About ten years ago when someone asked me “what do you do for a living”. I already knew that’s gonna tough talk. Usually i simply explained that i’m doing architectural visualizations in 3ds max, just to hear back that this must to be simple. Some people even added “I will learn this 3d studio too, so i can earn as much money as you”.
Oh Boy! I’ll bet that almost everyone of you heard something similar too. It’s so frustrating that people have no idea how much work, time and heart it cost. But let’s say that you have no idea about 3D visualizations and you really, really want to try. Here’s my subjective guide how to start.
Chose your software.
It’s tricky, but all your further steps will depend on this decision. For sure 3DS MAX is most popular and most described peace of software, but since Autodesk took anti-customer business model, many of graphic designers are switching to Cinema 4D. As rendering plugin you will probably end up with Vray or Corona and both of those are worth of consideration.
Buy a book.
Go to your local book store and find your desired software beginners guide. Why a book? Because it suppose to be professionally prepared, complete collection of easy tasks, examples and exercises for … beginners! Your book will be always next to your computer, you can make marks, notes and get back to it anytime you want.
There’s a lot of free online courses and tutorials, but let be honest. Most of free tutorials aren’t great. They are amateur, chaotic and do not cover many thinks that’s important for beginners. By buying professionally published book, you can be sure that inside you will find all basic knowledge you need to start.
Do your homework.
Page, by page. Slowly and successive do ALL examples from your book. Don’t be fool and do even most ridicules, strange and weird exercises. From page to page you will get knew your software better and better. Don’t skip any exercise because you think you will not need this type of knowledge. In 3d world you have to be like Swiss knife. You have to knew little bit of everything. More tools you knew, more possibilities you have.
Recreate your environment.
Take first simple thing you can reach. It can be cup, it can be your phone, wallet, keys, chair or shelf, and recreate it in 3d. You immediate start to figure out how to do that. Figuring out things is the basic skill to become successful 3d artist. In 3d world there are plenty ways of doing this same things. The only way to chose best one, is to try all of them :-). And this bring us to…
To knew and to understand are two different things. That’s one of my main life’s sentences. More mistakes you do at the beginning, more correct ways you will take in the future. 3D software is real labyrinth of traps, dead ends and misconceptions. It is literally so complex it can eat it own tail :-).
From simple questions like “where are my arrows gone” thru more complex like “why is this normal map causing glitches” up to the ultimate questions like “why is it rendering so slow” and “why does it look so ugly”. This and many, many more challenges are waiting for you to defeat.
Ask for advice.
There are moments of struggle in every learning curve. Some things seems to be hard to overcome and sometimes you just feel tired. That’s why good created internet, google and forums. There’s a lot of graphic forums all over the internet where you are welcome to ask for some help, advises and directions. But I’m pretty sure, that someone before you had this same problem. And uncle google will help you with that.
So, you learned basics. You made all object in your house as 3d models, you’ve done some first renders and you’r proud as hell. Congratulations! But there’s still long way ahead. Sign up to some 3d community or forum and show your work to the world. Ask for feedback and constructive critic. And don’t be rude to your commentators. Constructive critic is a best way to polish your skills.
Look for inspirations.
One of great way to expand your skills is to study great works of other users. There’s a loot of “making of” articles on the web, where authors briefly describing how they done such great works. This is wonderful source of inspiration and ideas for your own projects.
Build your portfolio.
Work hard on your 3d visualizations. Don’t stop on one or two projects you made during learning process. Every new project should be better and better. Every new project should introduce new skills and new way of thinking. Experiment. Try new methods and approaches. Stay open minded.
I hope that short list will guide you to the right track. Of course you can always take a learning course of 3d. It’s great way to add new skills and study professionals workflow. But the truth is, the only thing you need is curiosity and courage!