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5 Online Resources for Getting Started in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

Clay Asbury

Looking to start a visual effects career or develop new motion graphics skills? These online VFX education resources are cost effective and convenient!

Whether you just finished high school or are mid career, not everyone has the time or money to attend school full-time. In this post, we explore affordable online options to learn visual effects, CG and motion graphics.

Check out each site, watch the preview videos and read the FAQs to find the online VFX education resource that best fits your needs and interests.



FXPHD mimics a traditional format of universities, giving you a 10-week schedule of training. You can join anytime during the 10 weeks and the classes are taught by industry professionals.

How it Works: Standard three-course membership costs $359, includes required 4th class, Background Fundamentals. You download the classes, it is not a subscription service. You have 2 weeks to sample the available classes (first 2 classes) before committing to 3 classes.
Features: Access to a variety of software via VPN during the 10 weeks. Access to the class forums, where you can ask questions and interact with fellow students. You can also download hi-res footage that you can use for practice.Some of the intro classes offer certification exams. There are Challenges (background fundamentals) where you submit work for feedback.
 Focus: Broad. Though they offer a lot of VFX and motion graphics classes, as well as classes in cinematography, editing, color grading, and audio. They have 9 class tags, where you can search classes by subject.

2. Digital Tutors

Digital Tutors

How it Works: Subscription service (Monthly Plan $45, 6 Months $225, Yearly $399) You have access to files to use for the classes and on your reel.
Features: 1300+ courses with 24 Learning Paths that guide you to what classes to watch. Classes are broken into levels and offer quizzes and tests.A good starting place for beginners is CG 101, a collection of fundamentals for 2D & 3D. There are also tips on creating a demo reel and portfolio. They offer new classes each month (see listing below).
 Focus: Broad. Subjects include 2D, 3D, CAD, Game Development and Video VFX. Also covers traditional skills (drawing, illustration, color theory), as well as a variety of software.

learning paths by software



How it Works: Annual Subscription  $299.99 (includes training materials) or you can buy a video stream of any individual class.
Features: New classes weekly. Instructors (mentors) are well known industry artists.
Focus: Specific. Hi-End VFX for movies and media (software include Nuke, Houdini, Maya).

4. Simply Maya

Simply Maya

How it Works: Video Credits allow you do download only the parts of a tutorial that you’d like to watch. You can also opt for a Lifetime Membership $395 or purchase a video tutorial from the Simply Maya Shop (individual downloads)
Features: Tutorials cover a range of Maya related topics including rigging, lighting, modeling, shading and rendering. There’s also an active Community Forum and Maya resources (models, rigs, shaders, materials, scripts).
Focus: Specific. Courses are limited to Maya software based training.

Simply Maya Courses

5. VFX Learning U

VFX Learning

VFX Learning U is an Indiegogo project (funding Dec. 2013) of VFX Learning.

How it Works: A suite of VFX training tutorials from VFXLearning.com Choose the FX Technical Director package for $300 or purchase case studies individually (1 for $50 or 4 for $150).
Features: 70 hours of training on Maya and RealFlow. The Technical Director package which covers how to create Hollywood style VFX. Each training video comes with project files.
Focus: Specific to feature film style visual effects.

VFX Learning U

Other Paid VFX Education Options

If you’re looking for a more traditional online VFX school, check out these options (all over $500) which offer a structured set of visual effects classes.

How did you learn visual effects? Know any resources that were not included? Share your thoughts in the comments below!