Recommendations for a beginner

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  12 December 2017
Recommendations for a beginner

Greetings all,

I'm returning to 3D after many(many) years away. I've been doing some research lately, and I understand there are so many great 3D app choices out there that I could use a hand selecting what I need. I understand fully that it's the artist and not the tools that make great art, so when considering your recommendations please keep a couple things in mind. Price and ease of use for a beginner. I'd say $600-$1000/year investment is my budget at this time. but the lower, the better.

I work on a MAC. I don't need complex animations or VFX, or character animations. I will only ever do stills or very basic animations. If I understand correctly this is a typical pipeline? Please correct any errors.Modeling-->UV Unwrapping-->Texturing-->Rigging(for character poses)-->Rendering.

It seems like ZBrush is a must have and I happen to own that already so I'm good there for any character stuff.

I've read in many places that Modo is an exceptional modeler so that seems a good choice for hard surface modeling. But maybe something like Silo or Cheetah 3D would do what I need as a more cost effective option?

Would Fusion 360 be a good start for Surface and Solids modeling? Or would Modo do just as well since I only need models for rendering? I've always been more interested in NURBs modeling over polygon modeling, but I understandpolygon/Sub-d modeling is all I need.

What I have zero clue about is UV work and texturing. Thats where I could use the biggest nudge.

I've read about Substance, and 3D Coat, Marmoset Tool Box, and Mari and all seem so amazing that I have no clue where to go with those. Does ZBrush do the same thing, in regards to UV painting, as these others? If they all get the job done, I'll go with the cheapest investment. Is Marmoset Tool Box a full featured renderer as well?

And lastly I've read a lot about Houdini and while I understand the learning curve for that is steep, it sounds amazing as well. More than I need, but the renderer Mantra is supposed to be really good, right? Would it be worth getting it just for Mantra or would the renderers in Modo, C4D, or Marmoset Toolbox do just as well for a beginner? I guess I would need a robust material/shader/texture library.

So in the end,should I go for a package that is a good general purpose application, like Modo or C4D? Or should I go a more modular approach?

Thanks in advance for any assistance. Again...no tools are bad, so what ever might be easiest to learn might be my best direction at this time.

Robert
 
  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: I work on a MAC. I don't need complex animations or VFX, or character animations. I will only ever do stills or very basic animations. If I understand correctly this is a typical pipeline? Please correct any errors.Modeling-->UV Unwrapping-->Texturing-->Rigging(for character poses)-->Rendering.

Correct.

Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: I've read in many places that Modo is an exceptional modeler so that seems a good choice for hard surface modeling. But maybe something like Silo or Cheetah 3D would do what I need as a more cost effective option?

Would Fusion 360 be a good start for Surface and Solids modeling? Or would Modo do just as well since I only need models for rendering? I've always been more interested in NURBs modeling over polygon modeling, but I understandpolygon/Sub-d modeling is all I need.

Correct. Modo is great for games workflow, Fusion360 is a great new package with excellent modelling tools - very viz/product based.

Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: I've read about Substance, and 3D Coat, Marmoset Tool Box, and Mari and all seem so amazing that I have no clue where to go with those. Does ZBrush do the same thing, in regards to UV painting, as these others? If they all get the job done, I'll go with the cheapest investment. Is Marmoset Tool Box a full featured renderer as well?

Zbrush is very capable of UVs/Texturing. These days texturing is much different to probably when you were doing 3D, I myself have worked for years without unwrapping or hand painting a single object, I work mainly in archviz so I can box map most things with seamless textures or use "Triplanar" mapping for anything curved.

Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: And lastly I've read a lot about Houdini and while I understand the learning curve for that is steep, it sounds amazing as well. More than I need, but the renderer Mantra is supposed to be really good, right? Would it be worth getting it just for Mantra or would the renderers in Modo, C4D, or Marmoset Toolbox do just as well for a beginner? I guess I would need a robust material/shader/texture library.

C4D is a high level 3D software (with a price to match) and has an artist friendly interface. If i was to start again knowing what I know now I would probably choose that as its simple, widely used, can do nice motion graphics as well as visualization/products and has a good amount of plugins available.

As much as I like technical software such as Houdini, you would need to enjoy mathematics and visual/vex coding to get the most out of it . If you plan on creating yourself a new hobby and would like to master CG, procedural workflow and creating things which would be much more difficult in other software - it might be interesting endeavourand the licensing is quite cheap for apprentice. Keep in mind your original goal "I don't need complex animations or VFX, or character animations" as this is what Houdini excels at.

There are many renderers available on the market if the inbuilt ones dont amuse you. Also there is many material libraries available online for these renderers or come with them by default.
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Last edited by NorthernDoubt : 12 December 2017 at 07:44 PM.
 
  12 December 2017
Do you plan on finding work in a studio or with a crew?

If not, I generally don't recommend this and kinda feel bad, but perhaps you could give Blender a shot? It's free so it totally fits your budget, and can do a lot of things the BIg Boys can albiet the UI is still a big barrier for me, coming from Maya. I'd generally recommend Maya as it does everything you seem to need and then some, but it is also pricey and obnoxious to learn. Really obnoxious.

Since you have Zbrush already, you don't need 3DCoat or Substance or Marmoset or Mari really. Substance is cool and all but Zbrush is still cooler and far more flexible.

Modo and C4D seem out of your price range, but either would work for your needs in addition to Zbrush.
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  12 December 2017
Guys....thanks for all the good feedback. You have certainly helped my cause.

To give some more information about my plans:

I plan to just freelance on my own while I'm learning. I do graphic design and web design now and want to add good 3D to my creative offering. If I ever get skilled enough, I would certainly love to join a crew or studio.

Regarding Blender - with the right artist, Blender can do just bout anything. I'm not the right artist for Blender though. i have downloaded Blender 3 times over the years and the UI is not my cup of tea. I would rather pay for a commercial application.

Sounds like since I have ZBrush, a huge load on my decision making and budget is resolved. So I'll stick with what I have there.

And it sounds like I should skip Houdini (since I want ease of use) to start. i can always get that later if I want to do more VFX type stuff.

So now I'm down to choosing either C4D or Modo. Both are in my budget actually if just barely - I can go with BodyPaint since I don't need the advance features of the other C4D products, and Modo offer a monthly subscription in the $50-$60/month range.

And since I'm not getting Houdini (for the Manta render engine), which renderer is best for a beginner - C4D or Modo? I've seen amazing stuff from both so ease of use should be the primary factor there.
 
  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: Guys....thanks for all the good feedback. You have certainly helped my cause.

To give some more information about my plans:

I plan to just freelance on my own while I'm learning. I do graphic design and web design now and want to add good 3D to my creative offering. If I ever get skilled enough, I would certainly love to join a crew or studio.

Regarding Blender - with the right artist, Blender can do just bout anything. I'm not the right artist for Blender though. i have downloaded Blender 3 times over the years and the UI is not my cup of tea. I would rather pay for a commercial application.

Sounds like since I have ZBrush, a huge load on my decision making and budget is resolved. So I'll stick with what I have there.

And it sounds like I should skip Houdini (since I want ease of use) to start. i can always get that later if I want to do more VFX type stuff.

So now I'm down to choosing either C4D or Modo. Both are in my budget actually if just barely - I can go with BodyPaint since I don't need the advance features of the other C4D products, and Modo offer a monthly subscription in the $50-$60/month range.

And since I'm not getting Houdini (for the Manta render engine), which renderer is best for a beginner - C4D or Modo? I've seen amazing stuff from both so ease of use should be the primary factor there.

I wouldn't recommend choosing your application based solely on which renderer it ships with, as there are 3rd party solutions which might fit your needs better than a given included renderer.

With that in mind, Cinema4d currently has more options than Modo. Specifically, you can opt to use Arnold, Vray, Redshift, and Octane. Arnold is a production proven renderer which is used in many feature films, with Vray seeing more use in arch-viz and ads. The latter two renderers are GPU renderers which offers an accelerated workflow.

Octane, Redshift, and Vray are both available for Modo, but Arnold is not. I'm not sure how important that is for you.

Neither Modo nor Cinema4d are supported by Pixar's Renderman, though there are Renderman connections for Houdini and Blender, if you ever want to reconsider using those.
 
  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: And since I'm not getting Houdini (for the Manta render engine), which renderer is best for a beginner - C4D or Modo? I've seen amazing stuff from both so ease of use should be the primary factor there.

Both software come with great inbuilt render systems - as you are on a budget and learning I would give them a go and see what you can get out of them.

There is quite a few third party options available now to suit your hardware & budget. This is always a personal choice depending on your needs and there is always a trade off - cost, simplicity, hardware & speed/quality. There is many facebook groups on each render system - I suggest you check out their pages, look at what artists are doing with them, how difficult it was, how quick they were able to deliver final images, try a demo and decide for yourself how you like to work.

Render systems are getting easier to use in general, the main principles dont vary much in regards to lighting/shader setups. My only recommendation is - if you prefer simplicity then stick to logical methods (traditional lighting techniques, simple material setups). My personal opinion rendering should be the easy part - set a time/noise level , output directory and that is all.if you find yourself in a strange workflow where you are adding/removing things in order to get the look and fighting the system and pushing buttons everywhere, stop and reevaluate your workflow & options.
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Last edited by NorthernDoubt : 12 December 2017 at 05:38 AM.
 
  12 December 2017
What scale of work do you see yourself getting involved in? Houdini and Maya tend to be involved in large productions and specialise in larger scale projects. These projects tend to have many artists and engineers working as a team. Do you see yourself as a small part of a very large team? ( watch the end credits of a movie to see what I mean ). If this is your end game, just start learning it now. You can still knock out your own smaller web design and graphic work in the meantime. I wouldn't consider C4D at this point.

Or do you see yourself working on small to medium scale work? Possibly a solo artist or a small team? Advertising work maybe? Because C4D is good for this, in fact very good if ease of use and quick turn around of work is essential.

If you have fresh eyes and found ZBrush straight forward to learn, you may as well pick up Blender. The only stumbling block is what people perceive as it's unusual UI. But fresh and young eyes usually have no problems. Plus Blender can most definitely knock out quality work.
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  12 December 2017
Great feedback. I plan on just being a lone wolf - mostly to support other 3d agencies or design studios with 3D services or to supplement my own graphic/web business. I have Strata 3D now and while I can get some things done, I really want some modern tools - a more robust modeler for sure. If I gain any real skill, I'd like to be a modeler on a team someday.

As much as I like the idea of owning Modo, it really sounds like C4D might be a better choice for me all-around. I saw some demos of a plug-in MeshBoolean that were amazing. Makes me want to get C4D just for that plugin.

But before I take that plunge, I'll take the advice from this thread to heart and take a fresh look at Blender again. I've seen some Blender tutorials today that blew me away. Again....with the right artist, any tool will shine.
 
  12 December 2017
Greetings again. I was just going to chime in and let you guys know I am going to try Blender for awhile. The interface is much better than I remember and there are some preferences I can set up that make it feel better for me. So I have plenty to learn, but I think it's smart after all to build my skills on Blender and maybe move on from there.

Thanks again for all the advice and feedback. You really helped me decide my course!
 
  12 December 2017
There is a new Blender FORK called Bforartists now:

https://bforartists.de/

Its Blender with a far more normal, artist-friendly UI. Just be sure to set interaction to "Maya" when it launches.

I've never been able to use Blender. Bforartists though works quite well. It almost feels like a commercial 3D soft.

Be sure to check out the PDF manuals. They are pretty good:

https://bforartists.de/wiki/bforartists-wiki
 
  12 December 2017
Thanks for the tip. i did try bforartist and it does do some things that I liked, especially the mouse navigation and hiding of the 3DCursor. But with Blender I also like adding Sensei Layout. Unfortunately Sensei Layout and bforartist may not be compatible since they both reroute a lot of keyboard short cuts.

I haven't done much except play around with the interface, set some preferences, and added the new layout plugin, and so far, I'm really enjoying Blender more. I think I'll be happy to stick with Blender for the short term now and when I actually make money doing 3D, I'll see about getting C4D and a couple plugins.

Thanks for all the help guys.
 
  12 December 2017
As an alternative I would suggest finding a class that is professional level. It doesn't need to be expensive or with a big name artist that covers a topic you think you will be needed for your freelance work. In a class.structure you'll be guided through someone else's pipeline and can ask questions. Most pro's have a particular software they use but often have tried others so you can ask why they choose one over the other. Sometimes it's personal preference, sometimes speed or features but you'll get honest feedback from people that use it in production. Most software these days is free for at least 30 to 90 days so you can work with it long enough to get a feel.

When I started photography I listened to a lot of advice from people telling me what the best purchases were. When I took my first class I found about 60% of what I bought would have been better spent on lighting and specifics I wasn't looking at. I could have saved thousands by spending a few hundred on the class FIRST

If you know very specifically what you'll be working on and what pipeline go ahead and buy software modo Maya blender max an old copy of xsi all get the job done. But as you face more difficult task with more time sensitive deadlines the apps start to pull away from each other quickly
 
  12 December 2017
Originally Posted by PlanetKhaos: Thanks for the tip. i did try bforartist and it does do some things that I liked, especially the mouse navigation and hiding of the 3DCursor. But with Blender I also like adding Sensei Layout. Unfortunately Sensei Layout and bforartist may not be compatible since they both reroute a lot of keyboard short cuts.

BlenderSensei? Hmm. Seems that i have something new to invest ^^

Just curious, have you tried it, did you have some special conflicts already with Bforartists?
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Last edited by Tiles : 12 December 2017 at 08:23 AM.
 
  12 December 2017
Tiles...I did try running bforartist with BlenderSensei and they did conflict out-of-the-box. Maybe you could get both to work once you mapped your own hotkeys but I didn't want to get too deep into that.

Now that I'm playing around with Blender more, I've actually gone back to the default Blender plus some standard add-ons that came pre-installed, remapped a couple hotkeys to my liking, and will keep the rest at their defaults while I learn.
 
  12 December 2017
I see. Thanks

I have tested it now. Well, the addon works as intended. But it is a complete UI configuration at its own. And this contradicts of course with the Bforartists and Blender UI. With Bforartists even more since Sensei is made for Blender.
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Last edited by Tiles : 12 December 2017 at 10:14 AM.
 
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