Using free art in important projects

The thing I like doing most in Blender is animation. So far I’m still making short clips for learning and improving, but hope to get onto bigger and better projects at some point. Although I’ve gotten good with posing, compositing, and other Blender features, I have one problem: I can’t model and especially can’t texture, nor make any good sounds. I might learn to at some point, but currently it’s not something I have a skill in. In all of my works, I use models textures and sounds made by other people… sometimes modifying them quite heavily if needed. They are publicly available and freely licensed of course, nothing that breaks any author rights.

I’m wondering if making important animations with models created by other people is ever considered a sin however. And if people expect you to have made all the art yourself, or the art to have been created specifically for that project even if someone else did it for you. Is a project less serious if you use freebies around the internet instead of own work? How much do you use free art in your renders? Also, how much do you modify free models and sounds to fit your needs, when not using them in their original state?

What is your goal? To prove you are a CG generalist? then yes, model your own stuff. If however your goal is to show off your animation, editing, compositing skills – then absolutely use others that are rightfully available. Focus on what you want to focus on, find the quickest, highest quality solution for all else. In the real world, you work in a pipeline anyway, where there are modellers, riggers, animators, texture artists, editors, compositors.

My real goal is to make good animations easily and efficiently. Especially at my skill, that can also mean using free content rather than self made. If that is a correct approach then it’s all good.

To be clear, what kind of “important” projects are we talking about?

If you are making a demo reel showing your animations then yes, it’s perfectly fine to use “stock” models. As a general rule of thumb you should always give credit to the ones who’s models you use though.

I didn’t mean to invoke I’ll be making anything huge and super awesome… I will likely never be of that level. But I meant making a film intended to be complete and of quality, rather than a random demo no one will care about.

And yes, I always credit what I use in my works, even if the license doesn’t require it. I know that’s both nice and encouraging to the author of the free model.

I would say that if your goal is developing your artistic skills than “proving” or “showing off” is counterproductive…use what fulfills your needs…what you have access to…