If you’ve made it this far, I probably don’t need to convince you of the benefits of starting a career as a 3D rendering artist. You know all about how rewarding and fun the work can be, and you understand the freedom that comes with transitioning to freelancing and starting your own business and taking ownership of the work you put out into the world.
But you also know how much work you’ll need to put in to be good enough for people to start shoving fists full of dollars in your general direction. You won’t collect a single commission you didn’t earn with putting in more hours than actually got paid for and delivering better work than you promised. You know all this yet you are still hell bent on diving right into a profession you might know little or everything about.
And whether you are embarking on this career path coming from a design background or you’ve spent your previous 10 years slinging mochaccinos to guys in skinny jeans, you’re always going to be learning more and getting better. Here is a collection of 8 online resources that will help you in your journey to become a different kind of artist - the kind that embraces constraint in order to produce the best work possible.
What better way to learn than by taking notes from people who are already the best? SkillShare is an online community of people from all over the world who are willing to lend their knowledge to members over a wide variety of subjects. If there is something out there to learn, chances are you’ll find that tutorial on SkillShare. The site boasts over 14K classes and already has 2 million members using the community to share their...well...skills.
SkillShare doesn’t target the 3D rendering and visualization community directly, but you’ll find hundreds of focused tutorials and walkthroughs that will assist on a range of visualization topics. Videos range from software tutorials to general theory and concept lessons. The 3D rendering artist must be more than just an extension of Rhino or 3DS Max. If you had enough time (and enough bananas) you could probably teach a monkey to learn a computer program. However, teach a monkey to compose scenes and perfect light and shadow models, and color me impressed.
Sign up to SkillShare for free and get better fast.
Like SkillShare, Lynda has an incredibly robust library of online classes and tutorials that are spread over any and all topics under the sun. Their list of rendering lessons is long and distinguished, and they even have structured classes that will take you through certain subjects or important focus areas of 3D rendering and visualization. The only caveat here is you’re going to have to pay for Lynda’s resources if you want to make full use of the service.
While there are plenty of free resources out there (and on this list), sometimes in order to take that big leap requires breaking a few eggs. However, spending money on something that will further your education actually has a profound effect on your likelihood of following through with it. Put some skin in the game and get to work!
If you have aspirations of being a successful rendering artist, you are going to need to find somewhere to showcase your work. There are hundreds of sites that will host your work (sometimes for a fee), but I’d suggest finding the time to build your own personal portfolio site. Squarespace is a great place to start if you don’t have much experience with building or hosting websites. Additionally, sifting through all your work and presenting your best images will help your learn more about what you’re good at and what you might need to work on.
Squarespace has thousands of website templates to start with, and comes with easy to access and understand tools that will give your work the personal attention it deserves. Layouts are clean and simple, letting your work speak for itself. Owning your own url will go a long way to achieving the professional image that will attract future clients. Also, learning how to navigate the inner workings of the web might lead to work designing websites. If you’re into that kind of thing.
What better way to learn to be a better artist than to learn by doing? Easy Render is an online job resource that will connect you, a budding professional, with clients around the world who are in desperate need of your talent. Now that you’ve got that shiny new website (see above), you’ll need somewhere to show it off to people. Even if you have a modest portfolio of work and you are just getting feet wet in the 3D design profession, Easy Render will connect you with the kind of work that aligns with your skill level and your experience.
If you haven’t gone the extra mile to create your own website, Easy Render’s got you covered there, too. Members can upload their work to their profile page, making it easy for prospective clients to browse through and find the best fit for their visualization needs. Connecting with meaningful work has never been Easier.
I know, this sounds like something you’d see on the last few pages of Popular Mechanics with a “free” coupon for an hours worth of an AutoCAD license. And while engaging in a university associated with what many designers perceive as the evil empire of the visualization software industry, AutoDesk University carries with it a lot of value that will most certainly make you better at becoming a talented and knowledgeable rendering artist.
The best part? Many of the courses and tutorials offered at AU are completely free to access at your leisure! If you happen to rely heavily on 3DS Max, AutoCAD, or any other AutoDesk product to produce your work, you’ll find this resource invaluable as you build out your skillset. You can browse by product or subject and soak up all the information without breaking the bank.
“Our goal is to provide world-class 3D architectural visualization training accessible to everyone.”
I usually raise an emphatic eyebrow everytime I hear a company describe what they offer as “world-class,” but in the case of The CG School I’ll let it slide - with good reason. If you are feeling overwhelmed with what it might take to get your studies and career as a 3D rendering artist off the ground, stop worrying and sign up with CG. It costs money, but it’s worth every penny as you’ll get a quality online education and a strong backbone of knowledge and experience to launch into your new career.
However, The CG School isn’t cheap, so be ready to invest in your future if you want some of the best online lessons the internet has to offer. Remember what I said about putting skin in the game? If you’re still apprehensive about parting with your greenbacks, CG offers a bundle of free resources for you to dip your toe in before making the decision to dive into the deep end.
With a clever name like Udemy, you better be offering some seriously good online classes and tutorials. The good news? Udemy backs its name with an enormous library of available resources for aspiring young (or old) artists. It’s also an inexpensive alternative to The CG School if you’re worried about pouring so much money into a career you aren’t 100% sure of. Classes typically cost around 15$ and are chalked full of information that will further your grasp on software and visualization concepts.