View Full Version : 3D Modelling - Where to start?

01 January 2009, 11:39 AM
Hi guys,

I recently downloaded the PLE version of Maya just so I could give it a try as my uncle does a bit of 3D modelling in his free time. Basically, I'd like to gradually get better at this and hopefully turn it into something good later on in life. Who knows, maybe get a job in CGI films/video games.

However, I'm a little stuck at the moment. My uncle leant me some Gnomon DVD's however they seem to advanced for a total beginner. I have gone through basic fundamentals, like what each tool does and some of the different options available within certain tools. But now I'm a little stuck. Simply put, I don't know where to begin. What should I practise modelling? How did either yourself or someone you know go from the stage I'm currently at now, to a semi/professional? Obviously practise is involved, but I just don't know what to model.

I tried modelling a guitar at first whilst following a Gnomon DVD, however there seems to be skips between each of the lectures so my model is different to the tutors. I can't figure out exactly what changes he has made which leaves me at a dead end. I don't really know how to layout my wire frame mesh correctly.

Any suggestions on this topic will be greatly appreciated.

All the best,

Edit: I'm pretty new to the site and hope to show my progress once I get used to Maya and the 3 dimensions. I've done some 2D artwork in the past, so this is a big jump for me. Somehow, I don't think jumping into modelling characters or other complicated things like that is the correct path to take as a beginner.

01 January 2009, 01:07 PM
Hi and hope you have fun.

Well first thing to realise is that rome wasn't built in a day, many learners expect to much in 2 short a time, in that i mean they pick a far far too complicated object for their first attempts, like cars is a common 1 and even a guitar has some very complex shapes.

Remember all objects are made of simple shapes, look for the primative shapes within an object as a starting point.

You also need control of your mesh and its very easy to lose it when starting out so keep it simple at first, a mug, a piece of toast, a plastic ruler, your USB key.

they seem very simple but when you look at them you'll notice more complex shapes and curves, once you have got the control to make simple object you can combine them to make more complex objects such as guitars :-)

The other problem you have is not knowing what anything is which means you cant search for it in the help - catch 20 situation. So I personally (this is not for everyone) like to jump in the deep end, maybe just watch the tutorials through once, flick throught the Manuals and try to see as much as possible.

So when the time comes you will still have no idea how to do it BUT! you can ask the question 'I saw this done how did he do it?' and find the answer.

Saving your work: When i work I save often and after every major change i save a file with _A, _B, _C, on the end, so when your mesh goes crazy you can just load up an older file, you may lose 5-10 minutes work but its better than hours of work.

hope theres something useful you can take from my rambling on :-)

01 January 2009, 08:42 PM
Thanks very much Blank for the speedy reply.

I guess I'll have to start modelling some simple shapes like you said, and I sure as hell love toast, so that seems like the perfect place to start ^.^

I've also been told before to save incrementally, so I'll definitely keep that in mind.

If I want to show my progress on this site, where should I consider posting my models? Should I just post screen grabs on this thread or create a different thread for each model I make? Although, I doubt people would like to see a model of a piece of toast, who knows ^.^

Any other input on this topic will be great.

01 January 2009, 09:22 PM
well if a number of forums obviously, modelling for general modelling probs, but as you're using maya there is a maya specific forum to help with those niggly questions.

01 January 2009, 08:11 AM
Modeling is something you have to enjoy & love doing. You have to find pleasure in frustration and success in making mistakes, because once you encounter those things, you'll soon realize that you're teaching yourself what to do, what not to do, and how to go about solving the many fundamental and advanced issues involved in modeling.

I started getting involved in modeling in 2005. It was the start of my Sophomore year, and I was introduced to Lightwave for the first time. The modeling assignments were basic and primitive (now), but were definitely a struggle. We modeled pens, pencils, calculators, keyboards, computers, pants, jackets, shoes, etc. over the course of the first 2 introductory classes. It wasn't until the third course that I would find myself in love with this concentration of the industry. I remember asking my professor, "When do we start learning how to model characters?" The answer wasn't what I wanted to hear, so I took it upon myself to teach myself outside of the four walls of the classroom. Day and night I hammered away at it---learning this thing called "topology" while paging through the new books that I had ordered and clicked through forum after forum collecting as many reference images and topology/modeling techniques & tutorials as possible.

I went through model after model. Some finished, some near complete, and some just left in limbo of the computer. I studied, researched, asked questions, faced harsh critiques, challenged myself, pushed to re-study anatomy, watched documentaries, read tutorials---and then I found myself at a point to where I said, "I want to do this for a living." Bringing 2D characters into 3D is something that excites me, and I cannot imagine doing anything else.

When Toy Story came out I was 9-12, I can't remember, but as I watched those characters on screen I knew right then and there that that was what I wanted to do in life. No question about it. From that early age I had a goal set in mind, and that same dream is pioneering and driving my will to become a professional 3D character artist. It's the love and passion for the industry and the tools used to create it.

What am I saying? If you want to be successful at this, you gotta love it. This definitely isn't a 9-5 industry. You eat, live, and breath this stuff 24/7. Whatever your focus/concentration is (modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, animating, etc) you have to own it, and the only way to do that is to practice. Day in and out. If the drive and will is not there, I cannot imagine anyone pursuing a career in this industry. The best artists of the world are given that title because this stuff is in their heart, and I believe that is why Pixar is such a success studio. The entire studio is composed of people as I have described. From marketing and management, to the TDs, to the animators. It's all there.

Where to start? It depends on what you want to model, really. Game and Film modeling are two different monsters in their own right. There's character modeling, environmental modeling, prop modeling, organic, hard surface, etc. Find an area that you enjoy the most and work at it. I don't find any of them easy. Environmental modeling is something that I struggle with simply because it's too much on the architectural side and I cannot get into that as much as I do with characters. Each has it's own set of fundamentals, theories, and principles to learn, understand, and comprehend. Just find one you like and go with the flow! :)

Hopefully that make sense. There are no shortcuts in this industry, especially in modeling. To get to the top you gotta work at it, and work at it hard. I wish you the best of luck with this and God bless! :)

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