Which 3D software should I learn ?
Here is a simple question … but a tricky one to answer.
If you’re not going to learn a software at school, and you want to learn one by yourself (like I did in 2010), you can be easily overwhelmed by the large number of softwares available on the market, but also by 3rd part engines (yeah it does exist) and plugins.
And that’s okay.
Some softs are here for more than a decade, some are big standards of the industries, and some just arrived few years or months back. If you’re not in the loop for several years, impossible to really know which path to choose. That’s what this article is for.
First thing to keep in mind : what do I want to do ?
Your choice will depend strongly with what you want to do at the end. Do you want to do product visualisation ? character animation ? architecture ? cartoons ? photorealism ?
That’s what most articles will tell you in the end. And that’s true. But no completely. How can you be sure than in two years you wouldn’t want to stop making characters for architecture ?
For that, I suggest you to learn one of the top 4 biggest generalists softs : 3DS Max, Maya, Cinema 4D or Blender.
You have more softs of course, but with them, you’re 100% sure to be able to work across multiple cases.
What really makes the difference between them are very small. With a good understanding and a good practice, you can achieve incredible results with them. 3DS stays the biggest soft for the industry (especially for games & product visualisation). Maya would be more used for character design and animation, and Cinema 4D for TV animations and motion design. Blender is a great tool too, and its greatest feature is its price : free ! And when you know that the biggest problem for studios are to move from one soft to another because of the price of the licences… you get my point !
Because I’m a Cinema 4D user, I would be more concern about this soft. I cannot regret having learned it, and surprisingly, this soft is finding more and more audience. It’s very powerful combined with its integrated motion solution : Mograph. A partnership was done recently with Adobe to have a real bridge between After Effects and C4D, for a better workflow.
But when you look at the job offers, 3DS Max and Maya are asked everywhere. Also, when you’ve learned one, you’ve nearly learned the other too, because they are quite similar, and produced by the same brand : Autodesk. Cinema 4D is more a 3D soft for people that already works in the design industry and want to add another string to his bow with 3D knowledge (like I did). Like Blender I guess.
So, define your profile and what you want to do next, and jump to your next adventure :-)