Fine art cross-over to 3D Animation?

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  04 April 2011
Fine art cross-over to 3D Animation?

I'm an aspiring 3D artist. A recurring piece of advice I've been given is "focus on fine arts theories, and 3D will come naturally like any other tool." But the more I think about the advice, the more questions I tend to ask.

What does it mean to focus on fine arts theories? Also, which theories? Does it mean a 3D artist should go through a university fine arts degree? Can you teach yourself the fine arts? Do you have to be a painter / sculptor like the old masters? Would the old masters make excellent 3D artists today? How important is drawing? How do you re-learn how to "see" the world? How do you learn/apply principles of design? How do you know what to detail and not detail? How do you learn a workflow?

As you can see, I'm a bit vexed with questions. Would anyone be kind enough to help me through one of them?
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  04 April 2011


I would hazzard as guess to say what people are trying to tell you is not so much a particular theory as much as techniques of tradictional art being applied to 3d art. Examples: Color, Hue, Line Weight, Light-Shadow, Textures, Perspective, Composition... etc. And yes tradictional art does hold theories on such subjects and their application. What you need to be able to do is transfer these skills and theories to 3D artwork.
And understanding of theory on using light and shadow to create volume in paintings is still just as useful when determining how to use light and shadow in a 3D scene. And while I call it 3D remember that image you render in your 3D program is still just a 2D image, it was just calculated from a mathatically created 3D world. To that extent go outside and take a photo, that's just as much a 3D image as what you render on your screen(there is of course attempts to create more accurate 3d images/movies, such as avatar but that is a speciallized type of 3D work).
So in conclusion think more that your need to get an understanding of art, does not matter if 2D or 3D. You will however find much more of that understanding is taught in 2D tradicitonal art classes than in 3D, where a lot more weight is put towards the technical aspect of producing 3D.

Mr. D
  04 April 2011
What they're talking about is the foundations of visual art. All visual art share the same foundations--composition, values, colors, anatomy/figure, perspective, and so on. This is true regardless of industry, style, time period, genre, medium, technology, format...etc. You could be a photographers, a 3D artist, a fine art painter, a digital concept artist, a web designer, a graphic designer--it doesn't matter.

While you don't necessarily have to be able to draw/paint to be a good 3D artist, the reason why many people say that you should do it is because 3D as a medium is highly technical and so much time is devoted to technical issues, and the process of creating 3D does not guarantee that you'll learn all the critical foundations by simply doing it. On the other hand, when working in 2D, you are constantly forced to utilize all the foundational knowledge during every single second of the process, so you'd have to master the foundations whether you like it or not--it is an absolute necessity. That is why 3D artists are told to learn to draw/paint, because then they'll be forced to learn the important foundations, whereas a 3D workflow does not effectively force them to learn anything of the foundations (other than perhaps anatomy).
  04 April 2011
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