Is it necessary to learn 3d?
Hello everyone,

I had a quick question for anyone out there who is knowledgeable of the subject. I am working towards becoming a concept artist but I have never done any 3d work and almost every time I look for jobs I see character artists who also know how to use programs such as Maya or Zbrush. It's almost always in the job descriptions I see as well. Should I be learning how to use these programs too or if I become good enough am I still going to be up to date with the rest of the competing art world?
It is not always necessary but 3D is becoming more and more important asset in the concept art industry, especially for environment artists. It's not as important for illustrators though.

I think you should probably try it, possibly learn some simple things, nothing advanced. Most concept artists do just basic blockouts and then paint over them.

I'd also recommend blender - it's free and a powerful weapon.

I'd start learning things one by one unless you really like 3D. I mean you should not force it because it's ''the'' thing to do/learn. I hope you get what I mean :p

Thanks for the reply. I think I would be interested in learning but I don't even know where to begin. I feel like I could learn using some online tutorials but then there's the question of whether or not my computer is capable of handling such a program. I think it can but it's probably at the lower spectrum as far as graphics are concerned.

A long time ago I used to mess around with a program called Bryce 3d. That was well over 15 years ago. I loved it. Then when I went to school at 18 I was learning 3d because I was in game design but I had to drop out of school for personal reasons and never got to really learn much about it. Is it hard to learn?
Sculptris is a free 3d software, I've played around with it a little (nothing overly long) and it seems very user friendly and like it wouldn't take too much time to learn to use well as it is tailored toward artists who want to be able to create in 3D easily. Try it out, I think you'll like it and it will benefit you in your concept art career.

3d is an important tool to have in your repetoire if you want to do concept design. Yeah you don't "need" it to do anything, but as Alex said on our stream, those people using all the tools at their disposal including 3D, who don't care about fundamentals from a purist sense (meaning all lines have to be drawn by their hand or it doesn't count) will totally waste the competition, because they can be faster and more productive. It doesn't make you a better artist because design choices still have to be made and ideas have to be conceived, that comes down to your knowledge which only comes with time and learning and experience. What it does is free you from the more technical fundamental aspects of drawing...perspective, form, lighting and gives you much more freedom and potential to explore ideas. You will still need 2d skills to be able to finish and tweak, and do it well.

The thing to realise is that any additional skills you can bring to your work will benefit you. It's not an either-or scenario, but for concept art roles, especially environments, definitely basic 3d blockouts are very useful. You don't need a powerful machine to do basic blockout modeling and basic lighting. Tell us your machine specs.

"Hard" is a very relative term. I think 3d programs themselves can be daunting because of how complex they appear. There are quite a few basic terminologies to learn which again can seem daunting. In general though the principles aren't that difficult. It's not rocket science, unless you get into simulations and the technicalities of rendering engines!

Blender is a terrific, free and incredibly powerful 3d software. There are many tutorial channels for blender on youtube. BlenderGuru is one of them I like a lot for workflow tricks. But you have to get down with the basics of the interface and modelling in general, probably through following a step by step tutorial as well. Depends how you prefer to learn. I don't really learn through following tutorials so I can't link you any. Mostly I prefer to explore myself and apply various tricks I've seen in videos, or hunt out solutions to problems as and when needed.

For movies (and games) ZBrush is I would say a huge asset to you especially for character work. Everything in movies are designed 100s of iterations deep and photoreal. It's so much easier to do this with 3d. You just tweak the model and render out again with the click of a button. Also these 3d concept assets can slot nicely into the pipeline, and be handed off to vfx or props departments. Someone doesn't have to do all the work in translating your 2d design into 3d. This is why it is seen as an asset. It saves them time in the pipeline.
Gnomon dvd on zbrush 4r7 by Madeleine scott Spencer is a fantastic in depth coverage of zbrush. Really good. Sculptris is I believe the free version of ZBrush, so worth a go, to see how it works.

I did 3d as well (yeah the first I ever used was also bryce at least 18 years ago now?) and was working in arch viz for a year using Maya, but then also had to drop it due to life situation changing. I recently picked Blender up and all the stuff I learned came flooding back, and it took me maybe 2 weeks to get comfy with 3d again, but i did actually have a lot of the knowledge from before still in there. Starting from scratch will take longer. 3d programs haven't really changed all that much, just become more powerful because of our computers getting cheaper and more powerful.

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Thanks, what you all said made a lot of sense. I think I will look into it further because I remember the feeling I had playing around in Bryce. I will look into ZBrush and the other links you guys posted for me. I would like to have more to work with career wise and I am sure knowing some of the 3d jargon would be beneficial to me in the long run. Plus learning is fun as hell. ^_^*

I'm not sure which specs matter but looking at sculptis' site I know I have windows 8 on my computer. Here are the rest of my specs.

Processor : Intel Core i7 CPU @ 2.40 GHz
(RAM): 8 GB
64 bit Operating system x64 -based processor

I also have a Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid. To tell you the truth I probably could learn to use my tablet better as well lol. I feel like I don't use it to it's fullest capabilities.
That seems like a base system that will be able to handle basic 3d work. I had something similar for ages and could easily do basic stuff and use zbrush.
Zbrush runs pretty well on most systems for what it allows you to do. If you have a separate gpu, that will help a lot for rendering times and overall speed in viewport. The more cores in your processor also the better. An ssd drive is very very useful for speeding up your os and applications, but chances are you don't have this already on that system.
Of course you want to think about how to prioritise the time you do have on the most productive activities for you whether 2d or 3d, but just get downloading and having fun and see how it goes I say!

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It is, otherwise you have no concept of how things are constructed. this been said, i think all 3d animators need to learn sculpting as well as drawing..

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