Element-3d-video-copilot-andrew-kramer-adobe-after-effects-224x144This past summer I wrote about the release and initial tutorials for Video Copilot's awesome Adobe After Effects plug-in, Element 3D. Andrew Kramer has been slowly but surely releasing new tutorials for the plug-in that show off more aspects of its functionality and practical applications in After Effects projects. His three latest Element 3D tutorials delve into image based lighting, using video clips as textures to create screen animations, and making a field of random rocks as a part of a set extension. As an extra bonus, I've included some tutorials for the free open-source 3D modeling and animation program Blender, to get you started making your own objects for Element 3D.

The third tutorial -- which involves using a single rock object and Element 3D to create a convincing field of random rocks -- is not embeddable at the time of this writing, but you can watch it here.

In all of his tutorials, Kramer usually uses a 3D program like Cinema 4D (which ranges from about $1000 to $3700 depending on the flavor you get) or 3D Studio Max (about $3700). And while he does offer some useful themed model packs (about $100 each), I want to provide you with the basic knowledge you need to create your own objects for Element 3D using Blender (much more affordable at $0) and a little Photoshop (or if you prefer, Gimp).

For starters, here's a great video that demonstrates basic modeling, creating custom materials, and UV mapping.

If you're looking for something a bit more challenging (or you want to make a forest scene with Element 3D), checkout this tutorial on modeling and texturing trees.

Both of the above tutorials go into UV mapping a bit, but to round out your knowledge you should watch this video on UV unwrapping objects that range from simple to complex.

Want to make seamless tileable textures for your objects? These videos show you how to achieve this with both the Clone Stamp Tool and the Patch Tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Lastly, for animating pre-fractured objects in Element 3D, these two videos will show you everything you need to know about Blender's Cell Fracture Tool, and how to texture the exterior and interior surfaces of the fragments.

Also, if you've been on the fence about buying Element 3D, now is a good time to get it. Video Copilot is having a 25% off "Cyber Sale" on all their products this week only.