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Free resources

There is a lot of software available to the artist who is stepping into the CG world and the best part? It doesn't have to cost a dime. Open Source software used to have a poor name in pro circles and in a small area of the film industry it still does but that attitute is quickly fading as more and more awesome looking content is being made every year. Anything you can do in Maya, Nuke and Photoshop you can do in Blender, Natron and Gimp, it might not be a straight forward copy and paste but there's always a way.

 

There is a lot of quality work done with this software and great communitites in the form of Youtube videos and forums to help you on your way if you get stuck. Some of the productions made with the OS software listed below can be of AAA standard, don't let anyone tell you any different.

Whether free or paid, use what you feel comfortable with!


Blender 3D is the swiss army tool for any CG artist. Modeling, texturing, animating, rigging, video editing, compositing and even game creating...it also has a choice of two renderers! You could probably do your project from start to finish just using Blender. No joke.


Natron is a powerful node based compositor based off Nuke. In fact it's so close to Nuke that you could probably watch video tutorials specifically made for Nuke and work Natron in the same way. This is a huge bonus!


Gimp is an open source version of Adobes Photoshop. I'm yet to find something that I can do in photshop that I can't do in Gimp. As well as general digital painting, you can use this for texture painting assests or background matte painting.


Krita is similar to Gimp in many ways. Where as Gimp is more for photo manipulation, Krita is more suited for detailed painting work. Truth be told, you can pick either Gimp or Krita and just use one, but it never hurts to get the best of both worlds as the learning curve isn't that hard once you've learned one.


Inkscape is used for scalable vector graphics. If you look at the logo of this site, it's using an SVG made in inkscape. You probably won't use this much outside of illustrator work and web design.


Audacity is a powerful sound manipulation program with an editor which can be used for effects or dialogue. It is a staple of any indie film director and has a lot of support online from videos to message boards.



Paid resources

For the most part, you don't have to use these unless you are trying to get into a movie studio where they use certain software which is considered Industry Standard, which is a term you will see in professional circles. For the most part, if you are working on personal projects or an OS studio, a lot of these industry standard packages can be swapped out, Nuke - Natron, Photoshop - Gimp, Illustrator - Audacity and so on.

 

I'm not saying that this software isn't good, far from it. It's industry standard for a reason, but unless you are a large studio then you may want to give the open source software a try before forking out the money required for this stuff. The only thing on this list I would absolutely reccomend is a tablet. You absolutely need a tablet once you get to 3D sculpting and texture painting.

 

Please keep in mind that there are many tools, far too many to list here. This is just a brief explanation.

Whether free or paid, use what you feel comfortable with!


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There is no extra cost to you the buyer.


A tablet is a must if you want to get into texture painting and sculpting. You can only get by with a mouse for so long. Here is a link to a starter tablet to get you started.


Maya is the industry standard for modeling, rigging and animating 3d assets in the movie industry. It's used by companies such as Pixamondo and MPC and is responsilbe for great visuals on movies like Harry Potter and Transformers.


Nuke is now the leading compositing software used in Hollywood. For a long time, Adobes 'After Effects' was king, but with the node system being more user friendly, Nuke has now taken it's throne leaving only a few studios blowing the dust AE.


Everyone knows photoshop. It's still heavily used in the industry for matte painting and some texture artists use it in combination with Mari for asset painting although that's not so much these days.


Mari has overtaken Photoshop for character and prop texture painting for a while now. With the option to paint directly onto the object in 3d or onto the UV tile set, there wasn't much need for Photoshop any more for a lot of work. The work flow is simply faster with no need for swapping between programs to see the textures displayed on the asset.


Adobes Illustrator is a vector based graphics program. It's main uses would be for web design and any design used for print. It can be used in film productions for graphical design.


Audition would be among many tools in the professional industry however it's just one of many. Protools would be the pinacle of sound design but Audition is the bridge between something like Audacity and Protools.