What are the best 3D animation classes online?
If you’re interested in learning 3D animation, you can easily find helpful courses online.
Want to know which one is best for you?
Here’s an overview.
How do you learn 3D animation?
A career in 3D animation can be highly fulfilling. You get to use your artistic eye, while understanding more technical aspects of the job. This makes 3D animation a highly versatile career.
Plus, you can work in different industries as various companies and employers rely on 3D animation. While animators have traditionally worked in entertainment, nowadays industries like architecture, medicine, and construction use 3D animation.
Personally, I’ve worked in different settings – from animation studios where I worked as a lighting artist on movies like Ice Age, to VFX roles, to, most recently, a Fortune 100 company where I work in a creative leadership role.
But how do you become a 3D animator?
There are two options. You can either get a degree or learn animation online; we’ll look at both of them here below.
One of the most flexible ways to learn 3D animation is to enroll in online courses. You see, these are often self-study courses and you can tailor different classes to fit your needs. And if the course includes mentoring from industry leaders, the advantages are even bigger.
These courses will help you develop technical skills and provide an opportunity to create a larger portfolio of work that you can use to showcase your skills to potential employers or clients. Additionally, coursework in these programs provide you with a better understanding of 3D animation principles, such as lighting, texture, and composition.
In addition to online courses, there are degree-granting programs. However, these programs can be costly and time-consuming – and to become a 3D animator, a degree is not necessary.
Degree programs are often more expensive and require far more time than taking individual, online courses. Additionally, 3D animation is a field where experience is more important than formal education, so if you are looking to become a 3D animator, taking online courses is a more cost-effective and time-efficient way to gain the necessary skills.
With that, let’s jump into the top online classes.
The best 3D animation classes online
There are plenty of excellent online classes that cover topics such as 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, lighting, and more. They include tutorials and tools to help students create their own 3D animations. What’s more, many classes also include project files that students can use to follow along with the lessons.
Here below are our top picks!
Maya is one of the key software tools in animation, so learning this software is something you can really benefit from if you’re interested in an animation career. Even if you end up working at a studio that uses another software package, you’ll benefit from understanding Maya. Choose a course on Maya that offers a comprehensive overview of the software and teaches you the basics of 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.
They typically cover the fundamentals of the Maya user interface, as well as how to use the many tools available in the software, so that you gain the experience needed to create engaging 3D animations.
Our introductory online Maya course costs $399 and can be paid in three installments. You’ll learn how to use Maya for lighting, shading, rendering, and animation. You’ll get everything from the basics to setting up your own project.
Katana is a Lighting and LookDev tool that makes it far easier to manage assets, materials, shaders, and output files like AOVs with a node-based workflow. An increasing number of studios are turning to Katana because Maya takes a long time to load and has other glitches.
The price range for a Katana workshop is usually between $500 and $1,000. Our online Katana workshop is $599 and is taught by Lighting Artist and Katana software pioneer Abel Vargas. The workshop covers everything from the basics to more advanced topics.
RedShift is the world’s first fully GPU-accelerated renderer. Learning RedShift can really make your portfolio stand out.
Our online RedShift workshop is approximately $199 and led by Dreamworks Lighting Artist Shane Sternstein. This class teaches you everything from RedShift render controls to lights and shaders. At the end, you also get to work on an asset to start lighting and rendering with RedShift.
Unreal Engine is a powerful game engine that is used to create high-quality visuals and interactive experiences; but it can be used for so much more than game development. For instance, Unreal Engine is rapidly growing in popularity in architectural visualization, VFX, and animation.
An online Unreal Engine workshop usually costs anywhere from $100 to $300. Our Unreal Engine workshop is $199. The class is taught by Jordan Jenkins, a Lighting Artist based in England currently working at Blue Zoo Animation Studio. You’ll get an intro to Unreal and learn how to use the different aspects of the tool, including how to use rendering with Cryptomatte and lighting.
Octane is the first and fastest spectrally correct and unbiased GPU render engine. Learning this software will give you an advantage in understanding how to shade and light in animation and VFX.
The price of an online Octane workshop will usually be around $500, but our Octane workshop is $199. Our instructor, Matt Wilson, shows you the ins and outs of the Octane Renderer. You’ll also learn how to use it to create stunning images as a top artist.
Nuke is a node-based digital compositing and VFX application used for television and film post-production. It’s a standard software in the industry, so being familiar with it is a requirement if you want to work with composition in VFX.
Our online Nuke workshop is self-paced and taught by Mike Callahan, a Senior Nuke Compostier with 20-years of experience in the visual effects industry. The cost is $59 and will guide you through the entire workflow and process of creating an integrated multi-pass CG scene.
To become a lighting artist in VFX, you need to have photorealistic lighting skills, such as lighting theory and technical skills to use software like Maya and Arnold.
Our Introduction to Photorealistic Lighting is the course for learning photorealistic lighting and landing a job in the industry. You’ll learn the foundations, such as techniques and technical skills. You’ll also get the chance to work on projects, which you can add to your portfolio.
The cost is $997 and can be paid in four installments.
The Adobe Substance 3D applications are tools that are used for creating, capturing, and texturing 3D assets. They also allow you to compose and render 3D scenes.
Our Complete Substance 3D Training is a free course that gives you everything you need for learning Substance 3D. You’ll learn how to use the Stager, Painter, and Sampler and get access to 3D project tutorials. This class is taught by Michael Tanzillo, the Head of Technical Artists with the Substance 3D Growth team at Adobe.
Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software that’s used for animated films, VFX, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, and virtual reality.
If you’re looking to build a career as a 3D animator, VFX artist, video game designer, or character designer, Blender can be advantageous to learn as a free software tool. While you also want to add Maya to your skillset, mastering Blender can be that first step.
This course by Udemy provides a free Blender class, allowing users to get familiar with the tools and techniques of 3D animation. This workshop is suitable for beginners, as well as those with some experience looking to expand their skills.
Now you have a list of some of the best 3d animation classes. But how would you go about learning the A to Z of the 3D animation skills you want to learn and land a job in the industry?
That’s what we’ll look at next.
The best 3D animation programs online
If you want a more comprehensive online 3D animation course that teaches you a specific technique from start to finish, there are several available for this purpose. Many courses offer classes on different techniques and software, from basic to advanced. Additionally, they tend to offer lifetime access, so you can return to the course at any time while working at your own pace.
1. Lighting for Animation Course Bundle – Academy of Animated Art
Our Lighting for Animation Course Bundle is created for those who want to become 3D lighting artists. All the instructors are active in the industry and have years of experience working on major 3D lighting projects.
The bundle includes seven classes on all the major software, like Maya and RedShift. You’ll also get mentoring and support from the community to develop your skills and apply for jobs. In this course, you’ll be able to use Maya, RedShift, Octane, Unreal Engine, and Katana for free.
The Lighting Bundle costs 1,999 with payment plans available.
2. Animation Basics – Animation Mentor
This Animation Basics course is provided by Animation Mentor. The program is intended for beginners who want to learn the principles of animation. It covers topics such as timing, movement, and storytelling for a variety of animation types.
Students will gain the skills necessary to create basic animations and be provided a mentor offering one-on-one guidance, support, and personalized critiques and advice to help students reach their goals.
This class costs $2,499 with payment plans available.
3. Introduction to 3D Animation – CG Spectrum
If you’re looking for an introduction to 3D animation, this class is for you. CG Spectrum’s 12 week course covers the basics of 3D animation, modeling, rigging, and rendering. It also gives students an opportunity to practice and develop their skills. The curriculum focuses on the 12 principles of animation and setting up professional workflows using Maya.
The course is $3,199 with payment plans available.
4. Animation and Game Principles – iAnimate
If you want to get into game design, iAnimate’s program Animation and Game Principles could be something for you. You’ll learn the fundamentals of animation and game design, such as timing, composition, and color theory. The course also teaches the basics of software used in the industry, such as Maya and Unity. Finally, it offers guidance on how to develop a portfolio and market yourself as an animator.
This 11 week course costs $1,698 and they offer payment plans.
5. Rigging Fundamentals – iAnimate
The Rigging Fundamentals online class provided by iAnimate is helpful for anyone who wants to learn 3D character rigging. The classes cover topics such as rigging principles, character setup, and deformers. It also provides hands-on practice with animation tools like Maya and techniques necessary to create professional 3D animations.
The price is $999 for the full 11 week course.
Sometimes it’s difficult to narrow down what you need or want to learn. Therefore, there are more wide ranging 3D animation online courses that cover a variety of topics. These courses are designed to help students understand the fundamentals of 3D animation and how to utilize the various tools available in their animation program of choice. They also include tips and techniques for creating a successful animation.
These courses are also useful for those who are already familiar with animation principles and are looking to hone their skills. They provide students with the opportunity to explore a variety of techniques and approaches to 3D animation, so they can find the right style for them. Additionally, these courses provide students with the opportunity to build their portfolios and gain industry recognition.
One of these broader animation programs is a nine month long bootcamp by Vertex School designed to teach students the skills needed to secure a career in games, film, XR and the metaverse. The course costs $8,997 with payment plans available.
Over to you!
There you have it. These are the best 3D animation classes online.
Online 3D animation classes are a great way to learn the skills you need to become a 3D animation artist..
You can either enroll in a class that teaches a specific software or in an online program that teaches the A to Z of the skill you want to learn.
You can see all our courses here. Happy learning!
About Jasmine Katatikarn
Jasmine Katatikarn is the founder of Academy of Animated Art. She has 20+ years of experience in Feature Animation and VFX. Jasmine’s lighting credits include movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand, Peanuts, and Rio. Read more about Jasmine here.