View Full Version : Self Taught vs An Official Eduacation

04-19-2004, 08:47 PM
Being self taught myself i was wondering how many people out there have an education in lightwave which came from say an official education provider or on the other hand are self taught by using forums, books and manuals etc. Also for those that are self taught what do they condider to be the greatest attribute for those that wish to learn lightwave themselves (names of books, urls etc).

04-19-2004, 09:17 PM
I'm self taught. The best thing I ever learned was drawing. Best book? Oh I'd have to say the Illusion of Life by Ollie Frank and Johnson Thomas.

04-19-2004, 11:09 PM
I myself am self taught. I find it easier to understand by sitting in a good comfotable chair and read a book. I love user manuals most of my education came from them especially when they actually are a thick manual.
From time to time though it is nice to beable to ask someone like on this board and get advise or better yet a small video showing how it is done. Seams like the older I get the more denser I get. I wish I had LW when I was a teenager. I would have this program down in a heart beat.;)

04-20-2004, 01:34 AM
I'm self taught.
I feel that a formal education might give a better start, but it all comes down to the artist and your desire to improve.
Also learning comes in stages for me,.. I started with Dan's books and LW specific books,.. then moved on to general 3d technique books,.. like lighting, surfacing, animation. Now I'm mainly into drawing books and watching character animation. I'm wondering now if I approached learning backwards.

04-20-2004, 04:45 AM
I'm self taught... that's all! :rolleyes:

04-20-2004, 04:52 AM
When I was just starting Lightwave, I was teaching myself through books and tutorials. A friend of mine was going to go on a 3D Max course and I decided to join him (at the time there were no Lightwave courses in the UK). After a week of learning a completely different 3D app I got home and really got my teeth into Lightwave. I supose the official training actually gave me enough confidence to really explore the package. It also made me realize how much more I prefered the workflow of Lightwave over other 3D apps.

So I guess I am completely self taught in Lightwave but getting familiar with 3D in some official training really helped.

04-20-2004, 05:29 AM
I know that interns we have at work tend to be better when they are self taught. If they are they have a more genuine interest or something.

What I concider to be the perfect way to do it is to learn the program yourself, but go to school to learn about traditional arts. The technical part you can learn by yourself, but the finer points of art is not that easy.

All to often you see ppl with schooling in a 3d app. They know it inside and out, but when it comes to designing something that is pleasing to the eye, they are lost.
I should know, I am one of them :) No schooling in art at all. A few years back I started to realise that knowing a program isn't all, and I started buying books about art, composition etc. Still a long way to go for me but I am getting there..

04-20-2004, 06:51 AM
Well thats really pleasing to hear because the reason i ask is because im currently in my final year of a graphic design course yet have a flaming passion to move into the 3d arena. I figured that a g.d course would give be a basic stepping stone into a more specialized field later down the track or at least provide a carrer that was more related too 3d than say a mechanic.

Is anybody else here a graphic designer by trade yet a 3d artist at heart.

04-20-2004, 07:27 AM
I got my degree in "Graphic Communication" which covered graphics, illustration, film making, photography... pretty much anything you wanted actually. I ended up specialized in illustration. In the final year I decided to turn my hand at traditional animation and finally 3D.

Without this background I know that my work would have suffered.

04-20-2004, 10:45 AM
There are times I wished I had gotten some kind of formal education in art and you can see me struggle with the eye pleaseing aspects in my work.

I've been a real amature photographer and have taken a few classes at the local college. The challenge lately for me is how do I animate my shots. There is a big difference from a single shot to motion. Turning my vision from still to motion isn't that easy.

Since I've really started to study the medium lately. The books that have really opened my eye's is the [digital] series. There application non-specific and teach you theory and concepts.

I wish you luck in your next steps with 3D.


04-20-2004, 11:08 AM
Benefited from taking a class just to get the ball rolling and climb half that steep learning curve. The community college close to me offered Modeling and Animation in Lightwave took them both and was off and running.

always learning - a good thing.

04-20-2004, 11:13 AM
most education is beneficial. As far as the peice of paper you recieve, its not always that helpful. I beleive in this industry, your reel does the walkin' and the talkin'.

One of the main benefits of taking courses though, is the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and it gives you the opportunity to work in a team.

Dave Davies
04-20-2004, 11:18 AM
Self-taught, as most modeler/animators I know are. I've seen some very talented people go through 3D schools, but they seem to be held back by several things:

1) Not enough workstations to practice on
2) Older software
3) Older thinking - all classes have to progress at the speed of their slower students, so many times, progressive people are held back.

If someone has absolutely no idea of how to get going, then possibly formal training might be useful. However, the number of successful 3D artists in the industry seems to indicate that self taught people take it further.

Dave Davies

04-20-2004, 12:33 PM
Self taught in LW here, I have to thank everone who has posted an on line tutorial, coz I recon I have visted evey one!!

I had a fomal education in traditional atrs and this I think is far more important than learning how to use a specfic app.

Anyone can learn how to click a button to do this and move a slider to do that, the real art comes from ones natural ability and training to observe the world and create new and original ideas. Then to have the vision to realise those ideas in a medium that can be understood by others.

Lightwave is, after all just a tool (all be it a very good one), and ultimatly its the artist behind the PC or Mac that creates.

Thats just my opinion though.


Karl Hansson
04-20-2004, 02:55 PM
Mostly self thaught here. But first my life story:

I started out many years ago fiddeling around with "Alias Sketch!" at my neighbours house. Thats when I got "bitten by 3D", I then bought Strata Studio Pro (this was like 5 or 6 years ago) and i did alot of logos and other hyperadvanced stuff :) like spheres. Then for some reason i cant remember Strata studio pro got left behind in the development. So i switched to Animation Master. I had seen a demo of their cool nurbspatch modeling and got "hooked" :) (AM used something called hookes to make the patches). But AM turned out to be a peace of crap. But finally about 3 years ago i bought Lightwave and i loved it from the start.

I read all the manual that came with it from cover to cover. And i read Dan Ablans Inside LW 6 and Tim Albee Character Animation in LW from cover to cover. Also I read the lscript PDFs. I have learned alot.


Last october i started a tree year course in computer animation at bournemouth university, uk. (We are using Maya unlimited, though). Im just about to start the third term of the first year, I've done two thirds of the first year. And I have to say I have learned A LOT!!!

My view on this is that if u go through an education in computer animation you'll learn much quicker and you'll learn about stuff you didnt even thought of learning. You'll have a whole class with the same intrests that u can learn from and together with. That is pure gold in my eyes. If u have a chanse to get into a good computer animation education - go for it! It is worth it!!!

04-20-2004, 03:23 PM
I agree,

Having people around all learning and involved in the same things can really help inspire and spur you on.

Also having someone at hand who know the answers and then actually explaining the answers to you is far more valuble then trying to find answers somewhere on the information superhighway or hidden deep in a 1000 page book.

Having said that there are some valuble sources of information and tutorials (not to mention this Forum) out there so I'm massively contradicting myself.

What can I say? The Lightwave community is a great one.

04-20-2004, 04:28 PM
I went to a community college and took 3 LW classes there (part of my Multimedia degree) but after the first few weeks I was more proficient in LW than the instructor because that was when the switch between 5.6 and 6 took place and I was totally dedicated. Also, he was a generalist which means he taught many classes Flash, Director, Premiere, AFX, PS. So I was self taught up until my 3rd class. It was awesome because they hired real Lightwave instructor and he was amazing, I learned so much in that class. I know he frequents these boards so thanks Roger if you read this.

So I would say that the benefits of a class setting is having others to bounce ideas off and having a good instructor who really knows their stuff. But don't forget, being mostly self taught has the greatest benefit of all, no tuition debt.

04-20-2004, 05:07 PM
i'm self taught...i bought bryce, inspire 3d then poser..then 3dsmax 2.5 and character studio...added lightwave 7.0 and lightscape 3.2 [also up'd to max 3 and max 4...]

i have loads of books on 3dsmax and lightwave..plus loads of tutorial cdrom and dvd/videos...i worked as a multimedia designer and as freelance 3d artist....now one of my jobs is teaching 3ds max, lightwave and discreet's combustion at a college in nottingham.

it's interesting as i can see a difference in some student's to those who are self taught... then add some classes at college..they tend to run 50% faster then college only tuitioned students...self taught people have the ability to problem solve much better whereas college only taught students rely on asking their tutor far too much!

well that's my opinion!

also i have a constant battle with some students as i try and re program them as some of their previous tutors have taught them incorrectly...THE worst thing is to teach something wrong....as students find it very digfficult to unlearn the wrong things..i prefer to be open and say..i don't know..well take a look and fiind that out for you....rather than blagging your way thru a sticky question
from a student....hey i'm going off topic here!!!!...sorry..long day!
..can you tell i had some tutors in my lesson today being taught by me and one of those is one who teaches incorrectly!!!!!

bottom line...being taught is really good if your teacher/college really care about quality and not just "bums on seats".

i'v just bought 2 modules from www.3dexchange.com which covers the intro course for lightwave and so far it looks to be okay..maybe a little out of date but offers a good grounding in CGI i'may try and bring this into future courss in nottingham [u.k] for the free courses we run there once i've taken myself thru the courseware of module 1 & 2.

maybe the best foot up i've used so far is splinegod's training cdroms..i think some of those and a couple of good book/dvd's could be most people's best option..then poss add a couple of classes at your local college where you can meet and network with similar 3d artists.


A Mejias
04-20-2004, 05:33 PM
I'm a self taught LW user.
I have formal art, design and drafting education from jr. high to collage and was taken to art and science museums since I was a little kid.
I also have good genes. :) There are a lot of artists on both my mother and father's side of the family.

04-20-2004, 08:09 PM
j_j, you're welcome. At least I think you're talking about me. If not: oops.

04-20-2004, 09:27 PM
I started learning Lightwave at Uni, but didn't really have time to focus on it with all the other classes going on at the same time. There's just the pressure to produce work for assessment, not really focusing on learning the software.

04-20-2004, 11:16 PM
Thanks Steve! :)
Is the 3DX material the old stuff I did a few years ago? :)
Anyways glad you like my CDs.

I think the term "self taught" is a bit of a misnomer. I think most people have used books and other materials created by someone else at some time. Typically most everything we learn is always based on someones prior work in some way or another.
Even if you attend a school or study by yourself the bottom line is that you really only learn by experience by doing it repeatedly.
Some people can look at books and figure things out and some do better after being shown and then being able to ask questions.

I think any education you can get is good if the desired goal is to become great at what you do vs simply getting that piece of paper. My experience is that a person will do well if they have a clear goal in mind and have the desire to do well no matter their circumstances. :)

04-20-2004, 11:28 PM
Well put, Larry.

04-21-2004, 02:48 AM
Good guess Digi, it was you. That was too easy.

04-21-2004, 03:45 AM
no probs larry & yeah the 3d exchange stuff has you on it!..like you said it's a little "old" but i still found it useful.my main reason in getting the first 2 modules was to see how they organised their learning for 3d for a classroom situation as i teach at a college and could at least take their framework and build upon it for my own classes in college...the history, job descriptions and production workflow are nice plus all the glossary of tech terms...i'm still looking through module one but so far it looks as though i can use some of this to boost my resources for the classes i teach so it was worth the $279 investment....my next "spend" will be with some more of your splingod cdroms as i keep hearing such good things from people who are using them....one thing and not trying to hi jack the thread here but do you have plans for any new training courses [splingod] that would be comming online soon?

i'm thinking of getting the intro to lightwave where you build a spaceship and the animation module...even though the intro stuff maybe below my current learnig curve i think it would be great to use that project in college for the class.

also back on topic more...my current saturday class is creating a animated seq around the theme of mario kart double dash for the gamcube..i built a race track in lightwave and a kart then the class who are using lightwave, 3ds max and cinema 6 all built assets and props for the race curcuit and imported the various models into max lw and cinema..so there's now 3 identical versions of this project on all three platforms..this is great to get people to understand importing/exporting assets also dealing with "internal customers" so that what you make in max for instance can load into lightwave or cinema 4d with minimul fuss.. i made a colour pallete for them to stick to and once all the cars and trackside props are in there we'll animate the karts in all three apps then render and cut together a video of the race from the variuos renders from max,lw and Cinema into one video.

i'm staying away from lighting and textureing in this as i want to hilight production workflow and animation in the current module

i think project based learning is more focussed than other isolated modules whre you just show simple example scenes..i think a mix of both is needed to really get students up n running and to problem solve issus in a mixed app project like the one we're currently creating.

....anyway i'm waffling now!


04-21-2004, 04:17 AM
Originally posted by cresshead
[B]one thing and not trying to hi jack the thread here but do you have plans for any new training courses [splingod] that would be comming online soon?

i'm thinking of getting the intro to lightwave where you build a spaceship and the animation module...even though the intro stuff maybe below my current learnig curve i think it would be great to use that project in college for the class.

Yes I am. Ive been working on updating my materials where applicable for LW 8 and creating new stuff. Anyone who has purchased my courses recently will be upgraded to the LW8 materials at no extra charge.
Ive had several people who thought the Intro course might be below their current learning curve but later retracted that. The course is really a quick intro and then intermediate to advanced topics. Learning the basics is easy in LW and gets boring. I spend only the minimal amount of time in it then jump into the fun stuff.
I think the support forum I have is a key element to why ppl like the course. That is something you can take advantage of while teaching your students. :)

04-21-2004, 04:31 AM
It comes down to this... you have to be self motivated regardless of whether you choose a formal education or not. I was self motivated AND chose to get a formal education in traditional arts, so I could use the design principles I was taught and apply them to the digital techniques I learned on my own. In my experience, this is how many people who have been succesful in this field started. Mind, when I was in college, maybe 2 schools taught 3D in this country, and mine wasn't one of them. Now, they're teaching it in some high schools. But we're seeing a flood of application-specific talent (you can't throw a rock in this town without hitting someone who has 'used' Maya), yet, the standout talents aren't in that group.


04-21-2004, 08:46 AM
I got my schooling in 3d using 3d Studio R4. Which was many many moons ago (wow almost 10 years!! sheesh). As for Lightwave, self taught. And I must say, prolly the most useful piece of info as for as any work in 3d goes is see the object in primitives (spheres, squares, pyramids...) and build from that.

04-21-2004, 09:25 AM
Hi to all,
I'm self taught. I began in the' 94 with Alias Sketch on mac (someone remembers it? ), Then used by some year Strata Studio Pro.
I use LW since the version 6 and I saw all of the enhancement that were brought to the program.
I hope that the 8 is to the height of the expectations. :rolleyes:

All the best

04-21-2004, 10:52 AM
Self taught - dropped out of college - makes lots of $$$ ;)

School was practically useless to me but the best thing I ever did was intern at a production house where I was thrown right into the mix. I learned so much from being in a real production environment and since then I have made every effort to offer the same "hands on" education to people just starting out in the business.

Of course I've been to private school my whole life and I think that education made it possible for me to "drop out" of college and be in this business - I'm not promoting dropping out of school ;)

Ohh and when I started as an intern I was using Soft Image and Alias - I brought in my copy of LW and wowed them all with modeler (ver 5.6 I think). Hehe

04-22-2004, 02:28 AM
ok i know this is probably a pretty personal question but how many people here actually use lightwave and for for a living. And even more personal who much money is the average wage for a 3d artist (US dollars).

P.S if you dont want to answer the last question just answer the first.


04-22-2004, 02:55 AM
Ive made a living off Lightwave since before version 1. :)
Heres some information on wages.
Salaries can vary on the country, region, city, the project and the demand. Much of the time its whatever you can negociate.It also depends on if youre working in the movie, tv or game industry. Pay can also depend on if you are a modeler, texturer, rigger, animator etc. There are salaries defined by the animators union out here but I dont know many people who belong to a union. Heres some links that may help:
Heres a wage survey:
Heres some good info on jobs:

04-22-2004, 11:35 PM
thanks alot, I think this is very valuable info for anyone considering spenging a large amount there spare time in learning lightwave with ambitions of making a living of it.

04-22-2004, 11:59 PM
Hey, No problem. This is actually off one of my student forums dealing directly with jobs, pay etc etc. Glad it helped. :)