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 – 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.
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 – 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.
Sculptris – it’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.
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
Zbrush – I guess that Zbrush doesn’t need introduction, hmm? The best (most responsive, innovative, optimized) digital sculpting tool for artists. Get it now.
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!
CMVS-PMVS – after using VisualSFM, this CMVS-PMVS tool is needed for the dense reconstruction with more points for a more detailed result.
Photoscan – almost 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.
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.
Alchemy – unconventional 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).
Mischief – An inventive sketching and drawing app for brainstorming. Has an infinite canvas. Has a free version. Hipster-friendly.
FREE COMPOSITING SOFTWARE
Natron – An open-source compositing software which I personally haven’t used, but people tell it rocks.
Blender Guru – this learning hub by Andrew Price is probably the Videocopilot of the Blender community. Andrew is the perfect example of how you should approach tutorials and the entrepreneurial side of things.
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.
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 licensed under CC BY 0. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Textures.com – 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.
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!
Deviant Art – the place where you can share your deviations. See? You are not alone, there are many artists that sublimate their fears/desires into art.
Drawcrowd – perhaps, too involved in sexual objectification of women, but incredible gallery otherwise.
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.
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.
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.
COLOR AND LIGHT
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.
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 Rowse – Darren 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.
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.
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
Patreon – basically, 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.
Trello – Have a team scattered across the globe? Try Trello to organize the project and work in a shared environment.
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.
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.
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