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What 3d art program I should start with?


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#1 emark.mark20   Members   -  Reputation: 194

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:17 AM

Hi everyone, I am thinking of going into 3d art to make projects for my art portfolio and I was wondering what freeware programs would you recommend me to look at.

List of freeware programs I found online:
-Blender
-K-3d
-Art of illusion
-Softimage
-Google sketch up

There is probably more that I do not know of but I would like to hear your opinions. I would also like to know if game developers wouldn't mind if using these free programs. I recall visiting a couple of game websites with job postings and said something about "must have experience with Maya" or "must have experience in 3d studios max".

Thanks for the help.
 



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#2 papi0t   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:37 AM

Although I am not an artist, I only heard good things about Blender and K-3D. Your requirement is to build a portfolio. My suggestion is to pick one of the above (let's say Blender) and start doing 3D art.

Once you know how to use one of them, when you switch to Maya or 3DS you will probably know how to use at least 75% of the features. There's a similar analogy in the programming world when it comes to IDEs - should I use a free one or a commercial one. In the end, it doesn't matter that much. What matters is the end result. These tools you can learn as you go along.

Think about this as learning to drive in a cheap car vs learning to drive in a BMW M6 - you can achieve the same result with both Posted Image

In terms of what game developers "prefer" - well this is very specific per project. Some game studios even have their own custom data files, so you shouldn't worry too much about what programmers prefer in general, but focus more on your actual art.

Edited by papi0t, 05 December 2012 - 11:39 AM.


#3 Rakilonn   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:06 PM

For a free software, I think you should go for Blender : it's a complete software and there is even a ZBrush mode.

http://www.blender.org/development/release-logs/blender-243/sculpt-mode/

#4 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1052

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:08 PM

@papi0t - I agree.

It's good to get experience in really any 3D modeling software if that's the route you're looking to take.

Also, if you're a student, you can sign up for a free 3 year license for nearly all of Autodesk's software.

I know a couple of bigger studios that actually use Blender for all of their model work. It makes sense since they can get the same quality of product without the hefty licensing cost.

Not much else for me to add. Good luck!Posted Image

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#5 Scarabus2   Members   -  Reputation: 556

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:27 PM

Be aware that while Blender is definitely free, it had a very unconventional interface and the learning curve is extremely steep. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.
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#6 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3685

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 04:41 PM

Be aware that while Blender is definitely free, it had a very unconventional interface and the learning curve is extremely steep. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.


It didn't see to much worse than Maya to me (although I've only just dabbled in modelling), and Blender has a pretty substantial community, too: http://cgcookie.com/blender/. I didn't have a ton of trouble after watching a couple tutorial videos.

But Dave's suggestion to look at free student version of Maya is a good idea, too, since it might be advantageous to work with a more common commercial software. IIRC there are limitations of what you can export with the student version though.

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#7 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 05:43 PM

Be aware that while Blender is definitely free, it had a very unconventional interface and the learning curve is extremely steep. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

That's very out of date. The interface has been redone from scratch 3 years ago now, and everything you need is available from a mouse menu. There is also a search function where you can type in the name of a command and find it.

Head to BlenderCookie.com and watch the free videos: http://cgcookie.com/blender/get-started-with-blender/

#8 Scarabus2   Members   -  Reputation: 556

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:46 AM

The interface has been updated, but it still assumes you know what you're doing. It still has keyboard shortcuts that change depending on where your mouse cursor is, and it's still going to be strange for anyone used to standard Windows interface convensions. For instance left mouse-click rarely does what you expect, if anything at all.

To create a primitive with a custom number of segments/divisions you have to open up a console and run a python function. Explain that to a beginner.

Compare with Gimp, which is also a free program but a struggle to actually use for anyone not already well familiar with its unconventional interface.
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#9 emark.mark20   Members   -  Reputation: 194

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 03:10 PM


Be aware that while Blender is definitely free, it had a very unconventional interface and the learning curve is extremely steep. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

That's very out of date. The interface has been redone from scratch 3 years ago now, and everything you need is available from a mouse menu. There is also a search function where you can type in the name of a command and find it.

Head to BlenderCookie.com and watch the free videos: http://cgcookie.com/...d-with-blender/


The interface has been updated, but it still assumes you know what you're doing. It still has keyboard shortcuts that change depending on where your mouse cursor is, and it's still going to be strange for anyone used to standard Windows interface convensions. For instance left mouse-click rarely does what you expect, if anything at all.

To create a primitive with a custom number of segments/divisions you have to open up a console and run a python function. Explain that to a beginner.

Compare with Gimp, which is also a free program but a struggle to actually use for anyone not already well familiar with its unconventional interface.


Ok, I guess I can give Blender and Maya's student edition a shot. I know I havent done 3D modeling before but in the past,I had trouble learning programs like Illustrator and I had to get used to GIMP because I had no access to Photoshop. I always have some sort of learning curve to go through in programs I am newly exposed to.

#10 jwezorek   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1987

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 03:21 PM

Be aware that while Blender is definitely free, it had a very unconventional interface and the learning curve is extremely steep. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.


Blender has a steep learning curve but I'm not sure this is because its interface is 'unconventional'. All of the big commercial 3D modelling programs have equally steep learning curves. 3D Studio Max is no picnic either. 3D modelling just isn't an easy thing to learn, unfortunately. Something like MilkShape maybe can be easier to learn because it is smaller and there is therefore less to learn, but doing the same things, i.e. low-polygon modelling, that you can do in MilkShape in Blender amounts to the same thing.

Edited by jwezorek, 07 December 2012 - 12:55 PM.


#11 robindejongh   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:09 PM

I'm undoubtedly completely biased in my answer, but I'd go for SketchUp. It's free, it's very quick and easy to get to grips with, and it's optimised for rapid creation of textured models. I personally find the results far outperform what you get from Blender or Max if you were to spend the same time learning each.

#12 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:50 PM

Sketch Up is cool, but it's a program that only does a few things. It's primarily a cad style modeler. There is a free version, but the fuller featured PRO version with all the better stuff costs 500.00$. And that doesn't do even near the amount of things Blender will do.

Blender does almost everything. Modeling, Texturing, UV Mapping, Baking, Sculpting, Rigging, Particles, Physics, has 2 built in renderers, node based shader editor. A GLSL shader mode. It also does animation on the whole scene/timeline, or action/clip based (useful for games when you make animation clips for characters (walk/run/attack/etc...), and anything else you want to script in. It also has a scriptable game engine if you want to prototype some ideas there. It's like a swiss army knife of graphics programs.

Most of your time in Blender, you will use only 3 keys. G(grab/translate)/S(scale)/R(rotate). You don't even need to use keys for those, because you can use the transform gizmo (which is usually less helpful than just using the hotkey. You'll mostly disable the transform gizmo anyways).

The hotkeys change depending on what mode you are in, because everything you can do in 3D modeling is context sensitive. Object mode commands don't make sense in Edit mode. Edit mode commands have no place in the sculpting mode, etc... But it doesn't matter, because everything a hotkey can do is also in the context menus, the menu bar menus, or the space bar menu.

Blender's hotkeys work just like any other program. You don't have to learn them if you don't want to, but they are there to help you, and you much better off using them. Just like no one uses the menu bar to do File->Save(Ctrl-S), Cut, Copy, Paste, etc in any program. And we have Function keys to compile and run or debug. The menu bar just slows you down.

The same goes for making artwork 2D, 3D or otherwise. No one (who knows what they are doing) wants to stop using the mouse while they are in the middle of creating something because you always end up with ugly, jagged, results. Trying drawing a circle on paper where you keep lifting the pencil every few degrees. You get a jagged mess. Letting go of your work to click on commands in menus interrupts your smooth flow, and your thought process.

Once you get the hang of your program of choice, you are going to start using it at a different level. You will have one hand on the keyboard, and one on the mouse or pen, and the program will disappear. You won't be thinking in terms of hotkeys (that's muscle memory) or mouse movements anymore. You'll be thinking in terms of what you are creating straight from your head to the screen, and getting actual work done.

Edited by Daaark, 06 December 2012 - 10:51 PM.


#13 heavycat   Members   -  Reputation: 387

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 01:57 AM

Blender, GIMP, Inkscape are the Open Source hat trick. If you learn those three well, migrating to other platforms later will be fairly easy and all of your skills will be useful on both commercial and free software.

#14 wizardpc   Members   -  Reputation: 282

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:10 PM

I use Wings3D

It's awesome for modeling and texturing (doesn't do animation). Works cross platform really well. REALLY easy to use.




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