Sorry, I Didn’t Know . . . Free Autodesk Software for Schools


3DTeacher-Icon2_thumb_thumbFirst of all, I am sorry.  I don’t know how I missed it, but Autodesk is providing free 3 year licenses for schools.  ¿I thought it was only for the students?  I know it is only a 3 year license and then it is hard to go back to anything else, but it is still a free 3 year license to get your program off the ground.  And I am a bit biased, Maya is the only option. ~Cornell

Free Autodesk Software

Manage Software Licenses

Autodesk offers 3-year educational licenses through the Academic Resource Center. License requests are managed for one institution at a time below. To request licenses for multiple schools or institutions, add more institutions to your ARC account or click My Institutions to switch to a different institution. If you do not have administrative access to computers for installation, add a contact to manage download and installation.  << HERE >>>

The Education Master Suite 2015 educational license includes all of the software titles below:


3ds Max Design 2015

3D modeling software for architects, designers, and civil engineers.

Alias Design 2015

Industrial design tools for conceptual design and surface modeling.

Mudbox 2015

3D digital sculpting and texture painting software.

AutoCAD Architecture 2015

The version of AutoCAD for architects.

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2015

Software for civil engineering design, analysis, and simulation.

AutoCAD Electrical 2015

AutoCAD software to design and document electrical controls systems.

AutoCAD Map 3D 2015

Model-based mapping software providing access to CAD and GIS data.

AutoCAD Mechanical 2015

Design and drafting software for automating mechanical CAD tasks.

AutoCAD MEP 2015

Drafting/documenting tools for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.

AutoCAD Plant 3D 2015

AutoCAD software to design, model, and document process plants.

AutoCAD Raster Design 2015

Raster image editing and raster-to-vector conversion tools.

InfraWorks 2015

3D conceptual design software to communicate design proposals.

Inventor Professional 2015

3D mechanical CAD, visualization, and documentation software.

Navisworks Manage 2015

Project review software for coordination, analysis, and communication.

Revit 2015

BIM tools for architectural design, MEP, and structural engineering.

Robot Structural Analysis Professional 2015

Structural analysis for large, complex structures.

Showcase 2015

Rendering software for 3D design.

Autodesk Simulation CFD 2015

Fluid flow and thermal simulation tools.

Simulation Mechanical 2015

Fast, accurate, and flexible mechanical simulation tools.

Simulation Moldflow Adviser Ultimate 2015

Plastic injection molding simulation software.

AutoCAD Utility Design 2015

Model-based electrical distribution design software.

AutoCAD 2015

CAD design, drafting, modeling, drawing, and engineering software.

Vault Basic 2015

Data management software to organize, manage, and track data.

AutoCAD Structural Detailing 2015

Structural engineering software for precise detailing and fabrication.

The Droste effect



I have always been curious of the Droste effect but have never really investigated it until now.  It is very cool and  I think after playing with the tool, one can really get innovative in how it can be applied.   I tried it out with an image of a flower, as seen above, and it turned out really awesome!  Try it out and see what you can do and then take it to the next level showing me something I have not seen yet. 

The Droste effect is a recursive instancing where an image infinitely contains a smaller copy of itself; like the effect between two mirrors.   It is also know as "mise en abyme" in the art word.  Which can be seen in the triptych (a three panel painting) ‘Stefaneschi Triptych’ by Giotto di Bondone in 1320. The Cardinal offers the triptych of St. Peter to St. Peter with in the same painting.  

Droste[1]The Droste effect is more of a modern term coined from an image on he box of Droste Cocoa powder.   It also could be described as a ‘strange loop’ or a self-referencing instance, which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry.  Tools like Photoshop allow you great control of you instance an image with-in itself. 

Check out the rest of my notes here . . .

I love this one . . .

Photoshop Ethics . . .

OJ_Simpson I teach a Photoshop course, which covers the basics for the most part, a little bit of painting, photo manipulation, matte painting, and skills that can be used for texturing in the 3D world.  My first assignment is to take a simple portrait and edit it so that it would be a close relative of that person.  Meaning a completely different person, but still look like it could be an actual photograph.  I show them that even first day of class that can use a very simple and easy tool with amazing results.  I start by showing them the Dove commercial and then going over the tool.  

I love Sunday Morning on CBS, I have been watching as long as I can remember.  Today, I came across this episode from 2010 and it is great for initiating the conversation about Photoshop and ethics.  Definitely worth watching with your 2D or 3D class.  


The Mask of Divine Proportion

Dr Stephen Marquartdt developed a facial mask as a measurement of classic beauty to help plastic surgeons align facial features for more symmetrical accuracy based on a series of rectangles, triangles and decagons.  [More]


Check out this program that will automatically change a person to make them more “beautiful” ???  Portrait Pro


Dove Commercial – Ethics

 Sean Armenta Covering the Liquify Tool

Photoshop Digital Cosmetic Surgery 101 by Sean Armenta

Here is an guide to help you with what ever you need to know about the liquify tool.  

A Comprehensive Guide to Photoshop’s Liquify Tool

My First iPad Painting - Wacom Creative Stylus

My wife gave me an iPad Air for Christmas and it is AWESOME!!!  I also got a Wacom Creative Stylus which works with the iPad.  I am still exploring the stylus’ potential, but this is my first tablet, so I am still just playing.  The first App I downloaded was Sketchbook Pro which I use the regular version in my classroom and painted a simple apple  . . . that kind of looks like a tomato. 

MyFirst-iPad-Painting-sm2So here is my review of the Wacom Creative Stylus in action with pressure-sensitivity!  It didn’t seem to work right out of the box, or so I thought.  Let me clarify, it functioned as a stylus, but I could not notice any pressure-sensitivity either in Bamboo Note or Sketchbook Pro.   The manual states that pressure sensitivity works though Bluetooth, so I tried to connect it to Bluetooth.  No Luck.  I am very new to the iPad, in fact I hadn’t connected it to anything yet.  I  tried to connect my iPad  to the sound system – no luck.  I assumed that my Bluetooth was not working, since it would not connect to anything??? I did a bit more research and couldn’t find muc h that would help.  Eventually, I got my iPad to connect, but it still wouldn’t connect to the Stylus. 

OK, this is what I was doing wrong. First the stylus doesn’t show up on the Bluetooth device list, no matter what you do and this threw me off qui a bit.  Second you have to tell each application what stylus you are using.  For Sketchbook Pro, got to ‘I’ symbol  for information on the top menu, then preferences, and change 3rd Party Pen Connection.  Even after setting it up correctly, the pressure-sensitivity still didn’t seem to work.  I was frustrated needless to say.  Then I played with pen setting and voila, it worked.  I was about to return the $99 stylus.

After I got it going . .  I was sold, but I really wanted to test it and painted an apple.  Hmm, so is it worth $100?  At this point, I would say, “Hell Yea!”  I have had almost every generation of Wacom’s Intous line, including the Cintiq.  Honestly, the (iPad or other) tablet will replace the drawing, tablet there is no question; this is the future.  It is not completely there yet, limited resolution, memory, high-end 3d capabilities, but this is the future.  What I really want to see is a high-end 3d application like Mudbox or Zbrush, on the iPad.  That will be an industry changer.   Or even a wireless connection to your main workstation so that it works like a Cintiq.  Now that would be awesome!

The Creative Stylus.  I read a few blogs out there and a lot of people complaining about the tip . . . I don’t have a problem with it. The flow is smooth enough, not as smooth as the Intous line, but certainly not a deal breaker.  The rubber is soft and they only give you a few, so I will predict that I will be buying a few more down the road; I will let you know how long they last.  They also sell a harder tip for writing, but I think I will just buy a cheap stylus for that, as opposed to switching the tip  and possibly loosing it.   Keep the Creative just for drawing!!!

Another blogger was complaining about the fact that the pen was not rechargeable, well it lasts for over 150 hours and batteries are about $1.50 each???  Rechargeable devices that small never seem to last very long, so I bet it would be more frustrating to find that your battery is out again than just popping in a new one.

Comparing to the Intous line . . . The stylus’ feel is completely different and I have frequently pressed the buttons when not wanting to changing brushes.   The Length is about two inches shorter then the Intous  stylus, but a lot heavier feel which I like.  It is not as thick either, which I feel gives it a bit less control.  There are 2048 pressure levels with +/- 45 Degree tilt recognition, almost the  same as the Intous  which has 2048 pressure levels with +/- 60 Degree tilt recognition. 

Here is my brush pressure-sensitivity testing. Very Cool!!!


Is it worth saving a few bucks for the Pogo Connect with all the extra tip options?  They look really cool and I want to try them.  I almost considered getting a second stylus, just to try it . . . But I have heard that it does not work with the iPad Air.  

Conclusion:  I am sold and will recommend the Wacom Creative Stylus to my students.  If anything changes I will let you know.  Also, if the Pogo Connect I am buying one and will report back.


Teaching Digital Painting

First of all, learning Photoshop is essential for almost any 3d application and is required for all advanced courses.
When I teach digital painting, I break it into four major steps.
  • Basics of Photoshop – General PS Skills
  • Introduction to Digital Painting  –  Sphere
  • Digital Painting with Color   -  Apple
  • Digital Painting for Realism  - Student’s choice

Introduction to Digital Painting  –  Sphere

Students are expected  to paint this reference image using Photoshop  including the background, shadows, reflections, & specular highlight.  This is a really simple project and I demonstrate it in a matter of minutes.   Yet the students always complain because I make it look so easy, so I end up repeating again after their first attempt.     I also introduce some technical vocabulary, which is not necessarily needed, but I feel that it helps them to know what to look for.   This is an easy project for students to draw what they know and not what they see, basically fake it.  Hence, pointing out the elements of light and shadow, helps them to try to draw what they “see”.  Otherwise they almost always overlook the ground reflection and reflected light. 
While they are painting, I mention that once they master this, which it is easy to do, the next project, painting the apple, will easier than they think. 

Shadow Diagram3


Umbra – (Latin for "shadow") The area completely obscured by object or the “Hard” shadows
Penumbra – The area partially obscured by object or the “Soft” shadows
Core Shadow -
Specular Highlight - This is a reflection from a light source and is the bright spot of light that appears on the surface of a 3d object. The smaller the highlight the shinier the surface, the larger the highlight the more the surface defuses the light.
Reflected Light – Is a faint light reflected or bounced back on the object from the surfaces surrounding it.
Mid-Tone – The tonal value mid-way between the highlight and shadow. Sometimes referred to as halftone.
Value – The gradation of tone from light to dark or of color luminosity

Digital Painting with Color   -  Apple

With this project students are expected  to paint an apple from a reference image, which I usually provide, using Photoshop  including the background, shadows, reflections, & specular highlight.  Once they have completed the sphere, they will find painting the apple easier then they think.  I generally brake this up into a number of steps because it is hard to really understand then steps if they have traditional painting experience. 
So why do I have them paint an apple?  Honestly, it is not that hard.   If I told them to paint a self portrait, it may look too old, too young, nothing like themselves, and most likely not even human.  But an apple, even beginning students will have success with painting one, even though it may look nothing like the original reference.   My main goal is for them to understand the basic process for painting digitally. 
The apple on the left was painted by a senior and it was his first painting ever, traditional or digital.  The Apple on the right was painted by a 9th grader it was also her first painting.

Digital Painting for Realism  - Student’s choice

This last project is a lot more open ended and many students don’t even get to this far and end the semester with the apple;  I am OK with that.  Everyone comes with different backgrounds, experiences,  and drive and my curriculum is very student centric.   I always have a handful of students who want to take it farther AND I WANT THEM TOO. 
The self-portrait is a 10th graders final project.
The painting below is called “Looking for Answers” was the her final senior project and she won Scholastics Art & Writing National American Vision Award.  The painting was showcased at the Smithsonian in Washington DC for a year.