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Animation novice

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Where do I start? I have had literally no experience in 3d (or 2d) animation and next to no experience in traditional drawing. If I wanted to start learning about animation for games as a total novice who knows little about it, and little about art in general, where do I need to start? So far all I can find is beginner tutorials, but nothing for a total novice. What do I need to know before even thinking about embarking on a career in 3d animation (I'm most interested atm in facial animation)? Any information would be appreciated, thanks. (btw if anyone mentions the word "math", like with my failed attempt at learning C++, I'm out of here ;) )

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If you have absolutely no experience in art, design or 3D production then you are setting yourself up for a very long journey - but a fun one.

If it's possible I'd prescribe a reasonable length course in art or perhaps media design of some sort, to give you a grounding in how colors, forms, positioning, anatomy etc, works - this is all doubly valuable with animation. Without those skills, going straight into 3D design and animation will be a very frustrating learning curve.

The reason you can't find tutorials for your skill level is because they don't exist (to my knowledge), it is assumed that you have previous artistic experience with non 3D art and design.

So what kind of experience do you have? Have you used any 3D or 2D design packages?

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I'd recommend walking into your local bookstore and picking a modeling book marked "for beginners". Maya 7: Foundation is a great book for learning the basics of Maya. Also, most major software packages have built-in n00bie friendly tutorials. I've heard that The Animator's Survival Kit is an awesome book, but I haven't personally had a chance to check it out yet. Perhaps you should? How old are you and well, where are you at in your education? Do you have any local colleges to take any modeling or animation classes?

If you're interested in 3d animation, you're first going to have to learn 3d modeling. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this. Maya, 3D Studio Max, Softimage, and most other major softwares have free demo version for you to download and work with. The best way to get your feet wet is to well, load one of them suckers up and then click on the help tab at the top of the screen.

If you're in high school or college, consider taking an intro to drawing class. You may not be that interested in drawing, but it'll help to teach you to notice details that you wouldn't notice now probably.

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Thanks for the replies.

First, I'm glad no one has mentioned "math".

I'm 21, I still have time to be able to go on a course. I've just come to the realization that computer based 3d art would be the perfect subject (not necessarily complimentary) to take along side my screenwriting. I'm aching to do something visual. I'm also into videography (still a beginner in that too.)

I've had literally, in all my life, no more than 3 weeks experience in drawing. I drew several pics "from life" and several from photographs. That's it. They weren't amazing but people said they thought I showed some possibilities of a future in art (practically everyone on one of my parents sides draw, my aunt is an art teacher for example and good at it too.)

So, is Maya 7: foundation really for someone of my level, or as Dog City says is there really no tutorial? I've never used a 2d or 3d package before, or any computer-based package really ( I tried 'visual' C++ once, was bobbins at it.)

How long should I do drawing for before moving on to 3d? Or should I do 3d art and traditional 2d drawing at the same time?

I'm looking into d/ling a free demo of maya 7 now...

Thanks again.


Someone suggested "MAYA 7: FOR BEGINNERS" on www.amazon.com as a novice book instead of foundation...maybe I should just experiement with the program first.

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To be honest I am in a similar position to yourself, but a few months down the line. However, I am more interested in making models and considering texturing. The first thing I recommend is baby steps. Take your time and don't rush into things.

What helped me a great deal was reading beginner tutorials. Even if you don't understand most of the content, it will introduce you to the terminology used in tutorials and hard literature (books).

Personally I recommend downloading the 3d Studio max 8 trial from autodesk, conivenantly the also present you with Maya Personal Learing addition. Autodesk also provide some easy to follow tutorials for download with the 30 day trial of 3ds max 8. And some of the do assume 0% prior 3d knowledge.

Click for autodesk

After trying both you should decide what you are most comfortable with and concentrate on one particular programme because while similar when you get deeper into them you WILL find large differances.

If you live in the UK you can get 3D Stuido max and Maya 7 unlimited edition for heftty student discounts.

3D Studio max is 88 pounds
Maya is 225 but that include some books to help you learn.

Student software

Finally while all this may be time consuming I cannot understate the importance of getting some free hand drawing time in. You don't have to get particularly good. Just do some internet tutorials and on the weekends just go down to the park and watch how people behanve and move and sketch it down quickly. It will help you commit things to memory and understand how and when joints are restrictive.


Here is a drawning tutorial that helped me in basic structures.


Hope this helps. And good luck. Feel free to pm me.

Tsunami_49

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Quote:
Original post by Blad3
So, is Maya 7: foundation really for someone of my level, or as Dog City says is there really no tutorial? I've never used a 2d or 3d package before, or any computer-based package really ( I tried 'visual' C++ once, was bobbins at it.)

I found it to be a great book, but while it does spell things out rather well, it does move along pretty quickly. Maya 7: For Beginners might be the step you'd like to take before plunging into it. I had some 3D experience already when I tackled Foundation, but again, For Beginners might be a bit more stuited for ya [wink]

Quote:
How long should I do drawing for before moving on to 3d? Or should I do 3d art and traditional 2d drawing at the same time?

There is no need to wait until after traditional drawing or whatever. You should use it to complement your studies. A better understanding of how to represent a three dimensional object on a two dimensional plane along with experience working with and trying to recreate values, lighting, and texture by hand will give you incredible insight into your 3d endeavors.

Quote:
I'm looking into d/ling a free demo of maya 7 now...

I'm personally a big fan of Maya, but it isn't the only thing out there. Zbrush, which is still relatively new, is a hot piece of software at the moment and you can do some pretty wicked things with it.

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ZBrush is not for the traditional-art novice. It completely relies on traditional art skill more than a normal modelling program... you are sculpting and drawing, with a tablet, not rotating and pushing vertices and lofting and all the normal modelling things. Its an advanced-skills program (yet very easy to learn for 2D people, since it has alot more in common with 2D than 3D, I wouldn't suggest it for an artistic novice.

BTW, The Animator's Survival Kit is a must-have for all animators... I've yet to meet a single 2D or 3D animator who doesn't own a copy.

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Thanks for the replies. The drawing tutorials were helpful

I'm experimenting with Maya 7 now.

I see how artistic skill is necessary -- you can actually draw lines free-hand, at the same time you don't just draw do you? You can "play around with" the object.

Now I'm starting to draw on paper again, and getting into Maya 7 -- this is great.

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I wasn't really recommending Zbrush as something to start on, I was simply saying that it is quite the hot commodity right now!

Actually, I spent a couple of semesters working with Solid Edge, Catia, and Rhino before I touched Maya. Those are all packages that are geared towards industrial development, so I think they're actually a little better at learning the basics of modeling on. Rhino has a cleaner interface than Maya (well, initially anyways, because once you learn the hot keys and to use the hotbox, you can just clear away pretty much the entire interface).

Maya, Softimage, and 3D Studio Max provide some of the best integrated animation systems on the market (which explains their definate popularity). Since you're wanting to go the animation route, all three of these packages are certainly good to go with. None of them have the "easiest" to learn interfaces though, so you can expect many hours just playing around with the gazillion options that the interface provides you with [wink]

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Ok, I'll look into buying the books.

For now I'm drawing (on paper) again, and I'm wondering if I should take either a "drawing" course or a "life drawing AND painting" course.

Drawing is hard enough as it is, I'm not sure about painting yet...What do you think?

The drawing courses are for beginners/novices such as myself. You can eventually gain levels and then go and get a degree in art if you want. But I've still got my mind set to go on with the 3d art rather than just traditional drawing.

I take it I don't really need to take courses in 3d art with e.g. Maya, I can just learn myself? But with drawing I may as well go on a course. This should all be the perfect compliment to my writing (which I have "under control", so have time to do this art thing too.)

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You'll NEED to take a life drawing course. Not only will you learn how to draw, you'll learn poses, and movement, and weight, and balance, and all those other fundamental things. It'd be best for you to do alot of short-length drawings (ie, 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes, five minutes), since the things you're worrying about most are poses, which are the first things established in a life drawing.

If you're animating, don't worry about painting. Painting will help you paint textures and model, it would be good, but I wouldn't call it integral.

While you do all this, learn the technical aspects of Maya... ie, go through a tutorial book (I'd suggest 'Learning Maya 7: Foundation (I think that's what its called) for your basic get-familiar-with-3D stuff, and Exploring 3D Modelling with Maya 6 and Exploring 3D Animation with Maya 6 for your foundation in modelling and animation.) Maya 6 is similar enough to Maya 7 that you shouldn't have any inhibitions about getting a Maya6 book. Avoid 'Bible' type books, IMO, they are too expansive at your stage.

Once you are able to draw dynamic poses/figures well enough, and once you get a handle on on Maya's toolset, I'd suggest really concetrating on animation theory books like Survival Kit, and a 3D animation textbook of your choice (either The Art of 3-D Computer Animation and Effects, Third Edition, or maybe Principles of Three Dimensional Computer Animation (I had the latter author as a professor, and the former author used to work with him).

The main thing you're going to have to leave your computer for is drawing... you really need to take classes and get instruction and just get out there and draw!

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Thanks, that's very helpful.

atm I'm just drawing e.g. from photos of models (women etc) straight from the computer screen, with the paper (book for support) on my lap.

I'll probably go for a life drawing class then.

atm I'm just drawing the face, not the body of the person...

...and you say "30 seconds", "one minute"? I take quite alot longer. Interesting, I'll try to speed it up then.

Also, what you're confirming for me is it's important to draw from life (for some reason) not just from photographs and other artists pictures...which is what I've heard/been told.

Thanks again.

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Generally (in my experience, at least), figure drawing is done with a large pad (18x24) and charcoal. You draw from the shoulder, to capture gesture, it is a much stronger stroke. Perhaps there are good books or videos to instruct you, but nothing will replace a proper instructor. This will give you the strong foundation you need to pursue any other form of visual arts.

I really, strongly suggest you go to a life drawing class, open drawing, sign up for a class, or ask a fellow artist or professor. I can sit here and try to describe why gesture drawing from life is more effective, but I would be spending the better part of the day. I'm sure fellow artists will be in agreement, just do it! No ifs, ands, or buts, if you're serious. I'm not saying you NEED to do this to animate, I'm saying if you want to make GOOD animations, you have to learn gesture and pose and dynamics. Its really up to you... but, IMO, no amount of 3D animation experience will make up for the fundamentals you'll learn in figure drawing.

Depending on your budget, www.thegnomonworkshop.com will be a great friend. Their DVD's are second to none... however, DVD's WILL get expensive, so a couple good books would be better for teaching you the more basic things (videos are more cost efficient for more nuanced and advanced techniques). Also, study some anatomy books.

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I read through some of these posts and here's the first thing you do. Listen to professor ;).

Drawing is a great way to start. And the 30 sec, 1 min, 10 min etc. was something I did in a 2D art course few years ago. Basically, I took a pad and some writing tool (charcoal works great, pencil or pen is fine) and I found a thick magazine such as a clothing store's advertisement booklet etc. The instructor yelled go (quite the class, trust me), and we furiously scribbled a quick sketch of a person. When time was up, we would flip the page and draw another person. We would do different timings such as 1 minute all the way to 30 minutes. I burnt through several thick pads, so I suggest you go ahead and buy some. Computer paper just doesn't cut it, unless you aren't in a course and just practicing.

I finish my 2D art stuff a year ago, and for the past 6-8 months have been working on 3d art. It will take you at least a year to get a beautiful result in animation because you first need to know the basics of 2d art (esp. human poses in your case). Then you need to establish a good foundation in 3d software (like I'm doing now). That takes quite a while and hours of work reading through tutorials & books. Then you need to know advanced stuff like texturing, lighting and so on. Zbrush helps here..you should visit the Zbrush website; the pictures (of humans) are so incredibly detailed and realistic. You won't achieve this overnight, but as mentioned before, it'll be fun. You'll reap the benefits down the line.

Good luck with your advancement.

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I see Prof recommended Gnomon. I plan on buying one of their dvd's for environments down the line. Here's a link for a Character Animation DVD ($60) if you're interested.

http://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/dvds/rco01.html

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Thanks. I plan to start 3d and 2d at the same time, for the first week or so it'll probably be mostly 2d. I'm just playing around with Maya. Eventually I'll need the book...

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I'm looking it up now for myself, but does anyone know which graphics engine created the graphics for Unreal Tournament 2007?

I find that several of the games that use it, such as Huxley, seem to have better animation than some of the pre-rendered "3d art" I'm finding via google [ the art is still high level, however.] Does anyone know the names of any impressive 3d artists, I've seen some by an artist called "Meats Meier"; would like to see more.

Also, as with just about every subject, there are magazines specifically for 3d art -- could any1 recommend me one? Thanks.

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Quote:
Original post by Blad3
I'm looking it up now for myself, but does anyone know which graphics engine created the graphics for Unreal Tournament 2007?
It's the Unreal Engine, and the models were made in 3D Studio.

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Oh yeah, right, the unreal engine. 3d studio? Thx

Also thx for the other helpful site.

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