Animating on a Budget

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3D Modelling soft-ware can be a tad bit expensive, a single license for Autodesk’s 3DS Max can cost upwards to $3000 (depending on what type of license). That’s the same for Maya, Softimage, or other products from competing companies. Some are cheaper but most will charge you an arm and a leg for their service.

Now let me say first and foremost that you get what you pay for and these pieces of soft-ware that I mentioned above are the best of the best, the industry standard. But not all of us have that much change to throw around, especially if you’re working on your own animated project in your basement.

One alternative is to pay a monthly subscription fee instead of full out buying a license. Companies like Autodesk realize that the average indie developer can’t afford a $3000 piece of soft-ware so instead they offer their services in monthly, bi-annually, and annually contracts. Adobe does the same thing through it’s creative cloud program. Depending on the cost and what you’re budget is this may work for you.

But if you can’t afford that then there are other free options.

The most popular piece of free 3D soft-ware out there is definitely Blender. I tried it a bit when it was sitting around version 1.5-2.4 and enjoyed it thoroughly. My first real foray into 3D animation was through Blender. There has been some truly outstanding work accomplished with it and is definitely worth a look if you’re on a tight budget.

Daz3D is another program I personally tried out for a little while. I didn’t quite give it the time that it deserved but I’ve seen some really remarkable work made with it.

For 2D image editing and texture development there also options available that won’t cost you a dime. I’ve heard good things about GIMP, that it’s really easy use and intuitive. But personally I enjoy using Photoshop CS2 as Adobe released the CS2 creative suite for free last year.

These are just suggestions though and I am sure there are more great gems out there that I haven’t mentioned. Ultimately the thing to remember is these are just tools, a means to an end. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re using the same piece of soft-ware that ILM used in Star Wars.

The tool doesn’t define the artist, the work does.


Zachary Green

Zachary Green is an award winning 3D artist currently working in Simulation Design and Development for the Oil and Gas Industry.

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