Maya Versus Max Versus Other
When it comes to 3D art programs, thereís Maya, thereís 3D studio Max, and there are other various programs. Which one should you learn? It depends. Some companies use one, some companies use another. Some companies have different teams that are each working with a different tool.
When it comes to getting hired, some companies will need an employee who absolutely knows a specific program. Others will have the resources to train a new hire with whatever program they are using.
An no, you donít get to pick which software you use as a 3D artist, that I know of. (Though things can be a little more flexible with 2D programs and plug-ins for 3D programs.)
So, do you learn a little of as many 3D programs as possible, or do you throw all of your eggs in one basket? Well, Iím afraid I canít answer that for you. But I will point out that you will need to learn at least one program well enough to create samples for your portfolio. And that if you want to be an artist, you also should be sure not to neglect your fine-arts education in favor of learning tools.
If you have a favorite company that you would like to someday work for, then it might be in your benefit to find out what software they use.
A note about 3D programs: there are so very many buttons! So many tools-within tools! Itís so overwhelming! Hereís my secret: I only know how to use about 5% of Maya. Thatís all you need to do professional low-poly modeling.
In other words, figure out what you need to accomplish your 3D goals, and then do not waste your time learning the rest of the 3D program. Because, seriously, you could spend months just gaining an understanding of every blasted button - and then never use those buttons. Your time is better spent doing figure drawing, unless you are interested in being a technical artist.
It used to be that Maya was available only to professionals, due to it costing about as much as a small car. That meant that students had only two options: find a class that taught Maya, which was a rare find; or, learn on a pirated copy. The makes of Maya finally addressed the hypocrisy of forcing their future users into stealing the program by releasing a free learning version, which, I suspect, can be downloaded from their website. The learning version has a giant, ugly watermark across the screen. However I can assure you that if you submit a portfolio that includes samples with the watermark, you wonít be thought any less of for it. It tells the company that you donít use pirated software.
I donít know if Max has a free student version.
If anyone has links to sites where free 3D programs can be downloaded, feel free to share!
On a final note, it is fairly standard when going from one company to another to have to learn a new program. It is very typical for a new employee with several years experience to whimper and whine that ďit wasnít like this in Max! This is confusing! Argh!Ē
From Observation to Concept Art
Drawing or painting from life is like eating your vegetables: sometimes it just makes you want to whine ďI donít wanna!Ē while lusting after ice cream. However, unless you are willing to push forward with life drawings, then your drawings from imagination are likely not to improve much, either.
*******assignment #8 Ė From Observation to Concept Art*******
Find a real-life object that is made up of one or more interesting materials. Light it, and draw or paint it. Make your rendition of the object be as realistic and life-like as possible. If you are painting, then focus on colors. If you are drawing in black and white, focus on rendering details that reveal what the material is.
Done with that? Spiffy. Now come up with something out of your imagination that is made of the same materials. If what you painted was made of metal, you could design a suit of armor or a robot. If it was cloth, perhaps a costume would do. Wood? How about some wooden machine with gears and whatnot. Get creative.
Now do a second drawing or painting of this thing you have dreamed up. Use your still-life as reference for your colors or details. Try as hard as possible to get the quality of your from-imagination piece to match that of the still-life.
If you like the results you got from this exercise, repeat it with different materials to build up your own internal materials library.