Can I Learn 3D Animation on My Own?

Animation, especially 3D animation is a complex art that can take several years of schooling to master, whether you are doing it as a hobby or a professional. Despite the complexities involved, it is surprisingly easy for you to start learning 3D animation. 

If you love animations and the design elements needed for each process, you might think about learning it on your own. Can you learn 3D animation on your own? Well, the short answer to that question, is Yes! You certainly can learn it on your own. 

However, although you can learn it on your own, it can be quite challenging. In this article, we will discuss how easy it is to begin and the challenges that you might face in learning. 

Challenges to Learning on Your Own 

Learning animation on your own can be a hard process. Good design schools might be more expensive than you can afford and might not even be accessible to you. 

These are just some of the setbacks that you might face. Let’s consider some other the other challenges that you might come across. 

1. Cost 

One of the biggest challenges to learning on your own is the price. Not everyone has the money to gain admission and school at an excellent design school. 

The best design schools might cost almost as much as a University education. They charge a lot of money as tuition. Aside from that, you would have to get your books and supplies. 

If you are passionate about 3D design but do not have the funds to enroll in such schools, you certainly might become discouraged. 

2. It is Complicated 

There are several software, for example, Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Learning the basic elements of these software is one thing, and learning 3D animation properly, is another thing. Although there are several self-taught animators, it is certainly challenging to become and professional and will require determination and will. 

3. Lack of Options 

One of the challenges to learning 3D animation is the limited number of options. Globally, not everyone has the opportunity to have a good animation school around them. It can also be hard getting instructors. 

Therefore, animators that are just learning on their own without this access to instructors and schools can find it very hard to learn privately. 

4. No Certification 

Although focus is shifting away from degrees, it would be wrong to assume that a degree or certification of some kind doesn’t give the owner a leg up in the market. 

One obstacle that self-taught animators face is finding a position without having a degree in animation.  

Although most of the learning you do, even if you enroll in a school is going to be done by your work and practice, getting a piece of paper in form of a degree is quite important when looking for a job. 

Additionally, getting that degree can help you better when negotiating a salary. As with most fields, someone with certification would get paid more than those without, even if the person is less skilled. 

5. Limited Freelance Gigs 

As a beginner animator, you likely wouldn’t have an animation job at a firm or company. As you start, and especially as a self-taught animator, you have to look for freelance jobs. If you are fortunate, you might have a steady gig, however, you likely cannot rely on it for long. 

You might have to do different other jobs to support yourself, especially if you have a family. 

These are just some of the challenges that you might face. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot make a success out of this endeavor. If you are looking to learn on your own, there are things that you need that will certainly help you. 

There are several successful self-taught animators out there, and many of them have agreed that the tips given in the next section would help you to make a success of learning on your own. 

What you need to learn 3D Animation on Your Own 

1. Dedication 

Forget the software, computer, schools, and all of that. Without dedication, you can have the best resources and still make a mess of things. 

As a self-taught animator, you certainly need to be determined and dedicated to making the best of what you have. No matter what you are learning, you need to be focused and be determined if you would be successful. If you have the passion for 3D animation, you will certainly find a way to be successful at it. 

2. Free Resources 

In the past, without physically attending a school, it would be nearly impossible for you to learn anything like animation on your own. 

However, with the advent of the Internet, the knowledge of the whole world is at your disposal. If you know the right places to visit, there is a nearly endless supply of resources, many of which are available at zero cost. 

One of these tools is YouTube. You can learn so much from here. YouTube is filled with thousands of videos that can teach you different aspects of 3D animation. On this site, you will find several masters of the craft who teach you for free. 

Hundreds of self-taught animators swear by YouTube, and you can learn so much from here. Simply type ‘Learn 3D animation” or something similar into the search panel and you will have several channels to help you. 

Aside from teaching you the actual 3D animation, YouTube also gives you channels that will provide exercises to keep you motivated throughout your learning period. 

3. Learn Body Mechanics 

As a 3D animator, you will likely be specialized in making fictional characters and settings. To that end, the movements and other things have to be as natural as possible. This means that you must understand movements and similar things. 

It is important to understand body mechanics. That will help you to know how the characters would move when they are running, walking, or engaging in some other activity. Therefore, you have to take the time to know how body mechanics work. 

4. Learn Communication Skills 

If you are planning to work solo or be a freelance animator, you have to know how to communicate ideas and understand ideas. Your clients might have a project that they find difficult to articulate. It is up to you as the animator to draw them out and get an accurate outline of the project to be handled. 

Even if you end up working in a firm or company, you would certainly collaborate with others, probably from other departments. Thus, you must learn how to interact and communicate efficiently with others around you. This will help you to work smoothly. 

5. Learn the Basics 

If you want to be the best animator you can be, then you must understand the basics of animation. Some of these include the terminologies and techniques. You must know things like keyframes, inbetweening, aspect ratios, and their importance, and so on. 

You must learn how to speak the language, so to speak, if you have any hopes of being a master at the animation work. It is this foundation that you will build on before becoming a master of the craft. 

You must be patient as this is a quite time-consuming process. 

6. Get the Right Software 

Animation is highly dependent on software. The courses that you take online or via YouTube videos have instructors using different kinds of software. You should enroll in courses that give a basic idea of the functional aspects and uses of these software. 

Additionally, the world of animation continues to evolve, which means that you must also evolve with it. You should be conversant with different types of software. Some of the most common software favored by professionals includes: 

  • Maya 
  • 3D Max
  • Cinema4D 
  • Blender

And so on. Depending on what you want, some might serve you better than others. That is why it is good to be proficient with as many software as possible. 

7. Have A Mentor 

Although you might be self-taught, having a mentor can elevate the learning process and comes with so many advantages. It might be hard work, but if you can find a good mentor, the advice you get can really elevate your work. 

The mentor might also have connections that can help you land a job or gigs. 

8. Intern 

While self-learning is cool, you can get even better and get invaluable experience by interning at a design firm. While getting a job at the biggest firms might be somewhat difficult, it is certainly easier for you to intern at any of these firms. 

You will get plenty of hands-on experience that will help you now and in the future. And who knows, after your internship, you might even be offered a job! 

9. Build A Portfolio 

Another thing that you can do that will help you is to build a portfolio. You might not have a degree, but the portfolio can certainly speak for you. 

It is also smart to specialize. 3D design has several aspects, and specializing can open the way to several opportunities. 


Can you learn 3D animation on your own? Yes! It might be difficult, but following the tips above will certainly help you.