Skills required for 3D

7 Sep

Transferring Traditional Skills

Artists with skills in traditional media will find the transition to 3D computer graphics easier once they get used to working on a computer. In fact, new 3D artists should take the time to learn one or more of the following traditional art forms because they can help enhance 3D skills:

Drawing and Sketching

Drawing is a technique of representing the real world by means of lines and shapes. This skill requires the ability to observe and record the three-dimensional world. This skill can also be used to create storyboards and character sketches—great tools for developing an idea before proceeding to computer graphics. Draw as much as possible. Concentrate on getting the energy of the pose quickly with short gesture drawings.

Cel Animation

Cel animators create 2D art through motion. Cel animation includes traditional techniques such as squash and stretch, anticipation, overlapping action and follow through. Many of these 2D techniques translate very well into 3D environments. Set up a pencil tester with a cheap video camera and try to hand-draw animated bouncing balls, walking sacks of flour, and simple characters doing things. Develop a sense of timing for movement. Learn how to put some personality into a characters walking cycle. Study each frame of the cartoon with a dvd-players freeze frame function and try to copy what works and what doesn’t.

Screen Writing

By learning about screen writing you will learn about formatting, beats, scene structure, visual storytelling, and lots of other information you can use later.


Painters learn to work with color, light, shape, form and composition. On the computer, these skills help create texture maps, position lights and compose scenes.


Knowledge of traditional cinematography will help artists use real-world techniques when setting up CG lights and cameras. This skill is very important when working with 3D graphics that are integrated into live-action plates. Study the great directors behind tha cameras of the best films ever made. Storyboard shot by shot some films or scenes from films that you think work really well or are similar to current projects you are developing. Try to find out what the director was thinking when he composed each shot. Pay attention to the composition, contrast of lights and darks, lighting, camera movement, transitions from scene to scene, timing of shots, cuts and overall look and feel creation.


Still photography requires an understanding of lighting and camera effects such as key lights, focal length and depth of field. Photography also teaches good composition techniques that are useful for framing scenes.


Sculpturing with clay, stone and metal requires an intimate understanding of shape and form. Hands-on experience in shaping complex surfaces is a great asset when working with digital surfaces in Maya.


Architects often make good 3D artists because they are trained to think in plane, section, elevation and perspective. Building models by hand is another skill they develop that makes it much easier to work in a digital environment.


Reasons to take up acting:

  • to learn about dramatic tension and three-act-structure
  • to understand the importance of giving characters clear motivations
  • to get better sense of how to make your characters to come alive in a 3D scene
  • to feel comfortable acting out your 3D characters in front of the mirror to get the motion right
  • to feel more comfortable acting out your story and the voices of your 3D characters while pitching your storyboards in front of a group

Graphic design, typography, and sacred geometry

Good animation requires a good design sense. Understanding type, layout, visual communication, and how colours work together will improve the way you design your characters and shots. Practice copying designs that appeal to your sense of style. You will gain a greater understanding of the process involved if you try to recreate nice layouts with pictures and professional type. Using the principles of Sacred Geometry will help you design sets and characters by promoting an understanding of how we relate to shapes and mathematical constructs in our visual world.

Set decoration, production design, art directing

This is the set of professions that can be found behind most visual productions. As an independent film maker/animator you have to be in control of all these aspects of the work. A set decorator is in charge of the set dressing on a film set and television set which includes the furnishings, drapery, lighting fixtures, artwork and many of the other objects that will be seen in the film. These elements are also needed in 3d scene. Set decoration is a way to implement creative ideas, which set the mood for the piece. Production designer makes the final calls on selecting the settings and style to visually tell the story. as the production designer’s lead manager carrying out designing, supervises set designers, model artists, computer designers, graphic designers, set and storyboard illustrators, and assistant art directors. Art director acts as the production designer’s lead manager carrying out designing, supervises set designers, model artists, computer designers, graphic designers, set and storyboard illustrators, and assistant art directors.

Creative Awareness

One of the goals of creating artwork in a 3D graphics application such as Cinema4d is to mimic the real world. This means that the more you are aware of the world around you, the easier it will be to recreate it on the computer. As you come into contact with people, places and objects, take a closer look and imagine that you have to model, animate and render all of the details that you see. Details such as how a person swings his or her arms while walking, or how light enters a room, offer great reference for the 3D artist to incorporate into their work. Any seasoned animator will tell you the importance of observing the world around you. You should continue this kind of awareness when you go to the movies. In many ways, your animations will have roots more in movies than in real life. While watching movies, observe camera angles, set lighting, the staging and framing of actors, and performances.  An understanding of how people, places, color, shape and form are captured on film can help you become a better animator.


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