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The 15 Best 3D Animation Courses Online in 2024

by | Last updated Jan 23, 2024

Taking a 3D animation course is not only the more practical and affordable option for most artists; it’s also the quickest way to specialize in a particular animation discipline. 

What 3D animation courses should you take? Here are our recommendations: 

How can you become a 3D animator? 

3D animation requires the creation of believable characters, objects, and environments in a three-dimensional space. It’s something that you can learn and become good at with years of experience. Because 3D animation is a wide-ranging industry, you’ll need to specialize in specific elements and the 3D animation niche. Below are some tips that will help you become a 3D animator:

Hone your technical skills 

You must familiarize yourself with various industry-standard software programs because top studios require these programs. You’ll need to memorize the functions of each tool and learn the proper ways to apply these features to elevate your work. You’ll use these programs to demonstrate various animation principles, concepts, and methods.

Set goals

What do you hope to achieve as a 3D animator? Having an end goal is essential because your bottom line influences all the decisions you’ll make along the way. 

Find resources

The internet is a great place to find free and paid resources, which include 3D animation courses, instructional materials, ebooks, video tutorials, and online communities. Offline, you can take workshops, training classes, and so on to practice and improve your skills.

Start a project

To become a great animator, you need lots of practice. Starting your own animation will hone your artistic and technical skills. If you’ve signed up for an online 3D animation course, you’ll be given practical tests to finetune your skills. You can apply everything you’ve learned to every project and eventually build a portfolio and demo reel. 

Apart from undergoing formal training, we recommend watching movies and TV series to see how characters act and move and apply these observations to a project you’re working on. Check out the movements, facial expressions, and lighting to create life-like animated scenes. 

Can you learn 3D animation? 

What does it take to become a successful 3D animator? Apart from learning the basics of 3D animation, you need to invest in proper training. Your training will serve as the foundation of your career. Animation is not something that you learn overnight. It takes a long time to learn animation and even longer to do it well. It is undoubtedly a profitable career, but you’ll spend at least a year specializing in 3D animation to get your big break. 

You can learn 3D animation by taking formal education at an art school and earning your bachelor’s degree in related fields or taking an online course. You’ll develop a keen eye for detail and hone your technical skills through proper training. 

Enrolling at an art school

Different art schools offer various 3D animation courses. However, not all schools provide technical classes on specific software applications. Enrolling at an art school means studying full-time for four years, which might not work for some artists. Tuition and related expenses can be pretty pricey too. 

Taking an online course

If you don’t have the time or the budget to get formal training at an art school, enrolling at an online art school is your best bet. Online 3D animation courses are not as expensive, and you can choose what areas to specialize in. You can learn at your own pace, take multiple courses to further your education, and work on projects on the side. 

If you’re a professional who wants to switch careers, taking an online course is the more practical option. You don’t have to quit your job as you train. And if you’re a beginner, you’ll have the training and resources at your disposal for a solid start. 

Well-rounded knowledge of the current industry standard programs is something you should prioritize if you want to earn more than you ever thought possible doing something you love! You can continuously learn about different software programs to stay competitive by taking an online course. Staples include Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, and ZBrush. 

Technology is constantly changing, and studios try to outdo each other by advancing their needs. This means you must continuously study new and varied software programs to keep up with these changes.

What is a 3D animation course?

A 3D animation course is typically a short course that teaches the principles of animation for films, video games, TV series, and marketing. There are various animation classes that you can take online or in person to learn basic and advanced strategies. Choose the format that caters to your learning needs. 

You’re likely to encounter 3D animation as one of your subjects if you’re taking a degree program in animation and production in school. You can sign up for a 3D animation course online if you want to start your career independently. You can sign up for as many online courses as you like if you’re going to specialize in a specific field or if you want to explore other areas of study. 

Sometimes the animation course comes with extras to further your studies. Courses like the Academy of Animated Art’s online 3D animation courses offer mentorship programs, free assets, ebooks, and other resources to elevate your work. An online school with a community to share and acquire feedback on your work, meet fellow animators, and connect with industry experts will benefit your career as an artist and animator.

Which course is best for 3D animation?

There are many 3D animation courses to choose from; what exactly should you look for? Some of the essential features to consider are: 

Quality education

You deserve a quality education! The quality of 3D animation courses will vary from school to school, so we suggest checking out feedback or reviews and looking for the ones that previous or current students highly recommend. 

Skill level

Thousands of online courses are dedicated to 3D animation, but not all of these courses fit your skill level. It makes sense to choose a beginner course if you’re starting from scratch. If you’re an intermediate-level animator looking for a refresher, an introductory course will waste your time and money. Choose an online course that suits your skill level. 

AAA featured animation courses

Lesson format

Some 3D animation courses consist of pre-recorded video lessons, while others come with one-on-one classes with an instructor. Choose a teaching style that you’re comfortable with, and get the one that keeps you engaged so you can deepen your understanding of the subject matter. 

Choose online courses that provide practical tests to apply what you learned right away. You’ll become better at what you do and remember what you’re learning if you put things into practice as you go along. Also, it helps if you choose a school with an online community of artists to share your work and get peer-to-peer and professional feedback. 

Commitment level

How much time can you devote to online learning? Although conducted online, you’ll still need to figure out how much time to put into the class. Some classes last for 30 minutes; others last for 20 hours. Choose a 3D animation course that fits your schedule because learning 3D animation will take serious dedication. 

The 15 best 3D animation courses online 

Lighting For Animation Course Bundle +

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The best 3D animation course should provide quality education, an asset library + free assets, a supportive community, and professional + peer-to-peer feedback at a reasonable price. These are just some of the many benefits you will enjoy once you sign up for our Lighting For Animation Course Bundle +.

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The Lighting For Animation Course Bundle + boasts of a proven system that helped hundreds of AAA students achieve their dreams of becoming light artists in a year or less – even with ZERO experience. 

Whether you’re a beginner looking for an introductory course or a professional who wants to switch careers, this comprehensive online course will help you build a successful career in the animation industry. 

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By signing up for the Lighting For Animation Course Bundle +, you will learn how to: 

  • Sculpt visual shaping with light
  • Use color and shadow to create different moods
  • Set up lights to focus the viewer’s eye
  • Understand how to use CG lights and their attributes
  • Dissect and leverage reference images
  • Light and render using Pixar’s Renderman

The bundle covers multiple studies of 3D lighting, including: 

  • Course #1: The Power Of Light
  • Course #2: Character Lighting For Animated Films
  • Course #3: Environment Lighting For Animated Films
  • Course #4: Materials & Shaders For The Lighting Artist
  • Course #5: Compositing For The Lighting Artist
  • Course #6: Lighting An Animated Film
  • Course #7: Succeeding As A Lighter

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Apart from accessing our asset library and being a part of our online community, the bundle also comes with a free student license for:

  • Maya
  • Arnold
  • Redshift
  • Octane
  • Unreal
  • Katana

For as little as $199, you’ll have all the learning materials you need to build a successful career in animation. If you want to know more about the Lighting For Animation Course Bundle + and see what our students say about the bundle, click here

Learn 3D Animation – The Ultimate Blender Guide 

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Blender is an essential software program to learn as an animator. Top studios use it, so being well-versed in this program will benefit your career down the line. The Ultimate Blender Guide will train you to use and maximize basic and advanced Blender features to create fantastic artwork and animations. 

The workshop starts with the fundamentals of 3D animation and navigating the software program. It also features a step-by-step guide to creating a cartoon character. By the end of this course, you’ll be confidently making a full-blown animation. Learn more about the Ultimate Blender Guide here

Intro to Maya Workshop

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Autodesk Maya is one of the world’s most widely-used 3D animation software programs. Top studios use this program to build characters, objects, and entire worlds. Maya is loaded with tools for animating scenes for movies, animation, commercials, video games, architectural rendering, medical imaging, and VR. Mastering Maya and other industry-standard software programs will give you a competitive edge and further your career as an animator. 

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The AAA Intro to Maya workshop is designed for beginners and seasoned pros alike. Our co-founder, Mike Tanzillo, conducts this comprehensive course. The course is divided into several video lessons, covering the essential tools, lighting fundamentals, and advanced techniques that will elevate your work. By enrolling in our Intro to Maya workshop, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build characters and environments
  • Animate objects and characters
  • Create materials and shaders
  • Generate fur and cloth effects
  • Render realistic, visually stunning images

By the end of this course, you’ll learn all the basic and advanced tools of the Maya software, build and animate characters and objects and elevate your work. You can sign up for this single course or opt for multiple courses to sharpen your technical skills. Sign up for the online course here

The Art of Animation: How to Create Lifelike Movement

The art of animation

This online course is based on the top four principles of animation, which Disney animators developed in the 80s. This online course is ideal for students who want a condensed online animation course. 

The Art of Animation is conducted by animator and motion designer Emanuele Colombo. Signing up for this 3D animation course will help you master After Effects and build an entire animated scene, complete with a story. You’ll also create a landscape and add a sense of realism, movement, and intrigue to captivate your audience with the animation. 

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to complete an animated sequence, create lifelike characters and become comfortable with the After Effects program. Sign up for the online course here

12 Principles of Animation

12 animation principles

Using Maya, you’ll learn how to apply various 3D animation principles to bring your characters and objects to life. This 2-hour-long online course starts with the fundamentals of animation, particularly the timing, spacing, and slow in and out. 

Conducted by Justin Harrison, a character and technical animator in the game dev industry, the 12 Principles of Animation covers everything from artistic modeling to asset creation, motion capture to keyframe animation. It will also walk you through technical rigging and character setup. Sign up for the 12 Principles of Animation course here

Complete Animation Course by Aaron Blaise

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Based on Disney’s “12 Principles of Animation,” the Complete Animation Course by Aaron Blaise consists of 13 video tutorials that will walk you through every animation technique pioneered by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Apart from the 13 video tutorials, this course includes PDF printouts, original drawings, and some TV paint source files you can break down. This course is designed for beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of animation and seasoned pros who need a refresher course. Sign up for the Complete Animation Course by Aaron Blaise here

3D Animation – 0 to PRO: Create Credible & Unique Animations

3D Animation - 0 to PRO

An online course designed for intermediate-level artists, the 3D Animation – 0 to PRO: Create Credible & Unique Animations starts with the basic principles of Animation and then concludes with demos and exercises to apply what you learned throughout the course. 

In this course, you will learn how to animate a bouncing ball, determine the mechanics of the character, animate a cycle of walking and create pantomime animations. By the end of the course, you’ll learn how to animate different characters and create unique characters that will engage the audience. Sign up for the 3D Animation – 0 to PRO: Create Credible & Unique Animations here

Arnold For Maya Workshop

AAA Arnold for Maya course

Arnold for Maya is a leading animation software used by top studios. Mastering this program will boost your competitive edge and get more extensive projects. The Arnold for Maya workshop by the Academy of Animated Art is designed to help beginners and seasoned pros learn how to use this complex program to achieve photorealistic results. 

By enrolling in our Arnold For Maya Workshop, you’ll learn how to use every button, every slider, and every tool for:

  • Ray sampling
  • Ray depth
  • Motion blur
  • Light render settings
  • System settings
  • Environment

 

Arnold is fully customizable and can render trillions of visible polygons while optimizing memory. Elevate your work and master Arnold for Maya; sign up for the online course here

The Animation Fundamentals: Rigging Your First Character in Cinema 4D

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The Animation Fundamentals: Rigging Your First Character in Cinema 4D is designed for intermediate-level artists who want to master a host of rigging tools in Cinema 4D and students who want to get their start at 3D character animation. 

The online course starts with an introduction to Joints and adding IK before moving forward with a full character rig. The class is divided into two parts, animating a boat character and rigging a bike. To sign up for The Animation Fundamentals: Rigging Your First Character in Cinema 4D, click here

Complete Adobe After Effects Megacourse: Beginner to Expert

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Learn how to create motion graphics and visual effects with this step-by-step course. The Complete Adobe After Effects Mega Course will help you animate like a pro starting by mastering the After Effects program. You will also learn how to use cool effects to enhance storytelling, create eye-popping visuals, and create your own animations. 

The course includes video editing training, still image creation, making GIFs, logo creation, HUD animations, + plenty of design examples and modeled on-screen. Sign up for the Complete Adobe After Effects Megacourse here

After Effects Motion Graphics Beast

The After Effects Motion Graphics Beast online course will train beginners and advanced-level artists to animate in Adobe After Effects. The course starts with the program’s essential features, including all types of keyframes and Graph editors. It also covers the fundamentals of animation and motion graphics, including some of the best animation techniques to elevate your work.

By the end of this course, you’ll be more comfortable using Adobe After Effects to animate your visuals and learn everything about motion tracking, text animation, shape animation, morphing animation, and various other animation techniques using the program. Sign up for the After Effects Motion Graphics Beast here.

Character Animation Basics: Create a Dance Loop with After Effects and Photoshop

Character Animation Basics

Conducted by animator and director Bee Grandinetti, this online course provides practical experience in character animation. Using After Effects, you will work on a dance sequence from start to finish. Along the way, you will sharpen your technical skills and grasp the foundational principles of effective animation.

The instructor will also walk you through every step and every process – from sketching to rendering. Sign up for the Character Animation Basics: Create a Dance Loop with After Effects and Photoshop here.

Learn Professional Pixel Art & Animation for Games 

learn professional pixel art

If you’ve always wanted to learn about game development, this is the perfect 3D animation course for you. In this course, you will learn how to create pixel art and animations and train to become a game graphic designer. You will work on stylized pixel art and animate it using the techniques you will learn in this course. Everything you’ll learn from the workshop can be applied to just about any asset creation for games. 

This course requires Photoshop to create pixel characters, backgrounds, and animations. You’ll become comfortable using the program to develop eye-popping pixel animations in as little as a week. Sign up for this online course here

Introduction to ZBrush

introduction to zbrush

Zbrush is an industry-standard 3D animation software program, and your career will benefit significantly by mastering this breakthrough painting software. 

The workshop consists of 6 courses that will train you to create and animate a character. Each class will walk you through Zbrush’s fundamental basics and techniques, covering the program’s structure, and all the essential features to master the platform. The online course will also teach you to integrate other 3D software programs into your workflow. Sign up for the online course here

Combined 2D Illustration and 3D Animation Techniques

Learn how to combine different types of animation to push your creative limits and achieve eye-popping visuals. In this course, you will learn how to integrate 2D illustration and 3D modeling into one animation.

The combined 2D and 3D animation techniques course will outline the fundamentals of traditional and contemporary animation and merge these disciplines into one stunning shot. Sign up for the online course here

Over to you!

Should you sign up for an online 3D animation course? Taking an online course will help you forge ahead in your career in the animation industry, no matter your skill level. If you’re passionate about the craft and want to get a solid start in the animation industry, you will get the most out of your money by taking an online course.

Of course, not all 3D animation courses are created equally. Some workshops cover everything from basic to advanced techniques. It’s important to choose an online course that suits your skill level. 

 

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

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 here.

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

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 here.

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