10 Best 3D Lighting Courses and Certifications Online

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Close up iPhone showing Udemy application and laptop with notebook3D lighting is a crucial aspect of 3D animation and computer graphics. It involves the use of lighting techniques to create realistic and visually compelling images. Online courses provide an opportunity for individuals to acquire knowledge and skills in 3D lighting. With numerous courses available online, choosing the best one can be overwhelming. This article presents the top three 3D lighting courses available online based on various factors such as course content, instructor expertise, and user reviews. The courses offer comprehensive training on lighting techniques, tools, and software used in creating high-quality 3D visualizations.

Here’s a look at the Best 3D Lighting Courses and Certifications Online and what they have to offer for you!

10 Best 3D Lighting Courses and Certifications Online

1. Maya 3D Masterclass – Modeling a 3D Sci-Fi Vehicle in Maya by Digital Saucer Studios (Udemy) (Our Best Pick)

The Maya 3D Masterclass – Modeling a 3D Sci-Fi Vehicle in Maya course is designed to teach students how to use powerful modeling and rendering tools in Maya to create a 3D sci-fi vehicle. The course is over 23 hours long and provides comprehensive instruction on Maya’s modeling tools. The course begins with an overview of the three most common modeling tools in Maya, which are the Bevel Tool, the Multi-Cut Tool, and the Extrude Tool.

The course then moves on to modeling the famous Landspeeder from Star Wars. The first step is blocking out the basic shape of the Landspeeder, including the main body, wings, and cockpit area. Next, the instructor adds details to all the Landspeeder parts, including the turbine engines, cockpit, and repulsor vents. Throughout the course, the instructor provides clear and precise instructions on modeling techniques and explains why they are used.

In the final section of the course, students learn how to set up the camera and lighting, and how to render the Landspeeder. By the end of the course, students will have a professional-looking model they can add to their showreel. The course is designed to help students become a master at 3D modeling in Maya.

The course is divided into three sections: Introduction, Modeling, and Shading, Lighting, and Rendering. The Introduction section provides an overview of the course and what students can expect to learn. The Modeling section covers the step-by-step process of modeling the Landspeeder, while the Shading, Lighting, and Rendering section covers the techniques used to make the model look realistic.

Overall, this course is an excellent resource for anyone looking to improve their 3D modeling skills in Maya. The course provides comprehensive instruction on the tools and techniques used to create a professional-looking 3D model.

2. Modeling Fundamentals in Maya 2020 by Digital Saucer Studios (Udemy)

The “Modeling Fundamentals in Maya 2020” course, instructed by Digital Saucer Studios, is a project-based course that aims to teach students how to master Maya’s powerful modeling tools. The course is over 14 hours long and covers several tools such as Bevel, Extrude, Multi-Cut, Insert Edge Loop, Bridge, Mirror, Merge, Booleans, and more. The course teaches professional modeling tips and tricks to make students proficient in modeling.

The first project in the course is modeling an iPhone, where students will learn every step of the modeling process, including creating the basic shape of the phone with a cube, modeling the buttons, screen, camera, and port. They will also learn how to add proper shaders to the phone, use lights in Maya to illuminate the phone, and render the phone to make it look realistic.

The second half of the course focuses on modeling a cartoon style car. Students will learn how to block out the roof, chassis, hood, grill, lights, wheels, rims, tire treads, and add details such as the wing mirror, steering wheel, seats, door handles, and glass shader for the windows. The course also teaches the difference between bad and good geometry and how to fix problems so models have proper edge flows and clean geometry.

By the end of the course, students will have the confidence to make their own models inside Maya. This course is designed for students who are serious about modeling and want to become professional modelers.

3. Creating a Cartoon Octopus Monster in Maya 2020 by Digital Saucer Studios (Udemy)

The course titled Creating a Cartoon Octopus Monster in Maya 2020 is offered by Digital Saucer Studios. The course aims to teach professional techniques in modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering to create a cute character. The course offers a step-by-step approach to creating a character from start to finish.

The course starts with the introduction of modeling tools such as Multi-Cut Tool, Quad Draw Tool, Bridge Tool, Extrude Tool, Mirror Tool, Edit Edge Flow, and Project Curve on Surface. The course teaches the importance of correct and clean topology while modeling and the difference between low resolution and high resolution models.

The course then covers the creation of the character’s body, eye, and tentacles. The course also includes the creation of UV maps and the use of the 3D Paint Tool to texture the character. The course teaches how to use HYPERSHADE to create materials and shaders. The course covers the use of the Arnold Standard Surface Shader and Subsurface Scattering to create skin.

The course then teaches the creation of a camera and its impact on the character’s proportion. The course covers the use of Skydome lighting and area lights to set up the lighting. The course also teaches the use of render settings in Maya to get a final professional-looking rendered image.

Finally, the course covers bringing the rendered image into Photoshop to create the final look. Overall, the course offers a comprehensive approach to creating a cartoon character in Maya 2020.

4. Learn Arnold – Fundamentals of Shading and Lighting by Arvid Schneider (Udemy)

The “Learn Arnold – Fundamentals of Shading and Lighting” course, taught by experienced VFX artist Arvid Schneider, aims to help beginners and intermediate-level learners become skilled in shading, lighting, and rendering with Arnold. The course is designed to teach students how to apply their knowledge to other 3D rendering software packages, such as Maya, Cinema4D, Houdini, and Katana. The course provides learners with a comprehensive understanding of the most important shading nodes, including Curvature, Noise, Occlusion, and Surface.

Additionally, students will learn best practices for stylized photographic lighting, how to create physically correct and visually appealing shaders, and how to set up complex shading networks with advanced light rigs.

It is important to note that this course does not teach how to work within Autodesk Maya or cover topics related to modelling, texturing, or animation. Also, the course does not provide source files.

The course is divided into several sections, including Introduction, Introduction to Shaders, Introduction to Lights, Materials, Light Setups, Shading and Lighting, Rendering, and Bonus Lectures. By the end of the course, students will be equipped with the essential knowledge and skills required to become successful lighting and shading TDs in today’s competitive industry.

5. KATANA | Mastering LookDev & Lighting for the VFX industry by Arvid Schneider (Udemy)

The KATANA | Mastering LookDev & Lighting for the VFX industry course is an advanced course taught by Arvid Schneider, a professional VFX industry artist with over 10 years of experience on blockbuster movies. The course covers the industry standard lighting and look development software Katana and is designed to help students become advanced lighting and shading TDs in the competitive industry.

The course is tagged for all levels, but it becomes intermediate and advanced fairly quickly. It is a technical and artistic course that contains a lot of theory and artistic hands-on lectures. The course uses Katana for Windows and Arnold as its main software tools, but all topics can be achieved on Linux or Mac workstations using other renderers.

The course covers principles of look development and lighting, creating advanced and versatile look and lighting templates, look development of production assets, shot lighting of production assets, rendering shots, and compositing. Students will learn how to work within Katana and understand important workflows, create powerful macros and templates to organize their work, and create advanced templates within Katana.

Upon completing the course, students will be able to work with Katana at a high level, directly jump into a VFX company with advanced knowledge in templates and workflows, create and customize custom workflows, and develop tools and macros. The course is not about teaching a specific renderer, modelling, texturing, animation, or programming languages like Python or Lua.

The course is divided into several sections, including Introduction, Katana | Fundamentals, Arnold Overview, Look Development, Lighting, Katana | Advanced, Katana | Becoming the Master, and Additional Lectures.

6. Learn To Make Epic Low Poly Scenes In Unity [Beginner] by Yume Neoui (Udemy)

The course “Learn To Make Epic Low Poly Scenes In Unity [Beginner]” is taught by Yume Neoui and focuses on low poly modeling, color theory, lighting in Unity, and texturing in Photoshop. The course is designed for beginner users in Maya, Zbrush, Unity, and Photoshop, and aims to prepare students for intermediate and advanced courses in low poly scene creation. The course includes seven lessons covering organizing plans, modeling, color theory, exporting and importing, scene setup and lighting, and particle effects.

In the first lesson, students will learn how to plan out and manage their ideas efficiently. They will also be exposed to different art resources and game development communities for additional support. The following lesson covers the basics and workflow of modeling from Maya to Zbrush. Students will learn how to freestyle and find their own art style while becoming familiar with the Maya and Zbrush interface.

The third lesson delves into color theory and color schemes. Students will learn how to effectively learn, remember everything they study, and achieve their goals. They will also create gradient textures and color combinations. The fourth lesson covers exporting from Maya 2018, while the fifth lesson deals with importing assets to Unity.

The sixth lesson focuses on setting up a portal scene in Unity and lighting it. Students will use their knowledge of color theory to create stunning and beautiful scenes. The final lesson covers Unity particle effects, including creating a mass variety of VFX that will elevate scenes or games to the degree of a pro.

The course is designed for complete beginners, and everything is made from scratch and easy to understand. No previous experience is necessary to achieve great results. Students are encouraged to watch the course’s free preview videos, especially the first one which details how to save money and get the best savings when purchasing bundles.

7. Unity 5 Level Design, Lighting, and Animation by Packt Publishing (Udemy)

Packt Publishing offers a course entitled “Unity 5 Level Design, Lighting, and Animation.” The course aims to teach participants the principles of level design, lightning, and animation in Unity 5. It focuses on developing skills in level design for 2D games, and covers topics such as advanced lighting and terrain. Participants will also learn material creation, physically-based rendering, and character animation. At the end of the course, participants are expected to have an advanced knowledge of Unity and its feature-set.

The course author is Alan Thorn, a multidisciplinary game developer, author, and educator with 17 years of industry experience. He has created award-winning games for PC desktop, mobile, and VR, and has written 23 technical books on game development. He has previously worked as a senior lecturer for Teesside University, a lead teacher for Uppingham School, and a visiting lecturer for the London South Bank University. He is currently the head of department for Games Design and Development at the National Film and Television School.

The course is divided into several sections, namely Material and Lights, Modular Building, Terrains, Lighting and Lightmapping, Creating a Terrain, Creating the Day and Night Cycle, Animation, and Character Animation.

8. Arnold and Nuke – Light and Compositing a 3d Cinematic Shot by Cesar Macias (Udemy)

The Arnold and Nuke – Light and Compositing a 3d Cinematic Shot Course is designed to teach individuals how to create an impressive cinematic scene using Arnold and Nuke. The course is led by Cesar Macias.

Participants in the course will learn how to generate lighting effects and create a composite scene using Arnold render and Nuke. The course content contains three main sections including an introduction, lighting in Arnold render, and compositing in Nuke.

Throughout the course, students will gain an understanding of the techniques used in large VFX studios to produce high-quality images for film and video game cinematics. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to create a personalized version of the scene by utilizing the assets and techniques provided in the course.

Those interested in enhancing their skills in the area of lighting and compositing will benefit from this course. Upon completion, participants will have added a valuable piece to their demo reel or portfolio.

9. 3D Lighting – Theory and Practice by Andy Maier (Udemy)

The Course Title for this program is “3D Lighting – Theory and Practice”, which is instructed by Andy Maier. The Course is designed to provide knowledge on essential concepts of 3D lighting and its application in product rendering, VFX, and other areas beyond. The program aims to teach the fundamental building blocks of the language of light, namely lighting theory, and demonstrate its real-world application.

The program caters to individuals who want to develop a classical understanding of lighting theory and see its practical application. The course consists of eight sections, starting with an Introduction, followed by Lighting Theory, 3D Lights, Product Rendering Workshop, HDRI Lighting, Rendering and Compositing, Architectural Lighting, and Sign-off.

The course content emphasizes the importance of understanding lighting theory and its application in creating compelling renders. It aims to equip students with knowledge on how to command emotion with light, which is crucial in creating engaging visual content.

In conclusion, the program offers a comprehensive insight into 3D lighting fundamentals and provides students with practical skills to create visually appealing renders.

10. Advanced Realism in Blender Eevee by Washington Araujo Carige Filho (Udemy)

The course titled “Advanced Realism in Blender Eevee” is taught by Washington Araujo Carige Filho. This course teaches students how to combine Eevee with Cycles to achieve high-quality and accurate results for stills and animations. Students will learn to prepare a scene, set up the irradiance probes, bake it and lighting using Blender Eevee real-time. The course also covers how to avoid and fix issues that may arise during the process and how to use Blender compositor to enhance render quality. Students should have a prior understanding of Blender interface, viewport, camera set up, move objects, and a basic idea of how Cycles works.

The course does not require students to have a deep knowledge of Cycles settings and other technical aspects of Blender. However, it is recommended to check the requirements to use Eevee to avoid frustration due to lack of performance. The course will be constantly updated with new classes, tips, and quick lessons corresponding to the upcoming upgrades from Blender foundation, and also with eventual requests made in an exclusive group on Facebook.

The course content includes an introduction, optimization, lighting, baking, final touch – taking the render to the next level, examples, and extra information. Additionally, there are sections in Portuguese, including “Otimização,” “Iluminação e Bake,” and “Toque final: Elevando o nível do render,” and “Informação extra.” Overall, this course is designed to raise the quality of renders a level above in real-time, making it an essential course for those interested in Blender Eevee.