Author Archive

Softimage fades away

Published by | Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Today is a sad day in the 3D community—Autodesk has stopped development on Softimage. They’ll continue to support the software for two years as the Softimage community transitions to Maya or 3ds Max.

The history of Softimage is interwoven with the history of 3D animation. The program goes back to the 1980s, when it became the first go-to software tool for character animation. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park? Animated in Softimage 3D. In fact, many early CG milestones used Softimage. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft purchased Softimage Co. and ported Softimage 3D to Windows. The software was then purchased by Avid Technology a few years later, where it became Softimage XSI, then sold again to Autodesk. And with every one of those changes, the software lost momentum; it never fully recovered.

3D printing comes to

Published by | Monday, September 16th, 2013
3D Printing with Maya and Shapeways

Explore 3D printing at

We’re proud to announce our very first 3D printing course: Ryan Kittleson’s 3D Printing on Shapeways Using Maya. 3D printing allows you to take almost any 3D object file and print it out in materials such as plastic, ceramic, and metal for use as prototypes, products, jewelry, or works of art. This technology has really caught on in the past few years, thanks to inexpensive 3D printers and online printing services.

Author Ryan Kittleson is an expert in 3D printing and his work has been featured in publications such as Boing Boing, Time, and others. His course covers the basic workflow needed to print 3D objects using the Shapeways online printing service, which can print objects in a variety of materials and colors. Using a 3D printing service is a great way to get your feet wet by creating a few models without the cost of buying a 3D printer.

Maya Essentials training series is now complete

Published by | Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

If you take a look at our list of Maya courses, you’ll see six new Maya Essentials titles designed to introduce the basics of Maya in simple installments. Together, these six courses provide a more flexible approach to learning Maya.

In the series, I cover the nuts and bolts of Maya, from the interface, modeling, and materials, to rendering and animation. This modular series is divided into six courses, each no more than an hour or two long. Start at the first course and work your way to the end, or watch one course that interests you. The Maya Essentials courses are available to watch in any order at any time, so it’s your choice.

We’re also exploring the Essentials format for other large software packages, so let us know what you think of this new format. Your feedback is always appreciated.


All six Maya Essentials courses:
Maya Essentials 1: Interface and Organization
Maya Essentials 2: Polygonal Modeling Techniques
Maya Essentials 3: NURBS Modeling Techniques
Maya Essentials 4: Creating Textures and Materials
Maya Essentials 5: Animation Tools
Maya Essentials 6: Lights and Rendering

Unity 3D 3.5 Essential Training is now available

Published by | Friday, August 10th, 2012

We just released Unity 3D 3.5 Essential Training, our first 3D game engine course. Unity 3D is one of the top 3D gaming engines on the market, and is used for desktop, online, and mobile games. It’s a strong authoring and development environment for new users interested in creating 3D games.

Author Sue Blackman details how to use the major features in Unity to create engaging 3D gaming content, such as adding lights, texture, multiple views, fire and smoke effects, and employing reusable assets. She also covers interactivity, controllers, the basics of scripting, and some game and level design theory. The end result is a sample game with a lush environment, fully animated characters, and some basic interactive gameplay.

We’re very committed to games. Look for more gaming courses from us in the future.


Interested in more?
• All Unity 3D courses on
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All courses by Sue Blackman on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
• Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for iOS Devices
• Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for Android Devices
• Game Character Creation in Maya 

Introducing the new AutoCAD Essentials series

Published by | Sunday, June 17th, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been releasing a number of short AutoCAD courses lately. These AutoCAD series courses are part of a new series we’ve developed called AutoCAD Essentials, which is designed to break up a traditional Essential Training course into smaller, more modular chunks. Shorter, frequently posted courses allow us to be more flexible in how we present the essentials of a large software package like AutoCAD. It’s also a way for us to offer you a more flexible way of learning.

Throughout the AutoCAD Essentials series, Jeff Bartels walks you through a modular approach to the massive AutoCAD application, touching on everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, to architectural drawing and engineering projects. The learning path is broken up into six small courses, each with a duration lasting no longer than an hour or two. Those who want to learn everything can simply start at the first course and work their way through to the end. Those who are specifically interested in learning one small, or specific, part of AutoCAD, can choose to jump in at anytime and watch the course that matters to them the most.

Right now, we have three of the six AutoCAD Essentials courses in the library. The first course, AutoCAD Essentials 1: Interface and Drawing Management, begins with a tour of AutoCAD’s interface and the tools used to view drawings. After that, AutoCAD Essentials 2: Drawing Fundamentals goes through the basics of actually creating your own drawings from scratch. Our third installment in the series, AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings, concentrates on the Autodesk AutoCAD tools and features dedicated to organizing and editing geometry.

In this video titled Creating a rotational array from chapter three of AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings, Jeff shows you how to how to copy geometry in a rotational pattern using the Polar Array command.

We have three more AutoCAD Essentials courses on the way, and if the six course series is well received, we could easily add a few more modules and keep going. We hope you enjoy this new format and find it easy to use. We’re going to be exploring this format for other large software packages as well, so feedback is always appreciated. Let us know what you think in the comments section below, or by using the site feedback button at the bottom right of every single page.


Interested in more?
• All AutoCAD courses on, including the AutoCAD Essentials series
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All courses by Jeff Bartels on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• AutoCAD Essentials 1: Interface and Drawing Management
• AutoCAD Essentials 2: Drawing Fundamentals
• AutoCAD Essentials 3: Editing and Organizing Drawings

• AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training

Revit Architecture: How to design a house, and learning advanced modeling skills

Published by | Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This month has shown the release of several Revit Architecture related courses, further expanding our ever growing list.

Paul Aubin, our ever-reliable and popular Revit author, has just released Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture. In Revit, simple objects, such as walls and floors, are reasonably easy to construct. Modeling more complex objects, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Paul Aubin helps you think both inside and outside the box to use Revit’s modeling tools to create sophisticated and detailed models. He also digs into some more specialized Revit features such as in-place Families, topography, and the Massing Environment. The Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course is great for anyone wanting to add more detail to their Revit projects.

In this video from chapter one of the Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture course, Paul shows you how to build an in-place mass:

In our second new Revit course, Designing a House in Revit Architecture, new author Brian Myers takes you step by step through the process of designing a house from scratch in Revit Architecture. The course covers the design of a multi-level home, and the documentation process required to create multiple plans, sections, details, and schedules. This course is terrific for anyone wanting to understand the full design process within Revit Architecture.

This clip, from chapter two of Designing a House in Revit Architecture, walks you through the process of creating exterior walls for an American bungalow-style home, which is usually the first modeling step taken after you’ve reviewed all your project requirements, and entered your project information into Revit:

If you’re interested in architecture, stay tuned as we have more courses focused on architecture-related software in the works.

Do you have any Revit modeling tips or tricks worth sharing? Let us know in the comments section what you’ve been working on, or what you’ve discovered through trial and error.


Interested in more?
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All Revit Architecture courses on
• Courses by Paul Aubin and Brian Myers on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Revit Architecture 2011 Essential Training
Revit Architecture: Rendering

Revit Architecture: The Family Editor
Google SketchUp 8 Essential Training

Building 3D geometry from 2D sketches with SolidWorks 2012

Published by | Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Used for a wide variety of applications, including product design and manufacturing, SolidWorks is currently one of the most popular CAD packages on the market, and we’re very proud to have finished our first SolidWorks course this month.

In SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training, author Gabriel Corbett shows how to create manufacturing-ready parts and assemblies in SolidWorks 2012. Beginning with simple 2D sketching and the software’s sketch-editing tools, the course provides step-by-step instruction on building 3D geometry from 2D sketches. In addition, the course also covers creating complex 3D objects with the Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, and Loft tools, and shows the process of building complex assemblies by mating individual parts together into robust assemblies and structures.

Diving deeper into the course you’ll find tutorials that discuss generating manufacturing-ready drawings complete with an itemized Bill of Materials, cutting and revolving holes, and using the Hole Wizard tool to generate industry standard holes like counter bores, counter sinks, and taps. The course concludes with Gabriel showing you how to photo render a final design.

If you have any interest in SolidWorks, this course is a great way to start learning more about this popular CAD tool.

In this movie from chapter seven of the SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training course, Gabriel describes how to extrude your sketches and turn them into 3D solid objects using Solidworks 2012:


Interested in more?
• The complete SolidWorks 2012 Essential Training course on
• All 3D + animation courses on
• Courses by Gabriel Corbett on

Suggested courses to watch next:
AutoCAD 2011 Essential Training
Rhino 4.0 Essential Training
Google SketchUp 8 Essential Training
modo 501 Essential Training

Character rigging in Maya

Published by | Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Animating characters in Maya can be a lot of fun. Fighting with a difficult character rig, however, can sap the joy out of animating. Character Rigging in Maya is a course designed to help you create character rigs that are both robust and easy to animate.

A deeper, more technical update to the Maya 8.5 Character Rigging course, Character Rigging in Maya covers the basics of Maya’s rigging tools, then goes deep into how these tools are used to create a complete character rig, including skeletons, forward and inverse kinematics switches, and the skinning of characters to skeletons.

Some of the more technical topics covered include expressions and scripts that help automate the rig and make it easier to animate, and the process of creating an advanced facial rig that shows a variety of ways to create sophisticated controls to manage complex facial expressions (which I find particularly useful.)

If you’ve seen the Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya course on, you may notice Character Rigging in Maya creates its rig with the same character used in the animation course. It’s not the same old character, though—we’ve have thrown in a few updates to the rig to make the character rigging techniques even more interesting.

We’re very committed to character animation here at, so if you’re into animation, stay tuned for more character courses in the coming months.


Interested in more?
• All Maya courses on
• All 3D + animation courses on
• All by George-Maestri on

Suggested courses to watch next:
Maya 2011 Essential Training
Maya 2011: Modeling a Character
Character Animation Fundamentals with Maya
Game Character Creation in Maya