Home > Articles

Ten Ways to Make Learning 3D Animation Easier

Kenny Roy, co-author of Sams Teach Yourself Maya in 24 Hours, offers ten ways you can focus your efforts and make learning 3D animation easier.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

It pains me to see student and novice 3D artists struggle with the basic concepts. In the beginning of your training, it is common to try to just ”push through” the difficulties presented to you. In fact, all of this extra effort will not pay off as much as focused learning will. The following are some ways to make learning 3D animation easier.

  1. Pick a Discipline. There are hardly any generalists hired in this field at all. Because the field is so specialized, you must hone in on a certain aspect of CG if you want to make it. In order to practice the discipline you want to pursue, it might mean working with assets that are freely available online. For instance, if you want to be an animator, then download some of the free character rigs available online and start animating. Do not get caught up learning how to model characters or create rigs. Believe me, I know the allure of CG: even though I knew I wanted to do animation, I really enjoy modeling. On top of that, I thought that the only way I could strike out into the industry was to animate my own characters. To make a long story short, the only things I have to show for the first few years of my self-training are a handful of half-finished character models and zero animations. Pick a discipline and focus on it.
  2. Journal your progress. It is hugely beneficial to have a record of your learning experience. Try this:  For every hour that you work on your art, spend 5 minutes jotting down notes. At first, these will just be little notes talking about what you are working on and how you are going about it. Do not judge the notes or try to force them to be beneficial to you; just let the thoughts stream out. At the end of a week, go back and read all of the notes that you’ve made. It will not only give you a good sense of the areas where you need improvement; it will inspire you to keep going. As time goes by, you will depend on these notes to help you figure out what is going wrong with a shot, model, texture, etc. The notes become more than just a log of your journey; they are a roadmap to success.
  3. Establish a network of like-minded artists. Nothing is harder than trying to accomplish something in a vacuum. With dozens of online forums, Facebook groups, and Meetups, it is easy to find hundreds of people in your exact same situation. Be active in your network too; most job offers are given to people who know somebody in the company. Who knows—you may think you are learning CG with friends, when in fact you might just be building the network that is going to support your career. In the beginning, I was very active on many online forums, and know some of the members to this day.
  4. Get feedback. Your network is not there just to share techniques, discuss the business, or commiserate. Novice artists have a huge problem showing their work before they think it is good enough to put on display. This is a massive hindrance to your progress. The reason is your work will not look as good as you want it to for a long time. The finished product that you envision in your head is a long way away from being within reach. So if you are waiting for that day to show your art, you are cutting yourself off from the beneficial critique that will allow you to achieve greater heights. Let go of your insecurities, and show everything you make, even in the very earliest stages.
  5. Give feedback. Too often, fledgling 3D artists venture onto online forums only to post their work, collect critiques, and then skulk back to their rooms to work in solitude. It is well known that until you have to teach a concept, that you don’t truly have a grasp on your own understanding of the concept. To be able to voice your opinion, but also to give helpful tips on creative choices or techniques, requires you to have your thoughts organized.  When I started teaching, it was painfully obvious I had never given animation enough thought to give meaningful critique. Fast forward years later, and I have found that the concepts that I helped others with are the concepts that I am the most confident I can tackle. Sometimes I’m looking for a new challenge that will stump me, just for this reason.
  6. Set a schedule. Feeling successful in any endeavor requires setting and meeting goals. Even the smallest goals make us feel like we are constantly achieving. A goal as small as working on your craft for the amount of time that you scheduled gives you a little boost in morale.  As you start amassing these tiny little “victories” you can set larger and larger goals, like having a certain amount of work completed by a certain day. Learning how much working you can do in turn becomes even easier as you stick with your schedule. The cycles continues, and before long you have total confidence that you are on the right path and are achieving even a little bit every day.
  7. Remove distractions.  Social media, email, YouTube, the television—any distraction from your work is a waste of time. I have a huge problem staying focused, believe it or not. I have many extensions running in my browser that prevent me from spending nearly any time on these sites. In that same vein, do not feel bad if you have to take measures to keep yourself from being distracted, as I have. These sites are made to be distracting; it is not a comment on your commitment or your passion that you find yourself watching kitten videos when you should be animating. I love them, too.
  8. Create a workspace. Most of us learn at home, some of us learned in school. No matter what the case, if your work area is shared between CG and many other things, then you will get far less accomplished. The best case scenario is if you have a room in your house or apartment that you can dedicate to being solely your “office”. When it’s time to get work done, you go in, close the door, and your roommates or family know not to intrude.  Almost as good would be a desk in a corner, but not if it also has the TV, the junk drawer, or is the dining room table!  The more secluded from the rest of your home, the better. A nasty side effect of having a workspace right in the middle of your home commotion is that you never quite feel like you can get away from home when it’s time to work, and you can’t get away from your work when it’s time to stop. This can be very aggravating to family and friends as well.
  9. Find a mentor. The artists who you envy are just people. They might be very busy, but I don’t know a single animator or CG artist that doesn’t have time every once in a while to give feedback or answer a question about art. Seek out some really incredible artists in your discipline, be it modeling, animation, or texturing, and start by introducing yourself as a fan of their work. Don’t be pushy, and certainly don’t lead with a request for them to look at your stuff. You’ll eventually find someone with whom you can strike up a conversation, and then naturally they will want to offer help to you. Every single great animator I know had at least one mentor who made the difference in their career. I have mine, and I occasionally contact him even today.
  10. Have fun. This is a very liberating and exciting career path. Learning should be just as much fun. Remember that though there are a lot of artists out there who are better than you, there are probably just as many struggling more than you. If you stick with it, put a lot of work in, try to not get distracted, and be positive always, it will happen for you. I look forward to working with you when it does!

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020