Advice needed: I'm a web developer switching careers, but no cg industry experience

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  05 May 2011
Advice needed: I'm a web developer switching careers, but no cg industry experience

For years I've been working in web development (mostly because it's been the only work available) but now with several layoffs in just a few months, I'm at a career crossroads and looking seriously at my art hobby. I'd rather be doing something I truly enjoy even if it means starting over at entry-level.

My biggest challenge is lack of a portfolio or professional experience. I've done some client work over the years, but very little, so even though I've been doing this on my own time since the 90's, I'm still coming into the industry as a total beginner. Another challenge is I haven't worked in industry-standard software other than Photoshop (I do have 16 years experience in that) and I do all of my personal work in Vue, Bryce, and DAZ Studio.

I have traditional drawing skills (pencils, marker, Wacom), and worked as a graphic designer before doing web development. I constantly work on my own personal comics and art but again, not using industry-standard tools, so I probably have a lot of un-learning to do. I'm interested in matte painting and backgrounds, comic art, and I'm also drawn to ZBrush and character creation. I prefer animation, whether it's 2d or 3d, over live-action film.

I guess my big question is what software skills do I need to start working in CG, comics, or games? I have never worked at all in Maya or 3ds Max, etc, but only because of the expense as I refuse to use pirated software; I pick up software very fast and always willing to learn new skills and apps.

I also need a good assessment of my work, to figure out where I truly am and not just people commenting "that looks great!" or the opposite trolling. Real constructive criticism that will help me improve. I have been told by other artists that my image composition is good; I know my lighting needs work. Should I post my work here, send it privately to people to critique, etc?

Where to go from here? Thanks for any responses.
  05 May 2011
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