Getting Started as a Solo 3D Artist (Blender)
I want to share with you some tips as a solo 3D modeler and animator. Eventually, I will collect these tips into the workflow that I usually use. Not all of my tips and workflow would be considered professional, but they may just get you by until you gain more experience and resources.
Do you have a great idea for an animated video? You may have an amazing overall vision, but have you fleshed out all of the details? If you're impatient like me, it can be real tempting to hop right in and start modeling and animating without a game plan. That may be fine for experimenting, but not so much for a final product.
Even for a short video, you still need to brainstorm and develop a script. Briefly studying screenwriting will help you in this process.
If you are modeling an object, it helps to draw a sketch of what you want to create or find reference images for what you have in mind.
Being able to model a beautiful yet complex scene should be a goal of any 3D artist. However, if you are a solo artist, sometimes the amount of time necessary to build an entire scene from scratch isn't worth the reward if your goal is more about the story rather than the work going into personally creating the visuals.
Turbosquid is a 3D asset market for almost all major 3D engines. Some objects are free and some get to be rather expensive. Check the license of what you are buying to make sure it is not a branded item that can only be used with special permission. I paid $30 one time for a 3D model of Lebron James' sneakers only to realize later that the license stated that I could only use it for editorial purposes, which was not why I bought it.
BlendSwap is an exchange of 3D assets in the form of blend files. Everything on BlendSwap falls under the Creative Commons license model. That means it is all free to use. You must pay attention to the specific license for each asset. Some are essentially public domain, while some you must give credit to the original artist in your finished product. Other items require attribution and cannot be used in commercial products. This is also a good place to download different assets and learn how other people model.
Pixabay and Pexels are great places to find Creative Commons images and video clips. YouTube's Creative Studio does provide Creative Commons background music and limited sound effects. Once you browse this library, you will begin to recognize many songs in various YouTube videos.
In 3D modeling, you will need to texture your objects in some manner. Many times, you will make use of image textures in your material shaders. Textures.com provides a large number of image textures that you can use for diffuse materials, normal and height maps, and more. They provide Physically Based Rendering materials which are great for 3D modeling. Only the lower resolution files are available for free, but these should be sufficient for most materials, plus you will want to stick to lower resolution files to keep the file size down and the memory of the scene down as well. With a free account, you are alloted 15 points a day, which equates to 7-15 images files.
To render more complex scenes, you will need higher end CPUs, GPUs, and a decent amount of memory. Even if you have all of that, rendering a minute or more of animation could take days or weeks on a single PC. Render farms are networked computers that distribute the job of rendering frames which will greatly cut down on the overall render time. There are several render farms available online. Most of these have a cost per rendered frame. These may not be feasible if you are exploring or finding your way.
For Blender artists, there is a site named SheepIt Renderfarm. SheepIt runs off a point system rather than money. Individual users allow their computers to render frames from other users projects in exchange for points. The more points a user has, the further in front of the queue your project is placed when you submit one to be rendered.
I hope that these tips and resources are of help to you as a solo 3D artist, in particular as a Blender artist. If you have any invaluable tips to share, leave them in the comment section below. Be sure to share this with other 3D artists you know. Peace and Blessings.