Get started with learning vfx, games, design and illustration

Get started with learning vfx, games, design and illustration

The majority of our members are here to learn new skills and hang out with other artists. The good news is it doesn't matter if you are a student, a self-taught artist, or even a hobbyist. You are all welcome here!

The only people that don't belong here are professional digital artists. If you have been working in the creative media & entertainment industry for more than a year you will not be allowed to join The Rookies.

To help you get started with your Learning journey here are some bit of advice to help get you started:

Learn the Fundamentals First

Learning skills for visual effects, games, animation, motion design, archviz, illustration and other creative media industries can be a super fun and rewarding experience.

The biggest problem most aspiring artitst face is deciding where to start! With so many cool bits of software out there, so many different paths to take and endless tutorials and training it really is hard to know where to start.

The best advice we can offer is to start with the basics. Don't try and learn the latest software right away. Sure, go open it, have a little play but don't try and create your masterpiece with your first attempt. These skills take time and making sure you start with the basics is crucial to all artists. Here are some topics you need to understand:

1. Composition

The most important aspect of art to me personally is the composition. It sets the stage for everything else. This is your way to guide and lead the viewer to make them feel as if they are actually in your picture. If this part of the process is not created and controlled properly, everything else can and probably will fall apart. That doesn't mean that you have to follow every little rule. In fact, many have broken them and created very successful works of art. It's knowing how and when to break them that will allow you to do it successfully. But before attempting anything like that, you first need to learn the rules and see how they work and function.

Rule of Thirds

This is the simplest and most used composition technique, one that I use a lot myself. Because it is simple to learn, it's something that is recommended for beginners and those who are new to the fundamentals of composition. When used, it will divide the picture into 9 equal parts that are separated by two horizontal and vertical lines.

The main idea behind this is to place your most important element/object on one of the intersections where the lines converge (the +'s), as well as along or near the vertical line of wherever your focal may lie.

It is believed that when this is used and your subject/focal sits on one of these spots, it creates more interest in your picture rather than having it centered.

Dock by John Powell

2. Perspective

Everything has a perspective. When standing in the street, look around and notice which side of the buildings you can see and why you see them all from different viewpoints. Then while you're at it, go ahead and look down a road, why does everything appear to get smaller as its distance is further away from you? All of these things have to deal with the perspective of those objects and your viewpoint.

Perspectives are an essential skill to learn, for architectural, environmental and many other reasons. They provide us with a way to create and build elements and objects and correctly place them within the picture plane. Perspectives rely on the horizon line (or sometimes called the eye level line) to find what is called a Vanishing Point. Vanishing points are where your perspective lines will originate (see below examples).

One-Point Perspective

This is the simplest of all perspectives to learn, but one that is not widely used a whole lot because of its limitations. That being said, it can be very beneficial, depending on what scene you are creating. In this perspective, there is a single vanishing point going back to the horizon line, which the object is receding to.

One-Point Perspective

Two-Point Perspective

When more than one side of your object is receding back to multiple areas, you will need to use a two-point perspective system. When used, you will create two vanishing points, each on one side of the object/element. These points will again originate from the horizon line, and the perspective lines will run from this point all the way to the object. There is where you can really start to see perspectives shift.

Most times your vanishing point will be way outside of your picture, but don't worry. If working traditionally, you can always use extra paper to measure the exact distance. If working digitally, extend the canvas out until you find your vanishing point.

Two-Point Perspective

Three-Point Perspective

The three-point system is used when you really want to convey an extreme situation. It can be useful for scenes that are playful (doing a scene from a bird's or dog's eye view), exciting (action), and many more. To achieve this perspective, you will be using the exact same system from the two-point, but adding in a third vanishing point that is either above and below the object/element.

The third point acts exactly the same as the other two, so don't get tripped up by it, there's nothing sneaky about it. The only difference here is that the top or bottom (the verticals) of your object will adhere and recede back to this point. Which is what gives us that warped look and feel.

Three-Point Perspective

3. Color

Much like lighting, the color of your piece depends on many things; the time of day, season, location and so on. Determining the color scheme is important to do early on, even from the start if you can. Remember that things will always change and evolve, so the colors of your piece most likely will as well. As with everything, just because something looks good at one point, doesn’t necessarily mean it always will. So don’t be afraid to mix things up along the way and find something that might be better suited for what you're working on. Keep in mind that it’s very easy to go overboard with color as well, so know when not to mess with it.

4. Lighting

Like all major elements of art, lighting is crucial. Mainly because the average viewer knows what realistic lighting looks like, even if they don’t know exactly what it is that makes it look real. They can usually tell if something is working or not. Sometimes you can get lucky and fool them, but most times it can break your shot and make all the hard work that was put into your piece wasted time and work. And that's definitely not what we want.

So, in order to know how light reacts to the environment and different materials, go outside and study it. If you are basing a piece off of something else (e.g., you’re your photographic plate in terms of matte painting or anatomy for painters), study it until you can confidently tell somebody else how it looks, feels and functions. Using photos is fine, but there’s an almost infinite source just outside those walls you are in waiting for you.

Download Free Sofware

These days there are plenty of free software licenses out there for you to play with. Most software companies offer educational licenses for their professional suite of tools, but nothing beats free. These are by far the best tools you can start with today without waiting.

Videos and Blogs

There is loads of content out there. Here are some great place to start learning:

Discover Learning is a great place to check out how other aspiring artists create their projects. The best part about it is that articles are written by

Extra Credits is a channel that covers all-things game design. They have videos about how games could be made better.

Andrew Kramer’s YouTube channel is a great resource for tutorials and peeks into upcoming products and demos.

Sunder’s channel is all about level design. Typically, the host, Sunder, will pick a level from a specific game, and unpack the level design to figure out what’s hiding in there.

THE VFX BRO is more than his name implies. His personality and editing chops give him an inviting appeal for those looking to dive in for the first time.

Don't be afraid to share your work! We all have to start at the beginning

We always hear people say they are not good enough to share their work at The Rookies. We totally understand this, as all staff members are artists. We have been in your situation. You know you can do better. You know that with a bit of time you will be creating artwork like some of the other artists on The Rookies.

The best advice we give to everyone is to start sharing your work. Don't be afraid, you are amongst other artists on this same journey. You are not being judged by professionals, you are not being compared to them at all. One day you will feel confident to post work amongst professional artists and you will hopefully encourage aspiring artists to share their work in the same way we are now.

If you are ready to take a step, read this article about how to get started with sharing your first project.