Web Resources for 3D Animators
Posted Nov 4, 2003

If you're anxious to learn about new 3D animation techniques, news on the latest industry releases, or in need of some brushing up on specific animation software programs, information is just a mouse click away. A plethora of sites specializing in 3D animation are available on the Web, designed to aid all levels of 3D animators. We surfed the 'Net and here profile 16 of the best. They feature tutorials on specific software and techniques, product reviews, discussion forums, and industry news.

Digital Animators
An affiliate of the Digital Media Net community, this site offers software reviews as well as features that provide techniques and tricks of the 3D trade. It also contains links, updated daily, to industry news. Digital Animators houses a wide variety of tutorials for producing effects in products such as Maya and Cinema 4D. Site users also have the opportunity to interact with their peers in forums and submit questions to industry professionals. As the name suggests, the site is very industry specific.

Creative Mac
Also part of the Digital Media net community, Creative Mac actually caters strictly to users of the Mac platform. Consequently, its contents are not limited to the interests of 3D developers. If animators have the patience to search the site a bit, they will find relevant product reviews, columns, and up to date news headlines. The site features a new tutorial every Tuesday and has extensive archives that are worth browsing. The interactive forum section allows users to post and answer comments, and features a keyword search engine able to retrieve all 3D discussions within the past year.

3D Links
3D Links is one of the most comprehensive sites on the Web for 3D animators, providing links to an assortment of resources from 3D book recommendations to hardware and virtually everything in between. What sets 3D Links apart from other sites is its software-specific and in-depth discussion forums and tutorials. The site offers a tutorial for more than 22 3D animation software programs. Because of the abundance of information it contains, 3D Links will reward both animation novices and professionals.

3D Arena
3D Arena is an informative site for practiced animators complete with forums, tutorials, product reviews and industry news. The news section is not as comprehensive as some of the other 3D sites, but 3D Arena does provide an up-to-date list of conventions and their information links for the current year. The tutorials are more focused on techniques, such as creating tubers, than on the navigation of specific animation software programs. A feature unique to the site is an archive of free downloads. 3D Arena also has a gallery in which visitors can view fellow animators' images and share ideas.

Creative Cow
Creative Cow not only has a fun name but a number of appealing features for 3D animators. There is quite a bit to see on this site, but the content is not limited to 3D animation. To get users started, there is a helpful link with instructions on how to navigate the site. Creative Cow provides links to ample tutorials for relatively experienced animators. For those looking to learn more about 3D, Creative Cow provides reviews and recommendations of industry books available for purchase at their online store. Creative Cow's best feature? The busy discussion forums.

3D Labs
A predominantly vendor-specific site, 3D labs provides a good source product guidance and industry news coverage. The highlight of the site is its support section, which contains a discussion forum and troubleshooting section for specific products, such as those in the Wizard family. The site is a helpful resource for current users of 3D Labs products.

The software animation programs Maya, Lightwave, SoftImage, and 3DstudioMax are the focus of the 3dspline community. 3dspline's tutorials provide a wealth of opportunities for users to expand their animation and software product knowledge. The tutorial topics range from applying advanced applications for professionals to walking more inexperienced users through basic techniques. The site also has an image gallery and links to useful downloads, textures, and plug-ins.

3D Buzz
3D Buzz is yet another great tutorial source. With an efficient search engine, users select the software application, category, and level of difficulty to locate a tutorial that suits their needs. The tutorials cover more than 15 software applications from Truespace to Cinema 4D, as well as specific functions such as modeling and rendering images. 3D Buzz also provides links to 43 different 3D discussion forums. In addition, the site houses an employment forum that posts jobs and artist searches in the industry.

3D Café
3D Café is a great site with a lot to offer, but be warned that it is nearly impossible to access any of these features if you are not a registered member. Site members can read industry articles, view an image gallery, and access professionally written tutorials. A list summarizing the tutorials is available to visitors. Subscriptions to 3D Cafe are available for $39.99 per month or $379.99 per year.

3D Luvr
3D Luvr's best feature is the Techzone section that provides hardware and software reviews, questions answered by industry experts, and tips and tricks of the animation trade. The site addresses common problems users encounter while using and running animation software programs such as 3Dmax and much more.

3D Studio
The two main assets of the 3D Studio Web site are its active discussion forums and tutorials. Whether users are interested in lighting or compositing, 3D Studio tutorials cover a wide range of animation topics. The site also contains links to other 3D-related websites, as well as free model and texture categories.

E-eye is an online source for both 3D and 2D animation professionals and "hobbyists." The site features active user forums discussing creative and technical issues, as well as product reviews. Users also can find comprehensive news coverage and an image gallery. E-eye also is replete with tutorials that predominantly focus on animation techniques.

Simply Lightwave
As the name indicates, Simply Lightwave is a resource strictly for NewTek Lightwave users. The site contains access to a host of discussion forums, some of which are limited to registered members only. The site's strong point is its tutorials that focus on animations topics for both advanced and beginner animators.

Luxology is predominantly a source for 3D animation news. It also features interviews with people of interest in the industry. Like most of its online peers, Luxology offers a few interactive tutorials, but it adds a list of job postings within the industry.