With all of the information available on the internet and so many videos on how to create 3D models, how to create effects, and even create virtual experiences, it can be overwhelming to choose an entry point into this world. There are a lot of resources that can be useful depending on the needs of your project or can be detrimental do to the learning curve. Choosing the one that best suits your needs can be easy, the hard part comes when you actually need to get acquainted with it. A lot of questions pop up: “Where do I start?, How can I do this or that?, and several more. Getting started begins with first learning what it is you need to achieve and then selecting and learning the best tool to complete the goal. Let’s dive into some steps to help on that choice.
Step #1: Get Familiarized with the Basics
Step #2: Determine your Goals
Step #3; Choose the Rigbt Tools
Step #4: Start Experimenting
Step #1: Get familiarized with the basics
Learn about the fundamentals of 3D technology, including 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.
3D modeling is the foundation of 3D technology. It involves creating a 3D representation of a object or scenes using shapes, curves and surfaces. To someone that hasn’t ever heard of these concepts or that is just starting, it can seem a little bit complicated. Not saying that it isn’t, but it can be more easy going than most let on. Discerning what type of modeling technique would be better suited to your project, which software can better match your budget and your skill, it can all be checked with a few simple queries on the internet, or even chatting with AI. Get on Youtube and start watching videos and comparing pros and cons and start building your own opinion about the design softwares. Another step to familiarize yourself with this tech would be to maybe try out some popular softwares and exploring them along with some video walkthrough and with this determine which best fits your workflow and needs. Some are only for designing, some focus on animations and special effects and others can be solely for applying materials and rendering all the content. Ultimately, there are numerous resources that can give you a pretty insightful introduction and even a summary of what each software is specialized in so that you can make the most informed decision based on what you want to achieve with your projects.
Step #2: Determine your goals
Decide what you want to achieve with 3D technology, such as creating virtual reality experiences, product visualization or architectural renderings.
Wether you are just starting out with 3D technology or you are just preparing for your next project, it is imperative that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. This is because every project has the potential to become exponentially complex, depending on the end result desired, and time-consuming which can ultimately lead to losses if efforts are not allocated properly. Each project will require different hardware, specialists, and skill sets, so having a good strategy to incorporate all will prove to be the best course of action. If your goal is to create a product visualization you would first need to create the model to be displayed and import it into an animation software and from there begin to breathe life into it. You can play with the different camera angles maintaining the essence of the desired user experience but at the same time highlighting important features and making sure that it comes across the final render. On the other hand, something more complex like a virtual reality experience would require skills on the game development level, hardware now comes into play as the user needs a medium to experience it, and this all would cost additional resources that would need to be planned ahead for. In the end, having a clear goal in mind and understanding the skills and knowledge you need to acquire to achieve it will help you make most of your resources.
Step #3: Choose the right tools
Research and select the 3D software and hardware that are most suitable for your goals and budget.
When researching for the right type of program to accomplish your 3D needs, there are a lot. Not all of them are necessarily good or free, but there are some that have become the industry standard and are at the top of their respective fields. You could go to either extreme: full parametric modeling or full sculpting. At this point in time there are many open-source or affordable options to choose from. If you would go down the parametric route, one of the best options right now would be Autodesk Fusion 360. It is free to download, easy and intuitive to use, it has a wide range of simulation, sketching and extrusion tools, and it also incorporates machining integrations that can enable to take whatever you create to a physical plane. These type of modeling software are mostly used in the engineering, product design and architecture spaces due to the high fidelity of dimensions that can be achieved. Going over to the sculpting side, there have been a number of emerging programs but there are two that I personally hold on the top, ZBrush and Blender. The first is considered the industry standard for digital sculpting and it offers a wide range of tools for texturing and painting. This one has been mainly used to create highly detailed characters that are ready for films and game production. Blender doesn’t match the quality of sculpting but is the most powerful option when it comes to animating. Being the only software like this open-source, it has become a favorite between independent artists and filmmakers.
Step #4: Start experimenting
Begin creating simple projects and experimenting with different techniques to gain experience and build your skills in 3D tech.
It goes without saying that when learning something new the learning curve is going to seem steep at first, but that’s okay. It’s been almost a year since I first opened my first Blender project and I remember thinking “Where in all of this little buttons do I begin?”. My recommendation if you haven’t dived in yet: look up tutorials, join communities, read blogs, speak with an AI (you’d be surprised at what you can learn). In my case, I didn’t have much interest in modeling, but I did want to animate and create cool effects. Tutorials have been my best friends here. By watching tutorials of other people achieving what I am trying, you can get new perspectives and ideas to even try and upgrade that effect and make it your own. This constant practice and emulation will build up the skills and confidence to later create your own scenes and renders. Another way that you could tackle advancing your skills is by participating in design challenges. These are a very good way to interact with artists in the top of their game and get feedback on how to improve the quality of your work. Creating with this technologies is exciting and by taking advantage of online courses or tutorials you can gain experience to improve your skills and showcase your abilities.
When starting out with 3D technology it is completely normal to stumble and fall, even nearing the first year of experimenting. The learning curve for these softwares keeps growing but so do the resources and the tools to have everything more intuitive and easy to apply to any type of project. Practice, practice and practice, either by recreating or by experimenting and applying what you learned in the tutorials, that is the best way to improve and progress to more complex projects, and ultimately creating your own paths so others can benefit from your own knowledge.
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