Ship Drawing Software

What is ship drawing software? And which software is best for you? Read on to get a breakdown of the different features and options available.

Did you know that ship drawing software is actually a thing? I had no idea. It’s really interesting that it’s not just a common phrase, but there are actual software companies that have taken on this niche. Great if you’re in the shipping business. Maybe you’re a student who loves art and wants to have an easy time drawing pictures of ships. Or maybe you just want it for fun. Whatever your reason may be, it is possible to use software to draw ships. And that’s what we’re doing today. A tutorial on how to use ship drawing software and the best ship drawing software out there.

Ship Drawing Software is no doubt one of the most crucial and useful tools for professionals to accomplish their tasks easily. This software is superbly used by various reputed organizations across the globe.

Ship Drawing Software

As technology continues to progress, designers, architects, and engineers hailing from all different disciplines are reaping the benefits of 3D design and ultra-fast modeling. Long gone are the days of flubbed designs and mountains of draft paper abandoned in the trash can. Now, the best and brightest minds can take advantage of innovative software solutions that take much of the guesswork about everything from measurement to compliance out of the design process.

The marine engineering and naval architect communities, including those who design and build watercraft, make use of these tools to develop better, more functional designs compliant with industry regulations and current design principles. From designing marine propellers in accordance with best practices to complete vessel designs that meet ABYC standards, good design is crucial for earning yacht certification and ensuring the overall safety and optimal functionality of components and vessels.

While there are countless software applications to choose from, not all adequately serve the needs of marine engineers and naval architects. From CAD to CAM to marine propeller design, hull design, and everything in between, we’ve done the legwork to help you quickly compare solutions and choose the software that best meets your boat design needs. Below, we’ve highlighted 50 of the best boat design software tools available on the market today. Please note, the following software solutions are organized alphabetically and are not ranked or rated in any way. 

1. ActCAD™
@ACTcadSoftware

ActCAD™

ActCAD™ markets itself as being a “best replacement” for traditional CAD software. It’s made to support the needs of a wide range of engineering and design projects, including boat and hull design. The software comes with a cost-effective perpetual license and is equipped with 2D drafting, 3D modeling, and rendering capabilities.

Key Features:

  • API customization available
  • Free technical support
  • Used in 50+ countries

Cost: Contact for pricing

2. Autodesk® 3ds Max
@autodesk

Autodesk® 3ds Max

Autodesk® 3ds Max offers a cutting-edge, professional solution to the modern boat, hull, and ship designing engineer. The software consists of 3D modeling and rendering capabilities which allow the most aesthetically-conscious users to formulate the 3D boat models made to stand in for their final visions. 3ds Max also includes a built-in workflow system for better organization and collaboration throughout the design process.

Key Features:

  • Mesh and surface modeling for creation support
  • Spline workflows for optimized geometry animation
  • Data channel modifier included for better design leverage

Cost: $1,545/year

3. Autodesk® Fusion 360
@autodesk

Yet another Autodesk®-branded offering is Fusion 360, an integrated CAD, CAM, and CAE software that is designed to “eliminate your disconnected product development process.” By unifying these three systems, Fusion 360 offers its users innovative capabilities such as 3D design and modeling, simulation, generative design, documentation, collaboration, and even manufacturing support. The software company also provides its helpful Learn & Support module for new users of all experience levels.

Key Features:

  • Includes a range of sketching and modeling capabilities
  • Manufacturing extension available
  • Data management in the cloud

Cost: 

  • $60/month
  • $495/year
  • $1,335/three years

4. Autopower

Autopower, a resistance and powering prediction program by Autoship, provides an advanced user interface made to optimize hull parameters within the designing and engineering processes. These specialized parameters are based on 12 expert-developed independent resistance and propulsion methods for displacement and semi-displacement, as well as hull and catamaran planning. As Autopower is an Autoship-developed and connected product, users reap the benefits of seamless data integration within the Autoship CAD/CAM suite.

Key Features:

  • Windows® 10 compatible
  • Methods based on empirical studies and theory
  • Easy re-sizing and re-positioning for report graphics

Cost: Contact for pricing

5. Autoship CAD/CAM

The Autoship CAD/CAM promises to support users within the entirety of the design process, from “generating hull lines through to nesting of parts.” In addition to the aforementioned Autopower, the software also touts the Autoship and Autohydro Pro programs, two tools which are made to support the designer from the brainstorming process all the way to their finishing touches. Autohydro Pro even offers advanced hydrostatics and stability calculations within a cutting-edge float simulator application.

Key Features:

  • The Autoship System was developed by naval architects
  • Autohydro Pro allows users to test their design against various weather and sea conditions
  • Software products can be grouped to fit custom packages

Cost: Contact for pricing

6. AVEVA Hull Structural Design™
@AVEVAGroup

AVEVA Hull Structural Design™

AVEVA Hull Structural Design™ is billed as being a “word-leading software for record breaking vessels.” This heavy-duty software package is built to provide key rapid definition and analysis during the ever-complex hull structural design process. It also integrates seamlessly with a number of other AVEVA Marine applications, resulting in less input time and fewer mistakes.

Key Features:

  • Allows for rapid creation of ship’s 3D model
  • Design reuse features allow users to recycle old designs
  • Includes alternative design assessment options

Cost: Contact for pricing

7. BaseLine Technology Marine Products

BaseLine Technology Marine Products

BaseLine Technology offers a wide range of marine engineering-related products designed to help build the strongest, most sound vessels possible. Its signature bundled packages are customizable and include classic CAD and modeling software such as Rhinoceros, Flamingo, and Penguin. BaseLine also provides a range of learning solutions for those just getting acquainted with these tools.

Key Features:

  • Offers a range of tutorial suites
  • Deep discounts on software bundles
  • Deals for re-sellers

Cost: Contact for pricing

8. Bearboat Software

Bearboat Software

The Bearboat Software suite is specifically made for those tackling tough kayak (and kayak-adjacent) structural designs, making it one of the only kayak-specific programs available. Bearboat is a long-standing program that first hit the Internet over 20 years ago. Most recently, developers released Bearboat Pro, an optimized and updated version of the software that can handle Bearboat Classic designs, with the help of an application intermediary.

Key Features:

  • ‘Visualize’ allows for 3D rendering, slices, and stability assessment
  • Includes a special ‘wetted surfaces’ tool
  • Includes a special ‘restore generic kayak’ tool for optimal customization

Cost: FREE

9. Blender
@blender_org

Blender

Popular open source 3D creation software, Blender, is an entirely FREE, donation-based tool that provides excellent support to all types of designers, particularly those working in the marine engineering industries. The software is made to support the entire 3D pipeline, including modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking capabilities.

Key Features:

  • Built with a Python-controlled interface for easy customization
  • Blender Cloud available for a nominal monthly fee
  • UV sculpt mode allows for quick ‘grabbing,’ ‘pinching,’ and ‘smoothing’

Cost: FREE

10. BoatExpress

BoatExpress

BoatExpress Version 1.0 is an entirely free software that supports the complete boat design process for sailboats and motorboats with a hard or soft bilge. Tools include key data production on hull and hydrostatic elements, multiple drawing canvas options, auto-generated drawing stations, and streamlined resistance force graphs.

Key Features:

  • Comes with a drawing overlay capability
  • Intuitive file functions and printing options
  • Allows online access to all data

Cost: FREE

11. Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore
@BV_Marine

Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore

Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore offers up a healthy sampling of software products based on its research that are designed to ensure structural efficacy, as well as compliance. Currently, the organization has a range of different programs available within six pertinent design and safety categories, including Structural Design and Rules Analysis, Seakeeping and Mooring Analysis, Stability Analysis, Propulsion and Shaft Alignment Analysis, and Low Sulphur Fuel Oil Analysis.

Key Features:

  • Built and supported by marine industry engineers
  • Updated to mirror latest in compliance
  • Local technical teams are available worldwide for software help

Cost: Contact for pricing

12. CADMATIC Marine Software Solutions
@CADMATICOy

CADMATIC Marine Software Solutions

The CADMATIC suite of marine design software gives engineers the tools they need to cut down on time both in the design and production processes for greater prefabrication and pre-outfitting of blocks. The company even claims that its software is currently the “fastest to implement on the market.” The highly-intricate product is made for those who design some of the most impressive vessels sailing today; it offers detailed design advice, diagrams, welding management tools, 3D viewers, electric design elements, and much more.

Key Features:

  • Built-in information management and visualization tools
  • Easy exchange of interfaces and file formats
  • Follow App for limitless tracking, anywhere

Cost: Contact for pricing

13. CAESES® Ship Hull Design
@CAESES

CAESES® Ship Hull Design

Modeling and CFD software-maker CAESES provides an integrated solution for naval architects in its Ship Hull Design program. In it, users are able to build and construct parametric ship models that boast the smartest shape control possible. The software is designed to let the user complete the three most key tasks: 1) creating a variable hull model, 2) connecting a CFD for streamlined studies, and 3) picking the most optimized hull shape possible.

Key Features:

  • Co2 cost-saving guidance built-in
  • Adapts to fit the needs of any type of vessel
  • Intuitive hydrostatic calculation features

Cost: Contact for pricing

14. Carlson Design Hull Designer

Carlson Design Hull Designer

Hull Designer by Carlson Design is a highly-interactive hull design program that features intuitive visuals and 3D features. In addition to boasting a sleek, user-friendly interface, the software provides all that a naval architect needs to construct a sound vessel including pattern creation, chine design advice, buoyancy and waterline length checks, and much more.

Key Features:

  • Hand-plotting capabilities included
  • Compatible for Windows users
  • Includes output options directed to VRML 1.0, DXF, HPGL, or Carlson plotters

Cost: FREE

15. DELFTship

DELTship

DELFTship by Delftship Maritime Software is a state-of-the-art program that has been designed from the ground up to fit the needs of today’s naval architects, all based on expert research conducted by TU Delft. DELFTship Free comes with a stunning display and produces fast 3D visuals, while DELFTship Professional takes it one step further by providing users with features like complex asymmetrical hull design support.

Key Features:

  • Suite of customizable extensions available
  • Free trial
  • Syncs with DELFTload for advanced board stability calculations

Cost:

  • DELFTship Free: FREE
  • DELFTship Professional: €150

16. DraftSight®
@Dassault3DS

DraftSight®

DraftSight® by Dassault Systemes is a CAD software that is built for a variety of different engineering, design, and architecture professionals, including naval architects. Its signature 2D and 3D capabilities allow users to take advantage of advanced drafting support, as well as cutting-edge modeling technologies for the most accurate output possible. DraftSight® comes in a range of different forms to meet diverse skill levels and budgets, including DraftSight Standard (2D), DraftSight Professional (2D), DraftSight Premium (3D), and DraftSight Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.

Key Features:

  • Integrates with Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS® solutions
  • 2019 update now available
  • All updates comes equipped with familiar user interface for fast adoption

Cost:

  • DraftSight Standard: $99/year
  • DraftSight Professional: $199/year
  • DraftSight Premium: $499/year
  • DraftSight Enterprise and Enterprise Plus: Contact for pricing

17. Fairway
@promatechltd

Fairway

Fairway by Promatech describes itself as being a “software for design, fairing, manipulation of ship hull forms and conversions of models.” Fairway promises to deliver simple, intuitive features that feel like hand-drafting – except the technology offers many more benefits than the pencil and paper. Included in these features are automatically-processed lines, full control over line geometry, and fast exportation of hull data.

Key Features:

  • Allows users to start from scratch or continue with an existing design
  • User-defined accuracy elements
  • A range of automated fairing options included

Cost: Contact for pricing

18. FastShip

FastShip

FastShip is a basic ship design solution for designing hulls, superstructures, appendages, and other marine structures. The software, which is designed by Proteus Engineering, has a mission of providing users the ability to create fair surfaces in an accurate, ultra-timely manner. Most any hull feature can be effectively integrated into an original design, including bossings, bulbous bows, twin skegs, chines/knuckles, broken sheerlines, and circular bilge turns.

Key Features:

  • Surface intersection and trimming modules included
  • Real-time curvature elements
  • The Hull Library for simple design organization

Cost: FREE

19. FINE™/Marine
@NumecaInt

FINE™/Marine

FINE™/Marine by Numenca International has dubbed itself as “the leading CFO software for naval architects and marine engineers,” and for good reason: this solution has proven itself to be one of the fastest solvers available on the market today. In addition to its long list of competitive capabilities, this software recently released a RHINO plug-in, allowing users to export to the popular interface with ease.

Key Features:

  • C-Wizard allows for automatic set-up
  • Fully automated mesh generator
  • Wide range of case studies and tutorials available on the Numenca International site

Cost: Contact for pricing

20. FreeCAD
@FreeCADNews

FreeCAD

As its name suggests, FreeCAD is an entirely free CAD system that is available for a convenient web download. In addition to boasting a good amount of the same features as the paid CAD competitors, FreeCAD also allows for 3D design-modeling that is as intuitive as it is precise, for production ready drawings. As a bonus, the system also adapts to a number of other file formats for seamless workflow integration.

Key Features:

  • Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible
  • Reads and writes to a number of file formats including STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE, and more
  • Donation-based solution

Cost: FREE

21. Freeship Plus

FreeShip Plus

This is a free solution that provides 3D hull design using hydrodynamics calculation tools. According to Softonic, Freeship Plus takes up far less space than others and is currently very popular in the naval architect and marine engineering communities of Canada, Germany, and France. Freeship Plus Version 3.13 is currently available for free download.

Key Features:

  • Available in English, Spanish, and German
  • User-friendly interface
  • Available for Windows

Cost: FREE

22. Hullform

Hullform

Hullform is the perfect fit for hobbyists and professionals alike who are working to design a structurally-sound, basic hull for ships and sailboats. The software allows users a fair amount of flexibility in terms of experimentation. The interface lets users go in and smooth out lines, edit angles, and adjust the lateral offset with ease. In addition to ships and sailboats, Hullform can also handle other boat designs, such as those made for catamarans.

Key Features:

  • Available for Windows
  • Free download
  • Includes hydrographic accuracy modules

Cost: FREE

23. jSDN

jSDN

If you are on the lookout for a NURBS-based yacht modeling software, jSDN might be the right choice for you. The specialized software allows users to devise and customize any type of sailing yacht of their choice and works to include key elements such as the hull, spars, sails, and other appendages. jSDN is currently available for FREE download which a limited-time PRO version.

Key Features:

  • Available for Apple OS X, Linux, and Windows XP/Vista
  • Includes hydrostatic calculations features
  • Full NURBS curve and surface editor

Cost: FREE with Pro version available (contact for pricing)

24. Leonardo Hull Software
@RINA1861

Leonardo Hull Software

RINA’s Leonardo Hull software uses the power of direct calculations to help guide boat designers and architects to develop the most sound drafts possible. The crystal-clear 3D components allow users to create specialized features for a range of modeling structures such as bulkheads, stools, and trunks. In addition to the structural support, Leonardo Hull also carries out FEM analysis.

Key Features:

  • 2D and 3D analysis tools
  • Specialized training available
  • Supports planned maintenance management systems

Cost: Contact for pricing

25. MAAT Hydro

MAAT Hydro

Sistre’s MAAT Hydro bills itself as being the “quickest access to professional hydrostatic.” As the claim suggests, MAAT Hydro is a cutting-edge hydrostatic solver that is designed to combine real-time analytics and high-level calculation utilities. Sistre offers a range of MAAT Hydro software solutions including MAAT Hydro Demo, MAAT Hydro +, MAAT Hydro ++, and the free MAAT Hydro Resources.

Key Features:

  • Fully 3D hydrostatic calculator (MAAT Hydro +)
  • Provides real-time hydrostatic simulation and weight management data
  • Newly-updated for 2019

Cost: Contact for pricing

26. MAXSURF

MAXSURF

MAXSURF provides a wide range of integrated naval architecture software solutions that are designed to fit the unique specifications of all types of vessels. Currently, the MAXSURF software suite offers a number of hard-hitting modules such as MAXSURF Modeller (Fitting, Resistance, and Motions included), MAXSURF Stability, and MAXSURF Structure for hull and appendage support.

Key Features:

  • Made for workboats, ferries, patrol vessels, defense, offshore, and yachts
  • Provides smooth data transfer with Microstation, Rhino, AutoCAD, ShipConstructor, SolidWorks, and Microsoft Office programs
  • Easy workflow and collaboration features

Cost: Contact for pricing

27. MSC Software®
@MSCSoftware

MSC Software®

MSC Software® provides shipbuilding solutions and support for a large pool of marine engineers and naval architects, including recreational craft designers, tankers designers, and even those who design for defense and military purposes. The software is guided by its visual prototyping technology which takes into account fatigue testing, thermal performance, noise and vibration, and panel buckling, among many other things.

Key Features:

  • Cargo unloading tools
  • Includes underwater shock analysis
  • Composite hull capabilities for marine engineers

Cost: Contact for pricing

28. MultiSurf/SurfaceWorks by AeroHydro

AeroHydro

AeroHydro is a CAD-based design package that includes popular names such as MultiSurf and SurfaceWorks. This highly-customized offering is designed so that naval architects and marine engineers are more easily able to create the very freeform surface shapes that are so hard to achieve in generic CAD software. Recently, AeroHydro added its Hydro feature which is a sleek hydrostatics and intact stability program.

Key Features:

  • Windows-based PC program
  • CFD collaboration options
  • Pattern-maker software, Flattener, available as an add-on

Cost: Contact for pricing

29. NAPA
@NAPAofficial

NAPA

NAPA is a hull form design and hydrodynamics software that provides both eco-efficiency and safety for today’s ever-changing sea conditions. The software sees architects and engineers through the early drafting phases, all the way to build. It offers both real 3D topological and interactive surface modeling, as well as real automated hull form optimization with quick design variation and optimization algorithms. It also interfaces with any CFD software and is customizable to fit a range of unique design processes.

Key Features:

  • Tools for hull transformations and parametric modeling
  • Includes integrated stability and hydrodynamic analysis
  • Maneuvering module serves as a last-step compliance check

Cost: Contact for pricing

30. Nauticus Hull

Nauticus Hull

Nauticus Hull is a hull design software that focuses on strength assessment for a large variety of ship structures. Once the design is complete, users are able to use the unique modules provided to check compliance, including IACS Common Structural Rules for bulk carriers and oil tankers (CSR BC & OT) and DNV GL Rules. Nauticus Hull also seamlessly integrates with Sesam GeniE for FE modeling, post-processing, and code check.

Key Features:

  • Offers strength assessment, design, and verification
  • Supports the latest version of CSR BC & OT for prescriptive and Finite Element Method calculations
  • Integrates with other common ship modeling systems such as MSC Patran/Nastran, ANSYS, AVEVA Marine, NAPA Steel, etc.

Cost: Contact for pricing