There are a number of ways to learn 3D modeling but the fastest way depends not on the course or the software itself but on you— your passion and caliber, your determination and hardwork and so many other conditions determine how fast you can learn.
For most people the faster they learn the faster they forget. Above all, being an expert is more important than learning faster.
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Define Your Goal
If you want an industry-level skill (to make cinema or games like Fortnite, League of Legends, Valorant) you might like to learn Maya or 3D Studio Max.
And if you opt to do business personally or be a freelancer softwares like Blender, Substance Painter, (especially for texturing), ZBrush (especially for sculpting) is quite enough.
It really doesn’t matter which program you choose, it’s the tools that are available to you and the tools that you are comfortable learning that matters and that’s the most important.
Paid or Unpaid
This is another big issue to consider. If you want to go to industries you’ll have to choose some paid 3D modeling course and a paid 3D software. Here you’ll avail instructions from experts and softwares with tons of extra resources.
For your personal, entry-level learning there are a handful of free courses that are not complete (meaning they don’t guide you to learn everything you need to know about 3D modeling. Most of them are sort of ‘teaser courses’.) and a number of free softwares that are almost void of additional resources.
From one sense, these free softwares can also be called ‘teaser softwares’ that are meant to allure you to buy full versions of them.
For example, when you download free versions of Blender or ZBrush, at first, you’ll be very happy to have such robust softwares that allows you to build up a 3D character just within a couple of hours (after you learn to use it).
As you carry on with them and try to develop your skills along with the ‘trendings’ you’ll start to feel the appetite for tools that could help you make your models more standard and more specific.
This is when they will open their stocks of treasures in front of you and beckon you to buy them in the form of ‘updating to full version’ or ‘downloading extra resources’. We’ll talk about the resources in a bit more detail later in this article.
Nothing comes unpaid!
What’s the Deal Then?
The deal is very simple. If you don’t like to wait and need to earn within a short time you’d better go for one of the courses we’ll be talking about shortly.
And if you have time you can download free versions of Blender or ZBrush and start learning by yourself with the help of youtube videos and other free tutorial resources.
If you have a knack of art and 3D modeling you are likely to get to near-expert level. Thereafter you’re probably going to like to use some of the paid resources to create advanced level models.
Some of the Excellent 3D Modeling Softwares
As we have said before, you can learn industry-level softwares and personal-level softwares. We’ll review some of them now.
1. Autodesk Maya
Commonly named as Maya this is probably the best (yes, just the best according to most of the reviews across the internet) 3D modeling software that provides you almost everything you need as a freelancer or a full-fledged 3D modeling industry.
Along with tons of features, resources and other conveniences this software easily accepts external scripts and plug-ins.
They have a special provision— one year free access to all the products and services— for students and educators which is conditionally renewable.
If you are enrolled in any of their accepted institutions as a student or an educator you can have a world of resources to boost your creativity and success.
The only things we’ve found they should include in it are texturing and sculpting. Don’t panic. There are equally practicable way-rounds here and you’ll hardly feel any lackings.
Being ‘heavy’ even on powerful desktops it takes rather longer to render. The marvelous overall performance, however, compensates that.
2. 3D Studio Max
A very close competitor of Maya, 3D Studio Max has so many outstanding features that compel so many users to spend a minimum $215 per month. Some of them even have switched from other 3D modeling softwares.
For highly professional engineers, architects and game developers it is an essential tool for creating 3D models and maps with real-looking textures and high details.
Some of the works that can be done 3D SM with the finest accuracy and a spectacular finishing are video games, cartoons , Featured 3D Product Replica Projects like some nice trade show displays or some spectacular window displays, movie props (realistic armor, futuristic weapons, incredibly detailed creatures), topographies (models and maps displayed at museums, university campuses, national parks, hospitals, sports facilities and research organizations), architectural models and so on.
As for any software this one has some downsides. Pricing is at the top of them all.
Some of the users who couldn’t earn that much are seriously thinking of switching to other softwares. Others have objections over the interface that is lacking antialiasing and the lag on low-poly objects.
Undoubtedly, this is the most popular 3D modeling software around the globe. There are reasons for it. First, it has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for the beginners to learn how to use it.
Secondly, its versatile features even in the free version is really praiseworthy. So many low budget 3D modelers are quite happy using Blender and earning consistently, almost without feeling they need to buy any updates or switch to better softwares.
If you surf the video tutorials for beginners, most of them are suggesting Blender to learn.
Being the best for the beginners, let’s get to a bit more detail.
Blender offers a lot of modifiers that are used to sculpt and edit objects. When you change the shape of your object modifier stores the changed properties one after another. You can use them individually to edit or undo any of the changes.
It has got UV unwrapping tools that allows you to map 2D texture on 3D objects. When you unwrap the 3D object in the UV editor, the 2D texture is applied to it.
The cool add-ons that Blender provides are simply mind blowing. And many of them are just free.
Some of them are Nature Clicker, Blender GIS, Animation Extras, Spread Objects, Node Wrangler, Choke style Wireframe, Archimesh, Mirror Selected Bones, Anti-sea, Archipack, Simple Tabs, Molecular Script that are going to allow you to elevate overall quality of your games.
The other amazing features of Blender are texturing, raster graphics, digital drawing editing, fluid and smoke simulation, rigging and skinning, soft body simulation, particle simulation, animation, sculpting, rendering, match moving, motion graphics, compositing and video editing which, if just used with due dexterity, can ensure magical 3D creations.
Some of the Useful 3D Modeling Tutorials
Let’s first talk about some of the free tutorials that are available. There are hundreds of them. Not all could be your match.
At first you won’t go for the advanced tutorials like the Teddy Bear and the Explosion because their instructions are complex and, for the beginners, difficult to understand.
Some of the tutorials for the beginners:
- Blender for Everyone by Darrin Lile. This professional tutorial maker really knows how to introduce 3D works easily to the novices by slow and easy description and short videos. Though some of them are especially for members, others can be greatly benefited by the free videos.
- Blender Guru. Both beginners and advanced 3D modelers can learn equally from his tutorials of different levels. For the beginners he has got the Blender 3.0 Beginner Donut Tutorial and for the next level he has created Blender Intermediate Modelling Tutorial. Along with that the resources he has produced is really praiseworthy. Anyone can try them.
- BornCG. For quick tips and easy directions their short videos could be your prime choice.
Some other noteworthy tutorials are YanSculpts, CG Geek, Remington Graphics (or Remington Creative), JNM or Jayanam,
Where to Start
Now that you have a lot of information it’s very easy for anyone to get lost and start out from an impracticable point. Let’s make it easy.
Working on low poly models is the best idea to start with. This means you work with some basic shapes and basic styles, get oriented with the 3D interface and gradually update to more complex and sophisticated models.
This will energize you when you say ‘That’s mine. I’ve created it’. You learn from the scratch, you learn from failing and mistakes, you learn in the face of frustration that no teacher is there to help you out.
Maybe when you look back as an expert after two or three years you might laugh at the primitive models void of sculpting and other essential blendings but these are the introductions of your success. They’ll tell the other beginners a lot of stories.
Here, many interested learners inquire, ‘Do I have to be an artist?’ No. You don’t have to be. The natural artist within you will gradually awaken as your ideas grow while you manipulate 3D object creating tools and see how others are building their creations.
But if you are an artist from the beginning your sense of art is going to help a lot. Those who are really artists do well in painting and sculpting while non artists opt for architectural visualization or hard surface modeling using box modeling techniques
Earn from 3D Modeling— Wait and Think
The market of 3D modeling is enormous and the prospect of a 3D modeler is seemingly unlimited. There are a number of ways you can earn from 3D modeling.
Before getting to the main ideas of earning let’s talk about some important things to know:
Fresh Graduate or Expert?
Present world is getting more and more seriously competitive. Everyday more people are entering the market and asking to do jobs with less remuneration.
On the other hand, big and mid-range industries are getting more experts than ever to choose from. This has made it harder for the newcomers and left no other option than achieving professional level skills.
Freelancers have faced the same thrust. The online 3D model market is teeming with high quality, top-notch models. There is hardly any room left for learners and intermediate-level workers.
It’s an Ever Changing World
This is more applicable for the tech world. Each day 3D modeling softwares are introducing new robust tools to meet the ever increasing demand of the sci-fi movies, realistic games, automobile companies and fashion world. One needs to keep on learning the uses of countless tools and add-ons before he falls behind.
Don’t Beat About the Bush
Slick instructors on the video say that you learn Maya or Blender and you start earning right away. Right? And so many youngsters start dreaming of filling their pockets with thousands of dollars. Within a year their dream turns out to be a nightmare.
The best practice is to work with any of the 3D industries. This will enable you to know the demand and trendings of the 3D market.
After you have had enough experience you can very well decide if you’ll work as a freelancer or do something more rewarding.
Earn From 3D Modeling— The Ways
With the above points in your mind consider the following ways to earn:
1. Develop Tools and Plugins for 3D Software
This is probably the best way that matches the present trends of the 3D modeling market. If you learn to program 3D tools and plug-ins your works will be smartly competent with the market forever.
Other than satisfying your employer you can sell your products on the market at a rewarding rate.
2. Sell Courses
If you have in-depth knowledge on a particular software like Maya, 3D Studio Max or Blender your door of teaching others is always open. If you don’t have time to develop a tutorial platform you can sell your course to Udemy, Skillshare or other learning platforms.
3. Sell 3D Prints
A number of 3D developers and modelers are making enough money selling their 3D prints. You can print a wide variety of products. Here are some of them:
Home use: displays and show-pieces of almost all types like cartoons, toys and even miniatures of your own sculpture.
Kitchen: from drain catch to decent egg holder, measuring spoon/cup, general purpose hook, wall shelves, pan organizer— almost everything is possible for you to design and sell.
Utility Accessories: customizable knife butt, tie clip microphone holder and many more.
Office & Study: all sorts of educational models, maps etc.
Fashion and Jewelry: Earrings, bracelets and many more. There are thousands of ideas and they are ever growing. You can find more on this site.
4. Sell 3D Models
Whether you work as a freelancer or work in any 3D company you always have time to make 3D models. Selling those models online can get you lucrative returns.
TURBOSQUID is a great platform to sell your 3d models and make money with it. Youtuber Ali Raza just explained how he makes $500/month with TURBOSQUID.
5. Make Children Series on YouTube
So many busy parents feel relieved seeing their kid watching nursery rhymes with attractive backgrounds, animated animals and 3D characters.
You can create such videos of hours that would get you thousands of views and open your horizon of fame and business.
Once you get into the world of 3D design and modeling you’ll see your prospect yourself. Your experience of practical work will guide you and pave the way to your success.