Friday, 20 December 2013

A first week in summary

An early 5-minute project. Nice when I manage to go all the way through a project without any head-scratching.

Learn the moves before you dance

One of the things that determines whether I enjoy the process of 3D modelling or not is whether or not I get into a flow. When you're in the flow you're absolutely focused on the creative process and you don't think about where you should be putting your clicks or fingers. Now this is not something that comes overnight, or from a couple of brief sessions - however, I consider getting a basic level of fluidity more important than getting deeper into the tool set. Taking a moment out of the process to read a page of documentation or pester Google with a question is risking the loss of enthusiasm, of getting distracted.

One of the things that had put me off Blender when I last took a look at it was the inability to "just make sh*t". I quickly found how to add primitives, but couldn't work out (just from the UI) how to modify it. I realise now that that there's a minimum investment required in time - it's just not realistic to expect that you can jump into a 3D modeller and start applying your training from a different package. Oddly enough though I now keep seeing 3ds Max and possibly Lightwave riffs, where Blender does something in a way that feels very natural and familiar.

A week in, and about 5 hours of sessions and I'm using the keyboard shortcuts far more confidently than I did with 3DS Max...

  • I  place the 3D cursor, Shift+A, 
  • Select Cube, 
  • press Tab,
  • click Face-mode, 
  • right-click a face, 
  • G to grab the face, 
  • "Y" to limit to the "Y" axis
After a handful of sessions, this much can happen without looking at a list of shortcuts or stepping into the manual. That's a good start. I'm happy with that.

Tutorials

Jonathan Williamson's excellent free-to-watch beginners series put me a great place.
http://cgcookie.com/blender/cgc-courses/blender-basics-introduction-for-beginners/

They're pitched just right and demonstrate and describe almost everything you'd need in your first few hours with Blender. I struggle to watch tutorials that are longer than about three minutes because after about that amount of time I start to get the urge to go back to the application and play -- no patience! I've watched the modelling episode about three times because of this and will probably watch it at least once more for the odd tips that I didn't then immediately put into practise. Edge-slide/Vertix-slide I'm looking at you.

I also watched the first 5 minutes of Blender Sensei's "Modeling* A Spaceship In Blender Part 1" which manages to cover the foundations of basic poly-modelling in about 2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udxfpTCYiEs

Print out a key Guide

This is a version out-of-date but mostly still applies -
http://www.blenderguru.com/wp-content/uploads/Exclusive/Blender_Cheat_Sheet.pdf

I don't have the wall space behind my desk on which to stick these sheets, but they're good to run through to remind yourself of the more obscure controls.

Learn the basics of navigation and manipulation and do practise exercises - lots of practise.

Bad habbit -- pressing ctrl instead of shift when doing a multiple selection -- the thing is it works almost as expected except for the extra stuff that gets selected.

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Sheffield born 40-something. Some days vaguely creative, other days, creatively vague. Remembers the Internet when it was all still Times New Roman.