Are you one of those people who just cannot forget the fantasy world of Disney characters, Mickey and Donald, Snow White, Aladdin and others? Have you been glued to the chase (who is chasing whom?) between Tom and Jerry? If so, then you must have wondered at least once how they were made.

Computer graphics have come a long way from stick characters, 2D flat cartoons to realistic three dimensional representations of objects. 3D modeling is used in developing cartoons, movie visual effects, advertisements, game development, architectural and product design and visualisation. Virtual reality (VR) gaming and simulators are used not just in entertainment, but for educational purposes.

Some popular software packages for  3D modelling and animation are:

Blender

A very popular software for 3D creation. It is used for modeling, rendering, VFX animation, simulation. It can also be used for video games and video editing. The advantage of Blender is that it is open source and free to download. 

Maya

Maya is a 3D graphics application from Autodesk. It is used to create video games, animation, interactive 3D, visual effects for movies.

3ds Max

3ds Max is also from Autodesk. It was called 3D Studio Max earlier. It is used for 3D modeling, animation, video games and visual effects.

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D has been developed by Maxon Computer. It can be used for 3D modeling, texturing, rendering, lighting and animation.

Houdini

Houdini is developed by SideFX from Canada. Many of the animation movies have been developed using Houdini.

Unity 3D

Unity, from Microsoft, is a 3D development application, best used for game creation.

LightWave 3D

LightWave 3D from NewTek is used in creating visual effects for movies, video editing, visualisation in architectural and product design, video games. It was used to create special effects for some of the Hollywood movies.

ZBrush

ZBrush, developed by Pixologic Inc. is a digital sculpting application. It combines 3D modeling, lighting and texturing. It can be integrated with Blender, Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Lightwave 3D.

SketchUp

Developed by Google for Google Earth, this is a modeling software, particularly for architecture, interior design, urban planning and construction. It is also used for video games and movies.

Some of the other popular 3D software packages are Adobe Mudbox, modo, Onshape, Poser, Rhino 3D, Sculptrix, MakeHuman, FreeCAD.

While these are 3D modelling and animation softwares for professionals hobbyists with levels ranging from beginners to professionals, there are some more like CATIA, Solidworks, Fusion 360 which are industrial specific.

Some of the top online courses for 3D modeling and animation are:

Udemy

Udemy offers courses in Blender, Unity 3D, modeling in AutoCAD, Maya, ZBrush, Houdini FX, Cinema 4D, LightWave. Some other courses in this genre are in Pix4D, Photoscan, Drone Deploy (for drone designing), 3D Master.

The courses are for levels beginner to advanced. Complete courses as well as compartments like texturing, head modeling, weapon modeling, vehicle modeling, cartoon characters are offered by Udemy.
Almost all online course platforms have multiple courses for Animation. Do try elitelearning.io to see if you find your perfect match there.