3D animation on Linux? Of course…

3D animation on Linux

There are many users who make their own designs of 3D animation in an amateur way or those who are dedicated to it in a professional way. Some people believe that to work with these types of designs you need a Windows computer or a Mac in your office. But nothing is further from the truth, for your GNU / Linux distro there is extremely good software.

In fact, great professional Studies They have used free software like the fantastic and powerful Blender. Works like Elephants Dream, Big Buck Bunny, Sintel, Tears of Steel, Caminandes, Cosmos Laundromat, Glass Half, and a long etc. have been created with this wonderful tool that you can use from your favorite distro and with an investment of € 0 .

What is 3D animation?

To know something about 3D animation, first you must know something about its origins ...

…A little history

3D animation is a discipline within design that is started in 1972, when young Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke created the first 3D animation. A time when traditional animation was reaching its limit and in which this new technique brought fresh air, transforming itself into a great empire of the audiovisual industry.

In fact, Ed Catmull had started working for Lucas Film, where he contributed to some visual effects for Star Wars. But his dream was to use 3D animation techniques to tell his own stories, so in 1986 founded Pixar along with Alvy Ray. And we all know the tremendous success of the films that have come out of these studios, such as Toy Story, Monsters, Cars, Bugs, Nemo, etc.

About 3D animation

La traditional animation is the art of giving the sensation of movement through still images. This is what is used for classic cartoons, or anime (a special kind of Japanese classic animation). Taking this definition into account, 3D animation is that technique that seeks the same thing, only with three-dimensional images with the aim of creating series, movies, video games, advertising, special effects for movies, virtual reality, augmented or mixed reality, scientific simulations, etc.

For that to be possible, software is needede able to draw the graphics and perform a series of calculations based on geometric projection and three-dimensional spaces to create these animations.

Types and techniques

Several types of 3D animation or techniques. The main ones are:

  • Realistic: combining 3D animation with CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) and visual effects or VFX, you can get very real images used for some movies or video games. For example, used in many movies such as The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, etc.
  • Cartoon- Traditional 2D cartoons can also be made using 3D animation to add another dimension to it and give it a more voluminous and realistic look. For example, the Angry Birds movie.
  • Snappy: is a special 3D animation technique, in which some characters of the characters are exaggerated and the designs are simplified. This technique is widely used in some movies, such as Hotel Transylvania.

Design processes

Like any design, 3D animation has some essential stages whereby an idea is finally transformed into a 3D animation. Those stages are usually:

  1. Preproduction: once you have the idea and the script, you begin to draw sketches of what the characters or objects will be. This stage ends with the creation of a storyboard, that is, a storyboard.
  2. Production: with all of the above, the design begins to be created by computer using the software. Within this process there are several steps, similar to what a graphics card or GPU does when recreating graphics:
    1. Modelling: the objects or characters of the scenes or simulations are designed in three dimensions.
    2. Materials and textures: here these models are given a texture or type of material. That gives them color and properties for animation. For example, if they are made of metal, they may have a series of light reflections, or they may be transparent materials, etc.
    3. Lighting: is the stage where the light simulation is generated for the scenes. For example, if there is an electric light, or if it is a scene under the sun, etc.
    4. Animation: is the step in which the software is used to give movement to the created objects or characters. Depending on the type of material, it can be deformed or moved with some effects or others. For example, if it is a fluid like water, it will have very particular movements and behavior.
    5. render: It is the heaviest process, where server farms or supercomputing are needed to generate the calculation to create the final 3D animation. However, if it is a simulation or short it can be done with a normal PC ... But, for example, Pixar uses powerful supercomputers for its films.
  3. Post-production: the rendered images are taken and retouched, ordered, passed through some filters, some effects are added, and the final result is obtained.

Software for 3D animation under Linux

Blender 3D render animation, simulation, VFX

If you decide to start with 3D animation in GNU / Linux, you should know that they exist some very cool software packages with which to start and create totally professional jobs.

The list of the best programs for 3D animation on Linux are:

  • Blender: It is the best 3D animation program for Linux and the favorite of the majority. It has a powerful rendering engine to work with both the CPU and the GPU to speed up the process, a complete interface full of tools for 3D and 2D modeling, lighting, materials, VFX functions, tools for animation and rigging, etc.
  • Wings 3D: it is another of the existing professional tools, with the capacity for modeling, lighting, materials and textures, although it does not support the animation process itself.
  • K-3D- Another free tool like the ones above that you can compile from source code. A powerful tool for artists with modeling and animation capabilities. In addition, it is very flexible and allows you to add new capabilities thanks to the plugins.

Study 3D animation

3D Animation Linux Graphics

If you liked it and you still don't know how you can start learning about 3D animation, you should know that there are many resources to learn. As some interesting degree in animation, online master's degree, training courses, manuals, etc. With them you will start from scratch and you will get a high level of experience to do much more complex work.

These types of training courses usually provide you with the basic skills necessary to start moving within the world of creativity and 3D animation. As usual, they will teach you to:

  • Use 3D animation software with all its functions and tools.
  • Being able to draw any type of design, provide it with movement and render to tell a story (audiovisual narratives) or carry out a simulation.
  • Improve your creative skills to face innovative projects.
  • Work other necessary additional disciplines, etc.

Who knows? Maybe you are the future animator of some important movie 3D animation. I know some people who currently work in VFX and animation, and when they started studying they would never imagine where they ended up working or the famous projects they have contributed to ...


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