Aspiring 3D Artist Seeking School Advice

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  03 March 2009
Question Aspiring 3D Artist Seeking School Advice

I'm so happy to see a new Forum like this. It's quite difficult to dig through the old threads about all the different schools.

My situation is basically that I've been self-teaching myself for a number of years, then finally bit the bullet and enrolled at my local Art Institute. My original plan was to major in Computer Animation but due to my lack of Traditional Art skills and ability, I opted for the Game Art & Design program. It was going great for awhile, I was getting all As and Bs in my courses, even in Perspective Drawing. Then it came to Life / Figure Drawing and I struggled. I went to all the extra helps, asked my professor for help, spent every waking minute I had basically trying to draw the human figure but nothing would come out. My drawings seriously showed that 3rd grade level of skill, if you know what I mean. After my first year, I left AIFL after I had taken Figure Drawing 3 times and never successfully passed it.

After that I did some research and discovered Animation Mentor. I decided that program would be a great fit for me because there was no Traditional Art involved and I've always wanted to bring things to to life or at least I thought I did. See, when I was originally learning, it was all modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, I really stayed away from Animating. But anyways, I enrolled at AM and really enjoyed it at first. It was difficult cause I had no prior Animation experience but I was having fun and working hard. As I got further into the first class, I started to really struggle. My grades started getting lower and I started to fall behind trying to get my 'arcs' right, timing, keying, etc.. all these concepts. My poses were great but my actual keyframed animation was lacking. It started to become tedious instead of fun. I ended up withdrawing before I even finished the last 2 weeks.

After that I started to think maybe I should just walk away from the 3D and try something new. I thought about studying Graphic Design, Web Design, Photography... but every time I get online and I read something or see a feature film that involves CG I yearn to get back into it. I started working a new job and a co-worker of mine there goes to Digital Media Arts College here in Boca Raton, FL. I looked at that school like 4 or 5 years ago when it wasn't even accredited yet and pretty much laughed in it's face. However, it seems like they've gotten their act together quite a bit now and I'm thinking about giving them a call. My other option was to go back to AiFL maybe work with a different Figure Drawing teacher. Oh, and I was also contacted by L.A. Film School about their Game Art & Design program. Which looks AMAZING! But that's a bit of a commute from Florida to Cali.

I'll stop rambling now and let you guys please give me some beneficial advice. I'm tired of wasting time and not moving forward with my future. It's just at this point, I'm not sure what to do anymore. I can see myself working in Games or Film very easily, I'm just not sure of the right path for me.

Thank you in advance for your help.

J
 
  03 March 2009
Check out next thread, What to ask a potential Animation school

Phantom, please check out the next thread entitled,"what to ask a potential animation school." At the bottom of my post there will be a list of some of the better known animation schools. Check them out.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by taxguy: Phantom, please check out the next thread entitled,"what to ask a potential animation school." At the bottom of my post there will be a list of some of the better known animation schools. Check them out.


Thank you.
 
  03 March 2009
I think you should spend more time on the traditional art. Its unlikely that you will suceed at CG if you cant wrap your head around the traditional art, atleast IMO.

OR you migtht be more of a technical person? Have you tried scripting, dynamics, etc?
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  03 March 2009
I'm kind of thinking along the same lines as Sanjay. You are really pushing this whole character side of 3D, which requires tons of of talent in traditional art. You love CG in general from the sound of things, so why does it necessarily have to be character animation? There are some slightly more technical sides that might fit your thinking pattern more squarely, such as unwrapping artist, environment/character lighter, compositer, programmar, etc. These all are extremely important positions in the chain of production and would still allow you to work in the field you love. They are still very creative but wouldn't require quite as much traditional character work. Seriously, if you can't get through figure drawing after 3 trys, maybe you should stop beating the right side of your brain against the wall.
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Last edited by MrPositive : 03 March 2009 at 06:37 AM.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by MrPositive: I'm kind of thinking along the same lines as Sanjay. You are really pushing this whole character side of 3D, which requires tons of of talent in traditional art. You love CG in general from the sound of things, so why does it necessarily have to be character animation? There are some slightly more technical sides that might fit your thinking pattern more squarely, such as unwrapping artist, environment/character lighter, compositer, programmar, etc. These all are extremely important positions in the chain of production and would still allow you to work in the field you love. They are still very creative but wouldn't require quite as much traditional character work. Seriously, if you can't get through figure drawing after 3 trys, maybe you should stop beating the right side of your brain against the wall.


Thank you for that, MrPositive. I appreciate the advice. I'm thinking about possibly going back to the Art Institute and just talking to the school, express my concerns, see if their is anything they can do to help make sure I get through those 2D courses. I do love 3D, and I'd really love to be a modeler more then anything. Characters were the original dream, but environments are fun too and I'd love to work on either. I did have the same professor 3 times, maybe it was his lack of help that was holding me back? Cause, he was one of those, Well if you can't draw, maybe you shouldn't be at an Art School. All about Illustration. Ya know?

Have you ever come across people in my situation who are skilled in 3D, but not 2D? What was it like for them?

Anyways, thanks for your help. It's greatly appreciated.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by SanjayChand: I think you should spend more time on the traditional art. Its unlikely that you will suceed at CG if you cant wrap your head around the traditional art, atleast IMO.

OR you migtht be more of a technical person? Have you tried scripting, dynamics, etc?


Scripting/programming ... eh, I'm not sure that would be a good fit for me. I'm not the most "logical thinker" nor was I very good at math. lol.

I have thought about more Visual Effects type work, compositing and whatnot, but I don't know if I would really enjoy that type of work... I really would love to be a modeler. That's really the dream job.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by phantomworkshop: Scripting/programming ... eh, I'm not sure that would be a good fit for me. I'm not the most "logical thinker" nor was I very good at math. lol.

I have thought about more Visual Effects type work, compositing and whatnot, but I don't know if I would really enjoy that type of work... I really would love to be a modeler. That's really the dream job.

What about a hard surface or environment modeler and not a character modeler. These are in pretty good demand in the arch viz, games (guns, environments), etc.
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Last edited by MrPositive : 03 March 2009 at 07:35 AM.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by MrPositive: What about a hard surface modeler and not a character modeler. These are in pretty good demand in the arch viz, games (guns, environments), etc.


I love that idea. But, how should I go about doing that besides self-teaching? I really loved being in school and getting ideas from my classmates, profs, friends, and the networking was unbeatable. Ya know?
 
  03 March 2009
Have you tried texturing/shading and lighting? Painting classes will help quite a bit with this.
__________________
Previously "Aryafx"

Website and Demo Reel:
http://www.sanjaychand.com
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by SanjayChand: Have you tried texturing/shading and lighting? Painting classes will help quite a bit with this.


I've done a little of it, but nothing to write home about. I did enjoy my Texturing for Games class that I did at AiFL though.
 
  03 March 2009
I don't actually agree that just because you have tried figure drawing a few times and not succeeded, you should give up. There are a lot of bad drawing teachers out there - I'm not putting this on them necessarily, but more often than not, life drawing is not taught very well. The Art Institutes are owned by Goldman Sachs, they're not necessarily in it for the education, but for the money, so you should consider checking out some better schools. You ought to check out perhaps Glenn Vilppu's DVDs (I just got one of their promotions saying that his videos are now downloadable and are half price) - he also has a Drawing Manual which is quite good and tailored toward an animating style. Basically he breaks things down into spheres and connecting center lines, which makes drawing significantly simpler.

Since California is far, for animation you might consider checking out Ringling which is in your neck of the woods - their strength seems to be animation. I haven't, to be honest, seen great figure drawing coming out of there, but that is just my anecdotal observation.

I'm not a promoter of any school, but I teach in the Foundation / Life Drawing Department at Otis College of Art here in LA, and I have to say they teach the best approach to figure construction and gesture that I've ever learned (and I've taken Vilppu's classes as well). There are some great draughtsmen coming out of Otis since they place such an intense focus on foundation figure and still life drawing in their Foundation year. If you're interested, you can see some examples of Otis Foundation Life Drawings here. (Bear in mind these aren't their gesture drawings, these are long pose drawings done for their finals).

Again, this is not meant to plug any specific school, it's just to sympathize with your struggle with life drawing. I've been drawing for around 10 years or more and it's still frustrating and I learn new things all the time, but half of my struggle was trying to find a good method and approach that worked for me. You have to actively seek out a school that will teach you specific things well. Not every school teaches life drawing well, so you have to really do your research and find good teachers.

For the traditional side of things, you can also check out conceptart.org's Art Schools & Education section, where they have information on individual schools like Ringling (and many others).

Good luck, but don't just quit trying.

Edit - another thought, I recall from my high school days that there is a "New World School of the Arts" in Florida, that you might check out - I can't recall if this is a high school or a college, but there seems to be a heavy emphasis on the arts in Miami.
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Last edited by Rebeccak : 03 March 2009 at 05:11 PM.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by Rebeccak: I don't actually agree that just because you have tried figure drawing a few times and not succeeded, you should give up...

...Good luck, but don't just quit trying.


Thank you so much for that! Yeah, it's been rough because what I really want to do is be a 3D Modeler, and that Figure Drawing is like a big hurdle that I can't seem to get over. I don't want to give it up, I want to get through it to get where I really want to be. I'm not looking at it like I want to master Figure / Life Drawing, ya know? It's more like I want to have a solid foundation in it, be able to put it down on paper enough to understand the technique and concept to a point, and then move on. This Forum that you guys have here is great and you've all been so helpful thus far. I've thought about Ringling but from what I've heard, read and seen you need to be a pretty skilled 2D artist with a portfolio to even be accepted.. so I'm not sure I'd get in there. Also looked into SCAD. My friend Ryan Ford went to Otis a few years back, he's legendary with his Visual Communications there, always speaks very highly of the school.

Anyways, my friend just bought me a book called Figure Drawing for Dummies which looks like it'll be helpful to break down the technique. Do you really think that it could of been the way it was being taught, or I should say, not being taught that made it merely impossible to pass the course?

I've even thought about going to another Art Institute, maybe the experience would be different there? But, I'm not sure... there's also Digital Media Arts College here, or even taking Life / Figure Drawing at my local Community College, but I'm not sure if that would even be worth it, ya know?

Last edited by phantomworkshop : 03 March 2009 at 05:18 PM.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by phantomworkshop: Thank you so much for that! Yeah, it's been rough because what I really want to do is be a 3D Modeler, and that Figure Drawing is like a big hurdle that I can't seem to get over. I don't want to give it up, I want to get through it to get where I really want to be. I'm not looking at it like I want to master Figure / Life Drawing, ya know? It's more like I want to have a solid foundation in it, be able to put it down on paper enough to understand the technique and concept to a point, and then move on. This Forum that you guys have here is great and you've all been so helpful thus far. I've thought about Ringling but from what I've heard, read and seen you need to be a pretty skilled 2D artist with a portfolio to even be accepted.. so I'm not sure I'd get in there. Also looked into SCAD. My friend Ryan Ford went to Otis a few years back, he's legendary with his Visual Communications there, always speaks very highly of the school.

Anyways, my friend just bought me a book called Figure Drawing for Dummies which looks like it'll be helpful to break down the technique. Do you really think that it could of been the way it was being taught, or I should say, not being taught that made it merely impossible to pass the course?
Ah, great that your friend is an alum. Honestly, I don't think that figure drawing can be learned alone via books. It can certainly help to inform your thinking, but there is nothing like being in front of a live model with an instructor for 6 hours a day every week, and then attending Workshops in between classes. I think students can often feel like they are walking in the desert, and that feeling of being without guidance leads people to prematurely give up.

Having taught students of all stripes and ability levels, I can confidently say that anyone can learn to draw. Not everyone, like you say, is going to be a master draughtsman, but also like you say, it's not necessarily everyone's goal, nor should it be.

I don't know what the situation is like in Florida regarding community colleges, but here in CA they are really good. In point of fact, often times here students are more likely to get traditionally based skills in a community college rather than in a big college or university, since university art programs are often geared toward conceptual art. The same is probably true where you are. For students, the key is word of mouth. Ask your fellow students, or ask online here / on conceptart.org (where traditional art is far more emphasized) who the good teachers are in Florida. I can't imagine that in all of Florida, there's not someone who is skilled at teaching life drawing. Sometimes, however, you have to travel to get the kind of education you want. But it's expensive and discouraging to have to hop around to different schools to get everything that you are looking for. So I would encourage you to check out the cc route, but just research good teachers (use ratemyprofessors.com, etc.) to find the good eggs.

Schools are all to some degree about getting your money, you have to be proactive (as it sounds like you have been) to dig to find your education.

Quote: I've even thought about going to another Art Institute, maybe the experience would be different there? But, I'm not sure... there's also Digital Media Arts College here, or even taking Life / Figure Drawing at my local Community College, but I'm not sure if that would even be worth it, ya know?
I've known various teachers at various AIs, and they're good people and good teachers, but in general they all hate the AIs because administratively the schools are more about money and less about the students. I think any school that has to advertise to get students is not existing due to its word of mouth reputation.

An AI costs just as much as a private school such as Ringling, SCAD, Otis, RISD, etc., why not consider checking out a more well established, and well regarded school? Don't rule yourself out of any school, the economy is bad now and schools have had to be to some degree less selective. Even in a good economy, they need students! The thing to understand is that school is a game, you need them and they need you. They want to accept you, if you need to work on an entrance portfolio then do so at a cc, but I would see what colleges have to say about your existing portfolio:

I highly recommend checking out the National Portfolio Day. It's really useful for high school students (and any prospective students) in the US:

http://portfolioday.net/

Basically colleges from around the US (and a few from Canada) convene in various different cities on specific days to review the work of prospective junior and senior high school students (though I've taken students as young as sophomores, just to get a taste of their competition):

http://www.portfolioday.net/compone...list/Itemid,47/

Students can go to their website and browse schools by name or by major.

I did this in high school and it was incredibly helpful. Also some schools offer scholarships based on portfolio review on the spot (it depends on the school). Typically, prospective students should arrive early with a friend or friends / parent/s since during the course of the day with extremely long lines, you can only see maybe 4-6 schools to have your portfolio reviewed. Have a friend or parent stand in other lines for you. Deciding on which schools you want to see in advance is really recommended, as you can prioritize your first choice schools and stand in those lines first.

For my high school students, here is the advice I gave them for the actual day:

Quote: Take a clipboard and a notebook (paper) and some pens / pencils for taking notes on each individual colleges' responses to work:

Note what the feedback is on your portfolio, both positive and negative - what they say you need to put in your portfolio:

For each school, print out questions you are interested in asking related specifically to that school. You will likely also have general questions for each school.

For example:
  • What is the school culture like? Is it a small, large, medium school? Are the students competitive or friendly?
  • What scholarships are available, and what type of financial aid is available?
  • What scholarships do you have that are based on merit vs. need?
  • How will my financial prospects be affected by the current state of the economy? Will it be harder for me to get a loan in the year in which I apply, or are things pretty much the same as they were prior to the credit crunch?
  • What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of my portfolio, and what do I need to do before I apply to strengthen my chances of getting in to your school?
  • What do you feel makes a successful applicant - what qualities do you look for in applicants' portfolios?
  • How much weight do you give to a student's academic performance vs. a portfolio?
  • What is the expected total cost - including tuition, room, board, food, cost of living, etc., for a year, and what is the projected increase over 4 years?
  • What is the success rate of your students, and what are the most viable majors in terms of long term economic success?
Feel free to think of others. Leave spaces between your questions so you can write the answers that representatives give you and print out multiple sheets, one per school.
Sorry for the long post.
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Website:
www.korpus-la.com
Facebook Page | Blog
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Downtown Los Angeles







Last edited by Rebeccak : 03 March 2009 at 05:29 PM.
 
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by Rebeccak: Ah, great that your friend is an alum. Honestly, I don't think that figure drawing can be learned alone via books. It can certainly help to inform your thinking, but there is nothing like being in front of a live model with an instructor for 6 hours a day every week, and then attending Workshops in between classes. I think students can often feel like they are walking in the desert, and that feeling of being without guidance leads people to prematurely give up...


I don't mind long posts at all! So helpful and beneficial. What about schools like Gnomon, LA Film School? What's your opinion on those? Do you feel these places sort of assume you have a Traditional Art background beforehand and are there to further your education and/or build 3D art skills?

Yes, Cali would be very difficult to get to right now, however, when we're talking about what you love to do and are so passionate about, sometimes, you have to bite the bullet and do what's going to be best for you in the long run. Ya know?

Thank you again for your continued help and support! I just wish I had been drawing since I was 4
 
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