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The Best 3D Modeling Courses (2024 List)

by | Last updated Mar 29, 2024

Are you interested in taking a 3D modeling course this year?

Then you’ve come to the right place – because in this guide, you’ll find the best 3D modeling courses available.

Let’s dive in.

 

What is 3D modeling? 

3D modeling is the process of creating models of backgrounds, props, and characters that will be used in a 3D-animated scene.

Modelers use polygons, edges, and lines to create and define the shape, texture, and appearance of each 3D model. Then, they attach the model to a skeleton, render, and animate it according to the creative brief or vision.

At this point, 3D models are static images, but when they’re placed with other images and played in quick succession, it creates the illusion of movement.

There’s a lot to learn about 3D modeling, and one of the best ways to do it is by enrolling in an online course.

So, what are the best 3D modeling courses? Here are my recommendations.

Blender Fundamentals

Motion Design School

In this course, you’ll learn the foundational concepts of 3D modeling using Blender, a free and open-source 3D animation software, from Motion Design School instructors.

In the first lesson, you will get a detailed introduction to Blender, its UI, and its workspace. You’ll also learn valuable tools and shortcuts.

The instructors will then teach you to create and manipulate basic objects in 3D space before moving on to more advanced techniques like sculpting, texturing, rendering, and lighting.

Blender Fundamentals is suitable for anyone interested in 3D animation, whether you’re a 2D animator looking to switch mediums or a beginner in animation

Highlights:

  • Made up of 8 comprehensive lessons
  • Time commitment of 6+ hours
  • No previous 3D modeling experience is necessary
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Lessons include Characters Modeling, Environment Modeling, Rigging and Controllers, Particle System, and Rendering

Software requirements:

  • Blender

A free lesson is available if you’d like to try the course before you buy it.

Pricing: $299

Introduction to 3D Character Modeling

Animation Mentor

In this three-month workshop, you’ll work toward the ultimate goal of creating your own unique 3D character.

This course covers the fundamental aspects of character design, like efficient Maya workflows, proper anatomical structuring using references, ZBrush character sculpting, production-ready retopology, functional model creation, and rendering for portfolio presentation. 

In addition to pre-recorded lectures, you will also have access to a mentor who reviews your assignments and offers video feedback. Hong Chan Lim, a Senior Character Artist at Blizzard Entertainment, will mentor the next session.

Highlights:

  • 12-week course 
  • Comprised of 12 one-hour pre-recorded video lectures
  • Weekly two-hour mentor Q&A sessions
  • Weekly assignments
  • One-on-one mentorship
  • Lectures include Overview of 3D Character Design, Head and Hand Design, Head and Hand Sculpting, Costume and Armor Design, and ZBrush Poly Painting

Software requirements: 

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Pixologic ZBrush (or ZBrush Core)
  • Adobe Photoshop

The next course starts on March 27. Experience with Maya is necessary to take this course.

Pricing: $1,299

3D Character Modeling 02 for Games

Animation Mentor

Using the 3D character you created in the Introduction to 3D Character Modeling course, you’ll learn to create character models for video game engines in just three months.

The curriculum covers mastering character workflows, digital sculpting techniques, topology workflows, UV optimization, lighting, and texture creation. 

By the end of the three months, you’ll also know how to highlight your model within your portfolio and display it in real-time to showcase your ability.

This course consists of pre-recorded lectures, Q&A sessions, assignments, and one-on-one feedback from professional animator Hong Chan Lim.

Highlights:

  • 12-week course
  • Comprised of 12 one-hour, pre-recorded video lectures 
  • Weekly two-hour mentor Q&A sessions
  • Weekly assignments
  • One-on-one mentorship
  • Lectures include Overview and Reptology Theory, Base Mesh Reptology Applied, Hands and Hair, Weapons and Accessories, Character Texturing (Outfit, Armor, Accessories), and Presenting Your Model

Software requirements: 

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Pixologic ZBrush (or ZBrush Core)
  • Adobe Photoshop

The next course starts on March 28. Before class starts, you should have basic knowledge of Maya and ZBrush and a 3D character to build on. 

Although it is recommended that you complete Animation Mentor’s Introduction to 3D Character Modeling course, it’s optional.

Pricing: $1,299

Cinema 4D: Ultimate Guide for Complete Beginners

Udemy

This course, taught by a Maxon Certified Cinema 4D Instructor, will teach you everything you need to know about using Cinema 4D. No prior experience is required.

The curriculum covers the entire 3D workflow, from modeling and lighting to texturing, animating, and rendering. You’ll also get firsthand experience with industry techniques as well as tips and tricks to advance your career. 

Each module is made up of pre-recorded video lectures, which means that you can learn at your own pace.

The course is suitable for all types of animators, whether you’re a graphic designer, motion graphics artist, or a 2D animator looking to add 3D animation to your wheelhouse. It’s also open to anyone with an interest in 3D animation, regardless of their prior experience.

Highlights:

  • 8 hour course consisting of pre-recorded lectures
  • Self-paced
  • You will receive a certificate of completion
  • 4.5 stars and 3,570 ratings on Coursera
  • Downloadable exercise files
  • Modules include Getting to Know Cinema 4D, Editable Objects, Rendering Splines, Generators, Lights in Cinema 4D, and Materials in Cinema 4D

Pricing: $70

Introduction to 3D Modeling 

The University of Michigan Online

This free four-week practical course, taught by University of Michigan professor Glenn Wilcox, will teach you to use Rhino software for 3D modeling and equip you with design skills at the same time.

Over the course of the curriculum, you will learn fundamental concepts like line, shape, form, and space before moving on to creating more complex designs such as patterned mandalas and 3D tiles. You’ll also get firsthand experience rendering and creating printable 3D models.

The course is recommended for architects, designers, and engineers, but anyone with an interest in 3D modeling can participate. No prior 3D modeling experience is necessary. 

Highlights:

  • Free to take
  • Four-week self-paced course
  • 27 hours total (9 hours per week)
  • Materials include videos, readings, quizzes, and discussion prompts
  • Modules include building blocks, 2D drawings, object modeling, and surface modeling

Pricing: Free

SketchUp: How to Start Modeling Simple 3D Objects

ClassCentral

In this course, you will learn the basics of using SketchUp for Web. SketchUp for Web is a free, browser-based version of SketchUp in which users can draw and create simple 3D models.

The on-demand course takes just two hours to complete, though how quickly you finish is up to you. 

Throughout the course, you’ll learn to set up a SketchUp for Web account, use the drawing and modeling tools, finalize and arrange objects in a 3D space, set views, and export a project.

You don’t need prior experience or knowledge to take this course, and a paid certificate is available upon completion.

Highlights:

  • Free
  • Self-paced, 2-hour course
  • 4.5 stars and 194 ratings on Coursera
  • No experience necessary
  • Certificate available 

Pricing: Free

3D Models for Virtual Reality

University of London

Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular, with 64 million Americans using it at least once in recent years.

If you want to learn how to create the kind of virtual reality (VR) experiences they love, this is the course for you.

In just four modules, you’ll learn the foundations of 3D graphics on Unity3D, a professional game and VR engine. 

The curriculum includes lessons on creating and laying objects, material and texturing techniques, as well as sound enhancement. You’ll also learn how to create an environment that runs smoothly and quickly enough to support VR.

By the end of the course, you will know how to create your own VR scene.

No prior experience is necessary to take this course.

Highlights:

  • Free
  • Self-paced, 16-hour course
  • The curriculum includes pre-recorded videos, readings, quizzes, and discussion prompts
  • Modules include 3D Graphics, VR Graphics, VR Audio, and Content Creation: What Works in VR?
  • Shareable certificate for LinkedIn upon completion
  • 4.6 rating and 380 reviews on Coursera

Pricing: Free

Note: This course is part of Coursera’s Virtual Reality Specialization, which means that you’ll automatically be enrolled in the Specialization.

Learn Blender 3D Modeling for Unity Video Game Development

Udemy

Unlike Motion Design School’s course, which can be taken by anyone, this course was specifically created for Unity video game developers to learn to use Blender.

Instead of programming or game design, you’ll focus solely on improving your abilities as a video game developer. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to use Blender to model, texture map, and animate. 

You’ll learn to build better levels, design your own 3D props, edit Unity assets, create several low-poly models, and learn about materials, textures, UVs, and more in Blender. The instructor will also teach you about Blender’s basic terms, shortcuts, and best practices.

And while the course is focused on Unity, elements of it are applicable to other development platforms.

Highlights:

  • Online, on-demand course
  • 11.5 hours of videos
  • In addition to the videos, this course includes four articles, three downloadable resources, mobile and TV access, and a certificate of completion
  • Modules include Controls, Edit Mode: Tools, Common Modifiers, Popular Add-Ons, Common Props, and Animation
  • 4.3 stars and 2,000+ ratings

To take this course, you should have basic knowledge of using Unity to develop video games and a background in working with computers.

Pricing: £69.99

Complete Substance 3D Training

Academy of Animated Art 

Led by Mike Tanzillo, Academy of Animated Art co-founder, this is a free 101-style course for anyone interested in 3D modeling, regardless of experience level.

As the course progresses, you’ll get firsthand experience with the kind of tools needed to create 3D images quickly to reach the ultimate goal: being comfortable creating 3D assets from scratch.

You’ll learn how to complete every step of 3D modeling in Substance, from modeling and texturing to rendering. 

The curriculum includes a general introduction to the Substance ecosystem and working in 3D, plus a closer look at several types of software and how to choose one. Michael will also demystify the 3D modeling workflow by showing you exactly how to build several assets.

Highlights:

  • Free
  • Self-paced
  • Modules include What is Substance 3D?, Intro to Substance 3D Stager, Intro to Substance 3D Painter, Intro to Substance 3D Sampler
  • Substance 3D tutorials such as Golden Notebook, Rainbow Corn, California Surf Shack, and Coffee Shop

Pricing: Free

Introduction to Maya Workshop

Academy of Animated Art 

Autodesk Maya is used by some of the biggest studios in the world to build 3D characters, objects, and worlds for movies, commercials, video games, and more. It’s been used in films like Lord of the Rings and television shows like South Park and Game of Thrones.

It’s also a requirement for almost any animation job, so learning to use it is a good idea if you want to break into the industry.

AAA co-founder Mike Tanzillo will teach you the ins and outs of Maya’s essential tools in our free course, Introduction to Maya Workshop. 

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to use Maya for 3D animation basics like lighting and rendering, as well as more advanced techniques such as creating materials and generating fur.

Highlights:

  • Free
  • Self-paced
  • Modules include Maya Basics, Polygonal Modeling, Working with Curves, Lighting, Shading, & Rendering, Animation, Bonus Section, and The Big Project

Pricing: Free

Next steps

There you have it!

A complete guide to some of the best 3D modeling courses you can take in 2024.

When choosing a course, focus on finding one that suits your skill level and includes the techniques you want to learn.

But the truth is that regardless of the course you choose, you’ll find new ways to improve your skills and get a solid start in the animation industry.

Another essential part of breaking into the industry is creating a great portfolio that gets the attention of hiring managers.

I’ll show you how to do it in this free guide: 

 

Read more:

How to Become a 3D Modeling Artist

The Best 3D Animation Courses Online

3D Modeling Career: The Full Guide

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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