3D Artist: A guide to getting through the Covid 19 Lockdown

As a 3D artist you may either find yourself inundated with projects, or have seen your work stream dry out, due to the lockdown.

Personally I have been fortunate to have regular work from past clients and even some new work. But with the lockdown coming into force, I've found I have more time that I previously used for leisure activities, to enrich and add to my skillset.

A 3d artist learns to draw

As a 3D artist, you may think, your craft, lies on the other side of a computer screen, armed with a wacom tablet, or ergonomic mouse. But you'd be limiting yourself. Yes its important to know your software, to learn the new features. In my own case, I've had the opportunity to finally get to, and learn alot of the packages on my wishlist:

  1. Blender
  2. Substance Designer and Painter
  3. Some nurbs modelling techniques, I previously didn't know
  4. The new features in ZBrush

But there's a core skillset, we should all master. The principles behind traditional media art. And also areas such as photography. In my own experience, while I was learning 3d, I took time out to learn the following:

Sketching Anatomy, and understanding human and animal movement:

If you can understand, form, light, and how these two aspects interact, it will go a long way to improving your texturing shading and rendering skills. A good way to do this is to pick up books on basic drawing and shading principles. My own favourite ones are by:

  1. Andrew Loomis
  2. Burne Hogarth
  3. Robert Beverley Hale

I was fortunate enough to be able to pick up hard copies of these around 10 years ago. Andrew Loomis in particular, explains basic principles very simply. Burne Hogarth explains rhythms and line forms when drawing human anatomy. And Robert Beverley Hale, breaks down anatomy, in terms of form (light), structure (line), in a very technical manner. In the context of movement. As a 3D artist, your understanding of these would enrich your modeling, animation, lighting, texturing and rendering skills.  You can take this one step further, buy some canvas and paint, and give that a go. Its sure to enrich your understanding of colour, light, colour schemes.

Traditional Photography

Understanding how a traditional manual camera works, can really add to your technical knowledge when rendering. Or setting up cameras. If you understand how f-stops work, how exposure times, and ISO values work,  it will take your rendering to the next level. You truly begin to understand the term "Photorealism". If you are truly hard core, pick up one of those old film cameras that need reel film. They're cheaply available on ebay or similar. Get an old film roll go out and shoot. Without the safety of edit/undo. And then process that film in the traditional way.


One point, two point and 3 point perspective

Another crucial aspect to master is perspective. How distance behaves in a 2d plane. This si also super impotant when doing any kind of 3d architectural visualisation. You may not be aware of this, but 3d lights, or real world lights, respect the principles of perspective. Cinematography principles are also deeply steeped, in these principles. Imagine what understanding this could do for your composition.. For your lighting, for your building texture setups? A good book I picked up early on, in my career, was:

  1. Perspective made easy
  2. Creative Perspective for artist and illustrators

As a 3d artist you may already have a good grounding in all the above.And if you don't with the lockdown in place, you now have the time, to  master all this, and really take your skills to the next level. Stay home and keep safe!