It’s amazing how many useful tools and websites we miss daily.
I can speak for myself. I’m used to these “Woah how could I not know about this?” moments.
Needless to say, each one of these tools could save us a lot of time. Or give us the means of production. Or save us from paying shitloads of money for software.
And here are 30+ new links that I think are super useful for every CG artist.
FREE 3D SOFTWARE
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.
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 MakeHuman.
FREE 2D SOFTWARE
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.
PAID 3D SOFTWARE
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
CMVS-PMVS – after using VisualSFM, this CMVS-PMVS tool is needed for the dense reconstruction with more points for a more detailed result.
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.
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.
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.
ART TUTORIALS AND PODCASTS
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
PASSIVE INCOME AND MONETIZATION
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.
Udemy – Online learning and teaching marketplace, with a huge following and dozens of courses (including the courses on computer graphics and art).
FREE IMAGES AND TEXTURES, ICONS AND PHOTOS
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.
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.
Trello – Have a team scattered across the globe? Try Trello to organize the project and work in a shared environment.
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.
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.
OVER TO YOU
What have I missed? Tell me in the comments if you know some other crazy useful website. Much appreciated!
Want to see even more useful links? Check the Resources mega collection.
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