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.

UPDATE May 19, 2013: Recent updates have rendered Sculptris inoperable on the Surface Pro. See the story here

UPDATE 2: Installing updated Intel HD4000 drivers will restore Sculptris functionality. For more details, see this post. 


When I first began considering the prospect of 3d modeling on the Surface Pro, I knew it would be a tall order.

I haven't worked with a screen smaller than 17-inches for over a decade and the latest 27-inch touch-enabled all-in-one behemoths like the Dell XPS One set my pulse racing. In fact, the only thing that's held me back from investing in one of these is the lack of pen support. 

I've also been an iPad user from day 1 and I find nothing beats the intimacy of working with a tablet. Unfortunately, Apple hasn't seen fit to offer pen pressure-sensitivity and the several 3d apps available on iOS are more like technical proof-of-concepts than finished applications.

That's why the Surface Pro is so attractive. On a software and hardware level, at least, it really does require no compromises. The Core i5 processor is fast, storage is expandable and the majority of Windows graphics applications run just fine. 

Unfortunately, there's a wide gap between an application "running" and it being practical to run. The Surface Pro's 10.6-inch display and 1920x1080 resolution simply render the crowded interfaces of most creative apps too small to be useful.

Despite tweaking the resolution of my pen, it still requires a lot of effort to target the precise item in most pull-down menus and icons can be indecipherable at such small sizes.

Until more Modern UI applications are released, it's really only practical to run Sketchbook Pro or ArtRage in desktop mode.

Or so I thought, until yesterday. Not being much of a ZBrush user, I've never paid much attention to Pixologic's free sculpting tool Sculptris. But after installing it and determining that it would run, I was thrilled to see its elegant, spartan interface with big touch-friendly icons. 

Could a free app really be the 3d doodling tool I've been dreaming about since I first touched an iPhone? Only time will tell, but I'm determined to find out! 

If you're unfamiliar with Sculptris as I was, check out this video from Digital Tutors. 

AuthorRick Rodriguez