Starting from scratch with regret

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  02 February 2011
Starting from scratch with regret

Hi, firstly this is a great place to come and I feel it is time for me to jump into the world of CG.
I have throughout my life had a fascination with cg and have always wanted to get involved with it but never got round to it. I studied video production at uni and my love of cg/animation got left behind. Now I'm 30 and regretting everyday that I didn't start working in cg and animation 10 years ago. This now means that, with a mortgage , I can't just go back to university and leave my job to study again.

I'd like to start learning CG in the evenings/weekends. Are the online courses good enough to get a total beginner up to a standard where I could go out and get a job as a 3d graphics artist? And would you recommend a certified course, or is there enough FREE material out there (on youtube etc) to learn from the ground up? My target is to be fully competent after 1 years study and to start looking for work. Am I being ignorant? Is this a mammoth /impossible task.

Many thanks for reading.
  02 February 2011
One of the best places for beginners to learn CG is Digital Tutors. It's $45 (usd) per month for access to their video library (some thing like a few hundred total). All of their videos are of great quality and are really beginner friendly. Their videos can probably take you to an intermediate level. After that I'd suggest Gnomon videos. Gnomon videos are great if you have a grasp of what it is they are talking about, but are not beginner friendly. After that point it's mostly just you fiddling and getting to a point where you feel you can do the job.

There are also some decent online classes you can take. I know this site hosts some classes, Gnomon has some online classes, Animation mentor is pretty good for animators.

As far as free learning goes, it's definitely out there. Those can always be tricky because you could have some 15 yr old kid teaching you some crazy ass way of doing some thing. They generally lack quality and clarity. But there are some good ones out there, you just kind of need to find them.
Nicholi Conterno - Gnomon Student

Time To Answer A Question: 15 Minutes
Time To Thank Someone For An Answer: 30 Seconds

Post of Wisdom
  02 February 2011
hmmm.. one year to rule 'em all
well first of all taking a turn like this at the age of 30 (to me) is a big risk... and you are showing a lot of spirit by going ahead with this decision. Surely you'll need a great big effort to climb this mountain but it is climb-able.
why don't you take the animation mentor diploma.. it should be a great value in landing you a job.
they have a 18 month program...
Another thing you should start with is getting around and make a social network of friends, this might seem a bit "odd" (selfish) but trust me it goes along away.
  03 March 2011
Originally Posted by mehran: why don't you take the animation mentor diploma.. it should be a great value in landing you a job.
they have a 18 month program...

Honestly, I think starting to learn 3D by taking a $20,000 dollar program is bordering on insanity. If someone wanted to learn tennis from me, I'd say go and buy a cheapy racket, play a few times and see if you like it. Then, if it arises and you feel the growing desire and passion to go further, go and get a nice racket. In other words, try out some free online demos and at least see if this is something you really want to do first. hahaha Not to mention that AM is EXTREME intense. One of my best friends and colleagues, who drew at Disney and Cartoon Network had to quit after 2 sessions because he thought he was going to lose it from the long hours and assignments. Baby steps right?

So, what can you do here? Free tutorials online to start (CGArena, The Area, YouTube [maybe] etc...), then maybe a couple DVDs from Digital Tutors, who in my opinion still rule the roost on getting beginners comfortable with the tools of the software (though they do lack high quality artistic investigation....which you can get later on through Gnomon, Eat3D, etc.). Gnomon, I hate to say it, is really for more high intermediate to advanced 3D artists who want to specialize and see an absolute pro going at a specific subject for a bit. They come off more overview many times than structural teaching....and that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on who is watching. Then lastly is improving your traditional skills (figure drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, etc.) which will immediately translate into the overall quality of aesthetic you can accomplish in 3D.

Lastly, and I know I'm biased. See I said it. But I think going to school is still very respected in this field in the US at least. Frankly, some personalities just need that type of motivation a school forces to succeed. Not to mention that just having that degree gives you many options if it ever arises that this isn't what you really want to do down the road. There is no doubt that the difference between going to school and learning alone may be negligible to nothing on just the craft of 3D. However, if you have a good to strong 3D instructor it is only going to allow you to learn this very difficult craft more quickly. Not to mention that a degree/certificate, at least in the states, is respected in that employers are not just looking for great artists, but socially accomplished individuals to work in small and large teams. With this you have two options: go to the big name schools and drop the coinage for that respect and quality they've built up or find the best respected local school and pay possibly 1/10th the amount. Either route can work. Just my opinion though...

Last edited by MrPositive : 03 March 2011 at 12:30 PM.
  03 March 2011
Yeah pretty much what Mr Positive said. I didnt start cg until 30 and I went for digital tutors for beginning after spending a while trying to figure it out on my own which wastes a lot of time. A program like maya is like learning to use a nuclear powered typewriter and seems overwhelming at first.
Gnomon is better for when you have a good knowledge of cg and the program.
If you want to specialize in an area then a year may be possible but if you plan to learn the ins and outs of a program like Maya to be a cg generalist (from modelling through rendering) I think it will take more than a year even if you were at it 12 hours a day and the more traditional skills you have the better--but depends on what you want to focus on.
  03 March 2011
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