Topics to Learn for Creating Cinematics?

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  12 December 2013
Topics to Learn for Creating Cinematics?

Hey everyone,

I'm trying to piece together a road map for my studies to become a digital artist and animator. I know the curriculum topic is probably beaten to death here but instead of asking for a general spattering of topics to look at I'd like to describe what it is I want to create. I want to learn efficiently and I'm hoping to community can tell me what topics to research so that I don't waste time with things that won't help me reach my goals. So, onto my goals.

I want to learn how to create digital models, paintings, and animations of humans, creatures, and their environments (think Diablo 3 cutscenes). I want to be able to produce the figures, particle and fluid effects, realistic motion and interactions, and cloth and hair. I want to be able to show walls crumbling, or cloth tearing, or dust billowing.

I would say that my current ability level with any of the CGI is: zero. I have studied 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' by Betty Edwards. I fee that developing the artist's perception is probably the best starting point, but I still need work. Following that should be a firm basis in figure drawing I'd say, so I have collected several figure drawing books including Andrew Loomis' 'Figure Drawing for All It's Worth'.

My traditional art background is definitely lacking in color theory and to be honest I could probably use some advice on topics to research in all of the core concepts as far as fine art goes (for instance, is art history going to help me or should I just google for pictures of castles and armor?). Again, I'm interested in what concepts are most important for learning the abilities listed above. By the way, I'm assuming I need all these fine arts skills, is this a safe assumption?

Once I get to 3DS Max, or Maya, or AfterEffects then I get lost, mainly because I don't know what to Google for. I'm afraid that too general of a query will leave out some skills that I'll need to learn about.

I'm even wanting to learn about camera movement and how to setup my scenes; stuff that they would teach you in film school.

Could you guys clue me in as to what topics I need to be looking at to produce the content I want?
  12 December 2013

I was certainly in your shoes years ago wanting to produce my own film from scratch with no idea how to assemble and execute all of the tasks. For starters it is an immense amount of research, practice and work between your idea and a finished realization of it. Your best bet is to work through a entire project to understand each step and how they tie together. There are long pipeline courses on Digital Tutors that cover all the steps or you could get a book like the Maya instruction series.

Traditionally look into figure drawing/life drawing, anatomy, perspective and color fundamentals. You might try to learn some cinematography as well to understand good shot compositions, rules and suggestions for cuts and basic methods like how you plan lighting in a scene.

Many areas have fairly low cost community art classes, when I was first starting out I paid maybe 60-70$ for a 6 week figure drawing course at the local college. It helped me drastically to better understand the human form and let me get back in the swing of routinely drawing.

Regarding art history, I don't know if you need to know it too in depth such as dates and specifics but it can help to understand how culture and society tied into pieces through time. For your composition it can help for references as well if you want to pull from past artistic styles or methods.
  12 December 2013
Awesome, thanks for the feedback! I hadn't considered checking the community colleges around my area. The University I went to doesn't have much in the way of figure drawing so this may be big break for me!
  12 December 2013
Certainly check your local options, it's great because even if you eventually go to a larger school or art program those credits will probably transfer. Many of my friends knocked out some courses for basics at local schools that cost much less than art school but transferred them over or waived out of beginner courses.
  12 December 2013
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