Did you know that as a student at an accredited institution, you’re entitled to a ful education license of Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya software – for free?

There are some usage restrictions (you can’t use the license for commercial work, for example, and it expires after three years), but otherwise, you’ll gain access to the full features of the software, without limitation or watermark. You have the unique opportunity to learn and explore using the very same tools that professional modelers, animators and graphic design artists employ to create photorealistic digital images, movie monsters and video game character designs, and endless other possibilities.

Artwork by Elliot Waters

Our advice? Take your education into your own hands and build the skills you’ll need to succeed in the future. As a prospective design or animation student, you’ve undoubtedly got artistic talent and vision. You may even already have a head full of concepts and ideas. But the magic happens when you apply yourself to make those dreams a reality, and that takes more than just imagination and vision; it takes technique, experience, and an intimate familiarity with the tools of the trade – the kind of attributes that can only be won with hard work and hours and hours of practice.

Here are three ways you can get the most out of Autodesk’s educational license and prepare yourself for a career in 3D:

1- Hone Your Skills

We’ve helped thousands of artists bring their designs to life by developing industry- leading software to meet their rigorous demands, but the plain truth is that the skill curve is steep and getting the most out of the tools we offer requires a lot of trial and error.

Just as no artist approaches a blank canvas for the first time and paints a masterpiece, no animator or VFX artist opens Maya or 3ds Max for the first time and creates a picture-perfect render or animation. Furthermore, there aren’t always obvious, single solutions to the problems you’ll encounter. Two animators, tasked with the same challenge, might both come up with different approaches to achieving the same goal. That’s part of the fun.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your schooling, take advantage of our education licensing to become intimately familiar with our software, load up a few tutorials, and develop your techniques and strategies to bring your designs to life.

Artwork by Jose Pontes

2- Build a Portfolio

Our licensing agreement is strictly for educational purposes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t advance your career by building an impressive, eye-catching portfolio.

The graphic design industry is extremely competitive, with applicants from all over the world competing for work, so the easiest way for you to distinguish yourself is to build up a body of work that showcases the skills you’ve acquired and your unique artistic vision. Portfolios are often a labor of self-expression: these are your ideas, the products of your imagination, and employers will appreciate a glimpse into your creative mind.

But if you’d really like to work for a particular company, or are going for a specific role, you may want to tailor your portfolio to your potential employer’s expectations. Do they make horror movies? Show off your frightening creature design. Was their last project a sci-fi video game? Design an interstellar spacecraft.

The possibilities here are endless, and your hard work while under an education license can be translated into improved career prospects and future earnings.

Artwork by Elliot Waters

3- Showcase Your Work

Now that you’ve built up a body of work that you’re proud of that showcases your unique skills and vision, it’s time to put your creations out there for the world to see.

For many artists today, that means hosting your work on a personal website or community sites like AREA, ArtStation and The Rookies, sharing renders on social media, and building up your brand. If you’d like to take the traditional career route, you can point potential employers to your portfolio and hopefully secure a job that way. But you might also opt to freelance. If you opt for this latter route, it won’t be job interviews or your education transcript that will make or break your success; it will be the strength of the work you showcase.

While the student license does come with some limitations, it does enable you to learn the software, develop your techniques and approaches, and build a body of work that will help you stand out in a competitive job market.

We hope you’ll take full advantage of this opportunity, and we look forward to seeing your work on AREA, the official 3ds Max and Maya community for 3D artists.

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