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Good Intro to Animation/Graphics Material?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the picking-up-a-new-skill dept.

Graphics 48

An anonymous reader asks: "My wife, who is not at all a computer geek, wants to get more into computer graphics, with a desire to get into 3D and animation. She knows Photoshop well, but doesn't have much in the way of a computer background. I keep our computers running, but am graphics- and art-challenged. I'd like some recommendations on how to get her started: Books, URLs, software packages. For software, Linux or Windows doesn't matter to me, but I'd prefer free or relatively inexpensive. Please, help me turn my wife into a graphics geek!"

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OpenGL (1)

EddieBurkett (614927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008065)

OpenGL is a rather inexpensive 3-D graphics library that is machine independent. If she doesn't know programming, she may want to look into the Python variation (PyOpenGL?), since python is fairly easy to pick up.

Re:OpenGL (1)

mhandlon (464241) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008279)

I really don't think programming graphic libraries is what she was looking for... and if it is I would start her out with SRGP long before that!

Re:OpenGL (1)

EddieBurkett (614927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008596)

Well, *I* wasn't looking for programming graphics libraries when I took my Graphics Course in college, but that didn't stop my professor from teaching it...

Re:OpenGL (1)

mhandlon (464241) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008693)

Well *I* wish you took English Comprehension along with that graphics course.

Key phrases in story:
*** who is not at all a computer geek***.
***She knows Photoshop well, but doesn't have much in the way of a computer background.***

hmmm... by the laws of probability and statistics is she looking to just make some cool shit and do things beyond the scope of Photoshop or start working on the next release of Blender?

blender (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5008098)

i must say that im rather graphicly challenged and i figured out how to make blender do the things i needed for the most part. Its got a wicked learning curve(although i didn't read the manual or the tutorial), but its free etc. i think it runs on win32, and i know it runs on linux

Re:blender (2)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008275)

"...i figured out how to make blender do the things i needed for the most part. Its got a wicked learning curve..."

Now that Blender is Open Source the developers are looking for user feedback to improve future releases. One target is the GUI. Go to Blender.org [blender.org] and offer your thoughts.

Blender's render engine has also been on the low end of things, but that is likely to change soon as well. There are numerous efforts to make Blender export to Renderman format, as well as other higher end render programs.

Also for you Poser types, check out the Makehuman [kino3d.com] Project for Blender.

Handy URL (0, Troll)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008109)

I'd like some recommendations on how to get her started: Books, URLs, software packages.

Here's a recommended URL that may prove useful: www.google.com [google.com]

Always happy to help you Ask Slashdot people,
GMD

Re:Handy URL (2)

EnVisiCrypt (178985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008184)

Actually, you are better off getting your information fed from a machine query. Forget real advice from friendly, knowledgeable people, you won't find it at ask slashdot. Instead, you will get snide responses like the parent, here.

If you really don't feel like giving advice, shut up. People "ask slashdot" because they may find advice from someone who has found answers to the same question and knows the pitfalls and benefits of individual approaches.

When a friend asks you if you know any good pizza places, do you say "Here's the yellow pages."?

I hope not.

Re:Handy URL (1, Flamebait)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008249)

If you really don't feel like giving advice, shut up. People "ask slashdot" because they may find advice from someone who has found answers to the same question and knows the pitfalls and benefits of individual approaches.

No, people "ask slashdot" because they are too fucking lazy to find the info themselves. The fact that the poster is asking for any information at all (books, URLs, etc) indicates that they haven't even done the most basic step of information gathering. If they were interested in "advice from someone who has found answers to the same question" they would post their question to a bulletin board that specializes in computer graphics. You know, the boards that they would have found in their initial search for information.

When a friend asks you if you know any good pizza places, do you say "Here's the yellow pages."?

No, I'd be more helpful. Because they are my friend. If, on the other hand, an anonymous coward walked up to me on the street and asked me, I might very well blow them off with a snide comment.

GMD

Re:Handy URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5008432)

"No, I'd be more helpful. Because they are my friend. If, on the other hand, an anonymous coward walked up to me on the street and asked me, I might very well blow them off with a snide comment."

Yeah, way to go. What if he's a tourist, or new to town? You're quite the character. You're only nice to your friends, but everyone else can FOAD? Hey America, still wondering why the rest of the world wants to fly planes into your buildings? Well, stop wondering dipshits!

Re:Handy URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5010783)

previous post from the gimme-a-chance-to-bash-Americans dept.

For all we know, he might be European, Indian, or Saudi.

Re:Handy URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5020505)

>> For all we know, he might be European, Indian, or Saudi.

Nah, with that attitude, he's *got* to be French.

uh (2, Informative)

GiMP (10923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008134)

Blender. Moonlight Creator. Softimage. Lightwave. Maya Alias/Wavefront.

BTW: google.com is your friend.

Re:uh (1)

PurpleFloyd (149812) | more than 11 years ago | (#5010609)

Also kazaalite.com [kazaalite.com] . Those 3d packages don't come cheap ;-).

OpenGL? (3, Interesting)

krs-one (470715) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008157)

You didn't specify if she was interested in learning how to program graphics, or just make pretty pictures. Personally, I would rather program them rather than just make them in a program like Lightwave or other 3D package.

First, if she wants to learn to program graphics, I suggest she visit my site, openglforums.com [openglforums.com] . I think its a pretty good resource on OpenGL programming.

However, if your wife just wants to make pretty graphics, there are a few free or inexpensive programs available. For example, there is Blender 3D [blender.nl] (for Linux), or MilkShape 3D [milkshape3d.com] (for Windows). The latter is about $25-30USD, and well worth the money.

Hope this helps.

-Vic

Re:OpenGL? (1)

PD (9577) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008659)

You forgot POVray!

Re:OpenGL? (2)

Gyan (6853) | more than 11 years ago | (#5015371)

"Personally, I would rather program them rather than just make them in a program like Lightwave or other 3D package."

I know that's just your personal opinion, but what are you driving at ?

As someone who has been involved with "just making pictures" for 13 years, I can tell you, that achieving desired effects can be very challenging artistically as well as technically.

And which is why I personally consider 3D graphics "making" the best endeavour using the computer as a tool. With the current state of the tools, you're limited only by your imagination and spare time. No offence meant.

Some recomendations... (-1)

xdfgf (460453) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008171)

I'd like some recommendations on how to get her started: Books, URLs, software packages.

Books: Graphics books would probably be the best place to look they can be found at Amazon [amazon.com] or Barnes And Noble [bn.com]

URLS: Well Google [google.com] would be an excellent start.

Finally Software: Sams as books it can all be found at Amazon [htt]

I hope that helps your wife graphics can be a heap of fun and with the foundation I've laid out she should be off to an excellent start!

The last url was mangled (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5008259)

by slapbutt. So please accept this gay porn as a token of my love for the editors.

I Found this site and was surprised to find a section about incest. I
really enjoyed hearing about other guys' experiences and thought I'd share
mine. Currently, I'm 41, bi and single. The experience I'm about to relate
happened back in jr. high school.

I grew up in a rural community. We didn't have a lot of supervision so
most of us guys were sexually active from the time we were pretty young --
at least I was.

A neighbor kid first introduced me to sex in a cornfield when we were just
eight or nine. We mostly played with each other's cocks and or would lie
down on top of one another and pretend we were fucking. It felt good so we
continued to explore each other sexually into our teens. We would unusually
discuss different girls we'd like to have sex with and really got each
other horny.

I guess he and I were more like brothers than friends because we had few
inhibitions with one another. We had known each other since we were three
and were rarely apart. Playing around sexually was never really a big deal
to us.

The first time we jacked off we knew very little about having an orgasm and
cumming. I guess I knew about having sex, sperm, and making babies but
hadn't figured out that two guys could get each other off this way. My
friend Mike was a year older than me and was the first of us to hit
puberty. He had heard about jacking off and we talked about it during a
campout in my back yard. He told me that we should try jacking the length
of each other's boners because this was how to make each other cum. He
showed me the hand motion we needed to use. I agreed to try it because
anything new sounded good to me.

I remember his dick was a little bigger than mine at the time and he was
beginning to get blonde hair around the base of his cock and on his balls.
I was still hairless at the time. At one point while we were jerking each
other's cock he said his arm was tired so I sat up in my sleeping bag and
just focused on jacking his cock. I was really curious and wanted to see
if I could really jack him off like we had talked about.

I remember he closed his eyes and I could tell he was really enjoying what
I was doing to his cock. Eventually I noticed his legs tensed up and he
opened his eyes as though he was beginning to feel something different. I
stopped and he told me to keep going and said it was really starting to
feel good.

Mike was starting to breathe hard and groan and his body beginning to
noticeably twitch on the sleeping bag. Soon, his cock got even harder and
started twitching in my hand. In a horse voice he suddenly told me to stop
and looked kind of scared. He jumped up and ran outside. I waited for him
to come back into our tent, wondering what was wrong.

When he came back he told me it felt incredible but was afraid he was going
to piss in the tent. He showed me some fluid on the top of his dick and
said this must be semen. I was pretty excited and asked him to do the same
to me. After jacking on my cock for 20 minutes or so, Mike gave me my
first orgasm, which was dry but felt great. After that, we jacked each
other off all he time. I was glad when I could actually cum and my orgasms
had become much more intense. Eventually we each started shooting bigger
loads and my dick caught up in size with his.

Once in a while, we would tell each other about jacking off with other
guys. It was always a turn on for us to hear about doing it with another
guy. We were in different grades and had different friends. We still
talked about girls but were also developing a healthy interest in guys and
begin to talk about the guys we wanted to mess around with. Usually it was
just jacking off. Doing anything more seemed way too bold for both of us
at the time.

When we did experiment with blowjobs, we were really uptight and would only
suck each other's dick after washing our cocks in the bathroom. It
probably took us about a year to get comfortable with sucking cock, even
longer to suck each other off and swallow one another's cum. We usually
spit it out.

It was during this time I begin thinking about guys that were completely
out of my circle of friends, usually older guys in high school or men
living in our small community. Sometimes we talked about the older guys
that would join us in playing sports and several of those guys were married
or friends of our dads. It seemed really exciting to me to imagine messing
around with guys so much older than us. It was probably then when I first
begin thinking about screwing around with my father.

I always thought my dad was a good-looking guy. He was very blue color and
was extremely macho. Although I liked sports, I was never the athlete that
dad had been in his early years. Although I knew it was impossible, I
begin to have several fantasies of playing around with my dad. This would
probably occur on a daily basis and I'd have a powerful orgasm with these
fantasies.

Since we were country guys, neither dad nor I were very modest around each
other. I often saw him naked when the two of us were alone in the house.
I never bothered to cover up when going to my bedroom after a shower and
neither did he. We weren't showing off, it was just we being lazy and
thinking it was no big deal.

A couple of times in the morning, my dad walked in on me when I'd be in the
middle of jacking off. He would just laugh and act like it was no big
deal. I was 13 at the time and have to admit I'd get pretty embarrassed.
Although I wanted to mess around with dad, I thought he was a real straight
guy and didn't like getting caught playing with my cock. However, once dad
caught me jacking off, he seemed more willing to talk about sex and seemed
eager for me to engage him in discussions about girls or women. He usually
related stories about himself from his years in the military and being over
sees. During these talks I'd usually get a boner and often noticed that he
did too.

My dad had a large family but none of his siblings lived in our state. He
often took me with him on trips to visit his relatives. It was during one
of these trips that he and I had an experience that continues to be one of
my favorite memories.

We usually spent one night on the road in a hotel because it was a two-day
drive to see his family. During this particular trip, I was bored and
initiated several discussions on the topic of sex. I was a horny kid and
was really enjoying the sexual tension starting to occur between my dad and
me. Even though I shouldn't have, I told my dad that me and Mike had
jacked each other off a few times. Dad acted very surprised and said we
shouldn't get in the habit of doing that very often. He also said he could
understand our being curious and asked me if it felt good getting my dick
jacked off by another guy. I said it felt great. Nothing more was said on
the subject.

That night, and after having dinner we checked into a motel to sleep for
the night. After taking a shower, my dad went to bed and was asleep pretty
quick because he was tired from the drive. He was sleeping in boxers and I
slept in my usual pair of white briefs.

Although I jacked off during my shower I was really horny lying next to him
in bed during the night. I remember having a boner and being wide-awake
thinking about how sexy my dad was. Dad was in good shape from doing a
lifetime of physical labor. Like me, he was mostly smooth in the chest but
had hairy legs and a trail of hair from his naval to his cock. Dad was
also uncut, which I thought was pretty hot.

While I was laying in bed that night my dad rolled over on his side and I
could feel the outline of his cock against my hand lying at my side. Since
I was really horny, I didn't move it away. Eventually, my dad rolled on
his stomach and was lying on his stomach with my hand pressed against his
bulge. This was a new experience for me and I decided to take a risk and
press my palm against his cock through his shorts. Dad moved a little but
continued to sleep. He also appeared to get semi hard, which excited the
hell out of me. When he did I squeezed his cock with my fist hand until he
got a full erection. He also stopped snoring and I was afraid he woke up.
It was hard to tell if he was awake or not but I got scared and let go of
his boner. When he rolled on his side I removed my hand from his side of
the bed and eventually rolled over and went to sleep.

To my relief, dad didn't mention anything about it the next day. I also
did not bring up the subject of sex for the remainder of the trip.

After visiting his family for a few days, we again stopped at a motel on
the way home. Again, dad was sleeping in his boxers and me in briefs. I
can never fall asleep as quickly as my dad and I again found myself awake
in bed with him. After tossing and turning for about an hour, I decided to
go into the bathroom and jerk off. I was probably in there for about five
minutes. It helped a little and I thought I could probably sleep now.

After lying in bed for about 10 minutes my dad again rolled over on my side
of the bed. I could definitely feel his cock lying on the palm of my hand
only this time; he had a boner and was not wearing his boxers. Although
surprised, I reasoned he must have slipped his shorts off when I was in the
bathroom. I immediately got really nervous and excited at the same time.
I had butterflies in my gut and realized I was harder than I had ever been
in my life. My dad sort of wiggled his boner against my palm so I just
held my breath and wrapped it around his cock.

Feeling dad's hard cock in my hand was amazing. He proceeded to roll on his
side and I kept my fist around his dick. Next he took my hand and moved it
up and down the base of his dick a couple of times letting me know it was
all right to jack him off. I could relax a little because I knew he wasn't
going to beat the crap out of me. However, I was still pretty freaked out
knowing he was nude and I was getting a chance to actually jack off my dad.

After stroking his boner for a few minutes, he let go of my hand and laid
his hand on my stomach, just above my briefs. Very slowly he ran his hand
down my waistband and reached into my briefs taking hold of my boner. I
think I was shaking and nearly passed out. I must have groaned a little
because he didn't move for a minute. He then proceeded to jack on the base
and head of my cock. I was in heaven.

After several minutes of jacking me off, he reached over and pulled my
briefs down and off. Now we were both completely nude jacking each other
off. The room was pitch black because of the heavy drapes on the window so
I couldn't see my dad at all. I begin to feel his semen as it rolled down
the head of his cock making his dick slick in my hand.

Although I had jacked off only a few minutes before, I knew I'd cum pretty
quick with my dad's fist squeezing my cock. He must have sensed this
because he stopped jacking after a few minutes. He then sat up, took me by
the shoulders and repositioned me more toward the middle of the bed.
Although I couldn't see anything, I could sense my dad up on his knees
moving around on the bed. The next thing I knew, dad was over me rubbing
his cock against my nose and face. This was the first time I actually
smelled his cock and it was hot. Although surprised he wanted me to give
him head, I knew I wanted to taste his cock so I grabbed the base of his
dick and pulled him into my mouth. This was the first time I sucked a
guy's dick with a lot of precum on the shaft and it was really a big turn
on for me.

As soon as I started sucking his cock, dad put both hands on my head and
begins thrusting his dick farther down my throat. Had I not been so turned
on I probably would have gotten angry because it made it hard to breath and
I had never let anyone face fuck me like this before. Dad was really
breathing hard and didn't speak as he shoved his dick in and out of my
mouth. I could feel his and cock hair against my chin every time he thrust
forward.

I was so fucking turned on I think I started cumming after about 30 seconds
of sucking his dick. Dad lasted about another minute. I could feel his
cock start to swell before erupting down my throat. After he shot his load
in my mouth, he reached back and ran his hand around my cock and through
the puddle of cum I deposited on my gut... he was checking to see if I had
cum yet. He then got off me and went to the bathroom to take a piss.

Although my jaw was sore as hell I knew I'd have sucked his cock again if
he had wanted to. Instead, he came out of the bedroom and said we needed
to get some sleep because we had and early day tomorrow. My dad must have
been spent after that because he was lightly snoring in a couple of
minutes. As for me, I had to jack off several more times during the night
before I could even begin to sleep.

The next day I felt really strange around my dad and neither of us said a
word about us getting off together. I guess I was a little embarrassed and
so was he. All the same, I was hard during the rest of the drive.
Although it wasn't the last time we fooled around, it was probably the most
exciting.

Hope you enjoyed my experience. Would really like to hear from other bi
guys or other dads with a similar experience. You can e-mail me at
topujake@aol.com

Inexpensive hmmm (5, Informative)

mhandlon (464241) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008248)

The problem is that graphics software.... Any 3d rendering/modeling application worthwhile is designed and priced for corporate use and finding books on open source/free applications, which usually prove, to have steep learning curves and so so results and shit interfaces.

If she is really "serious" about this I would suggest Lightwave 3d [http://www.newtek.com] and the book Inside Lightwave 7 by Dan Ablan. Overall Lightwave has an excellent rendering engine an easy to pick up interface, isn't over prices for this level of computer graphics software, and she can create anything her imagination can come up with.

But in the area of free, or very cheap, 3d modellers (particularly ones with nice UI's).

Aztec
Cost: Free (opensource)
Features: Mesh-based modelling tools w/ subd's, Full UV support, Skeletal animation, Ray-Traced render engine via Povray.
Interface: Very Max-Like, not hugely intuative, but good enough.
Usability: I picked it up pretty quickly, but I've had experience with max, those who haven't may find it a little confusing initially.
Rating: 8/10
Comments: Support for other render engines coming soon, continually developed, so expect new features to keep cropping up

Wings3d
Version: 0.97.5
Cost: Free (opensource)
Features: Good mesh-based modelling tools w/ subd's, simple render thru OpenGL. There are a lot of features I'd like to see yet (edge/poly creation, ability to do things without having to rightclick up a menu every 5 seconds), but as it's pre-1.0 I won't count this towards it.
Interface: Fairly intuative, not the best overall, but second only to anim8or.
Usability: Easy as hell, everythings pretty clearly labelled. I picked it up straight away.
Rating: 7/10
Comments: Single-pane view can get irritating occasionally, but overall a nice app. Purely for modelling, you won't get any pretty renders out of this, and the UV is limited. No animation capabilities. A lot more features expected before 1.0

Anim8or
Version: 0.8
Cost: Free
Features: Mesh-based modelling tools w/subd's, scan-line render engine, skeletal animation and full UV texturing capabilities.
Interface: Very nice, no tooltips, so can be a little tricky to get used to, but overall - good.
Usability: Odd. The interface doesn't lend itself to good workflow, but not very easy to figure out intially.
Rating: 9/10
Comments: I'd say the best I found overall, espcially for pre-1.0 . Let down slightly by its render engine, but its enough to get the job done.

Metasequoia
Version: 2.1
Cost: Freeware/Shareware
Features: Mesh-based modelling tools w/subd's, no render engine (?), no animation, limited texturing capabilites.
Interface: Can be confusing initially, due to it's extremely high ability for UI customisation. By default it's UI is a turn-off to say the least, but see dhromed's post a few down for information on customising, and a pic showing the possibilities.
Usability: Lots of buttons, quite confusing, but not that hard to pick up.
Rating: 6/10
Comments: Quite difficult to figure out, tools appear to be very unstable (splitting a polygon caused all sorts of havok). Very customisable, which is a plus, but still lacking somewhat in features and stability.

Blender
Version: 2.25
Cost: Freeware (opensource)
Features: Probably the most feature rich of the group. You'll find pretty much anything you'd expect from a commercial program, especially considering the amount of user-created plugins availble for cloth dynamics, fur etc etc. The exception to this is the apparent lack of edge, or polygon modelling. Vertex only, it would appear. You can perform any function you could perform on an edge or polygon, such as extrude, bevel, edge-bevel etc...but it's still one of its biggest downsides. Especially if you're from a box-modelling background, and can't do without your polygons, like me . Another one of its short comings is the render engine, even the best blender3d work, still has that "1995 computer graphics" looks to it. Shame.
Interface: Many peoples first thoughts are "WTF??". Quite rightly so. It's pretty horrendous at first, you can't figure out what in the hell does what, when all you want to do is make a damn box. Bad blender, BAD!
Usability: Despite the above, once you've spent a week or so learning it (it would be a lot quicker if there was actually any decent documentation available without having to buy the manual), things start clicking into place, and the interface is actually very efficient.
Rating: 8/10
Comments: Would be excellent if it wasn't for the steep learning curve. It's really not for anyone who hasn't got good experience in 3d, and a fair amount of time on their hands. However, it's extremely feature rich, and once you've learnt the interface, the speed of work-flow you can achieve is phenominal.

MilkShape3d
Version: 1.6.4
Cost: $20
Features: Your basic box-modeller, no subd's, no render engine. skeletal-based animation, and full UV support. Amazing import/export list.
Interface: Horrible. Confusing to even 3d veterans. Not at all intuative, its click click click every 3 seconds.
Usability: Limited severely. The UI needs a total overhaul, the features are there, but it's just too irritating for my tastes. I use it purely as a format conversion tool.
Rating:7/10
Comments: Good for what its designed for - games. But let down by its interface, makes everything such a chore.

AC3D
Version: 3.4
Cost: $39.95
Features: Mesh based modelling tools. Full UV texturing capabilities.
Interface: Quite bad, menu elements are in odd places, overall - not very intuiative.
Usability: Average. Things were easy-ish to find, but took some searching in odd places.
Rating: 7/10
Comments: Like milkshape, this is intended for low-poly model creation. Also like milkshape, let down by its interface, but has the tools to do the job.

Nurbana
Version: 1.03 (aplha)
Cost: Free
Features: A fully featured nurbs editor (supposadly). Custom-coded raytracing render engine. Support for materials, not sure about UV texturing. No animation.
Interface: Very simple looking, don't be decieved, there are a million keyboard shortcuts. Very confusing overall, despite its apparent simplicity.
Usability: Easy once you get to grips with it, everything is nicely organised for fast workflow, and everything is kept beautifully simple, while still providing nice results.
Rating: 8/10
Comments: It has its problems, I'd say for one that it's too simple. So simple it can be confusing. The interface didn't look like the screenshots for me, so I think it may be customisable, but no idea how. There are a few bugs, but it's only in Alpha, so that's be be expected.

Softy3d
Version: 1.0
Price: $34
Features: Where to begin? Certainly not a conventional modelling tool, but certainly one of my favourite, the results you can obtain are fantastic. let me explain.... this program works in a similar way to "meta-balls". You "sketch" out your object in spheres, and lines (with thickness references at each point you click), then you generate a mesh, which smooths over all these. Imagine the human body, all the muscles underneath, with a "skin" ontop. That's exactly what this program does. No render engine, no texturing, it's purely a modeller, to export into other programs.
Interface: Fantastic; nicely laid out, everything easily accessable. The only thing I didn't like was the white background for the 3d windows.
Usability: I hovered over a few tooltips, and I'd learned the program. It's that simple. Amazing little ap.
Rating: 9/10
Comments: It's certainly not usable for low poly work, its texturing capabilities are none, it doesn't have a render engine...BUT this is one of the most unique, original little programs I've come accross. Try it. TRY IT.

Cinema4D (2)

dr00g911 (531736) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008304)

It sounds more like she wants to model, illustrate and animate rather than code to me.

On both the Mac and Wintel sides, Cinema4D [maxon.net] is a fairly inexpensive, very powerful and very user friendly 3D modeling/rendering/animation suite. Probably the easiest to pick up that I've found personally.

It's sold modularly now, so you just purchase the functionality that you need, and a free demo is available to gague your wife's interest.

I've been using it for several years now personally over Lightwave/Maya/etc. The interface of Cinema is rather similar to the more "standard" packages on the market, and skills cross over rather well.

Of note is that in order to use, well, any 3D modeling/rendering packages it's best to have at least an overview of the way vector-based drawing works -- ie beziers and the like.

Not only does Adobe Illustrator give you those fundamentals, it works very nicely with any modelling package. Macromedia Freehand is also pretty interchangable in that regard, however the Postscript isn't as clean for complex work.

I used to do this for a living (3, Informative)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008313)

There are three categories of knowledge you need to develop to do this successfully.
1. Static image creation / editing.
2. 3D modeling / animation.
3. Video compositing / editing.

Don't, don't, don't neglect any of these categories. Specifics within the categories are not as important as the categories themselves.

However...

1. Static image creation / editing:
Photoshop is the 800 pound gorilla. If you don't photoshop (yes, I used it as a verb) you're starting with a disadvantage. If you want, though, you can use CorelDraw / PhotoPaint or even PaintShop Pro if you're feeling stingy.

2. 3D modeling / animation
Two entirely different skills that often use the same software. 3D Studio Max or Lightwave are the biggies here. SoftImage is good but expensive. Don't even think about character animation at this stage. By the time she's ready for it, she'll know what to do. The cheap products in this category aren't worth considering.

3. Video compositing, editing
Adobe AfterEffects for compositing / 2D animation is the heavy hitter in this category. Video editing software has really opened up lately, so it doesn't matter so much what you use now. Different people have different preferences. Premiere, VegasVideo, etc. will work just fine.

Things not to use: Gimp, Linux, Macs

I agree for the most part... (1)

gtada (191158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008594)

I also used to do this for a living, and I can tell you that there's no reason to avoid Linux if that's already the platform she's used to. It's used in many professional studios, and I hope the previous post didn't make you think that it's any less effective as a platform.

The best advice I can give for a 3d newbie is to try to find people who are nearby and accessible. Look for user groups and attend them. What program you use is less important than the concepts learned. When I started out, I asked countless questions from more experienced users (still do), and I'll always be indebted to them.

I'd look at the free version of Maya or GMAX. Those other programs are fine (Blender, etc.), but it may be hard to find support even from other users. There are plenty of Maya user groups for example, and if she can stick it out and learn it, she'll be rewarded. The free version of Maya used to have really annoying watermarks in the OpenGL viewports, but I believe the new version tones it down.

If you don't mind shelling out a few, Hash Animation Master is an unbelievable package for the price.

Re:I agree for the most part... (2)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008685)

Good suggestions, but the reason I suggest avoiding Linux is that though it may be fine for specific apps, the craft requires such a broad range of skills, you have more options in Windows. Same thing with Macs. I wish it wasn't this way, but you have to be realistic.

Re:I agree for the most part... (2)

skotte (262100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5013265)

you think so? i fFind it pretty easy to get around to what i need in linux. i mean, sure, knowing how linux works at all is nice. like how to 'make' some cool new killer app you have just dug up. and a fFundamental knowledge of how a computer works. but this is all part and parecl of being (or, rather, becoming) a power user of any application.

if the goal is, instead to just "turn on, paint, save, print, exit" then i would say any platform will do, as long as youi can get it setup right.

Re:I used to do this for a living (3, Informative)

UberLame (249268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008769)

That is some really lame advice.

OK, first, there is no point in discussing image editing programs since we've already established that she had good photoshop skills, and presumably a copy of photoshop.

As to modeling animation, there is no reason not to consider cheap programs and also no reason not to launch right into character animation. In particular, if character animation is really what she wants to do, Hash's Animation Master is an excellent choice. Unfortunately, it lacks certain things needed for a lot of professional work (like a renderer that is slow and not particularly good). Also Blender used to be fairly good until the corporate collapse. I expect that now that it is opensourced, it will get back to and exceed where it was. In the mean time, the old versions are still available. This program isn't a good for character animation though as some higher end offerings or A:M.

While I have little expertise here, there are a wide range of 3D program that appeal to still designers. Carrera Studio is one. Pixels3D seems to be another.

Also, a pair of fun programs are Poser and Bryce.

BTW, Lightwave and Max aren't really the biggies in the modelling and animation. The biggies are Maya and Softimage, followed not so closely by Houdini, Lightwave, and Max. Of those programs, I think Lightwave is the easiest to use, but Maya is the cheapest. Max is powerfull, but not as much as Maya, so I can't really see choosing it at this point, though lots of people do.

I would explore using cheaper programs before really committing to something like Maya or Lightwave. They are expensive and take dedication. And the important thing is artistic ability, not what software used, so use something fun and affordable for now.

Finally, compositing wasn't really brought up, but since you mentioned it, After Effects is not the heavy hitter. The heavy hitter would be Inferno or something from Quantel. After Effects is merely the cheapest program that can usually get the job done. Buy it if you need it and it's what you can afford. Otherwise skip it if you don't need it, or look else where if you can afford more. Like Combustion (from the the people who make Inferno).

Finally, using Macs are fine. Using linux is likely to be headache fraught, especially for video editing. And for free software, in this case linux is expensive because you generally have few choices for good cheap software, with notable exceptions (wings3d and gimp, mainly). I suppose you can use Windows, but I'd strongly encourage a nice Mac instead.

Re:I used to do this for a living (1)

turkmenistani (638203) | more than 11 years ago | (#5023037)

Max is not a biggie in modelling and animation? How can you say that? Sure, it might not be the most widely used with film, but it still has it's share. Oh, and it's not like it's the most widely used program for game development either. Otherwise, I think you have some good ideas there. Don't be afraid to get yourself a nice Mac and pump out some beautiful stuff (regardless of what program you decide to use).

Re:I used to do this for a living (2)

UberLame (249268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5025131)

My point wasn't that Max wasn't a significant program. My point was that it isn't really one of the heavy weight biggies. I don't really know why, although I personally find it less intuitive than Softimage, and you have to spend a lot of money on plug ins (well, you used to, I don't know what the state of things is past version 3.0) to get it to do what Maya Complete will do (which is cheaper than the base Max anyway), and historically PCs weren't viewed as powerfull enough.

Unfortunately, powerfull Macs cost more than I can afford. I have an old 8100, and an old 840av, but so far I've mainly only used the 8100 for running photoshop and illustrator, and the 840av for capturing video to send to a linux machine.

I'm a developer, not really an artist. So, I figure in the real world, I would probably be working inside programs like Maya, XSI, Houdini, and Max writing scripts and plugins. But, until I get into such a job, I can work with a few stand alone programs (I really like Wings, Gimp has some cool features, though it isn't as polished as Photoshop, it is good enough for now, and I still hang on to my old copy of BMRT) and writing my own code.

Re:I used to do this for a living (1)

gtada (191158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5026719)

My only beef with the previous post is that IMHO Macs are somewhat lacking for 3d work. The hardware just isn't keeping up, and the 3d performance is a wee bit sluggish. We have a few Macs around, and while I love Macs for 2d work, really a PC would be a better choice for 3d work.

However, if you do end up going with a Mac (or already have one), great packages like Maya and Lightwave are available.

Re:I used to do this for a living (1)

Zach Fine (12869) | more than 11 years ago | (#5009032)

A previous slashdotter wrote "Don't use Gimp, Linux, or Macs", which I suppose is good advice unless you want to be a back-alley little production house like Dreamworks [infosatellite.com] eh? Or working on one of those chintzy low-budget films like Scooby-Doo, Harry Potter, and Stuart Little [gnu.org] . Granted, most of the better graphic design and animation tools are not available for Linux, but there are some good ones (Maya, Blender, Gimp) that are nothing to sneeze at.

The recommendation to avoid Macs is particularly bizarre considering that Macs are widely used in the graphic design and animation industries and that the most common programs used for computer illustration, photo-manipulation, and editing, are available with identical feature sets for both Mac and PC (All the adobe apps especially).

The recommendation to avoid Linux is strange since many of the high-end graphics houses that do work for film are heading towards using Linux and other free Unix-like systems, and not just for the render farm. Familiarity with Unix systems will not hurt anyone who wants to work in computer-graphics for film, it's definitely a proficiency to place prominently on the CV.

The Gimp may not be optimal for use in print design due to the lack of cmyk and lab color models (due to patent issues?), but it's been great for those doing film and web work for some time. The ease with which gimp can be scripted using perl and other programming/scripting languages is amazing.

That's my two cents. My dollar is that artistry and graphic design sense exist independent of platform and application choices. Work with what you've got. The first episode of South Park was made with construction paper, Paul Rand [artandculture.com] and Saul Bass [itesm.mx] were doing amazing designs (of the sort programs like Adobe Illustrator are often used to make) long before the personal computer existed. Use actualy physical tools or choose a platform that lets you concentrate on the art and not on futzing with the operating system. If that means Windows, Mac, or Linux to you, go for it.

Re:I used to do this for a living (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5009317)

considering that Macs are widely used in the graphic design and animation industries

...or so the Germans would have you believe!

Re:I used to do this for a living (2)

skotte (262100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5013288)

why not gimp? gimp does amazing things, you know...

or do you just mean "don't use gimp to edit animations". in which case, you are correct. if you had to, you could use the MPEG plugins and the animation pack to do what you need to. but the animation pack is obscenely clumsy, and the MPEG plugin seems to work almost never. (YMMV)

HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE: fFilmGimp is on the prowl!!!!!!
http://www.gnu.org/directory/vid/misc/FilmGimp.htm l [gnu.org]
sorry about the caps, but really really really, it looks incredible. i havent used it yet (no need, really) but it basically uses the gimp structure to work with a different kind of fFile, essentially.

also, the gimp-win lists have been barraged with promos about fFilmGimp coming to win32. it should be arriving any day now. you know, in case you like that sort of thing.

Flash cartooning (3, Funny)

Ratbert42 (452340) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008354)

One hotspot is Flash cartoons. oddtodd.com [oddtodd.com] is an example of someone making a living (if you call that living) from Flash cartoons. There are numerous books on the subject.

Re:Flash cartooning (1)

d3vpsaux (587601) | more than 11 years ago | (#5009464)

I would have to agree with learning Flash. Since your wife already has Photoshop exp, basic Flash shouldn't be that difficult. As for animation and interactivity, it's good to get a decent book. Flash comes with tutorials, but the books are usually a good supplement. She wouldn't even need the latest version either (come to think, Flash MX is a hefty expense if you're not a student or know one :)). Flash 5 would suffice, and you could probably find it on clearance somewhere.

Good luck!

Re:Flash cartooning (2)

skotte (262100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5013312)

mm. good point. only, i would suggest Adobe's LiveMotion. similar, but better. allows you to animate by seconds, not fFrames (if you want). fFor example. and it's adobe, which means a short learning curve fFrom photoshop.

Maya Personal Learning Edition (3, Interesting)

Troodon (213660) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008454)

Though a professional tool costing several thousand dollars AliasWavefront [aliaswavefront.com] offer a free version of Maya, which is a stalwart of the CG animation industry. You can either download it for free or buy a cheap cd with Maya Personal Learning Edition [aliaswavefront.com] on it.

This recommendation comes with a proviso, the PL edition brands everything with an obvious watermark and isnt as fast in rendering images as the full product. But its more than sufficient to play about with.

Another item which may be of interest is Learning Maya | Beginner's Guide [digitalriver.com] , A DVD tutorial with a copy of Maya PL edition upon it, $20 or so. Looks a rather handy introduction, however the plain Maya PL edition comes with good tutorials and a pdf version of a book introducing CG animation.

Getting started (3, Informative)

ip_vjl (410654) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008528)

I wouldn't suggest getting one of the high-end pieces of software yet. Since your wife hasn't gotten into this field yet, its not even certain she'll like it.

You can use software like Hash Animation Master [sharbor.com] (hash site seems to be down - linking to a vendor) or Truespace [caligari.com] (older versions) as a way of getting some easier-to-use tools for only a couple hundred dollars. This will allow her to get her feet wet and see how much work is really involved in putting together even the simplest animation - which is a good way to tell if this is something for her or not.

If she likes it, both of these programs can turn out decent output, though she probably won't be making feature length films. The concepts learned will translate to more sophisticated packages in the future. Even though the interfaces change, the skill in learning how to model, light, and convincingly move your characters is not application specific.

As someone else has mentioned, if she wants to learn on pro software, Maya is available for free download, but it is a crippled version. Everything will be watermarked. OK for learning, but often the best way to learn is in producing things for others, which you wouldn't do with watermarked output.

--

Browse your local bookstore. Many 3d books come with CDs with trial versions of software.

--

Much of what she'll need to know doesn't involve the computer. Like I said earlier, knowing how to do things like light a scene is essential.

I don't have the ISBNs handy (so no links, sorry) but look into books like:
  • Digital Character Animation by George Maistri
  • The Illusion of Life
  • Digital Lighting & Rendering


--

Also, look at local colleges. They may offer a course in animation. This is good if she'd rather learn in an instructor-led environment.

ANIMATION/GRAPHICS (1)

TREETOP (614689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008658)

May I suggest what my daughter is doing. Go to college! My child is enrolling at a decent art college, in an unnamed west coast city some 3000 miles from where I live, because there are NO good art schools on our side of the map. I spoke to her about online schooling,and she says that the courses she wants (graphic animation and the like) aren't widely available. The school she chose is "the school" for animation. People graduating from there go on to work for the really big animation and art businesses.

Re:ANIMATION/GRAPHICS (2)

skotte (262100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5013345)

perhaps most important of any, is the school in vancouver where everyone at all goes to learn how to do 3-D.

pixar hires people straight out of that school; sometimes sends people there to train.

What I've found most tricky... (2)

Kibo (256105) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008678)

was texturing and lighting. I got truespace to play around with, and found that given an object and calipers, it was realitivly trivial to make the model. But I stuggled mightily to get something that would look halfway decent when rendered. It ended up being something that I wasn't able to intuit by myself. Ultimately my limited experience has been making something is 5% modeling, 35% texturing, and 60% lighting.

A book I found that helped my somewhat was The Art of 3-D Computer Animation and Imaging by Isaac Victor Kerlow, ISBN 0-471-28649-4. The short review was that it's a pretty complete overview, if a little dated (it was published in '96) but it has plenty of examples, and while it is layed out like a text book it is a very easy read. While my ability to texture and light stuff did improve to the point where you could tell what I rendered and what I was going for, it's still pretty lacking. It's just not an area I have a great deal of talent, which of course shouldn't reflect on the book.

At least I'm not alone. Judging from all the cg in movies where the lighting doesn't match that of the scene, it's probably one of the most difficult elements to master.

Bryce? (2)

argel (83930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008782)

Bryce [corel.com] might be a good way to let her get a feel for whether she would really like it or not. But if she likes playing around with it you'll need to get something to create objects with fairly quickly.

Re:Bryce? (2)

UberLame (249268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008925)

I believe that Bryce should be able to import Wavefront files (*.obj) from Wings3D just fine. You just need to use a seperate program (like Photoshop) to generate texture maps.

Uh oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5008801)

Dump her. She's high maintenance!

Give her Hash (3, Informative)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5008890)

Hash Animation Master does most of what Maya, Lightwave etc. does, at a much cheaper cost.

WinImages [blackbeltsystems.com] is a "must have' program, especially since it's on sale. It includes a 3D render [blackbeltsystems.com] program.
Besides Blender, there's another open source program at www.openfx.com which has its roots in the old Sculpt 3D program.

Spend a few days looking at the sites in the dmoz.org 3D sections. When looking at which program to buy or put your time into, read through the discussion groups devoted to the program. For example, Caligari was mentioned, but if you read the sites forums, it doesen't seem to be a program worth dealing with.
Maya, Softimage, Lightwave are often mentioned as the top programs, but you may not need that sort of power, and expense, if she's not planning to work for a company using those programs.

New Riders publishes some execllent books, especially Digital Cinematography & Directing, Digital Lighting & Rendering, and Digital Texturing and Painting.

DVD's are also a great source of "behind the scenes" info. Movie FX Mag [moviefxmag.com] has some good sections on CGI.

Hash Animation Master (1)

jcbphi (235355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5009010)

A good option for doing 3D modeling and animation is Hash's Animation Master [hash.com] . Last I checked, it was priced around $300...much more affordable than the professional software people have been listing here.

I don't do much 3D animation work myself, but I've been told that individual artists often use this product to make demo animations, until they get some sort of break and are able to buy professional software.

I don't believe there is a Linux port, and the Mac version is terribly unstable. Still, the Windows port is pretty solid.

Been mentioned already, but... (1)

VisorGuy (548245) | more than 11 years ago | (#5009564)

I highly recommend trueSpace (any version) from Caligari [caligari.com] .
They've got a few Holiday Specials [caligari.com] (for 3 more days), one of which is trueSpace4 for $99!

Another application that I recommend is Blender [blender3d.org] . It's free and runs on several Operating Systems.

trade publications (2)

skotte (262100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5013363)

DEFINITELY start reading the magazines associated with the business!!

Cinefex [cinefex.com] is a terrific place to start. it's solid jargon, and talks tech easily. that's good, cos you discover most other publications just advertise a lot, and tell very little.

Our pals at google [google.com] do have a nice listing of other trade publications you can look up.

Some advice here (1)

Gyan (6853) | more than 11 years ago | (#5015151)

Some background first : My Pop started his own CG/post studio in 1989 and I've been hooked ever since.

You're asking in the wrong forum. Go to CGTalk.com and ask in Main Forum -> General

Phrase your questions properly and make them interesting. They get a TON of the same questions (or its variants), so chances are you'll be ignored. However, this very aspect also means you can search the forums and explore through older related threads.

My personal advice. You want to not spend any money first. Not until the user knows whether the toolset / style of the program suits them.

There are 4 major professional 3D programs (some will include Houdini as well) they are

Avid SoftImage XSI [3.0]
(XSI Experience @ www.softimage.com)

discreet 3ds max [5.0]
(gmax @ www.discreet.com)

Newtek Lightwave [7.5]
(order from Newtek.com)

Alias/Wavefront Maya [4.5]
(Maya PLE @ www.aliaswavefront.com)

The rest are prosumer.

All of the above programs comes in a free demo version (on their respective company websites)

These versions more or less offer the full functionality, but don't allow you to save in the formats that the commercial versions use. Also, they place watermark over the rendered images.

For someone with no prior 3D experience, I suggest you try LightWave. If she likes it, its the cheapest to buy. But apart from that, mainly because its pretty easy to learn.

An up and coming prog is Cinema4D. I haven't used this one personally, so I can't comment.

CGTalk.com also has links to learning resources (from novice to complex) for most programs in their respective forums.

RAPH.com has gallery of 3D art. Look over these, but don't pay much attention when considering which package to buy. Good artists can make good images in any program. BUT advanced tools DO make life as a 3D artist easier and more interesting.
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