12 Best Online VFX Courses With Certificate (2024 Reviewed)

Last Updated on June, 2024

Trying to master the art of visual effects (VFX) by yourself can be challenging. The complex software can be hard to grasp, even for the most seasoned VFX artists.

Structured guidance and quality teaching patterns are key to grasping VFX fully. This is why we have compiled a list of the best VFX courses you can access online, taught by entertainment industry professionals with experience. 

Since all the courses on our list are virtual, all you will need is a PC, Internet access, and dedication to complete each program.

Beginner-Level VFX Courses

If you are passionate about VFX and looking for courses to master fundamental VFX skills, the programs below are for you. 

1. 3D Animation & Modeling Master Class (Udemy)

a screenshot of the 3D Animation & Modeling Master Class course from Udemy

Udemy’s 3D Animation & Modeling Master Class offers comprehensive online training for individuals aspiring to master different visual effects software programs like 3DSMax and Mudbox.

It covers the core fundamentals of animation and advanced techniques using fun and simple projects in each section to simplify the learning process. 

The course covers:

  • Animation, polygon modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, digital sculpting, rendering.
  • Software like 3DSMax, Mudbox, and techniques are transferable to any 3D application. 
  • Creating professional assets for portfolios, game design, animations, 3D prints, or VR worlds.
  • Critical aspects of the video industry include video games, visual effects, animation, design, engineering, and app development.

This program is priced at $59.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee. And since it’s on Udemy, you can expect it to go on sale frequently. Who knows? It’s entirely possible that it’s discounted at this very moment.


2. Foundations Of VFX Diploma (CG Spectrum)

a screenshot of the Foundations Of VFX Diploma course from CG Spectrum

CG Spectrum, a reputable online learning platform, offers the Foundations of VFX Diploma- a comprehensive introduction course providing a solid foundation in skills like 3D modeling, FX animation, and visual effects production. 

The program on CG Spectrum spans three terms (36 weeks).

Term 1: Animation and Modeling for VFX

  • Dive into 3D modeling, animation, and visual effects using Maya, Substance Painter, and Houdini.
  • Learn how to create realistic animation and 3D props.

Term 2: Character Art, Animation, and Environment Modeling

  • Build on foundational knowledge with complex projects.
  • Develop 3D characters, animate interactions, and learn how to create realistic environments.

Term 3: FX for VFX

  • Master Houdini FX for dynamic particle effects and digital effects. 
  • Gain a hands-on understanding of the VFX pipeline.

You can pay for The Foundations of VFX Diploma by CG Spectrum in 9 installments of $1,185. For those seeking a more personalized experience, one-on-one private classes are offered at $1,750 monthly.


3. VFX: Complete Houdini Bootcamp (Udemy)

a screenshot of the VFX: Complete Houdini Bootcamp course from Udemy

Complete Houdini Bootcamp is a course offered by Udemy with an impressive rating of 4.6. With 19 hours of video content, this course delves into Houdini FX, a powerful visual effects application widely used in VFX, 3D animation, and game studios. 

The course dives into specifics of animation, like creating professional explosions, crafting realistic oceans, and generating rain effects for dynamic visuals. 

The program consists of 14 informative articles, 31 downloadable resources, lifetime accessibility to course content, accessible both on mobile and TV, and a certificate on completion. 

This program is priced at $74.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


4. Fundamentals Of VFX (Udemy)

a screenshot of the Fundamentals Of VFX course from Udemy

Udemy’s Fundamentals of VFX has a rating of 4.1 and has 3 hours’ worth of video content. It focuses on integrating 3D models into your designs, adjusting contrasts, and effectively manipulating colors to create realistic visual effects that would otherwise be time-consuming. 

It covers the basics of crafting photorealistic effects and explores advanced VFX techniques like 3D camera animation, Nuke compositing, and planar tracking. 

It allows access to 13 downloadable resources, full lifetime access to course content accessible on both mobile and TV, and a digital certificate on course completion.

This course is priced at $64.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


5. VFX For Beginners Using Adobe After Effects (Skillshare)

a screenshot of the VFX For Beginners Using Adobe After Effects course from Skillshare

VFX for beginners using Adobe After Effects offers an insightful course tailored for students just starting off.

It has a duration of just 12 minutes and provides an excellent introduction to particle effects, teaching the creation of realistic situations like smoke, fire, explosions, and other natural phenomena.

Course designer Lanier provides Harry Potter movie-style special effects tutorials, guiding students to create particles using After Effects’ built-in plugins, adjusting appearances, and coloring scenes to evoke a magical mood. 

The course can be accessed on both tablet and phone, and a digital certificate is provided upon completion. 

Skillshare offers a free one-month trial on signing up for this course. 


6. After Effects CC: Beginner’s Guide To VFX Visual Effects (Udemy)

a screenshot of the After Effects CC: Beginner's Guide To VFX Visual Effects course from Udemy

Udemy’s After Effects CC: Beginner’s Guide to VFX Visual Effects has a high rating of 4.9. It has 4.5 hours of video content and is a beginner-level course that provides a complete guide to every aspect of visual effects in After Effects. 

The course helps you understand critical concepts behind visual effects in After Effects, develop the skills needed to create complete projects using various effects, videos, and graphics, and create inspiring visual animations, effects, and cinematic components.

As you progress through this special effects course, you’ll not only become a master of visual effects but also acquire the knowledge and skills to navigate and manipulate other elements as well confidently.

This course provides access to 14 articles, 13 downloadable resources, lifetime access to course content, and convenient access on mobile and TV.

This course is priced at $54.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Intermediate and Advanced Level VFX Courses

Once you have mastered the fundamentals, here are a few courses that can help enhance what you have already learned. 

7. VFX Shot Creation From Scratch With Maya And After Effects (Udemy)

a screenshot of the VFX Shot Creation From Scratch With Maya And After Effects course from Udemy

Udemy’s VFX Shot Creation From Scratch With Maya And After Effects offers a 1-month free trial and is designed for intermediate students. 

Led by course designer Vicki Lau, this online course enables you to understand how to create short films through a step-by-step process. It gives insight into essential tools like Mocha Pro and After Effects to construct captivating and realistic animation elements. 

Other features include practice with motion tracking, creation of CG worlds, crafting aerial shots, and how to master rotoscope animation.

The course has downloadable resources that can be accessed on both tablets and phones, and a digital certificate is provided upon completion. 

Priced at $59.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee, this course is practical and provides creative insights into bringing a short film to life.


8. Maya 2018 VFX – Learn To Create Visual Effects Using Maya (Udemy)

a screenshot of the Maya 2018 VFX – Learn To Create Visual Effects Using Maya course from Udemy

Maya 2018 VFX – Learn To Create Visual Effects Using Maya by Udemy has a rating of 4.1, with 12.5 hours of video content. This intermediate-level course equips you with the skills required to master visual effects creation.

You will learn how to use the VFX pipeline for a shot, match or track a camera’s motion using Matchmover, learn basic hard surface modeling, and learn Nuke compositing.

It has 5 downloadable resources, with lifetime access to the course content accessible on mobiles and tablets and a certificate on completion. 

It is priced at $54.99 with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 


9. Arnold For Maya Workshop (Academy of Animated Art)

a screenshot of the Arnold For Maya Workshop course from Academy of Animated Art

Arnold for Maya Workshop, offered by the Academy of Animated Art, focuses solely on how to use Arnold with Maya 3D software and is especially useful if you are a lighting artist.

Arnold is the same renderer used to produce world-class visual effects in blockbuster movies like Blade Runner, Gravity, and Marvel films; therefore, learning your way around this software is beneficial.

This course provides detailed coverage of every aspect of using Arnold in Maya and a detailed analysis of all available options, like object settings, shaders, and lighting functionality.

The Arnold for Maya Workshop is priced at $199.


10. Katana Workshop (Academy of Animated Art)

a screenshot of the Katana Workshop course from Academy of Animated Art

Katana is a lighting tool that simplifies the management of assets, materials, shaders, and output files to speed up the workflow. This tool allows any VFX artist to work on several large files simultaneously. 

It has a node-based workflow for streamlined project organization and allows simultaneous work on multiple shots, frames, assets, and variations within one lighting project file. 

The Katana Workshop is conducted by Abel Vargas, an experienced lighting compositor who has worked with studios like Sony Imageworks, Animal Logic, Method Studios, and Double Negative.

It is priced at $599 and is perfect for an FX artist seeking an efficient and simplified lighting and look development workflow.


11. Lighting VFX Workflows With Katana And RenderMan (Pluralsight)

a screenshot of the Lighting VFX Workflows With Katana And RenderMan course from Pluralsight

Pluralsight’s Lighting VFX Workflows with Katana and RenderMan is an expanded online course focusing on two essential software programs used widely by top animation studios.

This course covers the basic workflows of Katana and RenderMan and also includes Nuke software in the curriculum.

It provides a detailed understanding of concepts like VFX lighting workflows, calibrating lighting renders using Nuke, integrating CG assets, Nuke compositing, and an overall robust understanding of visual effects workflows.

The course is almost 3 hours long. You can subscribe to Pluralsight for a subscription fee of $29 monthly to gain access to this course and a library of 7,000+ courses. They also offer a free 10-day trial. 


12. Bringing 3D Objects Into Live-Action Footage (Skillshare)

a screenshot of the Bringing 3D Objects Into Live-Action Footage course from Skillshare

Bringing 3D Objects Into Live-Action Footage, offered by Manning Moore on Skillshare, explains how to integrate 3D objects seamlessly into live-action footage. 

You will learn about software like After Effects, Cinema 4D, and the Octane render engine. You will also cover a comprehensive portion of Nuke compositing for realistic results, animating 3D objects, rendering, and final color grading.

Moore is a VFX generalist who works for Mutiny FX and is highly experienced in the VFX field. 

There are 14 lessons with a duration of 1 hour and 12 minutes, where you can gain hands-on experience with popular software tools in the industry. 

Skillshare offers a 30-day free trial, followed by a $29 monthly membership fee.


What are the Best Online VFX Schools?

The best online VFX schools should be tailored for a VFX artist of any proficiency level. Here are a few platforms that only focus on visual arts:

Rebelway:

  • It is an online school designed by VFX artists for VFX artists.
  • Offers over 30 online courses in industry standard tools.
  • Features expert instructors who were behind successful movies like Marvel’s Avengers.
  • Courses range from 8 to 11 weeks, starting at $698. 

Gnomon:

  • Gnomon’s instructors are renowned experts, which is why it is called the “Harvard of Digital Arts.”
  • Provides 12 online courses, each 10 weeks long, for $1,323.
  • Graduates are employed at renowned companies like DNEG and Electronic Arts.

CG Spectrum:

  • Recognized for its hands-on approach.
  • Courses are 3 months long, starting at $3,199.
  • Provides personalized job support and portfolio building. 
  • Mentors with industry experience, such as contributors to Game of Thrones and Avengers.

CGMA (Computer Graphics Master Academy)

  • Offers over 25 courses, including Python for VFX.
  • Courses range from 4 to 10 weeks, starting at $399.
  • The course is taught by industry professionals and fellow artists, such as those behind Marvel’s Shang-Chi and Disney’s Encanto.

Fxphd

  • A subscription-based platform with over 250 high-quality courses.
  • Mentors with industry experience, such as those behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Who.
  • Subscription starts at $79 per month. 

What are Visual Effects (VFX)?

Visual effects is the art of seamlessly merging live-action footage with computer-generated elements to create captivity imagery in films, games, and series.

This includes Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), composing, and Motion Capture (Mocap). CGI is where entire worlds and characters are crafted using specialized software.

Composting is the final stage of VFX, which seamlessly integrates digital assets like alien invasions with live-action scenes of a film. Mocap is the recording and translation of actor movements into 3D models.

VFX is integral to filmmaking; talented artists can specialize through online courses without needing a traditional art school. This makes VFX careers accessible to students who are passionate about it.

What Should You Look for When Choosing a VFX Course?

Before choosing an online course or an online class to learn VFX software, here are a few key points to consider::

  • Ensure the course covers a range of VFX topics and industry-standard VFX software.
  • Look for instructors with industry experience and a strong portfolio.
  • Choose a course with suitable length and flexibility for self-paced learning.
  • Seek courses with mentorship and community support for a well-rounded learning experience.
  • Select courses offering networking opportunities and job placement support to enhance successful career prospects and portfolio building. 
  • Read feedback from past students to gauge the course’s effectiveness.
  • Assess the overall value and check for flexible payment options.

Advantages of Following a VFX Course

Given below are some of the most significant advantages you gain by following VFX courses:

  • You have an explicit, structured curriculum that progresses from fundamentals for novices to advanced techniques for more advanced users.
  • You have access to industry-standard tools.
  • You receive guidance from experienced instructors with real-world insights.
  • You have access to personalized guidance from seasoned professionals. 
  • You gain opportunities to connect with peers, alums, and entertainment industry experts.
  • Online VFX courses allow accessibility from anywhere in the world.
  • You have increased chances of finding your dream job due to focused skill development and enhanced credentials.

Other course categories you might like:

FAQs

To learn VFX, focus on Houdini FX, Nuke, After Effects, and Blender, depending on your area of interest in visual effects production.

No, coding is not mandatory for all VFX roles; artists can use scripts or tools from technical teams.

Yes, VFX is challenging due to technical aspects, but success is achievable with dedication and proper training.

Yes, VFX jobs are in demand in film, gaming, and advertising industries.

You can learn VFX for free on YouTube, Khan Academy, and Fxphd, although more comprehensive courses may require payment.

The time taken to learn VFX varies depending on the technical course and individual pace. Short courses may take a few weeks, while more extensive programs could span several months. 

Final Thoughts

Learning VFX opens many creative opportunities and prospective job options for digital artists anywhere in the world. This could be in the games or film industry. 

As the demand for VFX professionals and talented artists continues to grow across various industries worldwide, structured learning, networking, and continuous skill development offered by reputable online VFX courses are essential.

Whether you choose to invest in a renowned online VFX institution like Rebelway and CGMA or you prefer the flexibility of online studying platforms like Udemy and Pluralsight, investing in a standard online course is an investment that will help your job and portfolio immensely. 

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Carlos Eduardo
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Carlos Eduardo
Hey there, I’m Carlos Eduardo, the Founder and Author of Scorebeyond. Delving deep into 20+ years of education transformation through innovative e-learning, I’ve poured my expertise into this platform. My enduring legacy continues to drive the path towards a future empowered by knowledge!

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