How much drawing should I know before I do 3D CG?

(This seemed the most appropriate forum to post in, since it’s a discussion about CG, sort of. Please let me know if I should’ve posted somewhere else.)

Yes, I do understand I must know how to draw in order to do 3D CG. However, I don’t think I have to become a master 2D artist before I start doing 3D. I don’t want to spend 5 years learning 2D art if I find no pleasure in drawing.

Please hear me out: each day, I have about 1-4 hours of free time. Usually around 2 or 3. This means I don’t have the time to do both 2D and 3D, because they are both time intensive. I also find no joy in doing 2D work. It doesn’t feel natural to me, it’s awkward and seeing the finished drawings is only more disappointing. 3D, on the other hand, feels like I’m home. I can lose myself in 3D work in the morning, and before I know it it’s evening.

People say I have to learn 2D art because this way I will learn color theory, composition, and all the fundamental concepts of art. But why couldn’t I learn these concepts in 3D, in a medium I truly enjoy working in?

I can see why sketching is important, I can see why thumbnailing is important. But why do I have to know how to draw before I can do 3D work? In order to learn drawing, people recommend sight-see drawing. Sight-see drawing will be of no help for me in 3D. I’d rather do my animal studies in 3D than in 2D.

I enjoy this medium much more. A photographer doesn’t have to be a good painter in order to produce good photographs. A photographer can learn the fundamentals of art using his own tool: the camera.

Why does everyone say my 3D work will always be bad until I start drawing seriously? It’s depressing for me to have to draw and I don’t enjoy it a single bit. My 3D work doesn’t look good either, but I enjoy doing it.

What are you opinions on this? What drawing skills are required from a 3D artist?

Thanks for your input!

If 3D motivates you to put in the time, just roll with that for now. It is a significant advantage for those of us who can work in 2D, but if you don’t enjoy doing it you won’t do the work. If you don’t do the work you don’t benefit from it.

The way you get good at anything is pushing yourself as far as you can go and trying to take an extra step. Eventually that extra step might lead you down to studying photography or painting. Or it might not. Your next step right now seems to be in 3D, which is totally fine.

Have you searched for this here? It has probably been discussed endlessly in easily a dozen threads.

But the clue is in what you said.

My 3D work doesn’t look good either, but I enjoy doing it.

Put simply you have to study art basics. Seems you are getting that confused with 2D drawing. They have nothing to do with each other.

That said I would say most artists who are most comfortable drawing, and good at it, are better at 3D than those that are not. Well you said it yourself. Your 2D sucks and so does your 3D. There is a fundamental problem here. Likely from what you have said, the main problem is you don’t enjoy learning art basics.

The reasons 2D is preferred is because of the fact that it is more immediate. Also it follows the most basic rules of all art that is to wind up on a 2D screen or canvas.

It is also a natural fact that there is a more immediate connection between your creative expression of an idea and the stoke of an instrument on a flat plane. This is why tablets are so popular with 3D artists.

The fundamental forms you need to understand and work with are much faster to express in 2D than in 3D.

You could take up 3D Sculpting and try to learn that way.

But the best idea would be to force yourself to spend time with a basic drawing course starting out with basics. Don’t try to be the best artist you can be, but learn to draw well enough to express the basic shapes and forms.

You will find that a world will open up to you in 3D, which factually is a far more advanced and difficult form of expression than 2D.

I don’t think that is just opinion and dependent on each artist. I would call it a fact.

And you backed that up by admitting your 3D work is not that good. So if you can’t draw, what are you doing messing with something 100x more complex that takes at least that much more dexterity and technical understanding to achieve?

Catch my drift?

To be blunt, I think you are being biased toward laziness than anything else.

I would say you are comfortable with and enjoy 3D because you are natively comfortable with it. True. But it sounds also more like you hare not using that time to study art.

I find drawing in 2D also very difficult. And hands down I am a far more talented 3D artist than a 2D artist. Any day of the week. But also I forced myself to learn drawing. And I was doing 3D before and after I took that challenge on. And my 3D work after that was heads and above where it was before.

So I guess you have to ask yourself if you are willing to do the work so that when you do relax and work your 3D, that it actually looks good, and your efforts are rewarded.

Who says you must learn drawing, painting or photography before learning 3D CG? These things all can help, but they’re by no means prerequisites. It also highly depends on what you actually want to do. Learning photography will help with composing shots, but it won’t help with pure modeling, for instance.

Why does everyone say my 3D work will always be bad until I start drawing seriously?

Ask them. Maybe their work was always bad until they started drawing. Maybe they just believe that for no solid reason, and it just sounds right to them.

It’s depressing for me to have to draw and I don’t enjoy it a single bit. My 3D work doesn’t look good either, but I enjoy doing it.

I could tell you a comforting lie, which would be that you can just learn 3D art and become great no matter if you learn to draw or not.

I could tell you a slightly less comforting lie, which would be that if only you work hard and learn to draw alongside creating your 3D art, you will become great.

On the other hand, I can tell you the truth:
You are an individual, with individual talents and aptitudes and other people’s advice may not apply to you. You may never become great or successful (whatever that even means in the context of art), no matter how much work you will put into it. Nobody can tell what’s going to happen to you if you keep practicing this, that or the other thing.

You have to figure out for yourself which sort of practice gives you the best return. The fact that you’re enjoying what you’re doing could actually be a sign that you’re not learning anything anymore. Maybe you should learn to draw if for no other reason than getting out of your comfort zone.

This is partially true I think. Surely I understand what you meant in the context of what you are saying. And to comment further on it within that context (without quoting the whole thing) I would say it is relative.

While I could not promise you would become a Dali if you do XYor Z. Or that galleries will be clamoring for your work, if you only followed a certain learning path, I can very much guarantee that if you follow certain tried and true methods, that your own personal work and level of expression, relative to your own skills will improve.

I’d say we have centuries behind us of art learning, teaching and practice to be safe to say, this is a hard fact.

I’d say we have centuries behind us of art learning, teaching and practice to be safe to say, this is a hard fact.

It’s safe to say that if you practice drawing, you will likely become better at drawing, by the standards upon which you are setting out to improve.

However, the topic of this thread is the promise that this will transfer over to becoming better at 3D art, which I’d say is far more questionable. It sounds reasonable that it would, to some degree, but do we really know?

Your post touches on something different. Some topics in other arts literally transfer over to CG. For instance, complementary colors are the same no matter if it’s in a painting or a rendering. Composition in photography works the same, whether the camera is real or virtual. It’s certainly worth learning about these things from “traditional” sources, because they’re still the same thing.

It absolutely transfers over. This is not a question and not really up to a debate. So yes. We do already know this. Absolutely. Not just in this particular field of 3D which is in its infancy, but this truth has been known and taught for centuries. Now maybe these truths have become lost or muddled and confused over the centuries in certain circles or by individuals who don’t actually know art history, theory and practice. But that does not change certain truths that still apply today. Not just within art disciplines, but even between separate fields of the humanities and science. In fact there was a time when these studies were far less isolated than they are now.

There is no such segmentation between things that literally transfer over. That is just a false statement. All of the real world disciplines transfer over to 3D. In fact, a more correct statement is that 3D is an effort to digitize each and every one of these counterparts in a virtual way.

So there is nothing really figurative or intangible about that even.

This thread asked the question if it is necessary to learn 2D in order to do 3D. You may as well be asking if it is necessary to think first.

And clearly some people think even that is not a prerequisite. :wink: And I am not joking.

Couldn’t have said it better. Learning the fundamentals is crucial to becoming a good artist, whatever the media, and being able to draw and do your studies and sketches in 2D can really speed up your progress, but nothing of that matters if you dread the experience and you just keep avoiding it, being frustrated, or even worse, not doing the ones you do like (3D, photography, etc).

Just keep working in the media you like and keep challenging yourself and try studying the fundamentals on them.

If you do want to learn some drawing to improve your 3D (which I highly recommend) though, try creating the habit little by little, first by just drawing anything you like for 15 min a day, then adding some minutes of study every week. After you do create the habit of drawing what you like, you then can try to take some of this time and direct it to make studies to target your fundamental weaknesses. Don’t overdo it though, do the same thing you did to create your habit of drawing with your time of focused drawing studies.

Funny how everyone is going on about how important 2D art is important and all yet the traditional section of this forum is the least busy:), go figure idealism doesn’t match reality.

I put in time in both 3D and 2D and I can honestly tell you trying to learn two complicated branches of art means you just progress slower in either of the two. I learnt this the hard way and have cut back on 3D except for animation and put about 60% of my art time into 2D.

Once I am happy with animation I will probably go to 80% to 90% of my time going into 2D. I have seen plenty of 3d artist that are really good at 3D but couldn’t draw their way out of a paper bag.

The goal of praticing drawing is not to teach you color theory or composition or artistic concepts…
The goal is to train your eye, your brain to perceive volumes with good proportions.

When you draw a line, your hand is executing what your brain choose to notice in what you see.
When you look at your drawing and understand that drawn line is not at the correct place.
Then, you choose to draw other line at a more precise place.
But it is not yet as good as it should. So, you add an other one and another one…
Each time, you do this. You train your brain to have a better perception of volumes, of proportion.

There is no more instant tool than your hand that is physically connected to your brain to do that exercise.

Drawing a shape is easier than sculpting a shape. You are only creating a 2D projection of a 3D object.
When you have been exercise to draw several 2D projections of an object, you have correct mental images in several views.
At this moment, you can be able to create it correctly in 3D.

So, the ultimate state is to be able to draw any view with good proportions with only 2 or 3 reference images of an object as starting point.

Your brain became more reliable than a photogrammetry app. Because you are able to make a 3D model that corresponds to a non-existing object from a 2D drawing concept.

If you exercise yourself about 2D drawing without somebody to correct your drawings, to tell you why your drawings sucks; your chances to progress quickly are weak. Your 2D sketches will continue to be bad and your 3D, too.

Some kind of 2d grounding would be an advantage, if it’s something you’ve already done, or do on a regular basis.

But I don’t see why it’s something you would need to do. You can learn the fundamentals of light/colour/form without ever putting pencil or paint to paper or canvas. If you understand how they work then it doesn’t matter how you create. It’s those elements that transfer to CG. Not the physical act of drawing or painting. Unless you want it to.

There’s no requirement in practical terms to learn 2d art to apply it to CG. There are no “rules”. Only techniques. Approaches. Despite what you’re being told.

I suspect you already believe that. But you still want external approval. You don’t need it. :slight_smile:

I work with very talented 3D artists who cant draw to save their lives, but to be able to draw is always a plus!

I had a thorough grounding in “real-world” 2D & 3D art – drawing, painting & sculpture – long before “digital” was even a common word, even for watches! So when 3D art started blooming in the general population of computer users (for me it was Autodesk 3D Studio v.1), I had a solid foundation on which to build. But to be honest, only the basic fundamentals – composition, lighting, and color theory – were of immediate use; there was so much new learning, and even some unlearning, to do, that my drawing, painting and sculpting abilities were of small benefit. Only after I had mastered the basics of 3D did my background in 2D start to become more valuable.

A reasonable path, therefore, might be to study both disciplines in parallel, and in particular study the fundamental concepts that define what is considered good art – composition, lighting and color theory. I don’t think practical 2D skills like drawing & painting (or, in 3D, sculpting with real-world materials) are a requirement for learning 3D, though they can be helpful. But so would practicing photography, in terms of learning the fundamentals, and cameras are much more common than they used to be nowadays, and produce instant results. Digital 3D art is such a technical subject, with learning demands only barely connected to artistry, that by the time one has gained some proficiency in the medium, one can also learn how art can be made with that medium, if willing to study both art (in general) and 3D production methods.

2D drawing can help, but isn’t crucial, unless you are working out 3D forms on paper. Sculpting is more useful, as it is inherently a 3D process. Carpentry, wood works, Legos, Sand castles, are all inherently a 3D building process. A lot of architect use small lego blocks to work out structural form before they build it on the computer. If you randomly try to build something without some understand of the industry and the reason for a form, you will probably make a hot mess.

Which brings up the question of Art Vs Design? Do you want to be an artist or designer. Art is more expression and there is no wrong, just different point of views. Design is more commercial and solves a problem.

Thank you all for your responses. I already express myself through writing, but I sometimes feel words can’t describe what I want to say, so making an image would help. That also goes the other way around, in the sense that what I put into words I wouldn’t be able to put into a drawing with the same passion.

I’ve decided to improve my 3D skills. It feel more mechanical, more in touch with my personality. This means I’ll study the basics of art in 3D. I’ll also look into photography for studying art basics, because it offers instant results and you can improve easily by deciding on a new angle. I’ll still try to improve my drawings, but not to the point of depletion. I’ll try to draw at least 30 minutes each day, until I feel more comfortable with actually holding a pen on paper. However, I won’t go in-depth about shading and rendering, and 2D specific techniques.

I would have liked to respond to everyone here, but as I’ve said before, I have little free time each day, and responding in depth to all of you would require a few hours of writing.

I am not looking to make this a career. I already have a career path I’m following. 3D art is just a means of expressing myself, the same as game design and writing.

Thanks again! Feel free to keep the discussion going. The more responses, the better :).

Here are my experiences and thoughts open to critique.

So, in my opinion no you don’t need to already have 2d knowledge to do 3d,you can use references made by other people to start out,but as you go on ,soon you’ll start to want to be more original, you want to materialize your imaginations and not others’ .You’ll actually start to want to draw, you might try to make it 3d right from the start through the imagination but that is a more difficult than to just draw it by hand on a sheet of paper(concept art which you can later digitize).

You don’t have to be very good at drawing either,as long as you can express your imagination even in the form of just a scribbly dirty sketch that took an entire hour to make, that will be fine. And also you will keep raising both your 2d and 3d skills alongside each other the more progress you try to make in 3d.Sure you may not be good at sketching or colouring from the start(before you do 3d) , may be quite a while to be able to put on a satisfactory concept art but you’ll start to like 2d too. You can learn colour theory and proportions and all things a 2d artist does while doing 3d too.

I can relate to you a bit.Me,I was struggling with sketching when I started out,struggled with painting and when it came to the pc, it was harder to sketch than in real life at first.Lets say I had the drawing skills of a child.When I started out in blender, people had seen a lot better from a beginner, my models would look ugly and out of shape and they would laugh at what I felt was my greatest masterpiece till date. I am still not all that awesome of a 2d artist two years after I started blender. Artists out there to me, are magically milking out concept art, like in a few minutes they would put up a really good looking head or body. I on the other hand take a few hours to put out a clean looking concept and its just a sketch(no colour) which doesn’t look artistic but its usable and I can express my imagination and convert it to original 3d artwork . I’m no sculptor either,I model my character right from the start but I use the sculpting feature not so often to modify the shape of my model. And I find myself to be a pretty good modeler and texturer. I am quite experienced with modeling in blender and I have become faster and better after modeling many characters and I can feel my 2d skills growing too.

So ,I think you should jump right into 3d which you enjoy and would be more willing to spend time on and then learn 2d side by side, instead of trying to be good at 2d first and settling to learn 3d on a later date.

I never found time to learn 2D since I always invested all the spare time I had in improving my 3D. Besides the Art lessons back when I was in school of course. Sometimes I do some very rough concept sketches before I start a Project in 3D but thats about it.

I would consider my works more on the technical side, but you can judge yourself if someone is able to get good without learning to draw/paint:

If I was you I would put the Time in what you enjoy most :wink:

Working in 3D isn’t strictly limited to advanced art skills. Maybe you’ll find a better fit with rendering/animating objects created by engineers into brochures and product demonstrations. Or doing the engineering-design work yourself (that in itself is something of an art form). Or something on the technical side, such setting up and managing render farms or work stations, helping artist users with technical problems that the more artistic have problems grasping. Maybe people management is more your thing - organizing artists is a very special talent (just ask any successful film director). The point is while 3D artistic fields pretty much require it there is a host of 3D-adjacent fields which don’t require advanced artistic abilities but greatly benefit from a basic level of understanding.

This is what’s wrong with your mindset. Your brain has this thing we all know called muscle memory. Your practicing for the sake of practice is not the right way to go about it. You’re never going reach a day where you can draw anything you want just by putting in the hours. You’ll forget most of the things you learned 3 months ago with the new knowledge taking up the frontal part of the brain. So how do you combat this?

Take into the consideration of the different designs and theories and build a ciriculum around your project. Take a more NUANCE approach to drawing…

IE: If you want to design a spaceship, then learn how to draw just spaceships, don’t draw things that have nothing to do with your project. Industrial design and books by scott robertson is a good place to start. You just have to start with and idea and break it down to a formula, and find the books and videos you need to practice to achieve that goal. Just redraw and refine it and polish until it’s perfection.

If you want to model a character then you focus on just character design which involves learning anatomy , character design theory, stylization, line weight or no lines ; is your character fantasy or sci fi? That makes a difference as it affects style.

If you want to focus on lighting ,texture, composition, vfx,rigging, etc etc… These are all their own disciplines and require your full attention, you have to get in touch with the different names of things like three point lighting, specular material texture and how fire works, think nuance not broadly.

Think of every creative discipline as a separate season in a ciriculum. if you are a writer and writing a script for a short animation, then focus on just writing, take workshops, read books, write your script then move on to another creative discipline in the creative pipeline. Don’t practice two disciplines at the same time. Finish one aspect of you creative project and then move on to the next level. Also remember that you are never going to get things right the first time, the key is to refine your work and ask professionals for their advice, that is the advantages of a workshop like schoolism.

-My to cents.

I think this is a reasonable compromise between extremes.

We call have varying degrees of aptitude for sure.

I would not worry yourself over mastering drawing in 2D specifically. You don’t really have to aim to do that. I actually have a desire to do that, but I learned early on that other people had a far better aptitude for it than I do. So I have learned to be economical in my approach to learning it and only taking on things I feel will help me.

So when I wanted to design characters I took on anatomy. But I did not do it with the idea I was going to be working as a 2D Artist drawing anatomy, I took it on as a basic exercise in understanding it.

And I did it as a side study, a few minutes a day, or at a place I worked where there was a lot of waiting around and nothing to do in that down time. Economical in my approach to it.

So I would say when it comes to drawing, just start out with a very basic basic study of drawing techniques. Maybe a few weeks a little every day. Then think mainly it terms of, what do I have to get better at? What do I want to learn more about? But it should stay focused on “how will this help me then do it better and understand it more fundamentally in 3D?” If you do that your focus and intention remains 3D. And there is no need to be upset if you still suck at 2D.

If you can do that you will find that you will be able to very quickly sketch out on paper or with a tablet, things you are trying to accomplish in 3D. Like little plans or whatever or simple problems you might be able to solve faster in 2D.

Or even if you want to design something you can use a simple sketch to work off of in the BG. That way you don’t have to retain that image in your head while working through the 3D process.

Hope these ideas help.