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8 Incredible 3D Tutorials

Take Your Art to the Next Level


Ladies and gentleman, we’re a third of the way through 2011, which means it’s time to round up some of the year’s most promising training material.  Teaching yourself the art of 3D is no cakewalk, and with hundreds of tutorials floating around the web it can be tricky picking out the good stuff.  Have no fear, we’re here to help!

We've got tutorials from some of the web's best educators.  Unfortunately, most of them aren't free, but if you're serious about learning 3D all of these are worth their weight in gold. 

Eat 3D

Eat 3D is making a strong case for most valuable educator.  They’ve been crafting first class training material aimed at aspiring game artists for years, but with these two releases they’ve shown that they’re ready to make a splash in the VFX/film industry.

  1. ZBrush Hard Surface Techniques:  ZBrush has been a character artist’s best friend for the last five or six years, but the software has always excelled at organic (soft surface) modeling.  In this 7.5 hour video release, Mike Jensen will show you how ZBrush can be used for creating hard surface (mechanical) models, and leave you with a set of best practices for your own robotic endeavors.  The model he sculpts is downright incredible.

  2. Portrait Production: Creating Realistic Portraits in Maya:  This five hour tutorial from Tony Reynolds has already been called the definitive guide to portrait lighting with Maya and Mental Ray. If you’ve been around 3D for long, you’ve probably heard the term sub-surface scattering, which refers to light’s tendency to be absorbed and scattered when it strikes an organic surface, like skin. This DVD does more to demystify that concept than any training before it, and will help breathe life into your characters.

Gnomon Workshop

Although 2011 has been relatively quiet for Gnomon, their library remains one of the best 3D resources on the net, and they’ve given us an absolute gem in the following release:

  1. Stylized Character Modeling for Production:  If you dream of becoming a character modeler for a studio like Pixar or DreamWorks, this tutorial is invaluable.  Spread across five hours of training, Alessandro Baldasseroni will show you how to exaggerate your models in all the right ways in order to achieve that special blend of cartoon-realism popular in today’s 3D animation.  The video features a fantastic section on successfully sculpting folds and wrinkles into clothing.

Digital Tutors

Digital Tutors brings a lot of new material to the table every month, but beginner and intermediate artists will find each of these especially useful. The best thing about Digital Tutors? Forty-five bucks gets you access to the entire training library for a month.

  1. Rendering Interiors with Mental Ray and Maya 2011:  The ability to craft convincing renders of interior spaces is one of the most valuable skills a 3D artist can learn.  There are a lot of resources available that discuss the methods used here, but this is the most up to date.  Plus, we think Digital Tutors’ training is probably the best option for newer artists.

  2. Beginner’s Guide to Modeling in 3ds Max 2011:  This is fantastic for absolute beginners, and also useful for intermediate artists looking to migrate into 3ds Max from a different software suite.  If you need a crash course in Max’s modeling toolset, this is your answer.  A similar course is also offered for Cinema 4D, if that’s your preferred software.

  3. Mari Training Series:  Even if you’ve sworn your allegiance to ZBrush or Mudbox, it helps to be familiar with as many texturing packages as possible.  Digital tutors released over 9 hours worth of training for The Foundry’s brand new interactive texture painting software.

Free Training

It’s nice to think that the best things in life are free, but sadly with 3D training that isn’t always the case. Luckily, there are tutorials like these to prove me wrong:

  1. ZBrush Subsurface Scattering (Eat 3D): Think of it as a companion to Eat 3D’s portrait production tutorial, only free.

  2. Lighting LaRuelle (3D Total): 3D Total has released the first chapter of their expansive exterior lighting eBook for free.  The four page release reveals the 3ds Max/V-Ray setup used to render a damp, foggy, nighttime environment.

That's all for now!  Don't forget to keep an eye on the blog, where we'll keep you up to date on all the latest releases and make sure you don't miss a beat.  If you're just starting out, we've also just launched our own beginner training series for Autodesk Maya. 

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