Getting A Good Education in 3d Design

 

Earlier this week Issac asked:

Hey Scotty….. quick question.

Know any online schools that do majors in 3d graphics or 3d animation…?

Been talking to the parentals recently and have decided that online schooling is a bit more….. efficient than other schools….

Got any ideas/suggestions?

 

Thanks for the question Issac! Unfortunately I don’t have a quick answer, but here we go anyway…

Full Sail is the only credited school that I know of that has 3d design. Yes it costs a bunch, but if you apply yourself, you can be making $70k/yr right out of school.

However, most companies in the field don’t really care if you’re graduated or not. They want people who are good at what they do and know their stuff (Take a look at your favorite studio’s job section to get a better idea). If you’ve worked on shipped titles your chances of getting the job are much higher, however that introduces a catch-22.

By the time you are done learning, the tools (software/hardware) you learned on will be outdated so focus on learning the techniques not the tools.

While a lot of the tools and techniques are similar, choose if you want to focus on movies, games, or mechanics (like airplane parts and stuff). What do you want to be doing in 2, 3, 4 years? Also you need to look at yourself and figure out how self motivated you are. Online courses which allow you to work at your own pace and pay monthly/yearly can be much harder to focus on than having to physically go to class (trust me, I’ve done both!). But go at your own pace courses can be extremely rewarding!

I have heard great things about Gnomon. And they offer many different courses.

Digital Tutors is an amazing resource. You can start with the beginner courses free (in fact, follow along with some free courses RIGHT NOW. Forget about if they’re hard or not. Do you enjoy what you’re doing?). Follow the learning paths they provide and learn everything you can about topics. Allow learning to become an addiction

Photoshop… Learn it while in high school. Edit photos, create concepts, paint textures. This is the backbone of EVERYTHING that you will create!

Software… Go legit, don’t waste your time trying to get cracked versions. If you later sell your work you WILL BE found out and no reputable studio will hire you. Student discounts are great, but upgrade to the full version if it costs only a little more so you can make a little profit on the side if you want to.

Blender… Yes you can learn it and create amazing things, but it isn’t yet popular in any industry (except with indie game design). Again, learn techniques, not software. However additionally learn a few extra tools (ex: Maya) so you are knowledgeable and can easily switch between programs.

Choose a program and stick with it! Don’t be learning Maya one day and 3ds Max the next. You’ll probably never learn ether that way.

Autodesk… has some of the best software you will come across. They provide watermarked versions for students completely free of charge. Use it, love it, but remember you will have to pay for it someday.

Updates… Check how long you will receive software updates for after buying, are you covered for the major version? For a year? Lifetime?

Hardware…Get hardware you don’t have to worry about, don’t save $200 on a generic only to have to spend hours trying to get the drivers to work.

Windows vs Mac vs Linux… Use Windows or Mac. Don’t use Linux for 3d development, there simply isn’t support from most companies for it. Both are respected in the community. Use whichever is most transparent to you so you don’t have to learn a new operating system ON TOP OF new software (it’s a pain). Popular software is the same on both systems (Photoshop, Maya, etc…).

Don’t just do classes… Find something away from keyboard that makes you feel alive and that you enjoy, or you’ll find that you missed out on something huge once you come out of the “learning coma”.

Save often and save versions of files as models progress.

Look around, and check out different schools. Ask what software they use. Have the instructors worked in the industry? Checkout what projects graduated students have worked on.

–Scotty

 

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