Sunday, May 10, 2015

So You Want To Do 3D (2015)

I have been asked many times by people interested in modding, game development, and 3d printing "Where do I start when it comes to getting into 3D stuff?". There is a ton of stuff to take into consideration when I am asked this question and a lot of it comes down to what they want to achieve.

So when I went to college, like most students, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with 3D or do in the games industry. After the first year and after messing around with different aspects of 3D I was sold on 3D modeling for games.

Whatcha doin?

For starters you are going to need a PC/laptop for anything 3D related. There is probably some trendy app out there for a phone or tablet for basic 3d sculpting but currently nothing seems practical on that end. You are going to need windows for most 3d software and game engines. If you got a Mac you can try getting it to run windows as well but I have no experience with that stuff.

I have a custom built PC with decent hardware but in no way is my hardware specs required for starting in 3d. Check out my Twitch channel for my computer specs:

I started with a crappy laptop. It was slow but it got the job done.

This isn't really a guide to building a custom PC but I will list the basic parts for a tower.

Case (Tower)
Mother Board
Processor (CPU)
Video Card
Hard Drive
Disk Drive
Power Supply

When it comes to compatibility of different parts you need to pick a lane being AMD or INTEL. I personally use Intel but my work computer uses AMD. They both work fine so it really doesn't matter. You can buy parts online for cheap but I recommend for first timers to buy directly from a frys or other big computer electronics store. When you buy in person you can get help from the people there to pick up compatible parts and return stuff right away if it is busted.

You can't make a game with a regular game console. Looking at you Grandma's Boy...

I can't really recommend a good laptop to use because I stopped using laptops for 3d in college. In my experience they just lack the video card and processing power most towers at the same price can achieve.

What programs do I use?

3DCG has an amazing intro to 3D guide here:

There are some great 3D programs out there and everyone has their gripes and favorites.

I currently use 3DS Max 2015 by Autodesk for basic 3d modeling and Zbrush 4R7 for sculpting high resolution meshes.

I recommend that you start with blender. It is free and has more support out there for it than any other 3d program. It's only real downside is that a lot of the game and film industry doesn't use it. Navigating the interface of blender can be daunting to newbies and vets like myself that are not familiar with the program. Also just orbiting around in blender feels very different control wise than most other 3d programs.

If you got a little cash but don't want to drop crazy money I recommend Modo. Modo has fantastic tools that I personally am not very familiar with. I can see it replacing 3ds max in my work flow. Modo is growing in popularity and worth looking at.

If you are a student 3ds max has an educational version out there somewhere you can download for free to get you started. 3ds max isn't perfect but it has been around forever and many 3d artists use it today.

If you are a student you could also jump into Maya by Autodesk. I personally see Maya as more of a 3d animation and rigging program than modeling. Some 3d modelers love it so it is another alternative worth looking into.

If you want to do high poly mesh sculpting I recommend Zbrush, Mudbox, or Sculptris. These programs are best utilized with a WACOM tablet.

I personally find Zbrush to be the best in this realm and worth every penny.

If you are broke or want to try out Zbrush you can do the 30 day trial or use Sculptris for free! It isn't nearly as fleshed out as Zbrush but it is a nice introduction.

You could also try Mudbox... some people use it I guess...

Resources and Learning
YouTube - mixed bag of good and bad tutorials
Reddit - Subscribe to groups for the programs you are trying to learn.
Pintrest - Not just used for fashion and cooking tips. Pintrest is now a great source for 3d tutorials.Just follow boards for the program you are trying to learn.
3DCG - board on 4chan that is very helpful for beginners.