3d modeling education

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LosRe vertex
Greetings! New guy here so feel free to bully me!

I'm 33 years old and currently have a full time job as a mechanical engineer (already have a degree).  I'm working with CAD programs for 8 years now, but unfortunately i'm not very happy with my field. Last year i started some modeling with blender and i must say i'm excited about it. My goal is to create game assets (i'm more interested in environment art instead of characters) while i keep my current job and hopefully i will manage at some point to completely pivot my proffessional life and maintain myself with a new career. 

At this point i want to step up with my education and get involved more seriously. After A LOT of research i ended up with some choices:

1. CG Master Academy online environment art program. This is my "favorite" for the moment. I like the classes, tuition is in my limits and i general hear good stuff about them while i get a good vibe about it.

2. CG Spectrum online advanced 3d modeling diploma. This is my second favorite, although i do have some concerns about them cause their curriculum seems to spend a lot of time in character creation (as i said above i prefer hard surface modeling). Their tuition is higher but still in my limit range.

3. Gnomon online individual courses about the stuff that i'm interested to. (modeling, sculpting, hard surface modeling etc). Decent tuition, not sure about them since i only hear good stuff about their full programs which are completely out of my money range.

My last choice is something that i'm not really fond of it. There is a school here in my town (Athens). It's a well known school (SAE) and it has a nice program that fits my needs. Problem with that is that, this option will stress me financial a bit too much and at the same time, will create a lot of troubles with my current job since i will have to attend to classes in the morning.

These are my main options.  I would like to hear some opinions from people that are in the field already. What do you think is the best way for me to go on? If there is something else that i miss please do add it on the list, choices are always good. I do however, want this thread to NOT be a paid education vs a free education debate. I know myself and i really need to structure to my education so i keep my motivation levels as high as possible.

Thanks in advance and sorry for my, mediocre at best, english. It's not my native language after all!


  • sacboi
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    sacboi greentooth

    Those are good choices you've listed, either one will meet your current needs. Though I'm more familiar with Gnomon, simply because I'd purchased a few DVD courses 4 or 6 years ago which were brilliant getting me further along the track progression wise that I had previously thought possible.

    Also Blender is great for people new too polygonal modeling. I even use it semi-professionally doing a bit of freelancing here-'n-there, so I'll recommend, if you've not already heard of them, Blederartists.org. They're a huge app specific community of blenderites along with an 'ocean' of resources to tap, pretty much my go too if I hit a snag.

    my 5¢ 

  • LosRe
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    LosRe vertex
    Thank you for your input. I will probably pick CGMA classes.

    As for blender, i do enjoy working with it but in the end i just see it as a tool. Now that i'll start the courses i will probably learn Maya too.
  • kmacneil91
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    kmacneil91 polycounter lvl 2
    Here's what I've found about getting a formal degree/diploma from a traditional school: it looks great on your resume, and a lot of companies today still look for that type of thing when hiring. But I would go into school with slightly low expectations. I say that, because unless you're in a master's program or beyond, you will most likely learn at a very beginner level and not have access to all the things you need to know for an effective production pipeline.

    There also seems to be a common theme with schools: they like to have two different programs, game design and animation. These two really go hand and hand, and I think more schools need to have more in-between type programs, devoted mainly to 3D art production. Proper character development, PBR textures, baking, etc. Also, it's way easier to get into debt with school. The benefits of schooling for me were learning things like collaboration, public speaking, organization, etc. Being that you've already had a previous career, I would bet that you already have experience in those areas. 

    Learning online won't allow you to interact with others as easily as school would (working together in computer labs, etc.), but there's still a large online community full of people who are generally willing to share their tips and critique. No commuting, and you get to learn more at your own pace/set your own schedule. Additionally, there's a lot of free or cheap resources to work from besides just master classes or subscriptions to training:

    • vimeo.com/flippednormals
    • lesterbanks.com
    • iamag.co
    • artbypapercut.com
    • pixologic.com/zclassroom
    • pixologic.com/zbrushlive  (a good way to find artists on Twitch)
    • chamferzone.com/tutorials
    • GDC talks - youtube.com/channel/UC0JB7TSe49lg56u6qH8y_MQ/videos 
    • Gnomon event recordings - www.gnomon.edu/community/events
    • Advice with Bryce: youtube.com/user/SziadaStudios/videos
    • zbrushguides.com 
    • textures.com
    • 3dmotive.com
    • vertxlabs.com/marketplace
    • ZBrush Central forum
    • Ten Thousand Hours Facebook page

    I would also keep in mind the cost for good equipment needed to work from home. School allowed me to work on high-tech machines and with fancy software that I couldn't afford at the time from home. Although income may not be an issue for you, being an engineer and all...  :)

    Best of luck!
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