As a kid I used to draw a bit and dream of doing great art, especially after I finished reading a comic book.

Like most nerds, I doodled some Manga, but never really enjoyed it enough to always be doing it.  I guess I never really enjoyed doing something I didn’t have natural talent for.

When I got out of the Military, I immersed myself into it and thought about going to art school.  I’m glad I learned what I learned, but I’m still not convinced I’ll find ultimate fulfillment through it and be able to be an entrepreneur.

Plus, I need to make money for my family, and for the amount of hours I’d need to put in to be competent doesn’t fit my life stage right now.  I’m thinking self-taught over time is the way for me.

Here’s my current artistic education.

Gold Tier

Items in this tier wowed me.

  • Dave Rapoza Bog Witch – $5 – This was a good tutorial on how to complete a line art. The best part was Dave saying that you just need to put the time and energy in to become good at making games. A sobering statement, but one I needed to hear.  Here’s the post about it.
  • How to Draw Book – $30 – Perspective is the foundation of drawing. I didn’t know much about perspective, but this book showed exactly how to do it. I’ll be practicing these exercises for a while. Here’s the post.

Purple Tier

Items in this tier provided me supreme value for the cost and time invested

  • Rigging Techniques – Cartoon to Realistic by CGMA – $700 – I want to make 3d games.  I’m getting a handle on modeling, sculpting, and painting, but wanted practice in rigging.  This course helped with that, and while I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the beginning of the course, I now know, what I don’t know, which is a step in the right direction.  Ultimately, I’d like to pass it on to someone else when my company grows.
  • Eytan Zana Color and Light – $7 – This tutorial introduced me to the art of Photo-Bashing, which dramatically improves concept art time.  For the first time in a while, I felt proud for making progress in my art. This is what my completed tutorial looks like.
  • Maciej Kuciara Blockmesh to Concept Sketch – $8 – I really enjoyed developing more skills in photo-bashing, as well as some gradient skills.  Here is my finished product.
  • Making Art Making Money Ebook – E-mail Address – Helped me identify experiences in my life to help focus on what to write / draw / develop about.
  • Workflow and Brush Efficiency Parts 1 and 2  by Jama Jurabaev – $5 / $7 – These tutorials provided great insights into how brush strokes play into the textures of a painting.  I never understood that before and now started focusing on where my strokes go.

Blue Tier

Items in this tier provided me a good amount of value for the cost and time invested

  • Video Game Animation by CGMA – $350 – I knew generalities about how to do video game animation but didn’t feel confident in it.  This class helped me to become more confident in it, and realize it’s a role I’d like to give to someone else who is in love with it.
  • Feng Zhu School of Design YouTube – Free – I started going through  each of these videos and copying them as he did them.  I felt it was good practice.  If the school was in the U.S. I might’ve tried going to it when I went through my art craze
  • Eytan Zana Graphic Composition – $5 – I found this tutorial, and it really helped to give ideas on how to compose scenes, especially using the cutout technique in Photoshop.  Here’s my result from taking it.
  • Digital Tutors – $50 / Month – After a while, rather than purchasing DVD sets, I thought it would be better to do a subscription service.  I completed a bunch of tutorials, but slowed down as I focused more onto GameDev.  If you’re going to go this route, do a month subscription to try it out / cram as much learning in as you can.  Not all of these are Blue Tier, but the subscription is
  • Gnomon DVDs – $1500 – When I had some extra money, I invested in buying a bundles worth in college.  I enjoyed the heck out of it, but ultimately my studies at the United States Military Academy overcame me.  I think the foundation techniques learned really helped though.
  • Bubble Armor Tutorial – $4 – A good tutorial that shows how to implement ZBrush in making 2d Art. I like mech / sci-fi art, so this fit right in.  This is what my completed one looks like.
  • Steal Like an Artist Book – $7 – This is a great short read on things you’re allowed to do / should do as an artist.  Nothing is original, take ideas and styles from a bunch of different people you like.
  • Vaughan Ling – A good Gumroad teacher who focuses on Modo
    • Intro to Modo – Free – Introduced me to Modo scripts.  They’re really helpful.
    • Blade Runner Prop – $5 – I felt more confident and accepted about using MODO after completing this model and render.  Helped me set up rendering environments too.
    • Tribot – $10 – Vaughan gives more tips on how to model complex, hard surface objects, and how to light / render them.
  • Law of Increasing Awesomeness – $3 – A Gumroad focused on art concepts, and how to make something awesome.  Becoming good at art requires a lot of hours.
  • Art and Fear Book – $9 – All artists struggle.  Don’t quit.  It’s going to take a lot of hours to become good, put in the time.

Green Tier

Items in this tier provided me some value for the cost and time invested

  • Dream Worlds by Hans P. Bacher – $22 – Some insight into the film art that occurs before the movie.  Beauty and the Beast and Mulan are two movies this guy worked on.
  • Elemental Magic by Joseph Gilland – $40 – I tried learning special effects for games, and a lot of the artists in that area pointed to this book.  It does just that.
  • Bob Ross Master Paint Set – $100 – I completed one video once.  I really enjoyed it actually, but it was in college, and I couldn’t put as much time in it as I wanted.  So much beauty in color.  I learned to love the painterly look.
  • Alla Prima Book – $100 – This is a good book talking about philosophies and strategies of painting.  Painting is hard work, and takes a lot of practice and consistency.
  • Lance Wilkinson’s Keyshot Passes and Photoshop Composite – $2 – This explains how to do different passes of a hard surface in Keyshot, then assemble it in Photoshop.  It’s a different technique for compositing.  Here’s what I made from it, with some extra photobashing.
  • Lance Wilkinson’s Hard Surface Techniques – $3 – A good tutorial on how 1 person creates Hard Surfaces in Photoshop, unfortunately, it might be different now with the 4R7 upgrade.  Here’s what I made from it.
  • Introduction to Pixel Art by Max Gon – $5 – A good introduction to a method of doing Pixel Art.  I wish he supplied the pictures so I could follow along.
  • Eat3d ZBrush Tutorials – $500 – I went through 2 of them, entirely, but really use them to review techniques and understand workflow.
  • Allegorithmic Forums – Free – Substance Designer / Painter are hard to learn, but also very powerful.  Going through their Youtube Videos, then hammering questions out on the forums helped me gain traction in understanding this powerful tool.
  • Mastering Autodesk Maya 2012 – $50 – This was the meat and potatoes for me getting adjusted to Maya.  I started going through the book one chapter at a time, but then realized that there’s a difference between Video Game Art and Animation, and CG Art tricks that I didn’t need to learn.  It was great to get me started, and super comprehensive.
  • Imaginative Realism Book – $15 – I always wanted to see if there shortcuts for drawing and art.  There are some useful tips for doing it in here.
  • Color and Light Book – $15 – I mostly used this to understand how light affects mood, and different angles for my games.
  • Understanding Comics – $15 – I read this in college, when I wanted to learn about art more (My degree is in Aeronautical Engineering).  It helped me to understand how the mind thinks through images.
  • Kalen Chock Tips for Approaching Studies Tutorial – $3 – Since I didn’t have any formal education, knowing how to execute my own studies was useful knowledge to acquire.
  • Anthony Jones Mech Sketching – $10 – I’m starting to learn that everyone has a process for making art. This is one person’s technique, which has similarities to others.
  • Daily Rituals Book – $17 – As I learn more about art, I wonder if there’s any useful procedures I might want to learn to get in the mood. Pretty much, everyone is unique. For me, I need a routine to stay focused.
  • Picture This Book – $10 – A simple book on analyzing how shapes and colors affect us. Take your complicated scenes, boil them down to simple geometric shapes and colors, and see how you feel about them.
  • Sell Your Art Rules Ebook – Free – Some good reminders when doing art.
  • Flipped Normal’s ZBrush Free Videos – Free – These guys have some good tutorials.  I hadn’t touched ZBrush in a while so these helped me to refamiliarize myself with it.
  • The Art of Making the Dark Knight Trilogy – $28 – Just some insights into Christopher Nolan’s mind and how they went about making the movie.  There are some art and design tips there that are useful.

White Tier

Items in this tier provided me little to no value for the cost and time invested

  • Maciej Kuciara – Intro to Composition 1 – $4 – This tutorial didn’t really awe me at the end at all.  I felt through the whole tutorial that I’ve “been there, done that.”  Reviews perspectives for the most part.

Grey Tier

Items in this tier felt like value was taken away from me for the cost and time invested

  • Sessions College – $500 (with Tuition Assistance Included) – I felt pretty sad after taking this.  I felt like I learned nothing really, and payed money for it.  Looking back, I’d have saved the money for different education.
  • CG Workshop’s – Drawing for Comics – $600 – A classroom setting online.  It was cool on the first day with everyone introducing themselves, but the novelty, and the interaction quickly wore off.  The best part was the feedback from the instructor, but your feedback is grouped together with everyone else’s.  There was other software, or 1 on 1 mentorship that I would’ve paid for with this money if I had a second chance.  It kindof solidified in me that I don’t like the classroom feeling.

Continuing Education

My learning in art will continue I’m sure.  Depending on the path of the business, we’ll see how intense I get into it.

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In the interest of transparency, many of the links are affiliate links.  Some things I’ve read aren’t the strongest books out there, so I’ve left those out so you don’t have to waste your time or money on them like I did.