Beginner’s Guide To 3D Animation

Beginner's Guide To 3D AnimationBeginner's Guide To 3D Animation

This is a continuation from the previous blog on Bouncing Ball Animation with Maya : 4 Factors to Create Good Animation. In beginner's guide to 3d animation, I'll explain from how to setup your computer with recommendations and brief introduction to using 3d software.

Before we start learning animation, we have some technical aspect to cover.

1. Operationg System (O/S)

Mac operating system (O/S) is generally more stable and processes much faster in graphics compared to Windows O/S. If you are using Windows O/S, just note that the Command Key is mapped as Control Key in Windows.


2. Maya Software

Maya Software is available in educational license at Autodesk Educational Institution website. If you are a student, they allow you to download an educational copy free for 3 years. All you need to do is register with them. Register for free and select the latest Maya software to install. If you are not a student, you might want to borrow your friend’s copy to try it out before you purchase it. Maya is available for both Mac and Windows O/S.


3. Bouncing Ball Rig

This is the maya file that we will use for the bouncing ball tutorial. I’ve created this rig for your convenience and feel free to download it for your own use.


4. Mouse Selection

Logitech m185 wireless mouseI have to recommend buying a 3 button mouse with scrolling middle mouse button. 3D softwares needs 3 buttons for navigation so investing in a good mouse will gives you a piece of mind when animating. I’m currently using a wireless USB mouse by Logitech (Model M185) which I bought at about USD$25 and has been serving me very well for the past 1 year.


These 3 video tutorial covers the basic operations of using Autodesk Maya, including your hand position and mouse controls. This is a technical operation guide but it is also one of the most important thing that you learn to be efficient with your software operation.

5. Hand Position

Many students operates the software only with a mouse and while the other hand is not doing anything at all. This can seriously slow you down by more than 50% of your creation speed because there are many short cut keys you can use on your keyboard.

Make use of both your hands to create 3D animation. As a general guide, left hand is positioned on important keys such as Q,W,E,R and spacebar. Your right hand will be controlling the mouse for more intuitive navigation or viewport manupilation.


6. Viewing in 3D Space

3D environment can be something new to new learners and learning to navigate in the 3D space is very crucial. Creating 3D models or animations requires viewing of the object from various angle and this video will guide you to move around the 3D space with ease. Once you have mastered this basic viewing operation, your model and animation create will be less frustrating and more enjoyable.

The 3 most important ways to navigate in the 3D space is panning, rotating and zooming into the object you are working on. Make sure you practice these 3 basic navigation until you are very familiar with it before moving on.


7. Options Selection

There are many tools in Maya to create exciting models and animation. However, Maya is a sophisticated software with many tools located at different menus. When there are too many tools in a tool box, it can be difficult to look for the appropriate tool for your operation. This video guides shows you some of the common ways to look for your tools.

For quick options, right mouse click and hold on the 3D object will provide you with relevant operation tools. There are also more options available when you hold down either Command (Cmd), Control (Ctrl) and Shift before you click and hole your right mouse button to display the options.


Here are the 8 video tutorials on bouncing ball with maya!

Learning to animate does not relies on only software skills. The fundamentals of animation is critical to make your animation looks realistic. Check out what contributes to a good animation and I'll see you soon!


  1. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you make running a blog glance simple. The total look of your web website is magnificent, nicely the content material!

  2. Hi,
    Awesome vid tutorials for newbies. I learnt alot from your videos. I would like to learn on rotation of the ball basics. Since I am an novice your vid have made it clear with nice examples. Is there any specific link where I can learn the rotation of he bouncing ball

    Thank you

    • I’m creating the video on ball rotation so stay tune!

  3. Hi , its to bad my contry block vimeo site, so we can not watch your tutorial on vimeo,
    please upload to youtube as well.


    • Hi, can you please suggest good laptops required for 2d or 3d animation?
      I am thinking of buying any windows laptop.

      • Hi Vismay, laptop is mostly about which brand you like. I do no have any brand preference but I do see my students buying brand like fujistu, asus and macbook.

        What I can recommend is the performance of your laptop.

        2D and 3D requires lots of screen space, so it is good to go for 15 inch screen or 17 inch screen.

        Animation also requires lots of memory. I recommend that you upgrade your memory ram to the maximum capacity of your laptop.

        Another option is to find a gamer’s laptop, because laptop build for game usually have high performance graphic card, memory ram and screen size.

        Hope these helps!

  4. Hi Nash, can you please tell me if autodesk maya 2016 or any other version of maya is supportable on windows 10 ?

    • Hi Vismay, I’m not sure about win10 because I’m not a win user. You might want to check Autodesk website for their specification.
      However, I believe high chance that maya can work on win10.


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