Best Online 3D Training Subscriptions and CG Tutorial Sites

Train online in 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and game development

Connecting lines, illustration
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At one time, it was difficult to find quality training in 3D computer graphics online. That has changed. Thanks to a few forward-thinking educators, web-based training subscriptions have become the norm, and, as a result, it's become easier than ever to learn 3D through the use of self-paced video tutorials and classes.

Whether you're looking to improve your 3D modeling skills, learn how to be a superstar animator, or find work at a game development studio, you can learn from some of the industry's most talented artists via an online class or tutorial. These subscriptions go beyond most free tutorials to deliver a quality educational experience.

Pair a training subscription with a few well-chosen books, a good anatomy reference, and a whole lot of practice, and you should be well on your way to finding a job in CG.

The Gnomon Workshop

The Gnomon Workshop established itself long ago as the gold standard in high-quality video training for computer graphics.

Even though they're no longer the lone choice in CG training, their library is massive, and it strikes a favorable balance between pre-production (design, ideation), production (modeling, texturing, lighting), and post-production (effects, compositing) techniques.

Gnomon's training is often paced for intermediate 3D artists, not beginners, but if you're looking for the subscription that will help you get to the point where you're creating production-level CG, Gnomon is the way to go.

Pluralsight

PluralSight (formerly Digital-Tutors) is well suited to beginners as well as intermediate3D artists.

The class library is huge and the content covers the whole gamut from traditional design to sculpting, modeling, animation, and more recently, mobile game development. 

Classes are grouped in categories called paths. For example, the Maya: Environment Modeling path including 13 courses for a total of 73 hours, while 3ds Max: Environment Modeling is 10 courses for 33 hours. 

A nice feature is that many paths and classes include a Skill IQ quiz to rate your skills on a scale from Novice to Expert, so you know where to start.

If you're a beginner who needs to learn a lot of new software quickly, there really isn't a better option than Pluralsight.

The Rydan Workshop

If you are looking for live online CG training, The Rydan Workshop is the place to go. The entire curriculum is delivered in a live online environment. The sessions are recorded so you can play them back at your convenience. Because the classes are live, enrollment is limited. Each class meets once a week at a specified time with an instructor and teaching assistant. They include demos, critiques, lectures, Q&A with the instructor and assigned homework.

The topics vary, but past classes have included a 10-week workshop on digital character and creature design, an 8-week workshop on creature creation using 3ds Max and Mudbox, and an 8-week workshop on digital environment design.

The Rydan Workshop courses are intensive. Try them for practical real-world expertise that you need to be successful in this highly competitive field.

3Dmotive

3Dmotive content has expanded from catering to the game development crowd to include all the popular 3D software. You can sort classes by your favorite software, subject, and skill level, which makes it easy to zero in on the classes that interest you.

A subscription to 3Dmotive gives you immediate access to the website's entire library, or your can buy and download only the classes you need. The website even has a good selection of free tutorials videos you can watch online.

Fxphd

Fxphd courses are taught in a format that includes extensive private forum support for a level of critique and collaboration among peers that you probably won't find at other 3G course sites

Subscription-based courses include VFX, production, post-production, and motion graphics. With more than 200 courses, you have 1,000 hours of training at your fingertips.

CGSociety Online Workshops

CGSociety's workshops are 3- to 8-week courses taught by working professionals — more similar to Fxphd than a training subscription from Gnomon, with the chief difference being that CGS offers a more varied range of courses.

CGS workshops are excellent. Courses like this are a lot more expensive than most of the subscription sites, but the big advantage is that you're in direct communication with a skilled working instructor in a private forum. There's no shortage of critique and collaboration.

This one's for aspiring pros. Even well-known CG artists are known to show up for the occasional course.

ZBrush Workshops

ZBrush Workshops is smaller than the rest of the training sites on this list, but it focuses entirely on ZBrush. ZBrush Workshops isn't the place to go for a generalist CG education, but if you're looking for 50+ hours of focused ZBrush training, this is probably your best bet.

The 50+ hours ZBrush course outline covers Dynamesh, hard surface tools, fibermesh, texturing, rendering, and lighting.

Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ classes are not focused entirely on 3D computer graphics, but there are plenty of on-topic classes on the subject.

Most of the classes are video tutorials that range from one to five hours.

A subscription gives you access to training in fields like photography, web design, audio and video production, and motion graphics.

Poke around before you throw down your credit card. There may not be a year's worth of solely CG training, but monthly subscriptions are available, and you can probably find enough material to warrant a month or two. If you're interested in some of the other topics, an annual subscription could be worth it.