Useful Resources For Artists, My Personal Uber Collection

gleb alexandrov
update 1.05

Are you into digital art and at the same time, love blogging & social media? So am I, and here is a huge list of the resources for digital artists. 

I can guarantee that pretty much every resource, that is mentioned here, is proved to be essential in my daily practice of a digital artist. It all comes from my experience and I’m sharing it, so you can discover the new amazing tools and websites.

Resource section is going to be updated often, as I’m getting to know the new online services, open-source goodies and other stuff. So stay tuned to the updates.

Disclaimer: nobody pays me for mentioning their content here. I’m doing this just so you can benefit from it.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES:

blender_logo_01Blender – best free open source 3d content creation suite. All-in-one tool, features everything you may need to kickstart your digital artist career. Whether you aim to create an animated short, or want to do architectural visualization, it’s the tool for you. I’m a huge fan of what Blender Institute and people all over the world are doing for the good of mankind.

 

wordpress-logoWordPress.org: Can’t stress enough, how intuitive it is to create & maintain WordPress site. Really, if you are thinking about starting a blog – just go with WordPress and see what is has to offer. I recommend using self-hosted variant and buying a hosting. Though, if you just want to try the basic blog without hassle with hosting, go to wordpress.com.

 

unreal engine 4

Unreal Engine is one of the best all-in-one game environments available to mortals. Should I mention that it is now free you pay only some percentage from your revenue (and only after your game earns more than 100.000$). Grab it and test your weird game idea.

 

unity-logo

Unity – my favorite game development system (at their website, they call it Ecosystem). Lightweight, fast, relatively easy to learn. Can publish to 16 (?!) platforms and that list is growing. Really impressive trend in gamedev. Jump in that boat.

 

 

FREE 3D SOFTWARE

Blender – this tool has a gorgeous community of super connected people. That’s what you need when you start. Accessible tool, but more importantly, really smart crowd that creates value.

Sculptrisit’s like a younger sister of Zbrush, but free and easier to learn. Features dynamic tessellation, or so called digital clay.

InstantMeshes – Have a high poly model and want to rebuild it to use in a game engine? InstantMeshes tool allows you to rebuild the mesh automatically, while preserving the shape of the original model.

Meshlab – A free 3D mesh processing software, capable of dealing with super high density meshes and point clouds. Very useful for editing and cleaning the photo scanned assets.

xNormal – a free tool for baking normal and occlusion maps, transferring textures from one model to another and other cool tricks.

MakeHuman – open-source tool for making 3D characters. Do you remember customizing your character in Skyrim or Mass Effect? Now imagine a far more elaborate character generator, based on real human anatomy. That’s MakeHuma

PAID 3D SOFTWARE

ZbrushI guess that Zbrush doesn’t need introduction, hmm? The best (most responsive, innovative, optimized) digital sculpting tool for artists. Get it now.

Photoscanalmost magical way to create 3D models from photos. Photogrammetry is becoming more and more popular, so jump into that boat. Maybe your photography skills will take your 3D stuff to the new level. Recommend.

World Machine – 3D terrain generator, one of the best in this niche of terrain generators. World Machine is famous for producing an ultra realistic natural erosion. Can export meshes, heightmaps, normal maps and textures. Recommend!

FREE 2D SOFTWARE

Gimp – free raster graphics editor, which is capable of doing what you’d expect from it. A nice community too, by the way.

Krita – very nice free digital painting application. Stylish, really stylish.

Alchemyunconventional project that explores the new ways of generating shapes in 2D. Think of it as a Rorschach inkblots generator. Super useful for getting new ideas for concept art.

Inkscape –  open source vector graphics editor, similar to Illustrator. And yes, it CAN compete with Adobe soft in many ways (that said, I think that Adobe does a great job with its soft too).

Pixlr – A set of cloud-based image editing tools (imagine Photoshop, but in your browser).

Natron – An open-source compositing software which I personally haven’t used, but people tell it rocks.

Mischief – An inventive sketching and drawing app for brainstorming. Has an infinite canvas. Has a free version. Hipster-friendly.

BLENDER RESOURCES

Blender.today – a modern looking crossbreed between Reddit and Blender, with a super fast news posting interface included.  Whoever did this, they have my deepest respect for that kind of modern thinking.

CgCookie – the quality and frequency of CG tutorials on this site is mind-blowing. Stuff that Jonathan Williamson, Kent Tramell and other artists produce is really professional & clear. Free tutorials plus paid subscription. Has Blender oriented section, called – surprise! – Blendercookie.

CG Masters – the finest Blender tutorials and video courses by computer graphics veterans Aidy Burrows, Chris Plush and Lee Salvemini.

Blenderartists forum – one of the best places to see the artworks of other beginners/professionals/nerds and to request the feedback.

Blendernation – if you want to keep track of what’s happening in Blender community, this IS the resource. Bart Veldhuizen, together with community reporters, is doing a great job here, putting it all together every day.

Gooseberry Open Project – is the first fully open-sourced feature film ever, and we are able to see every detail of creative process.

Blendtuts – educational resource with a very tasty collection of Blender tutorials. Maintained by Oliver Villar (check out his newest book!).

BlenderDiplom – tutorials, updated by Gottfried Hoffman on a regular basis.

BlenderSushi – dark magic and procedural tricks by generalist and technical cg artist Jimmy Gunawan.

Creative Shrimp by Gleb Alexandrov – sorry, couldn’t resist the temptation. Bam!

Blender Unleashed -The website with Blender training, reviews (and some seriously cool products!) by charismatic Brandon Hix.

Zacharias Reinhardt – Loads of CG tutorials, workshops and incredibly stylish artworks (oh I drool over this cookie monster) by Zacharias Reinhardt.

Blender Stack Exchange – A place to go for asking a Blender-related question. An extremely caring and knowledgeable community, ready to help.

Partners in Crime – What to do when you crave motion graphics made in Blender? Check out Partners in Crime. These guys know their mograph.

BLENDER ADDONS

Node Wrangler – This is a built-in Blender add-on, which makes working with shader nodes so less tedious. To name just one feature, you can hold ctrl+shift and click on any node to preview this node.

Filmic Blender – Filmic replaces the default color management system with the improved one with much higher dynamic range, for more photo-realistic renders.

PHOTOGRAMMETRY SOFTWARE

VisualSFM – a free (for non-commercial use) application for reconstructing 3D from photos. Setting it up can be a little bit tricky, so I recommend watching this tutorial first.

CMVS-PMVS – after using VisualSFM, this CMVS-PMVS tool is needed for the dense reconstruction with more points for a more detailed result.

PAID 3D ASSETS

HDRI Haven – One of the best websites with the high dynamic range images that I’ve ever seen. Greg Zaal is doing an incredible job with updating the library non-stop.

BlenderMarket – the first (very serious and professional) attempt at creating an asset store for Blender – by CgCookie. It features lots and lots of stuff already and looks promising. Also, this marketplace contributes to Blender development fund by donating some percentage of the revenue to it.

Chocofur – 3D assets and ready-to-render scenes for architectural visualization by Lech Sokolowski. The most of the assets are set up for Blender and Cycles.

FREE 3D ASSETS

Archive 3d – huge archive with free architectural models. As simple as it sounds, no hidden shit. Though, most of the models are in 3DS and GSM formats, so you will need to convert them to OBJ (if you want to bring them into Blender).

Blendswap – the best selection of the free assets for Blender (licensed mainly under CC-BY or CC-0), hands down. I have composed a bunch of scenes using  the assets solely from this resource. That’s something.

TOOLS FOR ARTISTS

Adobe Color CC – struggle with color harmony? This tool is gold. It makes picking a color scheme a breeze. You can select from the different color rules: triad, complimentary, monochromatic and so on.

ART CONTESTS & COMPETITIONS

Weekly CG Challenge – The place where digital artists compete to win a prize, and ultimately take their art to the next level. A motivational sucker-punch if you ask me. Check it out.

ARTISTS

Reynante Martinez – an artist with a very distinctive style, who also loves sharing his knowledge online. He is writing a book about materials, so if you are into shader work, check Reynante’s blog right away.

Beeple’s Blog – let me say just a few words. Mike Winkelman is producing an image each day, for 2931 days already. Each image is remarkable in its own fashion. Bizarre. Stylish. Craploads of daily awesomeness. 

Neil Blevins – astonishing sci-fi, robotic, alien artworks (and advice!).

Manu Jarvinen – top-notch artist, illustrator and modeler that loves open-source software. Look at his artworks! So damn stylish and also… efficient? Can’t find the appropriate word. Love it though.

Adaptive Samples – Visit Greg Zaal’s blog to learn some very intricate Blender tricks, and to download free goodies like panoramic interior HDRi. Greg, thank you so much!

Colin Levy – The voices in my head ordered me to include Colin in this list. Right now. I obeyed, because I think that Colin is such a creative talented guy! Not only because he directed Sintel and have been working in Pixar, one of the best animation studio in the world (keep an eye on his Skywatch short).

Adam Pizurny – Adam has such a distinct style, you won’t mistake it with anything. Ooze-dripping fragmented body parts, psychotic post-modern GIFs. Incredible.

ARCHITECTURE BLOGS

Ronen Bekerman – if you are into architectural visualization, this website is just what you need to get ahead in archviz. Ronen is constantly posting top-notch making ofs, case studies and architectural renders.

MOTION GRAPHICS

Video Copilot – the insanely popular website for motion graphics artists, and frankly for everybody else. Personally, I learned so much from Andrew Kramer’s video tutorials. Hollywood-quality visual effects at your fingertips.

FREE IMAGES AND TEXTURES, ICONS AND PHOTOS

Pixabay – The friendliest license out there. Creative Commons CC0 – that means that we’re absolutely free to do whatever we want with the images (to the extent possible under law, of course). Modify, use in the scrapbooking, pack in the game, send it over to your best friend or broadcast on Youtube channel.

I love Pixabay

License: Attribution not required, but appreciated. Absolutely free images and textures.

Image After – another great resource in terms of license. We can modify, redistribute as a part of printed work and use in the commercial projects. One thing that we can’t do is to resell the images on the competing resource. No surprises here, I guess.

License: Free for personal or commercial use, no hidden obstacles.

FreeImages  – the pictures can be used for free in many cases (related to digital distribution) such as: in magazines, books, dvd-covers, on websites and broadcast film and video.

License: Free for personal or commercial use, with some restrictions.

Flickr –  very talented people and one of the sexiest photo collections out there. But there is one little thing that sometimes stops me from downloading. While technically we can filter the content by Creative Commons license, it precisely means Attribution 2.0 Generic type of license.

License: There are free photos, but attribution required.

CgTextures – despite the paid subscription (non obligatory, but 15 megabytes a day is never enough) CgTextures license is quite permissive to make us, texture geeks happy. The main feature that I feel very excited about is that all textures can be used for free, even for commercial purposes.

License: Free to use in the projects (no reselling and redistribution).

CC Search Free Images – not exactly the source of the images, but could be the starting place for any Creative Commons related search.

7 Cool Websites with Free Images and Textures – my article about Creative Commons licensed images and textures. There you will find the detailed list of resources, which I use when searching for a free stuff.

Gratisography – hipster alert! Photos of a great style, made by Ryan McGuire. I enjoy a unique artistic approach of this guy.

License: Free of copyright restrictions.

Unsplash – hand-picked daily photos of outlandish quality and clarity. Very blog-post-thumbnail-friendly type of stuff.

License: Free of copyright restrictions. Do whatever you want.

Iconfinder – What I usually do is search for an icon with these filters turned on: Free and No Link Back. When I manage to find an icon, it makes me happy. I’m a simple being.

3D ART MAGAZINES

3dArtist Online – had a pleasant experience of writing an articles for this magazine for CG artists. Also I’ve heard, that reading the articles can be interesting too 😉 The issue costs around £6.00, give it a try.

3dWorld (at CreativeBloq.com) – one of the most bombastic international magazines, dedicated to 3d art. Wrote several tutorials for them – and can recommend it. Very nice staff.

Itsartmag – a lively community with the constant updates on art, interviews with special guests, shorts, making-ofs and other inspirational stuff. I heard many people praising this resource, so I decided to include it.

ART TUTORIALS AND PODCASTS

Level Up – free online art community for teaching and sharing. Honestly, I’ve discovered this awesome website while reading the comments under this article – and I’m hugely impressed by the art podcasts available. Thanks, Steve.

Ctrl+Paint – a great resource for digital painting by Matt Kohr. Art school-style tutorials and other free goodies for those who are into drawing.

GALLERIES

Artstation – sharing the concept of a famous CgHub, this online gallery with a grid layout is attracting enormous amount of talented artists from all around the world.

CgSociety – ever popular gallery & community of… hmm… cg artists. Take a look and see for yourself!

Blenderartists – Have I mentioned Blenderartists? Anyway, it’s worth mentioning the second time, as IT IS the place to share your art if you use Blender. Feedback guaranteed.

3DTotal – online gallery, tutorials for artists, downloadable magazine and much more. 

Deviant Artthe place where you can share your deviations. See? You are not alone, there are many artists that sublimate their fears/desires into art.

Drawcrowdperhaps, too involved in sexual objectification of women, but incredible gallery otherwise.

FREELANCE

Upwork (ex Odesk) – I have tried a lot of online workplaces and had a great experience with this particular platform, for some mystical reason. Pretty intuitive process of jobs searching, for those who are interested in graphics&design.

GAME ENGINES

Unity – have I mentioned this game development tool? I believe it deserves the second mention. Unity is setting up the trend of democratizing game industry by providing free and super powerful tool that can publish games to plenty of platforms (is it 21?).

Unreal Engine 4 – also one of my favorite game engines. And one of the best all-in-one game environments available to mortals. Should I mention that it is now free you pay only some percentage from your revenue (and only after your game earns more than 100.000$). Grab it and test your weird game idea.

Polycount – an old and respectable forum where game developers and artists gather to showcase their real time content. If you are searching for an advice and inspiration on game visuals, check it out.

PODCAST SOFTWARE

OBS Studio – probably the best free and open-source software for video recording and streaming. After trying it, I don’t want anything else. Fast, lightweight, great video quality.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Casey Neistat – YouTuber that loves meritocracy, democracy and indie filmmaking. Lives in New York City and loves direct connection between creator and audience. 100% authentic and I can’t stop watching Casey broadcasting his life.

Darren RowseDarren shares his advice for aspiring bloggers and social media enthusiasts. Must read for those who want to make living with her or his blog.

Gary Vaynerchuk –  throws tons of useful content at us – which is MUST SEE if you are into social media. Crushing everything with his charisma and deep knowledge of social media, business, wine and hustle.

Smart Passive Income – very, I mean VERY deep advice on blogging, social media marketing and passive income from Pat Flynn. Learned so much from this guy. Recommend, especially the podcasts.

CopyBlogger – I’m returning to this place from time to time, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything important on content marketing. And if I have, I read through the articles like there is no tomorrow. Well, maybe it’s an exaggeration, but anyway CopyBlogger publishes a bombastic content, aimed at social media peeps.

Chase Jarvis’ blog – if you have a passion for photography and at the same time want to know the today’s social media landscape, consider visiting this blog. Personally, I find Chase Jarvis’ advice to be very inspiring and helpful.

Austin Kleon a writer of Steal Like an Artist book and an artist with exceptional personality and a keen eye for typography.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOLS

Mailchimp – Email marketing platform which I use. If you are into blogging, you gonna need some kind of email marketing service. After you hit 2k subscribers, it will ask you for a monthly pay.

BOOKS. SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRODUCTIVITY

Will it Fly by Pat Flynn – How to know whether your next big idea sucks, or rocks? Seriously, the easiest way is to buy this book and read it. It has the answers. 10/10.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – the life-changing book for many artists whose ideas and creations are inspired by the ideas of other people. This book makes you accept the cultural influences and not be ashamed by it.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk – Posting content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and want to know what are the essential differences between these social media? This book covers it all, and what I like about it, features real examples of either brilliant or crappy posts.

REWORK – Change The Way You Work Forever By Jason Fried  – this book perfectly summarizes the trend of ’employing yourself’ while working not in the context of some corporate environment, but within the frames of your own lifestyle and your own vision. Must read.

The One Thing by Gary Keller – if I had to recommend just one book, I’d name The One Thing without hesitation. I promise, it will influence how you perceive the success, the work, the life and the cookies (I have eaten a lot of those with coffee).

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin – one more potentially life-changing book, that researches the change in the way we work, connect, succeed and fail. And the last point is the most interesting and refreshing part of the book.  

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei – this book is a Cure Procrastination spell for us, nerds. The downside of reading this book is that we might as well procrastinate without pretending we learn how to deal with procrastination. But still, one of the best book regarding  productivity.

BOOKS. LIGHTING

Alright, it’s time for a shameless plug: follow the progress of the Lighting Project – my upcoming book about lighting for nerds.

PASSIVE INCOME AND MONETIZATION

Patreonbasically, this is a service that lets you support the creators you love by donating money to them. As much as I adore everything crowdfunding, Patreon makes it right.

Gumroad – Sell digital goods online, as simple as that. Very minimalist, cool platform with a super straightforward checkout process and low fees (3.5% + 30 cents per sale on a premium account). Supports Paypal, credit cards and some other payment methods.

CLOUD FILE STORAGE

Google Drive – The cloud storage which is free, until you hit the limit of 15 gb. After that, it’s just $1.99 / month for 20 GB. Which is as cheep as it can get.

COLLABORATION TOOLS

Trello – Have a team scattered across the globe? Try Trello to organize the project and work in a shared environment.

E-LEARNING:

Udemy – Online learning and teaching marketplace, with a huge following and dozens of courses (including the courses on computer graphics and art).

WEBSITE CREATION SOFTWARE

WordPress – My tool of choice for designing a website. Did I mention that it’s free? I mean, the .org version which is self-hosted. Though, hosting usually costs some money.

Slider Revolution – awesome plugin for WordPress, which makes creation of sliders so easy that you won’t believe that. We used it for the whole pages too, just check out the Space VFX product page.

MUSIC AND AUDIO (Creative Commons)

Youtube Audio Library – Music tracks licensed under Creative Commons or Youtube license (the latter is kind of free to use anywhere without having to credit an author).

Freesound – Free audio samples for all occasions. Really huge library of sounds. Licensing options vary from Creative Commons 0 to Creative Commons Share Alike, etc.

MUSIC AND AUDIO (paid, royalty free)

Jamendo – Royalty free music for videos. I believe they have some Creative Commons tracks as well, somewhere in the backyard.

Bensound – Yet another resource with royalty free music by Benjamin Tissot. Snappy, upbeat, inspirational tracks, licensed under CC BY (you have to credit the author).

THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY. COME BACK LATER.

If you find this list useful, share it with other artists by clicking these funky buttons above the article. And subscribe to Creative Shrimp newsletter if you’d like to follow the updates to this list. Thanks, I appreciate you!

 

  • Julian Perez

    Great list, thank you very much!
    I would add itsartmag.com to the magazines; it is pretty inspirational!

  • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

    Julian, thanks for the link. Looks like a cool thing to include in the next update.

  • Ryan Sweeney

    Thanks, Gleb! It looks like our lists overlap. I’m a fan of CGsociety as well as itsartmag like Julian mentioned in terms of inspiration. спасибо!

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Yep. I’m also a fan of Artstation.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=146146370&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile Patrick Depoix

    I am pleased to benefit from your generosity, Gleb!
    A big thank to you!

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Tnx, Patrick! We all benefit from sharing :)

  • fusobotic

    For your next part you might want to list general art resource websites like concepart.org, CGsociety, polycount, artstation (awesome portfolio creation), tumblr, YouTube, and ctrlpaint. Also you should mention Sculptris which is a free painting/sculpting suite by Pixologic.

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Absolutely. Your list pretty much overlaps with what I want to add.

  • Tula

    Yesterday I was watching Blender Tutorial: 9 Ways to Destroy Thing, very interesting by the way. How did you achieved that illumination?

  • Steve

    I love to listen to art podcasts. I found LevelUp, they feature a
    lot of cool artists.
    They talk about concept art, speed painting, techniques, tools. They also do art
    review and overpaints. It’s not real 3d, but it’s very inspiring.
    http://www.fusroda.com/watchsessions

  • Earl John Peters

    Thank you so much! keep up the great work and i wish you all the best for the future!

  • j z

    Thanks for this Gleb – a treasure trove of knowledge

  • Nathan Ggero

    Hi, thank you so much for these, they’ve done wonders for me. One question though, What software do you use for recording videos?

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      I use Bandicam 2.0 – and up till now I like the quality and features of that software. For my videos, I use Motion JPEG (quality 90) compression. Nathan, thanks for reminding me about video recording soft, I will include it in the resources section in the next run. :)

      • Nathan Ggero

        Thanks Gleb!

  • http://wizualizacje3d.arkadiuszkasprzyk.pl/ Arkadiusz Kasprzyk

    Thanks for Odesk link.
    (btw. add attribute target=”blank” to links going outside your website)

  • Shastro

    For some inspiration, and extremely usefull comments, critiques and other amazing support i reccomend deviantart, its for art of all kinds of art and has millions (i think) of artists and users, i reccomend you join.

    http://www.deviantart.com/

  • Felix Schütt

    Good Websites:
    polycount.com/forum
    3dartistonline.com
    11secondclub.com
    neilblevins.com (veeery useful stuff!)
    creativebloq.com

    Books (not necessarily meant for you, Gleb, but for others very useful):
    Digital Lighting and Rendering by Jeremy Birn
    Digital Modeling [digital] by William Vaughan

    Correction: The new website of cgtextures.com is textures.com (same website, just a facelift)

    Textures: texturemate.com

    For inspiration and design stuff, I’d add fzdschool.com and their YouTube channel. It’s about painting, but also very much about the design of things.

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Felix, thanks for sharing this collection with me. I’ll definitely add it to resources section on the next update.

      p.s. Didn’t know about new textures.com. They got a pretty nice domain name, I must admit :).

  • Mason Menzies

    may i suggest adding Rob to the list of artists? hes one of the best! http://www.garlingtonartgallery.com/

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Sure! I’ll add him in the next run.

  • AF

    Thanks much man this is a great place to know where to go!

  • http://www.mobymotionblog.com Moby Motion

    Very comprehensive list!

  • https://www.yobi3d.com Yobi3D

    Yobi3D is a 3D model search engine. You can search with simple keywords and see the results in 3D.

    https://www.yobi3d.com

  • http://www.rendereprogetto.it/ Alessandro Magnani

    Thank you. Here you are mentioned a very useful site and bloggers. At the end there is a Little confusion as well as the huge amount of reference site, but I have to choose and select everyday. Thank you again

  • Roger Alien

    1. http://catlikecoding.com/ One of my favorite resources. Unity assets and tutorials about procedural generation and other math related things for game development.
    2. http://lesterbanks.com/ Also good resource on CG in Blender, Houdini, Maya etc
    3. https://www.actionvfx.com/ Great marketplace for VFX + some free effects.

    Глеб, если есть возможность добавь по VFX больше материала =)
    And thanks for your work, you are real inspiration for creative masses!

  • Taffi Tasteless

    Hello! Though this guy makes tutorials for 3DS Max, I found that his tutorials about proper topology are good for any 3d- application and he gives anything about hard surface modeling you can imagine. – There are not that many high grade tuts this kind around…He is Arrimus 3d by the way… 😉

    Greeez

    Taffi

  • Warren D. M. Reed

    Hey I didn’t see CGMasters, but perhaps I need a coffee reload. nice post and helpful links!

    • http://creativeshrimp.com/ Gleb Alexandrov

      Now you see! :)

  • Bogdan Mircia

    Thank you!
    As a side note, this page is may favorite book mark!

    Thank you, again!