1. Learn the lingo
From rigging to rendering to resolution, familiarizing yourself with fundamental terminology used in 3D animation is a must. Understanding what these concepts mean isn’t just necessary for operating animation software; you’ll need a solid knowledge base to communicate your ideas with other budding animators and the general public. Here’s a simple but comprehensive glossary.
2. Master a few key programs
Firstly, ask yourself whether your true calling is film or game development. There are subtle but important differences between the two, such as good body animation and angles, timing animations to match player input, and level of realism in motion capture sequences. Then, take a leap into software modeling packages like Blender (free), Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, or Cinema 4D Studio, and you’re halfway there.
3. Sign up for 3D animation courses
While self-study can get you far, it’s also worth investing in a specialized course that specifically targets entry-level industry skills. At AIE, we offer two-year courses on Game Art & Animation and 3D Animation & VFX For Film as well as shorter, introductory courses at both our Seattle and Lafayette campuses. Take advantage of every moment and commit yourself 100% to maximize your chance of success.
4. Build a killer showreel
Crafting a model or building exotic worlds in 3D is a bit like making a cake; you need to prepare several layers in advance before the final product comes together to impress. It’s exactly the same with finding a job in 3D animation. Build up a stellar portfolio showcasing your best work, and when the right opportunity comes along, unleash your talents! Demonstrate your passion, dare to be different, and always aim to convince employers you’d be an indispensable asset to their team.
5. Frequent relevant industry keynotes
Keep your eyes peeled for learning opportunities that will supplement and expand your craft. If you’re planning on working in games, pencil in the dates for E3, GDC and annual Unite events. For those pursuing film, check out South by Southwest, MIA Animation or the GLAS Animation Festival. Attend workshops, take notes, broaden your perspectives and get inspired.
6. Perfect practice makes perfect
Being confident about your individual style is great, but remember, talent alone doesn’t win a marathon. Persistence and a continuous drive for self-improvement will ultimately be your winning hands. At last year’s Blender Conference, Andrew Price spoke about stepping up his art game after his cousin dared him to earn 1,000 ‘likes’ on ArtStation. Apply the same work ethic to 3D art by becoming a keen observer of the kinesthetic, and constantly ask yourself questions: which qualities make something look ‘natural’, and why?
7. Don’t forget to have fun
Along your journey from roll-a-ball tutorials to creating the magical splendor of Arendelle Castle, there might be late nights and grueling schedules, but never forget why you started. 3D animators have the special privilege of being able to translate and preserve reality into a digital likeness for millions to enjoy — themselves included!