As a CG artist, social networking is key to getting your work out to a widest audience as possible while at the same time seeing what your fellow artists are creating, and what tools and techniques they used to create it.
Here are some of my favourite destinations to mingle online. If there's anything I've missed off the list, let me know in the comments!
The more considerate artists will post breakdowns. Behance also offers the ability to allow you to create your own portfolio site for free. With good integration with the Creative Cloud file sync, this allows for easy website creation.
If you're selective about who you follow, you can start to get a jawdropping feed of inspiration across a range of disciplines. It's worth hitting the 'Discover' button once in a while to make sure you're not missing anything new.
Twitter has been a boon to CG artists. It suits our taciturn nature in that we can only post 140 characters – it helps us craft questions and answers as simple and clearly as possible.
Through Twitter I've won work, learned about upcoming events, and software releases and most importantly, made real friends who I've gone on to meet in the real world.
Twitter allows you to follow what interests you specifically and so when done properly is a great (and funny) resource. Just don't spend too long on it or you might get addicted and never do any actual work...
CG Society is a full-on resource with a wide range of tutorials, articles, artist challenges and forums amongst others.
The main reason I really like its forum is that the topic are broken down to specific applications. The Cinema 4D one is frequented by members of Maxon's team from around the world, as well as leading artists and plugin developers. The Maya and 3DS Max forums are also well populated. And while things can get heated from time to time, trolling is kept to a minimum.
04. 3D Total
3DTotal is similar to CG Society. But being based in the UK, it offers a different tone to CGSociety, and as it has fewer members that means the quality of conversation can be better.
There are a good range of member challenges, along with an excellent selection of training and resources such as texture packs for a wide range of uses.
If you're after tips and knowledge about how to learn ZBrush, there's no better place to start than Pixologic's own ZBrushcentral. With a knowledgeable community and access to a huge range of excellent and free training, this is the premiere resource to get you started. Make sure you check out the Top Row, which gives prominence to the best art submitted by members – and be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor.
Polycount is an excellent resource site if you're wanting to concentrate more on Game and realtime character development. Some of the artist work on this site is incredible, and with the focus in a different area than VFX. Polycount also comes with an excellent wiki dedicated to game artists whether professional or hobbyist.
If you're a budding freelancer it is definitely worth joining Linkedin. While not as much 'fun' as some of the other sites, Linkedin has a wide range of topic specific groups to CG art, where artists and recruiters can be found living beside each other. A very business-focused site, Linkedin is an excellent way of keeping track of contacts and networking with the right people.
As a recent returnee to Facebook, it's good to see that it has improved its streaming capabilities so that your timeline isn't getting swamped with unnecessary comments about kittens.
Start following companies and individual artists you like and Facebook can be an excellent way of keeping up on what's happening in the world of CG art.
You can also have a Facebook page solely for your work, making it easier to separate your personal and work life. And don't forget to check out the 3D World magazine Facebook page at www.facebook.com/3dworldmagazine.
Want to hang out with some of the best motion graphics artists on the planet? Head to mograph.net. There are usually a wide range of conversations covering everything from the latest Mac Pro to critiques of other artist work and tutorials.
The one thing to watch is that members don't pull their punches, So unless you have a thick skin, don't put your work up for critique, as what is usually excellent advice could be seen as harsh by the uninitiated. Overall, though, one of the standout places to visit if you're interested in motion graphics.
Finally, it's time to mention my favourite forum, the Foundry Community. What was once the MODO community has recently had a name change to bring it inline with the parent company.
One of the reasons that MODO has been a success is the strength of its community. Obviously a lot of the forum deals with MODO-specific issues, but its excellent CGI discussion forums also cover the latest news across all the industry. And with an engaged webmaster who keeps everything well managed, this is one of the nicest places to hang out if you're into CG.
This is only a snapshot of the communities out there, if you feel we have missed any, please add them in the comments below, as the key to becoming a CG artist is learning and being inspired by our fellow artists.
Words: Mike Griggs
Mike Griggs is a freelance 3D, VFX, mograph artist and technical writer. He can be found on Twitter @creativebloke, Facebook at facebook.com/creativebloke and his work can be seen at http://www.creativebloke.com.
Masters of CG is a competition for creative professionals organised in association with HP and Rebellion, working with one of 2000AD's most iconic characters: Rogue Trooper. For full details of the contest, head to the Masters of CG website now.