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ramdacc

Where to go to learn 3D modeling...complete beginner

28 posts in this topic

The title pretty much sums it up. I am looking for a book or books, tutorials, videos, anything I can get ahold of that teaches 3D modeling to the complete beginner. I prefer physical books to having to chase down several small tutiroals all over the net from multiple different authors. Can any of you recommend a book like that in particular? I'll be using Blender and do not have access to 3DSMAX, Maya, Lightwave, etc.

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Blender is confusing, so I wish you luck with that.  But they have an official set of tutorials you should check out, you can find info about them on blender's website and wiki.  Books are specific to the software, so a book wouldn't do you any good unless it was specifically for blender, and one which wasn't too many versions old.  Honestly books are not the way to learn computer-relates subjects any more; no one wants to print or sell them because they go out of date so fast.  Youtube is the main place to find instructional videos other than the official blender ones.

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Just to stress a point that sunandshadow touched on ... when trying to learn Blender from an online tutorial make sure the tutorial you are following specifically targets the version of Blender you have installed

(or that the two versions are equivalent UI-wise, which is a hard thing to figure out. Basically the executive summary on Blender versions is that if you have Blender with a version >= 2.5, don't bother with any reference material targeting versions earlier than 2.5). Edited by jwezorek
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Hi there!

 

One thing I would suggest is to start simple. Don't think about creating a high-poly, cinematic-quality character model right out of the gate. I've seen folks get frustrated and give up because the idea they have in their head doesn't just spill out on to the screen with a couple of clicks of the mouse. It takes practice; lots of practice.

 

Instead, start with something simple like a crate. You can start that with a cube, unwrap it, create the texture, and see how it lays out on your model. From there, add detail to your crate. Add individual boards, then go back to unwrapping it and see what you can do with it. By adding to your base model, you won't create a game ready asset, but you'll learn how to create more detail in a model using the geometry you're given

 

As you learn more and more about basic geometry in the software, you can start thinking of larger, more complex objects. Take a car for instance. You have the body, frame, engine, drive line, interior, suspenssion, wheels, tires, lights, fuel tank, etc. If you create all of the parts needed to make a recognizable car, you'll notice that they all can be made by starting with simple objects, sub-dividing, moving vertex and boom! you've got yourself a shock! Everying is made up of basic shapes when you really look at them.

 

I'd say getting acquainted with the software is a good thing, but whats more important is learning how to break objects down into their base shapes. It'll help make the process easier, in my opinion, for a beginner.

 

Eventually, you'll move on to patch modelling, which will give you more dynamic and organic shapes, but it isn't for everyone. I know a guy that is a decent enough artist, but takes him months and months just to make a basic character model and it usually comes out way too high of poly, looking pretty "off" or "broken" and bad geometry all over the place.

 

Hope that gave you something to work with. Sorry I don't really know of any good books for 3D modelling; like many have suggested here, I learned from getting my hands dirty and watching a couple tutorials online.

 

Good luck and keep your head up!

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One thing I would suggest is to start simple.
Yeah, this is about the best advice that can be given.

I think beginners trying to learn programming often focus too much on tutorials -- many tutorials teach bad practices, or are just wrong or out of date -- and focusing too much on them tends to miss the point that you learn to program by programming and cutting-and-pasting code from a tutorial is not programming.

Anyway, I think that this attitude toward tutorials does not carry over into learning 3D modeling. Following a tutorial and just performing every step that the tutorial author describes is actually very helpful. Especially tutorials about doing really basic things like modeling a low polygon spaceship or whatever and then texturing it.

But yeah my advice is to get a bunch of tutorials about really basic stuff and just work through them and try to use hotkeys and so forth as you work to build up muscle memory. Edited by jwezorek
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There is a lot of good advice here.  

 

Keep yourself satisfied with daily results and progress.  Appreciate that mistakes are part of everyone's process of growth.

 

I like one time period for my serious achievements (for a simulation) and end the day with things purely for fun and learning.  Its a good strategy which will have you reaching goals and making it enjoyable everyday, too.

 

Much of where you go is exploring in your 3D program and related tools.  The best place is right there.

Edited by 3Ddreamer
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One website I can recommend to you for Blender, is the BlenderCookie division of CGCookie. They have many modeling tutorials available for free and many more if you're willing to go into a subscription program. The tutorials available for subscribers are pretty top notch, but the free ones will give you a basic idea to the functions of Blender.

You can find them at http://cgcookie.com/blender/ Edited by Reavermyst
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The #1 thing you need to know is that no matter how much you know or how good you get, art takes time. You may see artists who get awesome results in a matter of hours, but even they had a newbish beginning. Practice makes perfect, that kind of thing.

 

There are a lot of helpful youtube tutorials for blender. You should look into 'b surfaces', it makes life a lot easier.

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... Following a tutorial and just performing every step that the tutorial author describes is actually very helpful. Especially tutorials about doing really basic things like modeling a low polygon spaceship or whatever and then texturing it.

But yeah my advice is to get a bunch of tutorials about really basic stuff and just work through them and try to use hotkeys and so forth as you work to build up muscle memory.

 

I think this is excellent advice!

 

While some tutorials may not be the best for beginners, I think going through and completeing every step there is in good tutorials will help to teach good work flow and nifty short-cuts that one may never have discovered otherwise.

 

Oh and

 

The #1 thing you need to know is that no matter how much you know or how good you get, art takes time. You may see artists who get awesome results in a matter of hours, but even they had a newbish beginning. Practice makes perfect, that kind of thing.

 

There are a lot of helpful youtube tutorials for blender. You should look into 'b surfaces', it makes life a lot easier.

 

Is also excellent advice.biggrin.png

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You'll be fine with Blender. IMO, it's amazing to have software like that available at no cost.

 

I'm the type of person that loathes tutorials. In general, I just want to read it, concise and lucid, in text, and then apply it. HOWEVER, when it comes to learning about how to use Blender, the BlenderCookie tutorials are far superior to any textbook. IMO, don't even touch a book, just check out their tutorials.

 

But I'm only saying this for learning Blender's UI and how to get it to do interesting things (how to make rope/shoe laces, polygonal/subdivision surface modeling, sculpting, rigging/skinning/animation, etc...). Though you could probably learn a lot about how to create art from those tutorials, that's not really what I used them for.

 

The first thing I ever did in Blender was subdivide the default cube a bunch and started sculpting. I ended up making a troll head, but there was no plan for that. I was just sculpting. I recommend just diving in and making some practice stuff. Don't be too precise and take lots of time (unless things are starting to really turn into something), but instead try to play it quick and loose. Try to move stuff and cram things together so that it looks right. Later on, you'll learn how to do things clean and with more intent. Also, you want to focus on the real "problem" here, getting things to look right. That's what you want to learn.

 

However, one thing I wish I knew before I started playing with modeling apps was the whole workflow thing. Basically: what is the "big-picture" that you're working towards, where does appX fit in, and will I need an appY, appZ, etc... to finish? I'll explain my workflow with Blender. (Note, people have different workflows, where they do things in their own order and use their own preferred collection of tools)

 

Say I want to create a high-poly looking character that I can animate and put in a game.

With Blender, I can:

  1. create a base mesh for the character, apparel, extra parts, etc..
  2. sculpt it (high-res)
  3. retopologize it
  4. transfer my high-res detail to the retopo and touch it up
  5. bake maps (normal, ao)
  6. texture it (diffuse)
  7. create a rig for the model (a collection of bones that have various relationships and constraints with one another)
  8. skin the model to the rig
  9. create multiple animations
  10. export the result (I can also create my own export script in python, to target my game engine directly)

So, Blender is pretty much all you need. In reality, I'll sometimes use sculptris or zbrush for 1-2, but I'll usually use xNormal for 5. In steps 1-2, I'm trying to figure out what the character looks like. In steps 3-5, I'm trying to make it look good, but with far fewer polygons. I'm also arranging my polygons in certain ways, in anticipation for animation. In 6, I'm coloring it. In 7-9, I'm animating it. In 10, I'm done and sending it to the engine. Anyways, that's one example of a workflow.

 

Just for note, Unity 3D can read .blend files. Basically, do steps 1-9. At 9, remove all the intermediate/beginning stuff from the scene that you don't need. Just keep the final work and the animations. Then, drag and drop the file into Unity. This will create a separate copy of the file that unity will keep in the assets folder (if I remember the names correctly). Want to add an animation? double click the file in Unity, Blender launches, then create your new animations. (when I was playing around with it, there were a couple of small bumps here and there, but it was still pretty smooth and quite usable).

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So with Unity 4 you create the animations in Unity rather then in Blender? Does it make a difference?

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I was playing around with Unity 3D just before their Unity 4 release. I just saw Mecanim and it looks like an optional way to animate and manage animations for a biped character. If you want to animate something like a spider, I don't think it would be much help:

http://blogs.unity3d.com/2012/06/20/more-mecanim/

 

Unity's documentation says that it supports .blend files natively, so it sounds like you could do one or the other:

http://docs.unity3d.com/Documentation/Manual/HOWTO-ImportObjectBlender.html 

 

I'm not sure how interoperable animating between the two is, though.

 

Within the scope of the kinds of things they both can animate, I do not see any kind of fundamental difference. They are both a means to produce data that tells your rig how to transform itself as time passes. However, things like ease of use, personal taste, turn-around time, or available community content are all factors that could sway someone one way or the other.

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Torque 3D has Callada as an interchange with Blender.  Pretty much anything which you can animate in Blender will port to Torque 3D thru Callada.  Some may knock this, but Callada is becoming huge and growing as a stardard for connecting all the most common 3D programs in animating for game engines. Callada experience should be considered a must for any aspiring 3D modeler who wants to go professional some day, in my opinion - best have it in your portfolio. The Open Source or MIT availability of Blender, Callada, and Torque 3D should be a serious consideration.  The experience in using Callada with Torque 3D gives it a bit of a lead over Unity 3D since Torque 3D went MIT recently, also my opinion.

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Don't ever use .blend files with Unity. Every time you edit and save your .blend file, Unity responds by making a mess of everything. Export your blender files to fbx, and then put those in the Unity folder to be imported.
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I would go Google the new Boston (sorry I don't have the link at the moment) the tutorials start from very very begging and is easy to understand. The site also has courses set up too,with projects and etc. It was sooooo helpful
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I've never been a huge fan of a lot of the Blender tutorials, as I don't really like video, and the best tutorials are video tutorials, or outdated.

 

So ive been slowly putting together a series of tutorials with a basic premise.  I assume my audience is a programmer with zero prior experience with blender.  Each tutorial is entirely static, with the exception of animated images ( no video ).  Each concludes with a reference table of the shortcuts used in the tutorial.  

 

The end goal of the series is to have a tutorial that covers each area ( modelling, animating, texturing, rendering ).  It teaches only HOW, not technique... thats a subject for other more artistic minded people; and something for experience to teach you.

 

Right now though, I've only go through 3/4 of the modelling section, hope you find these useful, if nothing else, they are somewhat unique! ;)

 

 

Blender for Programmers -- Part 1: Introduction 

Blender for Programmers -- Part 2: Selection and Navigation

Blender for Programmers -- Part 3: Introduction to 3D modelling

 

 

Then a somewhat related post I made earlier that is going to be incorporated into the above soon:

BMesh in Action: What's so special about ngons anyway?

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