Getting Started in CGI and seeking Informations and advices


Hello everyone.

I did not know where to write this so if i’m at the wrong place, well, i’m sorry.

For a long time I was searching my path without finding it and trying alot of different things without liking what I was doing really.
I did some photography, Video editing, Video shooting, Post-production (Color Grading, basic compositing, Keying, tracking and so on), I learnt some Photoshop, AE, DaVinci, Avid MC and so many more software without really diving in depth in each one of them. And this for a reason.

I didnt find my path in any of these things I was doing and most important didnt really like what I was doing. I mean I do like all these things but not like something you know you’re meant to do. And that is why I kept trying different things and learning different things until I get that feel wich will tell me: You got it, This is what you want to do. I’m 28 and I was afraid to never find something that will drive me.

A month ago, I visited an animation studio while its open days. And from the begining to the end I was amazaed by every aspects of a production. While you can see people modeling and some others Lighting, and others again Shading you realize that it is based on teamwork from A to Z and that the synergy must be perfect.

But all these things didnt gave that feel I was looking for until I spent 3 entire hours just looking at someone animating Rigged models for a result of a 3 seconds animation and right after 2 hours more when an artist did some FX on the Animated Model. And this is when the feel i’m talking about since the begining flowed.
It might sound ridiculous but I was happy, because I knew that i’d do everything I could to do this with my life.

I worked enough to save and live correctly for the coming 2/3 Years to fully commit to the learning of CG Basic and Then Animation or FX.
But even with all the motivation I have I still have some questions unanswered and I truly didnt want to check other forums or even this one looking for other similar post as each situation is different from someone to another based on multiple factors.
So here are my questions, i’ll try to be the most accurate possible:

Will 2/3 Years be enough to acquire solid knowledge of tools and basic techniques in Animation or FX? On a daily basis of 5-7 hours a day and 6 days per week?

Will I acquire enough experience to make it something I could live from? I don’t mind Not having a huge job in Top Animation/Game Studios as long as I do what I like. (Don’t get me wrong though! I’ll still try to aim higher and higher to push my limits. I’m just being realistic.)

At 28 years old with everything you know from what I wrote, Is it “too late” to get in the CGI field? Can it be the turn I needed to find a career I wanted even as sel thaught?

Final but not Least. Even with all these questions I’d stick to my thoughts and to what my guts says but I’d like to see your answers and know what are your opinions. Also if you have some advices on a path to follow to get the most efficient way to learn and acquire all Basic knowledge of any aspects of CGI and then specialize on Animation or FX. I’d prefer to learn basic just so I can know how things work.
Also if You know wich tools/software I should get (Price is not a problem as I saved decent amount to get them)

Thanks for those who read until then end and to those who will give me answer and advices, it is much appreciated.
Also sorry for my english as it is not my native language.
Again, Thank you!


How people learn, how fast and how well they put that knowledge into practice is very subjective. You said you already put 2/3 years into this, so where do you feel you’re at?
The second question very much depends on your first one. But even if you have the required knowledge it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job, and it’s not just a question of technical ability,
but the artistic ability, as an animator you need to develop a great feel for weight, timing, follow through, secondary motion and all that stuff that makes animation pop.
No, 28 isn’t too late as long as you are good at what you do.


28 is not too late to get into CG. The fact that you have background in 2D video, post-production, color grading will help you greatly, because that stuff is very important in 3D CG as well.

The fastest and most painless way to learn 3D CG is to learn how to use Cinema4D. Very friendly user interface, logically designed functions, fairly easy to grasp functioning and the software doesn’t break horribly when you experiment wildly or do something wrong.

Learn the basics of 3D on Cinema4D for a few months - modeling, texturing, shading, rigging, animation, lighting, rendering. There are 3 and 6 month licenses for Cinema4D R19 Studio:

In about 4 - 5 months messing around with C4D and following tutorials, you will have learned the basics of pretty much everything 3D CG.

Then move on to learning 3D software like Maya or Max, as those are preferred by the professional Film/VFX/Animation/Game studios.

Why C4D first and not Maya/Max immediately? Because everything 3D is so much easier to learn in C4D than in Maya or Max.

Within the first few days with C4D, you will have modeled some stuff, textured and shaded it, animated it, lit it and rendered out your first animations.

The software will also let you explore “how does this work?” and “what happens when I use this function?” and so on without fucking up on you.

Maya and Max - for a 3D beginner - are only feasible to learn properly through studying books or watching tutorial videos.

C4D is better for the 3D beginner because it lets you experiment with various functions and learn what they do without punishing you for any mistakes you made.

Don’t worry about your age. If you were 38 or 41, that might have pushed things a bit. 28 is still quite young. Not at all too late to get into 3D CG.

Good luck!


I’d go back and ask that animation studio what kind of software they are using. Max, Maya, Cinema 4D? Then I would learn that one. None of them are that hard to learn and you SHOULD be using books and video tutorials to guide you. And keep in mind thats just a start, outside this “core” tool there will be plenty of side tools to explore (your video background is a leg up here).

It would be good to explore everything while also narrowing down which part of the pipeline you personally like. You need to know a little of how everything works to see the big picture, but you usually won’t have your modelers doing rigging or your material folks doing lighting in a decent sized studio. There is so much to learn that at some point you have to accept you can’t master everything and start to narrow your focus.


The reason I recommended Cinema4D is that it is feasible to learn a lot about every aspect of 3D with that software. Not so much with Maya and Max.

Back when I started with C4D, after about 7 months of intensive use, I had literally used every 3D function the software has for something or the other.

With Max and Maya you have 3D softwares that are not nearly as friendly, require weeks of tutorial following, and are not as open to self-learning as C4D is.

Going from C4D to Max and Maya later is not a problem. The only problem you’ll have is that the Max and Maya UIs will annoy you with their inefficiency.


At this moment I can’t choose between Animation and FX so i’ll just start to learn every aspects at an intermediate level then I’ll pick the one that I prefer to specialize.
I Plan to buy 3 Month C4D License and Montly or Year Subscription for Maya. For the other common software I can see there are Non-commercial of them so it’s all OK. I’m also wondering wich one I should start with? Pluralshight? Gnomonworkshops? Lynda? There are litterally tons of this websites and I don’t want to pick one that’ll put me on the wrong way to learn.
I’m setting everything up to start all my learning next Monday so i’m seeking the most informations I can get to have the best Start possible.


Which aspect of the pipeline do you want to learn? Modeling, animation, FX, lighting, surfacing/shading, compositing?


We get it - you love C4D. You post about it anywhere possible, and promote it as hard as you can. Normally it wouldn’t matter but here you’re just being blatantly shillish. Do they pay you to advertise here for them?

Max, Houdini, and Maya are very user-friendly, do not require weeks of tutorials for any given task (one short ten-minute tutorial is generally enough), and there’s absolutely nobody stopping anyone from self-learning. Self-learning is entirely and completely up to the person learning, to which you can only speak for your own experience with C4D.

Of course you’d used every 3D function C4D had to offer in 7 months - because it’s very limited, compared to the other packages. Max and Maya annoy with their inefficiency? That’s ridiculous. It would be equally ridiculous to say about any other package, including C4D. ANY software is inefficient if you don’t know how to use it. Any UI is inefficient if you’re new to it and it’s still alien and unknown.

These biased opinions and shilling aren’t helpful to a new artist who is agnostic to the platform at this point. Trolling for Maxon is how you come across lately, even though I don’t think you’re doing it on purpose.

I mean if he wanted the easiest package, just toss him Bryce 3D and that’s that. Or what was that one on the Mac so long ago? Wings 3D, perhaps?


Before getting much deeper I would follow up arrays question and say decide on a basic direction for what you want to do. Modeling / texturing , vfx , animation, money may not be as much of an issue but time is. With direction, focus and plan 2 to 3 years is what the average student needs to build the skills for an entry level reel.

As far as software goes checking out top schools and studios helps give you a more realistic view of the software that will help you the most for seeking work. One upside to looking at more respected schools placement is that they will teach students software that gives them the highest percentage of getting them work. How hard or easy software is isnt as relevant as how likely you are to need it for specific jobs.


There is no “We” - you are not this entire forum. You are one forum user with one opinion. Don’t take use back to the days of CGTalk, where a wolfpack of CG pros used to hound everyone who had a “different opinion” on how to learn/master CG than the studios liked. That arrogant attitude literally killed this forum - almost everybody who was here years ago has moved on to other places.

No I do NOT love C4D. I’m actually quite frustrated that C4D often gets the latest technical tricks a year or two or three after Max or Maya do.

What I DO do, however, is to recommend it to 3D CG beginners without any doubt whatsoever that it is the right place to start in 3D CG.

Why? Because it literally is the easiest, friendliest 3D software to learn 3D with. A few months with C4D, and you’ve tried your hand at most things you can actually do in CG, from box modeling to hair and cloth simulation.

Why do I not recommend Max or Maya to beginners? Because those are specialist CG packages designed for one-trick CG monkeys who either only model, or texture, or rig, or light and render. Pipeline apps. Not 1-man apps.

If you say “I just want to rig characters for a living” or “I just want to simulate with particles and fluids”, then yes, go watch tutorials for Houdini, Maya, Max or Modo. Go do it right now.

But if you say “I want to learn as much about as many different aspects of 3D as painlessly as possible”, then C4D is the ticket for you.

Lots of stuff is far faster, easier and more efficient to do in C4D than Max and Maya. Especially for someone who is a beginner and wants to experiment with 3D without incurring a penalty for it.

Max, Maya, Houdini are powerful. Are they user or beginner friendly? Not really. And they never were.

Those apps are for Fordist studios - one guy does modeling, the next the texturing, the next shades the model, the next rigs it and so on.

Totally unsuitable for someone who wants to experience 6 or 7 aspects of 3D CG in a few months without any pain.


Max is an ideal tool for generalists. I’ve made my living with it doing just that for over 20 years, and I taught myself. Your solipsism is a bit over the top. There’s nothing wrong with having opinions, but realize that’s what they are, not universal truths. The easiest thing to learn will generally be the software you start with because you’re not fighting any preconceived notions. After that it’s harder to move to something that uses a different paradigm. When I played around with C4D for a bit years ago I found it utterly baffling, not because it was necessarily difficult but because it was different to what I was used to.


What an un usual statement. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Max/Maya being called one-trick ponies. Of course, “modeling, texturing, rigging, and lighting” - that would indicate > “one trick”. Wouldn’t it? Genuinely curious as to why you think this.

@Oryl -

You’ve receive some good advice in this thread in that a good start is to decide which part of all this you (looks like you’re experimenting already so that’s good), and then build from there. I would also second the idea of going back to that studio once you have some more specific questions and seeing if they’ll speak with you again. Even if it’s only a quick email.


Thanks to everyone for all the advices. It will help for sure. I’m starting Monday and last thing I wanted to know is if Pluralsight’s Learning paths for Maya wich includes Core Skills, Dynamic Core Skills, Modeling, Enviro. Modeling and Character Modeling (As a base knowledge) and Houdini learning path is a decent start?
Depending on wich one I choose between Vfx and Animation here is the base learning plan and I’d like to seek your opinions!

Core Skills

Maya Fundamentals
Modeling Fundamentals
UV Mapping Workflows
Shading and Texturing Fundamentals
Introduction to Rigging
Animation Fundamentals
nParticle Fundamentals
Fundamentals of Arnold

>Animation Specialization
[i]Principles of Animation
Animating a Walk Cycle
Animation Tips
Face and Hand Animation

[/i]>VFX Specialization
Introduction to Houdini
Introduction to Bifrost
Fluid Fundamentals (Maya & Houdini)
Introduction to Particles (Houdini)
Fluid Simulations (Houdini)
Maya Dynamics: nParticles and Expressions
[i]Modeling For Dynamics In Houdini and Maya
Building FX Tools in Houdini

[/i]Probably adding a NUKE learning path after all that but I think it’s more than enough to start. Especially if I train between courses.
I don’t know if the order is ok but I thought it would be a decent start to acquire a solid base of knowledge. Thank you again!