Open Source / Alternative programs and their commercial equivalents

Rhino, 3ds Max, Maya – Blender
Vray –  Blender Cycles
Illustrator – Inkscape, Affinity Design ( $50, non open-source)
Photoshop – Gimp, Krita, Affinity Photo ($50, non open-source)
Indesign – Scribus, Affinity Publisher (coming up in 2017)
Autocad – Draftsight (free, non open-source), LibreCad
Microsoft Office – LibreOffice, Google Docs

About Open Source Software

If there is enough information reaching architects and architectual students about viable open source alternatives to 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Autocad, then they will be much more likely to use them. Then, the installation of unecessary large and mostly pirated software will start to diminish. It is one of the few true forms of democracy, with access to everyone. And, similar to a democracy, the more people that take part, the better the software becomes, as more developers will become involved and the faster the software evolves. All of the programs mentioned below play well with their commercial equivalents in terms of information exchange. Thus, it is entirely possible to work in an open source environment and constantly exchange information with others that use commercial software.

Are they professional enough?

I use most of these software packages professionally on a regular basis at my job, where I constantly exchange information with colleagues and consultants between the open source programs and their commercial counterparts.

For you, willing to investigate open source software further, I would recommend to trust your intuition and experiment with it straight away. The more users, the faster the software evolves, the larger the user base, and more companies will have employees working with these new standards.

Further Details

Blender

Blender is the most successful open source program, and the one I am most knowledgeable about. As an expert in many other 3d suites, I prefer Blender for many reasons beyond the fact that it is open source. Once mastered, it is incredibly quick to turn ideas into reality. Bug tracking is ideal. I once reported a bug that was acknowledged and fixed in a day after posting it. Blender’s success lies in the Blender foundation, a non profit organization that employs a few full-time developers that lead the programming evolution on Blender. To push new features, Blender Foundation raises funds for movies through collaboration between artists and developers. Through this project based approach, new features become developed specifically for production and land into Blender much quicker than if they were to be executed without a tight deadline.

In addition to the tutorial on this page, below are few websites that can assist with information on starting with Blender.

blendercookie.com – a wide array of in-depth tutorials, including full beginner’s series
blenderguru.com – tutorials on all aspects of 3d, including architectural visualisation
blenderartists.org – forums for blender and galleries of images posted by users