What software do Designers Use

So you want to be a great 3D artist?

So you want to be a great 3D artist? you need to know this if anything is unclear get googling

In this blog post I will be discussing the things you absolutely need to know!
So you want to be a great 3D artist? lets start

3D is a big subject right?? and depending on what you want to do within the industry you should definitely have an understanding of the basics of all of it to some degree or another, if only to help others you might be working with.

You might on the other hand know exactly what you want to do? Say a texture artist, concept designer! I still think you need a grounding across all disciplines!

So let start with the YOU GOTTA KNOW THIS LIST! ! if you want to be a 3D artist, the order of this is in an order of priority;

  1. Modelling/Sculpting
  2. UV Layout and Texturing
  3. Rendering, lighting and setups
  4. Animating and compositing

remember in a small studio you might be asked to do other duties so being versatile is a great asset, also great for chatting with other artists
OK so these are the top four lets discuss/dissect these into the what and wherefores:

Modelling/Sculpting
So first things first you should be familiar with basic box modelling principals, being able to model both organic and hard surfaces a familiarity with Maya, 3Dmax and ZBrush is essential, I would even go so far as saying you should be an expert in this field.

An advanced knowledge of topology and edge flow is crucial, creating LOD’S (levels of detail) and keeping your geometry as light as possible but still keeping the form.

UV Layout and Texturing
UV layout are essential for creating great textures making sure your UV’s are human readable and utilize the full 0 to 1 space, you should be familiar with creating UV sets and procedural.

Once you develop those skills being able to produce textures for your models is another essential skill, I personally use Photoshop to create my texture maps.

Texture maps you should be able to produce without getting into the how do you do these:

  1. Diffuse
  2. Specular
  3. Alphas
  4. Bump and Normal

These are the basic ones there are more but these are the most familiar.

Lighting and setups
Lighting well without light you don’t see a thing, get familiar with the light and play around with different light set ups, just lighting your model is not the end of the story you will need to understand how to manipulate the lights to create fantastic shadows, learn global illumination, environment lighting using HDRI maps, final gather etc

Rendering
So once you model is created and textured and lit up nicely, all your materials are set up its now time to render, you might have done an animations (make sure you have the skills below).

Texturing and rendering are something that go hand in hand you might have done a fantastic texture but if you do not render it nicely it will look terrible!
So understanding material set ups is essential as well as good knowledge of the render engines such as standard built in renderer’s, Mental ray, Arnold and VRAY get a good understanding of them will help you both in render quality ans speed of production.

Output is essential you need to output render passes or layers in order to have full control in post when you resemble your image or animation back together again!

Animating
Now I have added animation under Lighting and rendering as its something not everyone want to know too much about as it is a very complex and skillful part of 3D.

Animators watch how everything moves analysing and breaking down the movement so they can match it when animating.

A major part of animation is making sure you have good topology to allow for realistic stretching when a character moves!

Again another essential skill of that is rigging basically creating a skeleton that you can manipulate (rig) and the model follows, creating a great rig and weighting the model correctly is a great skill to have!

Compositing
Once you have output your renders you want to resemble them and add grading, colour corrections etc

Having an understanding of after effects, Nuke is essential to produce great show reels and work.

Wrap Up
So there you have it learn these to what ever degree you like and keep gaining knowledge with your colleagues this is your route to be a great 3D artist!

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