Experimental Game Design
From Ian Stead former student and artist:
This site has a bunch of free downloadable training videos for many different 3D and 2D computer graphics software packages including Maya. They also have a forum. It's a great place to start if you are starting to learn new 3D software.
Some suggestions for learning 3D graphics:
A lot of this is just common sense. Some of these things I've learned through experience, others are good ideas I've read about or talked to other people about.
* Keep it simple (being overly ambitious kills many projects).
* Plan ahead what you are doing (draw! storyboard! collect reference!). Have fun. Don't try to learn everything at once, there is so much to learn and it takes time to learn it, so I recommend focusing on an area you wish to get better at instead of trying to get better at everything at once (right now, I'm focusing on modeling/ texturing - I have very little experience in animation and I expect I won't be very good at it for several more years).
* You don't have to be good at all aspects of 3D,
its okay to specia
* Understanding composition is very helpful. Learning some architecture is useful for modeling realistic spaces and buildings (I still need to do that).
* Understanding anatomy and the human figure is essential if you are going to make characters (model them and animate them). Taking a figuring drawing class is highly recommended (you should also take as much figure drawing as possible because it helps many skills develop). It doesn't matter which software you use - it matters what you do with it.
* Don't put space ships on your demo reel (unless you are applying for a job to design space ships). Don't be afraid to ask questions. Understanding basic programming, math and physics is helpful. Don't give up! There will always be someone better than you at any given skill, so don't be discouraged.
* Also, everyone starts out as a noob, so even the best artists one day couldn't draw anything very realistically. Natural talent helps, but you don't need it to be able to draw or do great 3D work, all you have to do is practice.
* Get a digital camera and take pictures everywhere so you can build a texture and reference library - you may not be working on what you are photographing today, but it will be helpful later. Also, this way you will have more work on hand that you own the copyright to.
* In the same vein, collect reference material from magazines, the internet and everywhere. Collect 3D models and animations to look at for inspiration and to help you understand how other people build/animate/render/draw things.
Here are some excellent places to check out for learning 3D graphics and animation.
These two sites are part of CG Networks. They have several different CG challenges every two months (animation, concept art, game art, architecture, visual fx and modeling) They have an excellent and large forum on the cgtalk part of the site. There are a ton of extremely talented artists who run and use these forums. It's a great place to get inspired, and to learn. They have many useful forums for getting critiques, for software specific advice and general discussion of computer graphics and many other relevant topics.
This site has a monthly animation challenge - good for helping improve animation skills and tons of small entertaining animations to check out. I've read that if you can win this challenge, you are qualified to work for Sony as an animator.
Also, if you are strapped for cash, and are looking for free solutions for animation and modeling, you might check out these open-source 3D
Or, if you'd like to buy some software at student prices, here's one place I know of (usually you can save several hundred to several thousand dollars):
If you are going to buy, you should definitely do a thorough search though of other student discount sites, and ebay, and see about buying direct from the company that makes the software so you can find the best deal.
One more thing, if you are interested in 3D
graphics, one area that uses 3D a lot is game development (the other area being
the film industry). If you are interested in game development, you should come
to the Albany Chapter meeting of the International Game Developers Association.
Go to www.igda.org to
get more information about this organization (you can find the link to the Albany
Chapters website through there). There is also a very good chapter in
www.gamasutra.com is also a really excellent site to check out for info on working in 3D for game art.
Also, feel free to ask me any questions about 3D. I can't help with software specific questions so well if it's not Softimage XSI or trueSpace, (I do have a general understanding of Maya and 3DS Max but you'd be better off posting a question on one of the forums I mentioned
above) but I can help with the general concepts you need to understand with 3D and might be able to point you in the right direction if I can't answer your questions about software.
Cheers and good luck,
aim name: McConaheyS