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Shuggs
04-13-2009, 06:51 PM
Hey all!

I've seem to find myself in this transitional phase between intermediate and advanced, and to be honest it's getting the best of me. I have a serious passion and desire to become a professional CG modeler one day in all aspects (organic, hard-surface, environment, prop). I'm graduating in 3 weeks, and I have spent well over 1,000 hours studying, researching, and practicing modeling. I've worked so hard that I'm even referred to as the 'character modeling' wiz in the classroom. While I'm proud of my accomplishments, I feel like I'm just stuck in a rut, and cannot seem to get out of it.

To the professionals out there, have any of you ever experienced this? Have you ever felt like you could do the professional work you saw back when you were in school/training, but just couldn't find the thing that broke that barrier for you? How did you overcome this? What did you do to take yourself out of the intermediate level to advance yourself?

One of my problems is always doing "cartoony" models. I've been working on models in the style of the Bruce Timm "Justice League" series, and have been recently working on an Incredibles-inspired character. While I'm pleased with the outcome I can't help but to let out a sigh of disappointment because I want to take the next step. I visit these forums faithfully several times a day to look at the professional work and tell myself, "I know I can do that. But how do I escape this "fluff-and-puff" state of mind?"

Does anyone get what I'm saying?

Over the summer I have a few projects lined up. One of them is doing 100 ZBrush head bust sculpts: 50 male, 50 female; 5 realistic (child, teen, young, middle-age, old), 5 stylized (child, teen, young, middle-age, old), 5 creature, 5 animal, 5 celebrities, 10 additional stylized of choosing, 10 additional realistic of choosing, 1 self portrait, and 4 miscellaneous.

I also wanted to do realistic anatomical studies in groups, and then do one complete anatomical study for an entire figure.

Do these sound like decent projects to finally break the barrier? I'm personally tired of doing cartoony work. I would like to be a well-rounded, flexible modeler who can cover all aspects of the job, and I feel as though I won't get there unless I slave day and night with the projects listed above. I also wanted to learn game modeling, too. Would that be a step back or an additional bonus?

Lastly, where would I get started on hard surface/environmental/prop modeling? Are there forums (other then here) that have environment and prop concepts?

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Sorry if this was long winded, but I just love what I'm doing and want to expand on it. :)

MrJames
04-14-2009, 01:23 PM
I understand where you are coming from. Best thing I started doing was learning how to use sculpting software and doing realistic models. A real good move for me was when I started doing busts of famous people. It really trains your eye to observe more and work on the subtleties you need to work on high end models. I think thats when I pushed through to doing more 'advanced' modelling.

The ZBrush task you have set yourself sounds good but make sure you get away from doing 'generic' heads. Make sure you have good reference and observe the finer details that gives your model its characteristcs. I think you see a lot of people churn out bust after bust and they all have a similar feel and look. Which is fine to do if you are going for stylised looks but it can put you in bad habits when all your models look the same.

Be slightly anal and don't worry so much about quantity, go for quality. A good model will take a long time to do, its easy to rough something in that looks ok, but taking it to that 'next' level will require more time.

From there do lots of anatomy studies and remember observation is key. Your other modelling will follow and hopefully you will come on leaps and bounds. But then everyone is different so your milage may vary. You will always be learning and improving though, I don't think anyone ever gets to a stage when they think they are nailing every piece they work on.

Shuggs
04-14-2009, 04:09 PM
I understand where you are coming from. Best thing I started doing was learning how to use sculpting software and doing realistic models. A real good move for me was when I started doing busts of famous people. It really trains your eye to observe more and work on the subtleties you need to work on high end models. I think thats when I pushed through to doing more 'advanced' modelling.

The ZBrush task you have set yourself sounds good but make sure you get away from doing 'generic' heads. Make sure you have good reference and observe the finer details that gives your model its characteristcs. I think you see a lot of people churn out bust after bust and they all have a similar feel and look. Which is fine to do if you are going for stylised looks but it can put you in bad habits when all your models look the same.

Be slightly anal and don't worry so much about quantity, go for quality. A good model will take a long time to do, its easy to rough something in that looks ok, but taking it to that 'next' level will require more time.

From there do lots of anatomy studies and remember observation is key. Your other modelling will follow and hopefully you will come on leaps and bounds. But then everyone is different so your milage may vary. You will always be learning and improving though, I don't think anyone ever gets to a stage when they think they are nailing every piece they work on.

This is very helpful. Thank you for this. I can see where you'd want to model celebrities as opposed to original work/concepts to stay away from stylized work. I would've never thought of that.

And I agree quality over quantity, but I wanted to do 100 so when I'm finished this stuff is drilled into my head. I want it to become almost second nature. :)

GregOconn
04-20-2009, 09:15 PM
Heya Shuggs,

I can't speak for everyone but I've spoken to a lot of modellers who have had the same problem you are going through. The first problem is that there is no 'barrier' to break. You will always be challenged by every job that you do, and the better that you get, won't change the feeling that you have that it can be better.

Pumping out 100 characters seems unreasonable to me. Take a look at a few of your favourate portfolio's on CGSociety and I doubt you will see 100 different examples. There will be about 10 top notch pieces and I can tell you these take a long time to put together.

My suggestion is to make one of your heads and take it as far as it can go. Try to make a 'real' face have photo reference and make sure you try to match it perfectly. Push yourself to get as far with it as you can.

Most likely what will happen is you will reach limitations of your mesh, find out places where you went wrong and have 100 questions to solve. Try your best to solve as many of those questions on here and on other public forums, and by researching. Once you have solved as many as you can, start again from scratch built a new head which again is 'real' and try to match it perfectly. Push the limits.

Doing this will get you a tighter workflow. When you get into an interview or a job and someone asks you 'why is that edge there?' , you will confidently be able to tell them why.

You are always going to feel like your one step behind, there are a lot of tallented artists out there and even though I've been working my ass off for some time now and even working in the industry every day I tell myself I could be better.

You want to be a great modeler? Work your ass off and study hard every day for the rest of your carreer.

The study doesn't stop at school.

Shuggs
04-23-2009, 04:15 PM
Thank you guys so much for the feedback. This is invaluable. And I too agree with the 100 heads being unreasonable. I don't know what I was thinking. I try to do too much and when I get overwhelmed I stop the project. I just need to narrow things down and I'll be good. Again, thank you for the replies!

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04-23-2009, 04:15 PM
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