Category: Animation

Computer Hardware and Self-Education in 3D Modeling

Hello everyone! Today we have two important questions to discuss with you. The first one is computer hardware and the second one is self-education in 3D modeling. There are going to be too many letters and a few pictures, but we think this post will be interesting for everyone.

First, let’s talk about hardware.

A brief preface. We are not going to promote any particular hardware. We are just being logical.

Everyone starts somewhere. And of course we need some things to start with. If you want to work in the CG industry, first you’ll need some talent or skills and then a good computer. The price of the computer as the price of any other product is based on a number of factors. For example development costs, advertising, and transport. But of course, the name of the brand always affects the price.

Actually we have started this conversation in order to give beginners some advice on what characteristics of the computer have to be noted for studying some 3D tricks. It is just for beginners because professionals don’t need any advice and they have specific conferences for this.

As we started to talk about brands, we would like to focus on the rivalry between two major brands of the desktop segment. Of course, we are talking about Intel and AMD. After AMD stopped producing premium processors, there wasn’t any alternative to Intel’s processors. Yes, unfortunately there is still no substitute to Intel in the top segment. A great comparison of Intel Core i7-3770k and AMD FX-8350.

You might think that it’s too late to discuss it or that FX-8350 cannot be put on an equal footing with the Intel. But we are interested in Computer Graphics and this area has its own laws. And we are saying it just in time, because now Intel is releasing a new platform – Haswell. According to preliminary tests, the new architecture increases productivity by 10 -15% depending on a task. The replacement of i7-3770k costs 303$. Its price is approximately the same now. The price of AMD FX-8350 is 170$ and AMD FX-8320 – 140$.

Let me get straight to the point. Recently a friend of mine bought FX-8320. And I have some experience with i7-3770. So we couldn’t help ourselves and decided to compare these processors.

But it brings very valuable conclusions.

Both compared computers had Windows 7 Home Premium. Both had 8GB of RAM. And SATA-III HDD was installed in each of them. The test by itself was very easy. It measured the provided time of the V-Ray 2.40.03 test scene. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a real laboratory test.

So, Core i7-3770k completed the task with a time of 12 minutes and 31 seconds. It wasn’t surprising, because this processor always showed good results for the majority of beginners’ tasks. But FX-8320 surprised us more. It managed the task in 12 minutes and 30 seconds! I think that 1 second of difference can be credited to measurement error to make our comparison clear.

What do we have? 300$ for i7-3770k and 140$ for AMD FX. Brilliant! My world has been shaken! This is good, that Haswell is being realized now and we have the same 300$ for the new CPU. But the difference is only 10-15%. We also have an excellent overclocking potential of AMD FX. And we also have FX-8350, which is more powerful than our FX-8320. And there is also Core i7-4770k, which is more expensive, but shows better results during the overclock, than the dry version.

But there are some nuances. The standard AMD cooler is terribly loud. This isn’t a cooler, this is a vacuum cleaner! So I advise you to change it at once. Especially if you are going to overclock the CPU. And there is one more thing. Not all application supports multithreading, and i7-3770k will work better with such applications. But almost all design programs support multithreading, so it’s not very important for studying and work. One more point, which is important for the environment. The peak power of i7-3770 is 77 W. Just magic of numbers! And the peak power of AMD FX-8350 is 125W. The quad-core i7 has integrated graphics, but do not count on it so much. This advantage is controversial because all CG programs actively use your video card.

And now a few words about GPU. Curiously enough, we have two options here, Nvidia and AMD again. But it happened that some programs (i.e., 3DS Max, Maya) have exclusive optimization support for Nvidia graphic cards. So you are left with the only choice between average or expensive Nvidia. The more costly your graphic card, the more comfortable your work will be.

The other hardware is not so important for your work. The more RAM you have the bigger advantage you can create. The faster HDD/SSD, the faster loading and work with the paging file. Because the huge paging file is a persistent attribute of big scenes. Since the motherboard is a bridge for all these things you have to spend quite a money on it, in order not to have an effect on “Too narrow bottleneck”.
So take your pick. AMD FX will be good enough for work in 3DS Max, Maya, and Photoshop. In 95% of the projects even amid the professionals it will work well. And when you become a highly qualified specialist, you’ll easily find a job at some large company. So the question of buying a very expensive and extremely productive CPU will lie on the shoulders of this company.

So we got to the matter of self-education.

Most 3D artists I know are self-taught in away. Of course, there are many of different 3D lessons, so they aren’t “pure” self-taught. Many of them achieved really impressive results. But very often there is one problem:

During one of the exhibition, I met a man, who’d been working as a freelance 3D artist using 3DS Max for 4 years. And it was a complete surprise for him that in 3DS Max you could hide not only the whole object, but single polygons! Unfortunately, we can’t show you his works here, but take it from me! This man was performing only in 3DS Max the kind of job, which I couldn’t imagine without using  Zbrush or Mudbox!

Now there are so many video lessons describing the interface of different programs, explaining some features and tricks. And to get rid of the problem of white dots, we advise you to start with complex tutorials. There have to be explained all the interesting moments of the work and the interface of the program has to be described in detail.

There are some types of lessons that describe the creation of the production projects from the beginning to the end. They evaluate the pipeline of project creation in detail. In addition, we want to say that watching and practicing different projects can be very helpful. You can find there many interesting methods. And yes, master classes can perfectly speed up your job. But you always have to remember about practice. The more you practice the better you will be as a specialist. But the beginning is ALWAYS THE SAME! It should be a complex lesson.

There are a lot of very talented self-taught. You can’t even imagine how many of them are working for Hollywood. But all of them once deleted all gaps in their education. We hope, you’ll follow our advice and soon you’ll become great specialists!

Have a good render!



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