Assuming a person is really handy with vectors in PS...what 3d software to learn?

dderidex

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So I'm pretty handy with Photoshop CS5, and use vector-based shapes for drawings...oooohhh...extensively. Manipulation of vectors, editing points and curves within vectors, etc.

Lots of time in that. Lots and lots and lots of time. VERY good at it.

So I wanted to try my hand at making a scene with 3d objects, and picked up Blender (the $0 cost was quite a compelling argument), but...ooof. I can hardly make heads or tails of that application! The only things I've been able to do are basically a result of step-by-step walking through various tutorials, but then when I come back later I cannot remember how to do any of as the interface is just so incredibly unintuitive.

Is there anything better out there for rendering 3d scenes? Specifically, for someone to whom complex vector work in Photoshop is like a second language? (I'm not actually interested at all in animating anything - it's still just fixed scenes I'd be rendering, but I'd really like to start doing more work in 3d)

** FWIW, I did do 2 years with AutoCAD back in high school, but I remember literally nothing about that outside of being top of my class at it. 20 years is a very, very long time ago to retain any kind of software skills, and in any case I don't think much would apply to what I'm looking for now.
 

northrop

grumman
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I found Maya to be the most friendly, but alas... it isn't free. That's the only software related advice I can give :D

However, you should check out this forum http://forums.cgsociety.org/ and ask for suggestions there ;)

BTW. mind showing some of your work since you claim to be oh so VERY good at it? ;)
 

dderidex

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Well, that's the thing - lacking the ability to put it in 3d, solely working in vector art (although I'm quite good at it), *I* look at anything I've done and think "well, that's crap".

Granted, it still gets published. So I guess others like it from time to time, but...

Here is a game board being playtested using my art

And the map used here is an earlier version of another game board going to print this spring. (I'd particularly do more with this one, but the game designer is a very old-school Avalon Hill-era wargamer, so even this was pushing them a bit into the future...don't ask about the counter art, though, that's not my doing)

And the cover of their Captain's Log #42 is mine, too.

Anyway, all of the above are entirely done with vectors and textured vector shapes (had to be, to allow the scaling up or down of the map sizes or product covers with no loss of shape resolution). So...like I said, I'm really good at working with the vector shapes, although the output always feels crappy and 'flat' to me. I REALLY need to do something to push another dimension into this...
 

dderidex

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Although maybe taking a step back would help...

I'm pointing out that my use of Photoshop vectors is something I'm good at because I want a 3d program that uses a similar type of process for shape creation.

Generally, art I do falls into the 'texture work' category. For example, in re-texturing another person's bare 3d model, I did this one...



...all the texture work, lighting, background, etc is me. Just the 3d model came from another artist.

And that's the thing that bugs me - I'd like to be able to do the 3d models, myself...
 

northrop

grumman
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Those BGG links have put a smile on my face :D The Merchants of the Federation remind me of Twilight Imperium, and as for the war game.. well.. I'm more of a Memoir '44 kinda guy ;) Axis and Allies too, I guess.

Anyway, if you didn't like Blender, try Maya like I previously said, or maybe 3dsMax (this is actually the one I've used the most). And when you do finally decide on the software, think back to how much time you've dedicated learning Photoshop... well, you will need to put in as much time if not more into learning the new software. Do tutorials, and a lot of them. Good luck!
 

dderidex

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I have used 3dsMax before - ages and ages ago. Not the full version, though - that 'Gmax' (IIRC) that they put out which let you create models only for games that purchased a license to import Gmax models.

I do seem to recall it was a really easy program to use (at least, compared to my current experience with Blender).

The thing is, though...WOW 3dsMax is expensive. And it seems so much of the current release is focused on animation of scenes, which is really of no value to me at all and thus hard to justify spending THAT much money on.
 

northrop

grumman
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Have a friend in college? It's $300 with a student ID (at least that's how much I paid for it). ;)
 

Black Morty Rackham

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Houdini is very inexpensive for non-commercial use (free with watermarked renders; $99 without). I find it rather easy to use, but it's very technical in its nature and is geared towards... well, techy stuff. Procedural content creation and stuff like that. That's not to say that you can't use it for whatever you want, mind you.
Pros: Very cheap for noncommercial use. Very powerful. Good user interface.
Cons: Can be difficult to use due to its technical nature. Requires deeper knowledge about how 3D graphics work, and its terminology.

modo is my primary package these days. It's relatively inexpensive, at about $1000. I'm pretty sure they have student licensing, too. It's pretty intuitive and easy to use for most tasks, and ships with a really good render engine.
Pros: Not too expensive. Good UI, and fairly intuitive to use (for a 3D program, anyway). Good render engine. Good licensing method (simple license file; no hardware dongle or computer ID lock).
Cons: Limited animation capabilities in the current release -- this can matter even if you don't animate, as animation tools often are useful for laying stuff out and placing items and what have you.

Zbrush is made by aliens, with a UI that looks like something Kai Krause threw up. It's utterly incomprehensible at first, but I'm told it's very easy to use once you get past the initial barrier. The key advantage of Zbrush is that you don't need to know anything about the classical abstractions of 3D graphics. It doesn't really deal with polygons or surface topology or any of that stuff. You just create your model. I'd strongly recommend looking into this.
Pros: Cheap. Less abstract than the others. Lets you sculpt stuff without having to think too much.
Cons: Can be very intimidating and unintuitive. Weird UI. It calls your models "tools" for some reason nobody ever managed to figure out. Can be less optimal for mechanical items. Little in the way of "scene management" tools, which can make it difficult to create large scenes in. Mostly used to create individual models, which are then imported into other softwares.
 

Triple B

Limp Gawd
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Jul 13, 2004
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192
Honestly? Stick with Blender. It IS free, you're right. And there are a lot of resources out there on how to use it. I started with an older version a couple years ago and when the new version popped up, I was like "eh?" To be honest, it's one of those things that comes so naturally once you've learned the basics. So the barrier to entry is a little tough, but it's second nature when you get through it.

My favorite source of info is http://cgcookie.com/blender as they have some great tutorials, and a very good staff "teacher," Jonathan Williamson. Here is their "basics" page, and it will get you up and running: http://cgcookie.com/blender/get-started-with-blender/

I'd suggest giving this a go for a little while. Like anything, getting started is the tough part. The basics will come easily enough, it's the detail work that will take some time. And once again... it's FREE. Hell, if someone can make something as awesome as this...

http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?245090-K.i.t.t

...with a free program, I don't see any reason to pay for software that will have its own set of quirks to learn.
 
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