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10 tips for 3D design sucess

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When it comes to 3D design, there aren’t any shortcuts to success. On top of the talent, creativity and vision you already have, it takes determination and a heap of hard work.

Here are 10 things every 3D artist – beginner or seasoned expert – should know to succeed in this fast-paced industry.

1. Read, read and read some more.

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and what better way to build your knowledge than to take advantage of the mass library of reading materials readily available to you.

We’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Design for Motion: Fundamentals and Techniques of Motion Design by Austin Shaw if you haven’t already. It’s a great tool as it covers everything a serious motion designer needs to make their artistic visions a reality and confidently produce compositions for clients.

The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams is considered a must-read by people of all skill levels in the industry. Packed with everything you need to get you started in animation, from detailed information about timing and animation principles to run cycles and animal movement, you’ll continue to reference this book even as a pro in the industry.

2. Watch Disney for inspiration…yes, really.

Film and TV offer great sources of inspiration – where better to get inspired than through success itself. Disney and Pixar are undoubtably industry leaders when it comes to character animation and have been at the forefront since 3D’s rise to popularity.

Another recent film favourite that provides exceptional examples of 3D work is Dune. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the science fiction masterpiece boasts an immersive cinematic experience through its use of visual effects.

In total, 1,700 visual effects shots were created for Dune, which led to a compliment from award-winning director Christopher Nolan, who commented on the “seamlessly blending practical and digital effects”.

3. Follow industry trends.

Keeping up to date with all the industry trends is a must for maximising your potential and staying ahead of the game.

Right now, minimal design is a leading 3D trend that focusses heavily on animation, rendering and lighting. Loop videos are also very popular, especially on Instagram and across other social media platforms.

4. Planning.

It’s always a good idea to plan what you want you want to create first. Look around Behance and Instagram for inspiration on art styles, sketch out rough ideas of how you want the layout of your work to look like and draw out basic storyboards if you intend on creating an animated piece.

Remember, you don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci with a pencil to be a great 3D animator. A passion for creativity and an eye for detail is all it requires – that’s why it offers a great field for all keen artists to try their hand at.

5. Don’t compare yourself to other artists!

We all do it, but if there is one piece of advice we can offer 3D artists, no matter the skill level, it is to avoid comparing your work to people who have been in the industry for years.

Don’t set your expectations sky high to begin with. Everybody starts somewhere, and the quality of your work will improve and develop in time. It’s all about practice.

6. ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is a no-go in the world of animation.

Sometimes artists can overdo it on the software front. We recommend sticking to minimal tools and learning to master them, rather than trying to utilise everything on offer.

After Effects is a great piece of software for 2D work, and for anything 3D we recommend installing Cinema 4D. You could spend years developing and learning on those two alone.

If you’re not yet ready to splash out, there is a great tool called Blender, which offers an overall insight into the world of 3D.

7. Be patient, passionate and motivated, always.

As well as the obvious eye for design, there are some characteristics that a creator benefits greatly from having.

Depending on how complex a project is, you could spend months working on the same piece day in, day out to get it just right, so being able to remain patient, motivated and passionate about the work you’re doing is a must.

8. Be prepared to develop your skills in your own time.

Learn and absorb everything you can from a variety of sources. Watch lectures, learn from teachers, listen to Q&As from influential artists online, seek out behind the scenes videos of artists to see how they work and follow the people that inspire you.

To become an exceptionally good 3D designer you must be prepared to do the work in your own time; work on personal projects, watch the content, do the research, do online tutorials, keep up to date with trends and industry updates.

9. Practice makes perfect.

It’s all about practice – that can’t be emphasised enough.

The only way we improve with anything is by putting the work in and 3D design is no different. There are so many elements to 3D design and so much to learn, so it will really benefit artists to actively put the practice in and try their hand in different techniques.

10. Learn the animation principals!

If there is one thing all 3D creators can benefit from it’s learning the 12 principals of animation – which can be found in the Animator’s Survival Kit mentioned earlier.

These principals symbolise the most crucial techniques animators should aspire to master. Originally developed for pencil sketching in the 1930s by the pioneers of animation, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, the principals have since gone on to be hailed by digital animators as well.

If you’re a 3D Animator and have more tips to share, let us know!

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