5 Worthwhile Purchases For 3d Artists

Ready to turn your hobby into a serious art form? These products will make your life that little bit easier.

1. CrazyBump

This amazing program creates detailed bump maps from any still image you throw at it. Watch the video on their homepage to see a demonstration. It’s simple, easy to use and the results are speak for themselves. Be warned, once you’ve used this program, it’s hard to live without it.

Price: $99 Personal / $299 Commercial License

Buy: crazybump.com

2. 3d World Subscription

Photo by: Hideki Saito

It’s certainly not the cheapest magazine around, but the value you get more than makes up for it. Every issue is jam packed with articles from industry professionals, an inspirational gallery of works, making of feature films and tons of tutorials.

Price: Yearly subscription – $80 UK / $90 Rest of the World

Buy: myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

3. CG Textures Membership

It’s no secret that the best place to find textures is CGTextures.com, but whilst the website lets you sign up for free, you are restricted to a tight download quota and smaller sized textures. A paid membership solves all these problems as well as giving you full access to their full sky map range, basically meaning it pays for itself on the first day.

Price: Starting at $65 a year

Buy: cgtextures.com

4. Digital Lighting and Rendering

This best selling book has become the industry standard for learning how to light your scene. From sub surf scattering to caustics, this book will teach you how to make your scene ridiculously good looking. If you’re serious about 3d, this book deserves a spot on your shelf.

Price: $37.80

Buy: amazon.com

5. Graphics Tablet

Photo by: andyp_uk

Whether it’s for 3d sculpting or just sketching out your ideas in photoshop first, a graphics tablet is definitely a good idea. A mouse can be cumbersome to work with at times, so it can help to work at the speed of your thoughts with a much more natural solution. Concept artist, David Revoy recommended the Bamboo Fun as an all round, cost effective tablet with more than enough features for what most artists will need.

Price: $299

Buy: wacom.com.au

So those are my 5 recommendations, what invaluable products do you recommend?

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About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • Marek Veselý

    1. nDo, dDo for Photoshop.
    2. In Czechia, problem. Maybe in somewhere in Prague. Or warez PDF :(
    3. Done
    4. Done
    5. I don`t sculpting, so i don`t need tablet. :) For concepts i using Android SketchBook.

  • http://loewald.com/ Tonio Loewald

    I’d suggest you take a look at the ~$600 19″ Yiynova tablet/monitor. It’s a pretty solid alternative to considerably more expensive Cintiq’s, and not much more expensive than a good tablet.

  • Luchillo17

    How to configure a tablet as a drawing table? Can it be done with any tablet? If it does is there a tutorial?

  • Hugh

    Tablets with Blender – how do the scroll wheel/third button aspects translate from the mouse?

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  • Marshall

    Hey everyone, it looks like Lighting And Rendering was published in 2006. Is there a more up-to-date book on the subject? Or is Lighting And Rendering still as relavent as it was at that time?

    • Reza Fatahi

      i don’t think funds of lighting in 3d will change that much

    • rider_rebooted

      A new edition was published this month.

  • http://www.parkin-fx.com Gary Parkin

    Andrew, the Intuos is now selling for just over $200 USD. Check Staples, and they are expensive.

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  • bob

    Haha $299 tablet, I got my 12×9 for $80 from monoprice, works great.
    There’s also a 10×6.25 for $41, I was going to get it but I wanted one big enough to fit a sheet of paper.

    It’s fun making cartoony textures with a tiling canvas and a tablet…

  • Necror

    $300 for a wacom, i bought mine for like €80 (Bamboo pen & touch).
    I think your prices are outdated its an A6 right?

    as for the linux drivers you can find open source drivers (not developed by wacom)

  • http://kimberlysagayno.tumblr.com kimberlysagayno

    how to have picture when you leave a comment?anyone?thanks!

  • Thomas

    All the graphics tablets I’ve tried works under linux:
    Wacom Bamboo (1st and 2nd generation bamboo + Bamboo pen & touch)
    Wacom Intuos 3

    … I’m sure all other wacom tablets work under linux too.

  • person

    I think bamboo linux works, but the pressure sensitivity driver does not work
    there is no pressure sensitivity i know of inBlender anyway…
    (first part is just my guess. u could just try virtualiziation)

  • Esteban

    And I was thinkin on getting an Intuos 4.I didn´t knew David uses a Bamboo, I always thought he was using am Intuos for C&E……Im using a Bamboo for almost 3 years now, really cool tablet, works really fine on Win, mac and Linux, but enough of my beloved Bamboo talk.

    I think (for me at least):

    2 monitors.

    A very good speaker rig (to listen music….)

    A very good mouse (ergonomic one)

    PixPlant 2 (thanks Traa1703 for remind me)

    ZBrush 4 (I know is expensive, but is completely worth it)

    The marmoset toolbag(a really cool realtime renderer)

    And a loooooooot of books, also if you can, all the Blender Foundation DVD´s theyre quite fantastic…

  • Brian Lockett

    Bought a Wacom Intuos4 Small graphics tablet for $200. Never looking back to merely mousing it again–though, I still use mousing for some things (it’s best to embrace all options). I recommend it if you can afford it (I starved for a week to get it), but I hear some good reviews about Genius graphic tablets as a good affordable alternative. I am also getting the book, and I want a subscription to 3D world to save me some money instead of buying them individually! :)

    I would also recommend 3D artist purchasing an external hard drive for storing highly-detailed digital sculptures, high-resolution textures, large Blender files, etc. (you can get a decent 320 GB HDD for about $60 now). Those files can eat up a lot of storage space rather quickly, and once you get a tablet, expect to makes larger files twice as fast!

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  • Coede

    get the book, get a wacom, get blender and leave the rest.

  • http://bit.ly/akNNPE Colin

    Hi Andrew,
    I tried Crazy Bump beta and was impressed, but I found that the price wasn’t worth it for the professional version. I instead got Genetica 3 and was super impressed. It’s node-based, has seamless texture generation, and has LOTS more features. I offer it at a discount through my site (click on my name). If anyone thinks that’s too much of a sales pitch then they can always buy straight from Spiral Graphics at less of a discount. Either way, it’s an AWESOME program.

  • Shane

    I recently bought a Monoprice tablet for around $40. I wasn’t sure if I could really use one effectively, but it works beautifully. I know that some of the expensive models have all sorts of nifty features, but this one is solid and useful. It does exactly what I need it to do.

    Someone posted about buying a $300 tablet if you weren’t sure that the more expensive ones were worth the money. Being a student, I went with the infinitely more affordable Monoprice and haven’t looked back.

  • Marshall Hopkins

    @ Andrew Price

    I have used a space navigator at work for a very long time and they are small and compact and surprisingly cheap compared to what they used to cost(used to be $1k starting price about 5 years ago. We used to have a laptop with unigraphics that had a space navigator and it is basically pocket size. I have recently started learning blender and have been watching some of your fancy tutorials(thank you BTW). And it has taken some time to get used to using the mouse to navigate after using space balls for so long. So i think you would really like the space navigator but i agree that after you got used to it that you would possibly fumble around a little without one.

    @everyone else

    Also i recently bought a bamboo tablet to try out since i have wondered for a long time how well they work. Wacom has tablets as low as 49$ but they have some of the nice features removed to make them that cheap (such as the pen or touch feature). If you want a bamboo tablet with pen and touch the starting price is 99$. It was just dilivered today so ill try it out and post an update with my opinion.

  • fjdcm61281

    bamboo does works perfect on linux karmic

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  • http://www.civilvisions.com D. Waschow

    I borrowed a Space Navigator from a friend to try it out in Blender. I had it for about a week and never got it completely figured out to the point where it felt natural.

    My biggest complaint using a Space Navigator is you lose a lot of speed if you’re a hotkey user like me. Instead of your left hand resting on the keyboard hitting hotkeys, you’re constantly going from keyboard to Navigator and back again, taking your eyes from the screen each time.

    I gave the Navigator back to my friend and decided they aren’t for me. They’re well-built and work fine, but they’re not for me.

  • Wasa

    The bamboo pricing seems a bit off
    I know it is a little more in some parts of the world
    but it’s $99 for the small bamboo fun and $199 for the medium
    at least in the states
    and while wacom is very nice, you can get intuos features on a larger tablet for less than the price of the bamboo fun medium
    you just have to deal with changing batteries once a year (ya they last that long) and the small weight difference and balance due to the battery and it’s position


  • http://7flex.net andre.roesti

    6.) Subscribe to Blenderguru.com

    I have the same Graphics Tablet as in the Picture.

  • Traa1703

    I’ve had good result with PixPlant 2. Especially since i can run it under Wine on Ubuntu 9.10. As and added bonus it can make your textures tileable. [URL]http://www.pixplant.com/[URL]

  • http://3d-synthesis.com ROUBAL

    I like CrazyBump a lot. It is a very useful software, and it gives excellent results.

    For the graphic tablet, last year I bought a very expensive Intuos 4 XL, with pen and the wireless mouse (around 900 euros!). I purchased it because I read on several places that it was necessary to work well on Full HD video editing.

    It was a big error ! Yes, the tablet is awesome, but with the margins it takes so much room that I can’t leave it on my table when I don’t use it. When I use it, even with the very handy customizable keys, I have to put my PC keyboard very far on my left side, and it is really not easy at all to work. Added to that, I discovered that it was not necessary at all for video editing, and most of the time I use it in the A4 area…

    Cherry on the (bad) cake, the pressure doesn’t work correctly in Blender.

    So I could have saved at least 1/3 of the price and puchased a smaller one and something else more useful !

  • http://www.watchmike.ca Mike

    A digital camera, with video capture, is an asset.

  • Chris

    I don’t need a CGTextures membership. I make my own.

    Got a Bamboo. :)

    Everything else shown is nifty.

  • David

    I like this article, however I feel that you should edit the price under the graphics tablet heading. You have a bamboo pictured in the article, yet you have the pricing at more than I paid for my Intuos3. I agree that a graphics tablet is useful, but you’re price listing may discourage people from the thought. At my last look, you could find a bamboo on Amazon for less than $100 US. Even the Wacom website has a bamboo pen and touch for half the price you listed (in AU). Sorry to nitpick.

  • clecle

    i’m still very young and i dont have money enoguh, and i’m still beginner


    wouldnt you know about somewhere else i could get good textures, not as good as cgt textures, but good enough for know

    • Sharai

      deviantArt is a pretty good place to pick up stock textures. ;)

  • http://backgroundmoving.blogspot.com/. Tunyalit

    Digital Lighting and Rendering

    this book is publish for so long time ago
    but it still be a thing like bible of rendering.

  • Kirill

    I recommend to use some old Wacom Graphair tablet if you’re low on money. Ideal is A5 size. I have the big Intuos 3 A4… and it’s so big that I brings it to my work’s place very seldom.
    Personally I don’t like Bamboo – it’s unhandy.

  • http://marccarson.com Marc

    I’m looking at getting a SpaceNavigator. I have an Intuos3 and it works great with Ubuntu.

    I have also put a lot of money toward Blender books and DVDs, and that’s been well worth it.

  • Matt

    Do any of you know of a way to get a discount on 3d World?

  • http://bensimonds.wordpress.com/ Ben

    Agree on the Bamboo, it’s a great value for money tablet, and well worth going for as your first one if you aren’t sure if the more expensive ones aren’t worth the money (I’m still not). Crazybump is great too.
    I’d hold out on the CGtextures membership till you really feel like you need it though. I’m a huge fan of the site, but I’ve not yet really felt like I was missing out hugely by not being a member.

  • http://www.eibriel.com Eibriel

    Well I’ve the bamboo, I will see the other things hehe. :P

    (PD: Bamboo works out of box on Ubuntu)

  • Nosweat

    Lighting and Rendering book is really good!
    I also use CG textures alot.
    I really want the Bamboo pad now!

  • Cornell

    Intuos4 also works fine with Ubuntu 9.10.
    I also use a Bamboo at work and though the quality may not be the same as an Intuos, it is much much better value for your money.

  • Kagami

    Bamboo works great on Linux (Ubuntu 9.10)!
    CrazyBumb is cool software, realy

    • http://blenderguru.com Andrew Price

      I haven’t heard of Bamboo not working on Linux. At the Blender Conference I think David Revoy was running Linux during his workshops and he was using the Bamboo for his tablet. So maybe just some Linux versions don’t work?

  • talachem

    I’ll definitely looking into some of the things you mentioned. Something I can’t image working without it the Space Navigator from 3D Connexion. Navigation in Blender and other apps becomes kind of second nature. I’m looking around with it, moving and rotating things, it is just so easy and precision.

    • http://blenderguru.com Andrew Price

      I’ve often wondered about the Space Navigator. I haven’t brought myself to buy one as I worry that I would become a complete spaz if I then had to switch to a mouse at a conference demo or something. Glad to hear that it works well with Blender though.

  • Joe

    I just photograph my handdrawn sketches. free transformation tool… and feels faster than scan, and I hate the noise :) I still use a tablet but I have heard the bamboo is not good quality compared to the intuos 3 and 4…

  • Nixon

    good hints..i wonder if the cheaper alternatives to wacom boards can do the trick too…
    since 300$ could almost buy one an additional render comp almost….
    wonder if anyone still uses handdrawn sketches and a scanner like me does :D

  • Ja-Seen

    Which tablets work with Linux??

  • basilsmith

    Bamboo not work under Linux :(

  • Nick

    Yay! first comment! :)

    I recently bought a graphics tablet, and haven’t regretted it since. Will definitely look into buying the book.

    Thanks Andrew! :D