What’s the best way to start learning 3D modeling/rendering/animation and coding?

That’s a genuine question. The details suggest that the OP has a nice computer and can produce code in some unknown language. Cool, you have tools. But that’s like walking into a wood shop with a bunch of saws and power tools and lumber and saying “How do I learn to do this stuff?” Without a goal, it’s impossible to get there.

3D is broad. Really broad and broad in ways that lots of people don’t think about. I’m going to do something really arrogant here so, pardon the arrogance in setting up some of my own work next to Vitaly’s, but I want to illustrate a point.

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Vataly Bulgarov is, without doubt, one of the 3D artists I look to the most for inspiration. He’s insanely talented at producing incredibly detailed models and he’s very good at rendering them in a way that showcases the model:

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That’s a skill set and one I admire, in part, because I have absolutely no skill at modeling. My bad joke on the topic is that I can’t model my way out of a box. My modeling skills are beyond weak.

I do something else though:

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I try to tell stories and evoke emotional response. My time and effort is spent on lighting, materials, scene construction and rendering. I pick up after the modeling is done so I can tell a story or evoke a feeling.

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I’m not a great artist, we’ll get that out of the way, but I want to make a point: 3D is broad. Most often, when you see spectacularly well done 3D that has excellent models, beautiful textures, heart wrenching story telling with smooth and emotive animation, lighting that draws you into the scene and a finished product that leaves you in awe…. you’re looking at the result of a team of artists rather than one artist.

So, here you sit young Padawan, you’ve got tools at your disposal and you want to know how to use them to do 3D things.

So, what’s the best way to start? Start by figuring out what you want to be able to produce. Do you want to be a great modeler? Do you want to tell stories? Do you want to build game assets?

Take a look around, get your feet wet in all of it. See what you like and think about where you want to go. Most people working in 3D understand a bit of everything but we tend to get really good at a few things… so step one, the very first part of your journey, is figuring out where you want to go.

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