This month I am going to learn how to 3D Model.
My approach to learning anything new is to understand the tools and the technique. And it makes everything easier when you learn them both in tandem. The tool was an easy decision, Blender is a free comprehensive 3D modeling tool used by both amateurs and professionals. But learning how to use the tool was another challenge. Luckily I remember coming across a lecture on udemy.com aptly named the Complete Blender Creator: Learn 3D Modelling for Beginners
The program was on sale for a really good price so I decided to pick it up. By the time I took this course Blender was actually going through a transformation onto version 2.8 and they we’re updating the course to the 2.8 beta version but I’ll get to that later.
Another obstacle I gave myself turned out to be a major distraction...but I decided to binge the entire Game of Thrones series to get ready for the series finale next month. By the 24th of March I’m now half way into season six. And I sadly did not invest enough time into this project as I would have liked to.
But finally getting into the lessons, I found the course very easy to get into and understand the basic theory and mechanics. As a professional graphic/UX/UI designer of over six years plus a four year education. I am very accustomed to “professional grade” computer programs like Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, Premier Pro, etc. so diving into Blender wasn't as daunting as it would be for someone new to these tools. While following the lessons I tried to make an extra effort to start memorizing hotkeys and shortcuts to make my experience as efficient as possible.
The first lesson they teach you is basically everything you can do to manipulate a cube. Which can surprisingly get you really far if you know how to visualize it.
With just knowing how to stretch, rotate, scale, position, and duplicate the simple cube you can make a large majority of what you need to. And understanding these fundamentals really helped primed my mind in order how to tackle bigger and more complex objects.
Once you have the fundamentals of manipulation down then they show you how to start adding more and more layers of complexity on top. Materials, lighting, camera positioning, rendering. Obviously this early on materials just means giving the face of an object different colors.
Another fundamental tool that was new to me and I still need to get myself familiar with was the fundamental elements of an object: Vertices, Edges, and Faces. Learning what these elements are and how they influence each other really helps you understand what you can do to these objects and how they behave. This is when it started getting a little harder for me to grasp. Especially how the tools I thought I knew started to behave differently based on what I was changing. The differences of “dissolving” and “deleting”, sub-diving a face which sub-divides the edges, which sub-divide the vertices. Which then influences how you can't change an adjacent face with different subdivisions. This is when I started to have to watch the same lecture over and over again to grasp a subject.
By the end of the month I got so far into the lecture in learning how to extrude, loop cut, subdivide, dissolve, and reconnect faces into an Aztec temple.
At this point I took in the value of diminishing returns. I had a week left in the month and any new information is going to take too long for me to comprehend. And as I said before, the rest of the lecture was still in version 2.7 which looks very different. So I decided to take some early lessons in lighting, camera setup and rendering to come up with one last image.
I hope to one day come back and revisit this skill again because I know I have other larger projects I want to tackle and I’m going to need to learn how to model them in a 3D space. Next month though, is going to be extra special and challenging.