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By George Maestri | Friday, August 10, 2012

Unity 3D 3.5 Essential Training is now available

We just released Unity 3D 3.5 Essential Training, our first 3D game engine course. Unity 3D is one of the top 3D gaming engines on the market, and is used for desktop, online, and mobile games. It’s a strong authoring and development environment for new users interested in creating 3D games.

Author Sue Blackman details how to use the major features in Unity to create engaging 3D gaming content, such as adding lights, texture, multiple views, fire and smoke effects, and employing reusable assets. She also covers interactivity, controllers, the basics of scripting, and some game and level design theory. The end result is a sample game with a lush environment, fully animated characters, and some basic interactive gameplay.

We’re very committed to games. Look for more gaming courses from us in the future.

Interested in more?• All Unity 3D courses on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All courses by Sue Blackman on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next: • Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max• Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for iOS Devices• Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for Android Devices• Game Character Creation in Maya

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Deke’s Techniques: Building a sci-fi structure from scratch in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D

This week’s Deke’s Techniques uses Photoshop CS6 Extended to create an other-worldly structure from nothing but Photoshop pixels. In other words, Deke pays appropriate 3D homage to his alien overlords by building them a temple out of standard earthly linear gradients. The key to building this sci-fi inspired structure is to work in 16-bit/channel mode with a black-to-white basic gradient image. You’ll then use that gradient to create a depth map in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D. Remember, the white areas will go ‘up’ and the black areas will go ‘down.’

During this free video, Deke explains how to set Photoshop CS6 Extended’s 3D tools to render, turn, repositioning, add a textured surface, and adjust the ground plane for the alien temple you see below. Deke will show you how to load his preset lighting and bring in his textured “alien-crafted brick” surface to use as your materials option. After a few fine-tuning operations (like incorporating the temple into the sandy environment and adding an appropriate acolyte), you’ll have turned this barren dessert landscape on the left, decorated with the basic gradient image in the middle, into the fully rendered alien-acceptable temple on the right:

3D sci-fi structure rendered with Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D.

If you’re a member of lynda.com, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Drawing a 3D object with Curves in which he uses a Curves adjustment layer to define the contours of a 3D object. In other words, he uses Curves to draw in 3D space.

See you back here next week when Deke returns with a (suitably patriotic) new technique!

Interested in more? • The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • Courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com • All Photoshop courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Photoshop CS6: New Features Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Fundamentals

By George Maestri | Sunday, June 17, 2012

Introducing the new AutoCAD Essentials series

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been releasing a number of short AutoCAD courses lately. These AutoCAD series courses are part of a new series we’ve developed called AutoCAD Essentials, which is designed to break up a traditional Essential Training course into smaller, more modular chunks. Shorter, frequently posted courses allow us to be more flexible in how we present the essentials of a large software package like AutoCAD. It’s also a way for us to offer you a more flexible way of learning.

Throughout the AutoCAD Essentials series, Jeff Bartels walks you through a modular approach to the massive AutoCAD application, touching on everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, to architectural drawing and engineering projects. The learning path is broken up into six small courses, each with a duration lasting no longer than an hour or two. Those who want to learn everything can simply start at the first course and work their way through to the end. Those who are specifically interested in learning one small, or specific, part of AutoCAD, can choose to jump in at anytime and watch the course that matters to them the most.

Right now, we have three of the six AutoCAD Essentials courses in the library. The first course, AutoCAD Essentials 1: Interface and Drawing Management, begins with a tour of AutoCAD’s interface and the tools used to view drawings. After that, AutoCAD Essentials 2: Drawing Fundamentals goes through the basics of actually creating your own drawings from scratch. Our third installment in the series, AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings, concentrates on the Autodesk AutoCAD tools and features dedicated to organizing and editing geometry.

In this video titled Creating a rotational array from chapter three of AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings, Jeff shows you how to how to copy geometry in a rotational pattern using the Polar Array command.

We have three more AutoCAD Essentials courses on the way, and if the six course series is well received, we could easily add a few more modules and keep going. We hope you enjoy this new format and find it easy to use. We’re going to be exploring this format for other large software packages as well, so feedback is always appreciated. Let us know what you think in the comments section below, or by using the site feedback button at the bottom right of every single lynda.com page.

Interested in more?• All AutoCAD courses on lynda.com, including the AutoCAD Essentials series • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All courses by Jeff Bartels on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next: • AutoCAD Essentials 1: Interface and Drawing Management• AutoCAD Essentials 2: Drawing Fundamentals• AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings• AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to use XRefs in CINEMA 4D, and why they’re a good idea

Efficiency and flexibility are not just marketing terms, they’re what make motion graphics achievable. Creating moving images is incredibly labor intensive, and once all that labor is done, you still have to hit the render button and wait to preview the result. Being efficient is crucial to meeting deadlines.

Creating a workflow that allows you to swap and modify key elements at any point in the production process is what XRefs are all about. An XRef is a special object that points to a scene file much in the same way a print program, like Illustrator, points back to a master image and uses the original file from the hard drive for printing. Visually, the XRef appears to you as a single object, but it actually represents all the objects in the scene that it’s pointing back to. This means that you can make changes to that scene file, and any XRef that points back to it will automatically update. This also means, since R13 XRef objects allow you to reference a CINEMA 4D file as a single object, that you can manipulate an XRef from an entirely different scene, thus allowing for distributed workflows where one person is modeling while another person animates. This makes for a very flexible way to work.

In this week’s Design in Motion video, I’ll show you how to add an XRef into your animation, and I’ll show you a real-life scenario where having XRefs set up allows me to easily swap two cars in a chase scene, with two completely different cars—all without having to update my animation. If you’re new to XRefs, this tutorial quickly breaks the process down to help you get started. XRefs have made last-minute director swaps quick and easy for me many times, and they can save you, too!

The overall XRef experience has been significantly improved in CINEMA 4D R13. To learn more about those improvements, check out my full CINEMA 4D R13 New Features course on lynda.com. If you are a lynda.com member, make sure to check out chapter five, where I discuss R13 workflow additions, including a specific video on the Xrefs format rewrite.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All CINEMA 4D courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D R13 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 04, 2012

After Effects and CINEMA 4D: Styling animation to communicate emotion

Animation has a way of connecting with a viewer that is very different than a still image. The power of a still image or illustration lies in its composition and content. Animation on the other hand, adds timing and movement into the mix, and these elements are an important tool you can use to communicate with your audience.

The speed and direction that your graphic elements move in tell your viewer information that adds to the overall content and composition of your piece. If your object moves quickly and comes to a sudden stop, then, that could be combined with a dark, intense composition to communicate a sense of drama and action. Smooth, fluid movements could work well for romance, or even a somber mood. Sharp, punchy moves are great for comedy.

This kind of subtle animation is all about control. Both After Effects and CINEMA 4D have excellent graph editors that will allow you to really express emotion through your animation. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out this week’s Design in Motion tutorial titled Styling animation to communicate emotion (embedded up top), then check out my CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training course, or After Effects Apprentice 03 by Chris and Trish Meyer. Both courses have chapters that go into detail about controlling your animation with curves.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects and CINEMA 4D on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and KeyingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By George Maestri | Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Revit Architecture: How to design a house, and learning advanced modeling skills

This month has shown the release of several lynda.com Revit Architecture related courses, further expanding our ever growing list.

Paul Aubin, our ever-reliable and popular Revit author, has just released Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture. In Revit, simple objects, such as walls and floors, are reasonably easy to construct. Modeling more complex objects, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Paul Aubin helps you think both inside and outside the box to use Revit’s modeling tools to create sophisticated and detailed models. He also digs into some more specialized Revit features such as in-place Families, topography, and the Massing Environment. The Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course is great for anyone wanting to add more detail to their Revit projects.

In this video from chapter one of the Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course, Paul shows you how to build an in-place mass:

In our second new Revit course, Designing a House in Revit Architecture, new author Brian Myers takes you step by step through the process of designing a house from scratch in Revit Architecture. The course covers the design of a multi-level home, and the documentation process required to create multiple plans, sections, details, and schedules. This course is terrific for anyone wanting to understand the full design process within Revit Architecture.

This clip, from chapter two of Designing a House in Revit Architecture, walks you through the process of creating exterior walls for an American bungalow-style home, which is usually the first modeling step taken after you’ve reviewed all your project requirements, and entered your project information into Revit:

If you’re interested in architecture, stay tuned as we have more courses focused on architecture-related software in the works.

Do you have any Revit modeling tips or tricks worth sharing? Let us know in the comments section what you’ve been working on, or what you’ve discovered through trial and error.

Interested in more? • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All Revit Architecture courses on lynda.com • Courses by Paul Aubin and Brian Myers on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Revit Architecture 2011 Essential TrainingRevit Architecture: RenderingRevit Architecture: The Family EditorGoogle SketchUp 8 Essential Training

By George Maestri | Friday, March 23, 2012

Building 3D Geometry from 2D Sketches with SolidWorks 2012

Used for a wide variety of applications, including product design and manufacturing, SolidWorks is currently one of the most popular CAD packages on the market, and we’re very proud to have finished our first SolidWorks course this month.

In SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training, author Gabriel Corbett shows how to create manufacturing-ready parts and assemblies in SolidWorks 2012. Beginning with simple 2D sketching and the software’s sketch-editing tools, the course provides step-by-step instruction on building 3D geometry from 2D sketches. In addition, the course also covers creating complex 3D objects with the Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, and Loft tools, and shows the process of building complex assemblies by mating individual parts together into robust assemblies and structures.

Diving deeper into the course you’ll find tutorials that discuss generating manufacturing-ready drawings complete with an itemized Bill of Materials, cutting and revolving holes, and using the Hole Wizard tool to generate industry standard holes like counter bores, counter sinks, and taps. The course concludes with Gabriel showing you how to photo render a final design.

By George Maestri | Friday, March 02, 2012

Character rigging in Maya

Animating characters in Maya can be a lot of fun. Fighting with a difficult character rig, however, can sap the joy out of animating. Character Rigging in Maya is a course designed to help you create character rigs that are both robust and easy to animate.

A deeper, more technical update to the Maya 8.5 Character Rigging course, Character Rigging in Maya covers the basics of Maya’s rigging tools, then goes deep into how these tools are used to create a complete character rig, including skeletons, forward and inverse kinematics switches, and the skinning of characters to skeletons.

Some of the more technical topics covered include expressions and scripts that help automate the rig and make it easier to animate, and the process of creating an advanced facial rig that shows a variety of ways to create sophisticated controls to manage complex facial expressions (which I find particularly useful.)

If you’ve seen the Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya course on lynda.com, you may notice Character Rigging in Maya creates its rig with the same character used in the animation course. It’s not the same old character, though—we’ve have thrown in a few updates to the rig to make the character rigging techniques even more interesting.

We’re very committed to character animation here at lynda.com, so if you’re into animation, stay tuned for more character courses in the coming months.

Interested in more? • All Maya courses on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All by George-Maestri on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Maya 2011 Essential TrainingMaya 2011: Modeling a CharacterCharacter Animation Fundamentals with MayaGame Character Creation in Maya

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