I've been known to back a few of the wrong horses when it comes to tech. 

When some folks chose the Apple II, I chose the Commodore 64.

When the Macintosh and then the IBM PC were released in the mid 80's, I chose to think different and began my love affair with the Amiga.

Over its seven year lifespan, I bought every new model and pushed the boundaries of the Amiga's graphics and video capabilities. But while most 3d artists fell in love with the Newtek Video Toaster and Lightwave, I just had to be an individual and chose to master Impulse's Imagine3d and its little-known 24-bit framebuffer called the Firecracker.

And when I returned to 3d graphics in 2004 after a decade-long absence, I tried to learn to love industry leading 3DS Max and Maya, but instead I became infatuated with Softimage.

Today, Autodesk announced that the upcoming 2015 release of Softimage will be the last and that the program will be forever retired in 2016.

I've been in mourning ever since the news was confirmed and, to mark my grief, I remembered this photo I took a while back of an Amiga 500 I modeled in Softimage last year, region rendered on a Surface Pro.

I meant the image to represent the computing power of the tablet, but instead it's a snapshot of two under-appreciated technological marvels done in by consumer indifference and corporate mismanagement.

The Amiga 500, modeled and region rendered in Softimage 2014 on the Surface Pro. Mental Ray, full anti-aliasing, two lights, 27,000 triangles, 110 objects, 95 textures and the Surface Pro didn't even break a sweat.

Given my track record, I also admit that I'm worried that the Surface Pro might someday join that sad roster consigned to footnotes in tech history.

Surface Pro is the number one Windows tablet for artists, but the user interfaces on most 3d graphics applications don't pass the touch (or pen) test.

NOTE: I stopped updating this post in October, 2013. However, much of what runs on the Surface Pro 2 should also work with the original Surface Pro. Applications that have had compatibility issues with display drivers such as Autodesk Mudbox will likely break if you attempt to update the SP1.

One of the principal objectives of this blog is to help take the guesswork out of making your purchasing decision. I'm taking the time to install and determine whether these creative applications run so you won't have to. 

Here's what I've installed and tested so far: 



ArtRage 4 - runs, recommended


  •  3DS Max 2014, 2013 - runs
  • Maya 2014, 2013  - runs
  • Maya LT 2014 - runs
  • Mudbox 2014, 2013  - incompatible, requires discrete graphics
  • Mudbox 2010 x64 - runs
  • Sketchbook Designer 2014, 2103  - runs, pressure sensitivity corrected with Wacom Feel driver update
  • Sketchbook Pro 6.2.3  - runs, recommended
  • Softimage 2014, 2013  - runs

Blender  2.68 - runs, not recommended: interface tool small, not scaleable, scaling reacts to pen movement


  • Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7 - runs, recommended (Japanese language)
  • Clip Studio Modeler Beta 0.9.0 - runs (Japanese language)


  • Corel Draw x6 - runs
  • Corel Painter x3 -runs


Gimp 2.8.6 - runs 

Lumion Keyshot 4.1.35 - runs



Luxology/Foundry Modo 701601 SP5 - runs, set input device to tablet 

Maxon Cinema 4D Studio R14 - TBD

Newtek Lightwave 11.5 - runs, with pen control issues

Pilgway 3D-Coat 4.0.03 - runs  



61 Solutions Mischief 1.08 - runs

Smith Micro

  • Anime Studio Pro 9.5 - runs
  • Manga Studio 5, 5 EX - runs, recommended (update to 5.0.3)
  • Motion Artist 1.1 - runs
  • Poser Pro 2010 - runs




Speedy Painter 3.0.7 - runs

TeamUP (Lagoa) MultiOptics - runs, Chrome only

Toonboom Animate Pro 3 - runs

Trimble Sketchup 2013 - runs 

Triple Squid Software Design Moments of Inspiration 2.0 (Moi3D) - runs  

Unity Pro 4.3.0b5 - runs, touch response unreliable. Works with mouse, capacitive stylus.

Would you like me to test any other programs? Please leave a comment below.