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Current Opinions on good starter programs

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Good evening, all.

 

I'm a previous member (can't remember details from that many years back) who has decided to return to the forums to make a serious attempt at some small indie projects.

 

The last time I was here, at least 5 years ago, the craze for 3d modeling was Blender (or Maya, 3DMax, etc. for premium)...  As I've not kept up with the times, I'm curious, has this changed?  Is Blender still the go-to recommendation for aspiring students of 3d modelling?  If not, what are the current trends according to GameDev members?

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In my opinion Blender is still the king of the free modelling software world.  It has gotten better and better and in my opinions made itself a quite good competitor to the competing paid programs.  Others' opinions may differ, but that is how I see it.  I use Blender exclusively for my 3d modelling needs and have no need for anything else.

 

One thing you might want to look up is how PBR has come out, how it works, etc...  The workflow has some changes due to this if you want to use it, and though it is different, I wouldn't say it is more difficult, at least once you understand it, so it may indeed be worth it.

 

Other softwares have had things change, etc...  My current favorite tools for texturing are from allegorithmic.  Substance designer can work well to get many types of procedural textures, and Painter is quite the awesomeness as far texture painting goes.  If you remember DeepPaint, how you could paint spec, bump, diffuse, etc... all at once, that is how Painter is, but for the PBR workflow, and much better and more modern.  It can use textures from images, as well as from substance designer files.  I'm no artist, but I can at times get acceptable results using painter just because of how good the workflow actually is.  Gone are the days of having to paint directly on textures.  Also, they currently have this "Live" service.  You pay $19.99 a month like a subscription, but once you pay the total software price, you stop paying and then actually own the software, so it is more rent-to-own than subscription, which is about as good as it gets.

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Good evening, all.

 

I'm a previous member (can't remember details from that many years back) who has decided to return to the forums to make a serious attempt at some small indie projects.

 

The last time I was here, at least 5 years ago, the craze for 3d modeling was Blender (or Maya, 3DMax, etc. for premium)...  As I've not kept up with the times, I'm curious, has this changed?  Is Blender still the go-to recommendation for aspiring students of 3d modelling?  If not, what are the current trends according to GameDev members?

Not only that but, Blender has come on in leaps and bounds since then.  Now actually being a challenger to some of the more premium tools.

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+1 to Blender if you want to go with a free tool. Nothing at its price bracket can challenge it, and the other full 3D Packages are just prohitively expensive when they give you more or less the same that Blender does.

 

 

That being said, if you have a small budget to spend on tools, Maya Lite is now available, giving you the most important Maya tools for around 800$, or 30$ per month. I cannot really recommend it, hated the way it made Blenders obscure navigation look easy to me. If Blender now really support Vertex normals, I will cancel my sub.

 

What DOES get my full recommendation is 3D Coat. Gives you all you get with zBrush, with a more accessible UI and an extremly good retopo toolset, for half the price... around 350$ per license last time I checked. This is not a fully fledged 3D Package like Blender, but what it does (Sculpting (Voxel Sculpting), Retopo and UV remapping, 3D painting), it does really well, outdoing Blender at these things with ease.

 

ZBrush also isn't too expensive, altough we are now in the 700$ territory. If you don't know ZBrush, google it. The Industry standard for Sculpting.

 

 

If you want the best lowcost tool for NURBS Modelling and "CAD Lite", MoI is a great little tool that can be had for under 300$... for CAD like modelling it is REALLY quick and accessible, making hardsurface modelling of tricky models a breeze.

 

 

Then there have been a whole lot of additional tools that are cheap that might interest you:

- CrazyBump... if you don't know it, might want to have a look. Tool to generate different maps from different inputs. Really great to generate heightmaps from normals and the other way round. 100$ for a personal license

- Fuse... AFAIK the tool is free, but heavely integrated into the whole mixamo ecosystem. Though if you don't want to pay, you can use it without paying a cent. a "character creator", you can create your human or human-like character from parts and dress it or outfit it with accessories.

- Mixamo... can get expensive quickly, but single animations are not that expensive, and the autorigger does work quite well. If you have not too many characters that need to be animated and don't know how to animate it, or how to pay an animator to do it, maybe look into the Mixamo service... you can get your character rigged and buy animations (down for the time being as Adobe bought Mixamo... I REALLY hope that doesn't mean crappy integration into Adobes Creative Cloud in the future).

 

 

 

But really, start with Blender. It might not do everything as well as some of these specialist tools, but at 0$ cost, nobody can complain, especially when it still does things not to bad. And it really does all, from Boxmodelling to Sculpting, Retopo, Rigging and Animations, to NURBS modelling.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Hey guys!  Jeanette from Adobe/Mixamo team here.  :)  I just wanted to chime in since Gian-Reto mentioned our stuff-n-thangs but the information was a little out dated.  Adobe has made Mixamo free for a limited time, so you can get unlimited characters and animations with just an Adobe ID.  Includes the following:

 

Fuse 1.3 (desktop character creator application)

Adobe Fuse CC (Preview) (New version of Fuse coming soon!)

Mixamo Auto-Rigging (automatic rigging for humanoid models)

Mixamo Animations (3000+ motion captured animation library)

Mixamo Decimator (polygon LOD service)

 

Let me know if you have questions!

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Hey guys!  Jeanette from Adobe/Mixamo team here.  smile.png  I just wanted to chime in since Gian-Reto mentioned our stuff-n-thangs but the information was a little out dated.  Adobe has made Mixamo free for a limited time, so you can get unlimited characters and animations with just an Adobe ID.  Includes the following:

 

Fuse 1.3 (desktop character creator application)

Adobe Fuse CC (Preview) (New version of Fuse coming soon!)

Mixamo Auto-Rigging (automatic rigging for humanoid models)

Mixamo Animations (3000+ motion captured animation library)

Mixamo Decimator (polygon LOD service)

 

Let me know if you have questions!

 

Wow, now that are interesting news. Glad to hear Mixamo is still doing things as a seperate entity and not just being integrated into CC (yet... fingers crossed).

 

 

Thanks for the information.

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@giantreto: crazybump has not been updated in ages, you get a better deal with other tools these days for instance with ndo/ the quixel suite or the substance tools, substance in general is a good thing to know, many productions switch over to it these days

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Well, first off, thank you all for much more informative answers than I actually expected to get (the internet has finally made even this blunt cynic a little gun shy in terms of asking for help)!

 

I will definitely keep the extra suggestions in mind when I'm a bit further down the road, but as I'm nowhere near competent enough to warrant money spending, I'll still with Blender, since you all agree that it still reigns king of the free market! 

 

 

Again, thanks all!

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I'm much more proficient in Maya and had tried Blender many years back and found it primitive and nearly unusable compared to Maya. However, I tried it again recently and it has improved massively. Some of it's rendering capabilities are quite a bit better than Maya - especially toon/vector. 

 

It's not quite as good as the higher end stuff, but with the slow rate of improvement and seemingly endless cycle of "fix a bug add two more" that Autodesk has been doing for years, Blender will catch up and surpass it at some point.

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