Professional looking to expand into CG

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  05 May 2013
Professional looking to expand into CG

I am currently a professional retoucher, and would like to gain enough knowledge to be able to offer CG elements to my clients, whether I do the work or subcontract it out.

Can you suggest courses to take that would be beneficial? Whenever I have ventured into 3D software I am quickly overwhelmed. I need a baseline to get started. I don't need credits.

Also, can you suggest software which might fit my needs best? I am interested in product stills and HRDi lighting. So far, KeyShot and HDR Light Studio look pretty fascinating to me. Is it better to learn on a standard program such as 3ds Max?

  05 May 2013
Hey man,

If its product renders your after, 3DS Max with Vray and Cinema4D are the big ones. But you can use whatever you want if your just working as a one man studio. If you plan on working with other artist, it's a good idea to fall in line and use a popular tool. Vray has a pretty big following in the arch/product rendering world here in the US, but that might vary depending on what country your from. All those programs come with a 30 day free trial.

I've found books to be a great resource, but everyone learns in different ways.

A good way to get started might be to pick a popular household item that you own, and produce some 3D renders of it.

  05 May 2013
KeyShot and HDR Light Studio are not complete delivery packages for CG elements.

KeyShot does not have an ability to create 3D assets - you can only light, apply/tweak shaders and render in it. It can deliver high quality results, is very easy to pick up, but render times can be extreme, especially if you're going for print-res.

LightStudio can only... light, and we're talking about image-based lighting here. All you'll get out of it would be a light probe and a reflection probe, which your rendering software (KeyShot included) can use to produce the final render. It's easy as well and plugs into most packages (3ds max, Maya etc.)

As suggested above, 3ds max seems like a good choice and from my experience is the easiest to pick up. Also, V-Ray is nice, but not essential. Mental Ray, which comes included should handle any advanced rendering needs you may have, but as a retoucher, you may prefer to handle advanced effects via... retouching instead of at render time.

Download the trial and give it a try.
  05 May 2013
Thanks for the recommendations and clarification. I don't understand the whole workflow at this point.

I think I'll check out this book, although it's not really product specific:

There is a local class which is cheap, and teaches in Blender. Would that be valuable at all, or just confusing? I am just wary of the high price of 3ds Max without know at all what I am doing.
  05 May 2013
My suggestion would be Blender. It's current feature set is really very good for product visualization you want to do. The package itself is free and even high quality training like BlenderCookie is very cheap.

If you plan to expand beyond product stills to something like arch viz or VFX, then you might want to invest your time and resources to something more complex, but for what you described, Blender seems a really great choice.

And thanks to the recently added Cycles renderer, lighting workflow can be as much interactive as it is with Keyshot or Light studio

Good luck on your journey exploring 3d world!
  05 May 2013
You might also give Modo a look, lots of independent artists and people in similar fields using it for the type of work you're talking about. Lots of examples and tutorials on their website at
figdigital | @figdigital
  05 May 2013
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