptor has produced an enormous number of enthusiastic creators all over the world.


iSculptor™/iSculptorHD™ are complete 3d modeling applications for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad, that allow you to create and modify 3d objects using the strengths of both cursor and touch technology. iSculptor™/iSculptorHD™ give you the ability to create 3d models anywhere! We hope you have as much fun with our apps as we do! iSculptor™ is specifically for the iPhone/iTouch. Using email, you can email your 3d objects to anyone. With its free sister Macintosh® application, iSculptorNet™, you can import and export 3d models into and out of iSculptor™ (using the Wavefront OBJ file format).

Mandelbulb Raytracer HD

Mandelbulb Raytracer is another exciting real-time ray tracer from Angisoft for the iPad. It renders the Mandelbulb fractal with high accuracy. Be a virtual sculptor and create your own personal art in just seconds. Then use it as a background image to impress your friends. Play with the parameters to create an unlimited number of exciting 3D shapes. You can make the sculpture shiny by selecting an environment that will be reflected on the object.

nvDXF viewer for iPad

nvDXF is a DXF file viewer. It lets you upload dxf files to your device by using any internet browser or download files to device from web by entering url. Model can be viewed in 2D or 3D with hardware accelerated display. Navigation is done by simply using touches on view.

Quaternion Julia Raytracer HD

Quaternion Julia Raytracer is the first real-time raytracer for the iPad. It renders the quaternion Julia fractal with high accuracy. By modifying the fractal parameters, an unlimited number of complex shapes can be generated. Be a virtual sculptor and create your own personal art in just seconds. Then use it as a background image to impress your friends. Play with the parameters to create an unlimited number of exciting 3D shapes. You can make the sculpture shiny by selecting an environment that will be reflected on the object.


Tiny3D is a small 3D viewer and editor that uses OpenGL ES 1.1. Tiny3D sports these features:

3D Viewer: operated with the touch panel.
3D Editor: prepares 19 kinds of basic figures.
Macro: positional/color setting are memorized.
Manage object data :
Copy, and move data. FTP upload/download, and HTTP download Tiny3D object file.
FTP upload DXF fomat file(ver 1.3.0 or later). DXF file transmission function in mail attached(ver 1.4.0 or later).
3D Viewer can use auto rotation, alpha blending, and Z buffer.

Solid Dots

Solid Dots is a 3D pixel app for the iphone actually, there is no iPad counterpart, however I thought I would list it here anyway because it is so cool! You can make such a pixel art with your iPhone, iPod touch. With a network function, you can share the work which you made. Let’s add comment to a splendid work!

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  1. Danny Loughmiller

    Have you tried iTracer. It is an incredible app.

  2. Anna

    nvDXF viewer rocks – I’m an architect and I love meeting potential client over a weekend party and saying “sure.. I can show you…!” and proceeding to rotate 3d samples of my work

  3. Have you tried our helloflower app. It’s very easy to use and allows anyone to design beautiful 3D flowers.

  4. As an artist, i would usually refer to blender for my 3d needs however i cant seem to find anything similar for the ipad 2 apps. Even a list of apps would help ex; This app for modelling, another app for sculpting and Turning the sculpt into a texture for low res, another for applying textures and finally animation.

  5. Tips: Forger is also a good mudbox kind off app for ios.

  6. Also see Verto Studio.

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