I’ve been browsing this forum among other sites recently as I’m interested in the possibility of eventually moving into a career in 3D animation / CGI (my apologies if that’s a little vague, but I really am in the early stages of my research and don’t understand all the distinctions).
I’m 27 and I have a degree in Product Design, so my background is really engineering, largely based around 3D CAD work - I trained in UniGraphics and now use Solidworks (and 2D AutoCAD) in my full time job. However, I’ve had a yearning to do something more creative for some time now and would like to move away from the manufacturing industry into something more fulfilling.
What I guess I would like to hear from you guys (if possible) is whether or not my current skills are transferrable into a career in 3D animation? - be it film, games, archtecture etc. I’m no great artist - I’m not going to be able to design brilliant human characters, but believe my engineering background could allow me to design machines, vehicles, buildings etc.
Is this a feasible change of career? Am I too late? Are there jobs waiting for me, or is it something that is already oversubscribed with talented candidates?
Can anybody give me some pointers on where to begin? I’m thinking I’ll get Blender installed on my Macbook this evening and see how I get on with that - I’m used to self-learning new design software, but it looks as though it will take some doing!
Any input is much appreciated and I hope this is in the correct forum!
Well, it sounds like you’ve definitely got the technical chops, so you’re already halfway there.
As for your self-confessed lack of artistry-- The general rule of thumb is that artistic fields (games, film) require artistic intellect. Animations for architecture and engineering may be more up your alley at the moment.
There’s no reason you can’t become an artist though, and if you’d like to, start by taking some drawing (yes, drawing) classes at your local college. In any case, If you’re comfortable enough with complex programs like Blender and Solidworks, you may find it easier than you think to be creative with them.
Yes, 3D animation is a field for people with a wide range of interests. Some beginning art classes would be good. You obviously have the technical background already. And depending on the direction you want to go, make a study of animation or gaming. It’s good you like to learn. There is no end to this learning curve.
Come and hang out in the forums here. See what critiques are being given to other projects. You can learn a lot that way.
Regarding your concerns, I think you would do better if you tested the water first. Find out what the demand is like for your area of choice, and then head for this slowly. Either way, you are bound to have many wonderful adventures along the way, and no doubt this will be a pleasant journey that will hopefully be long and demanding too.
In general there are alot more modellers then anything else. Thats because when people get interested in 3D the first thing everyone learns to do is make models and alot of people are happy with that skill and don’t go much further into texturing, rigging, animation, special effects, compositing etc etc. They then wonder why they get shot down when they hand out their modelling reel. It’s because you can’t just be good at modelling to get a job in the field, you have to be excellent at it and there has to be a job opening at the time.
I’m not saying give up before you started, I’m saying don’t restrict yourself to modelling, especially if you want to get a good job. With your engineering background I’d say look at constructing machines that would actually work in the real world, animate them coming together piece by piece and then operating as a whole to demonstrate it’s function. Thats the sort of work you could probably get a job doing.
Although don’t limit yourself to what you know, dive into all of the aspects of 3D. You never know, you might find that something else tickles your fancy.
You should log how many hours you’re spending in each software - its good to tell companies. I’ve heard that for CATIA, employers are considering 1000 hours “proficient”.
Also start building a portfolio. Make sure to include some 2D work – most of the great material which I see here starts out with a few 2D sketches. Just take a look at how much the Durian team is drawing / painting.
If you’re good at doing CAD, then you certainly would be good at designing environments and executing them. Your CAD skills might well be used directly to generate a CAD model from which other models could be generated for use by other software … Blender or otherwise.
So, I would suggest that you not think of it as a “career change,” but merely as a rather natural extension of using the well-developed skills that you already have. You are simply expressing a preference for a slightly different corner of this vast world we call “computer graphics” … which encompasses “where you are right now” as well as “the greener pasture you seek to occupy.”