A List of 3D Forums & Communities
Most of the 3D artists I’ve met over the years have one thing in common: they’re all self-taught. Sure, maybe they’ve got a course or two under their belts, but the vast majority of their skillsets have been learned through scouring the Internet for hours at a time. That, and banging their head against the wall!
3D Forums & Online Tutorials
There’s a lot of places to learn about 3D modeling and rendering today but that’s not always been the case. It used to be incredibly important to know where to ask a question online such that you could expect a timely response. Today, there are Facebook groups, social networks like Behance, and many other websites on which one can talk 3D. That’s not always been the case. The following is a list of 3D forums and communities that have been around for a long time and have saved my ass on more than one project.
Anyone that’s ever rendered a pixel has probably heard of Evermotion. For those just starting out, you’ve probably stumbled upon any number of the Archmodels collections. The Evermotion forums is a great place to show off your work, find CG challenges, and to engage with other artists. This is a great place to find less-technical advice on topics related (mostly) to architectural visualization with 3D Studio Max and Vray. There’s a lot of topics covering other software these days, especially Unreal Engine, but this site’s foundation was built on 3DS Max + Vray.
CGSociety is another behemoth personality within the 3D world. Their website has a heavy focus on animation and character-based workflows and spotlights a lot of artists working with software like ZBrush. Their forums are one of the largest resources of user-generated question-and-answer format information for 3D online. They post 3D challenges sponsored by industry titans like NVidia, have interviews with well-known artists, and have even unrolled premium learning resources. Their website underwent a major overhaul back in 2015 when they were acquired by The Art Society.
As you might expect from the title, this website (and its forums) have a strong focus on architectural visualization. CGArchitect is renowned for their Architectural 3D contest each year, as well as their industry salary surveys. This site’s forums is a place where you can go to show off your work, find in-depth discussions on how to achieve better results with your renders, or to ask time-sensitive questions. At any given time, there are a couple dozen members online and chances are one of them will be happy to help you sort our your pixel issues.
3D Total is another huge player in the VFX industry. Their main website has evolved into a storefront for premium tutorials, industry news, and interviews with artists discussing project workflows. Definitely a must see. The reason they’re on this list however, is for their very active forums. Here you’ll find a more artistic-focused series of discussions covering sketching, character development, and works-in progress. They also host game art challenges, sculpting challenges, and several other types of 3D and VFX competitions depending on when you’re checking.
The polycount forums is a host to many number of 3D topics but tends to lean more towards the technical side of things. This means shader development, scripting, and use of the word “parameter” more frequently than on other forums. If these aren’t your cup of tea don’t worry—the Polycount forums is a host to discussions on all types of software and 3D workflows. The thread for showcasing your 3D work has more than half a million replies after all!
For all those digital sculptors out there—ZBrush central needs to be on your radar. This 3D forum contains a pretty active community of artists that specialize in using (you guessed it) ZBrush. There are challenges, official announcements from Pixologic (Parent company of ZBrush) and interviews with very talented artists. This forum is a bit more niche than others but, considering many others don’t obsess of ZBrush, a greatly appreciated resource to anyone utilizing sculpting in their workflow.
Autodesk has a software solution for nearly every specialization within the VFX professional field. Whether you’re making 3D models, rigging characters for animation workflows, managing construction projects, compositing, engineering, or even rendering—they’ve got a product they’ll sell you. The Area is the launchpad into deeper discussions, tutorials, and industry interviews for better understanding how Autodesk products fit into professional piplines. In addition to these exciting and insightful resources, the Area has a vast forums section split by software. It can be a bit intimidating to wade through but ultimately contains some very useful knowledge.
Ronen Bekerman Forumns (now Talk)
Ronen Bekerman (owner Polytown Media, Blogger @ ronenbekerman.com) is well-known within the VFX industry. His blog is one of the most popular sources of industry news. making-of scene breakdowns, and 3D assets giveaways there is. His design challenge each year offers some serious prizes and is among the most popular 3D contests around. Each week, Ronen selects a project posted by a forum member to be featured on the front-page of his blog (a serious hat-tip for any artist) that’s guaranteed to get you some super-relevant exposure in the industry.
Words of Wisdom
There are loads of other forums out there other than the ones listed here. Many 3D programs like Unreal Engine, Cinema4D, and VRay have very active forums associated with their products. Those are great places to learn about specific software. The forums listed here are industry leaders in the sense that they have large, active communities that post on a wide range of topics. Each has a slightly different focus but you won’t get down-voted into oblivion for asking about more than a single piece of software.