3D models are non-negotiable in fields like CGI animation and creating machinima films, but they’re also useful for things like virtual demonstrations and stock images. The problem is, creating your own 3D models requires a lot of skill, time, and effort.
A simple low-polygon 3D model can take hours to create from start to finish, while high-polygon 3D models will take exponentially longer — and if you don’t already have modeling skills, you’ll have to consider months and years of education, training, and practice.
Unless you’re aiming to make a career out of it, it’s easier to just download those 3D models instead. Yet while it may be easy to find models of houses, cars, and household objects, it’s a little more difficult when it comes to people and body parts.
So here are a few websites, both free and paid, where you can find 3D models of human anatomy.
3DOcean is part of the Envato Market, a network of online marketplaces that sell creative digital products like themes (ThemeForest), scripts (CodeCanyon), and stock videos (VideoHive).
Unfortunately, the 3D model marketplace still has some room to catch up with those other marketplaces, but it’s good enough to consider browsing anyway.
Selection: The site is home to 20,000+ different 3D models across 24 different categories. At the time of writing, the Humans category has 286 models while the Anatomy category has 159 models, for a total of 445 relevant choices. Not the largest, but it’s a start.
Quality: 3DOcean is a paid market, which means you won’t find a lot of the lesser quality models that you might come across in a free collection elsewhere. However, 3DOcean is as cheap as it goes regarding paid models — some are available for as low as $1 — so expect to get what you pay for.
Formats: File format availability differs from product to product. Common formats include 3DS, C4D, FBX, OBJ, MAX, and BLEND.
License: Envato’s Regular License is a bit limited in terms of proprietary licenses. You can use the model in one non-commercial end product. For commercial purposes, you’ll need the more expensive Extended License. Neither license allows use of models for stock template purposes.
TurboSquid is a repository that provides both free and paid 3D models. It’s one of the more popular places to check when you need a quick 3D model, and as long as you’re willing to drop a bit of cash, what you end up getting can be quite good.
Selection: TurboSquid offers one of the biggest collections on the Web. Not only does it have 435,000+ models, but it also has 120,000+ related products like textures and shaders. As far as anatomy alone, you’ll find 6,500+ models.
Quality: The free models actually aren’t that bad here and they’re definitely usable as they are, but when you compare them to the paid offerings you’ll notice the difference in quality. For example, compare this low-poly 3D brain for free with this high-quality human kidney for $340.
There are a lot of hits and misses, so it’ll be up to you to browse through it all and sift the diamonds from the dung.
Formats: A lot of the free models are only available in MAX format, though you’ll see the occasional 3DS, FBX, and OBJ files. The really expensive offerings are available in common and not-so-common formats, including 3DS, MA, LWO, XSI, and DAE.
License: All TurboSquid models are royalty-free with usage limitations. There’s a lot to digest so check out the Royalty Free License FAQ for specific details, but here are the main points: models can be used in games and software that don’t have import/export options for assets, you may only 3D print models up to five times each, and models cannot be used in any way that would involve trademarking the final product (such as a business logo).
CGStudio is yet another marketplace for digital products including 3D models, textures, scripts, and more. Items are sold at a minimum price of $9, so you won’t find any free models here.
Selection: CGStudio’s complete collection includes 28,000+ models across categories like architecture, food, nature, objects, and vehicles. At the time of writing, searching for anatomy returns 411 potential models.
What I really like about this site is that there’s a wide variety of anatomical parts available, too. Just on the first page of search results, I see arms, legs, spines, organs, cross-section diagrams, and so much more.
Quality: CGStudio has a pretty good filtering system as the models that show up under the anatomy tag are all relevant (something that can’t be said for most product search engines) and the actual models are noticeably better than what you could find elsewhere.
The trade-off is the price. Very few of the anatomy models on CGStudio are available for less than $49. In fact, the nice ones are at least $100 and the great ones are typically over $250. The good news is that there are packs available where you can get multiple models for just a few hundred dollars.
Formats: Models are available in a dozen different formats, including 3DS, BLEND, C4D, FBX, MAX, OBJ, XSI, LWS, and many more.
3DScience is a place where Zygote Media Group offers seriously high-quality stock models for above-average prices. Unless you are rich and/or bankrolled by a company or benefactor, you may find the models on 3DScience to be a bit pricey.
Selection: 3DScience models are separated into Anatomy, Biology, and Medical categories. Each category only has a handful of offerings, netting a total model count of less than 100. The good news is that most of these models are in the Anatomy group.
Quality: Because 3DScience only sells models created by Zygote, you can be assured that each model is a quality creation. These are some of the best 3D anatomy models available as stock products and can be purchased for as low as $200 each.
They also offer collection packs. For example, the Male Digestive System includes 12 digestive organs for $1800 without textures or $3000 with textures. And then there’s the Complete Male & Female Anatomy Collection, which includes all available models for the whopping price of $20,995 without textures or $24,995 with textures.
Formats: Models are mostly available in the following major formats: MA, 3DS, C4D, LWO, and XSI.
License: For animators and illustrators, the license includes full IP ownership of any images and animations created with the models. For real-time software, the license typically includes a subscription or royalty agreement.
Where Do You Find 3D Models?
Finding 3D models on the Web is hard enough to begin with. Narrowing that search down to models of anatomy makes it even harder. Fortunately, the websites above are enough to get you started in the right direction.
Where do you go to download 3D models? Which sites have proven helpful and which have proven otherwise? Share your experiences with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
Image Credits: 3d heart via Shutterstock