I could use some advice re: modeling&3d printing.

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  06 June 2013
I could use some advice re: modeling&3d printing.

Hey guys. New to the forum, but not to the site. I searched around most of the subforums looking for an answer to my question, but couldn't find one that really hit all of its facets. I'll try to keep this short and specific to avoid falling into making a "what should I do with my life" or a long emotional rant, as per rule#6 in the sticky. This also isn't specifically about modeling, hence why it is here and not in that subforum.

Basically, I've been passingly interested in 3D for years, but at the moment I'm working on a degree for graphic design. Now I'm thinking of branching out/switching part of my focus from 2-D to 3-D. Maybe the best way to frame my question would be to relate this: My school has a Digital Art department, but they mostly focus on animation. I took a Maya course there last semester, but realized halfway through that I'm really not interested in the "animation pipeline." I'd prefer to have nothing to do with movement of assets. It's not fun or interesting to me.

What I really enjoy is the process of modelling, much like how I want to make very polished but static 2D photographs/drawings/images/logos rather than working on animation/FX/etc. After scraping through my Maya class, I decided after a little break to try out 3ds Max and recently finished learning the most basic elements of the Max modeling workflow, via tutorials. But I don't know where to go from here! All I really know thus far is I like Max's UI and workflows more then Maya's. (I also downloaded Mudbox.)

I don't want to start breaking rule #6 (if I haven't already), so I'll try to sum this up; I guess the heart of my question is: should someone like me even invest any more time trying to learn 3D? I ask because I'm not even exactly sure what I want to do with CG/3D. I only really what I know I don't like doing (i.e animation). I know modeling is fun, and the idea of mixing that with 3D printing has sort of been a driving motive for me, but I just don't know what kind of living/career someone could make out of those things alone. Maybe prototyping or something? But I really like and want to sculpt organic things, especially bodies...

The other driving motive would have to be images like this from the front page: (https://www.cgsociety.org/cgsarchiv...14761_large.jpg ). I can't tell you how cool it sounds to be able to make those flawlessly-rendered, perfect (and non-animated!!) models. The only thing I wonder is, similarly, "what are people doing with these?"

Like, are they 3D-concept-pieces? A big part of the learning process, it seems to me, must be done with an end goal in mind. This is proven by how many tutorials for modelling entail making sure the model can be later used for animation. If I had my way I'd bypass all that to instead focus on making a single frame perfect, but, again: does anyone even do that? Is the image I linked (and the other amazing 3D models like it) actually rigged and ready-to-animate, or planned to be?

I'm granting that it's totally possible there are careers/options out there based on what I enjoy doing, but I'm also trying to be realistic in assuming that I need a healthy dose realistic possibilities, in addition to any advice (you) professionals might have.

I hope that's not too blog-like and that it made sense.

  06 June 2013
Here's my advice, just give up.

Im just joking. Seriously though, that is a pretty broad question of what can you do with modelling, because 3d models are used in a large variety of areas, So the main question is, what would be your target market? Film, games, advertising, medical, science, military, industrial? Or do you want to work for yourself and freelance?

Generally though, if you enjoy modeling, then go with that. You don't have to do everything to be successful. You can be just as successful, probably even more, by focusing in one area. If you you want to get good in multiple areas, I think its usually best to focus on one at a time.

I don't really know what other people use with their assets from their gallery works. To begin with though, I'm sure the ones from experienced modelers have models with good topology. Even if the model isn't going to be deformed, its still good to have nice edge flow, because it helps you in the future, with unwrapping, smoothing, and shading.

Here's a thread about topology and deforming -
  06 June 2013
Thanks so much for the reply! I appreciate the input.

As far as what I'd want to use 3D for in the first place, my dream is to work for NASA/science to model galaxies and simulate them, etc. Also, like I said, 3D printing, also hopefully in aiding space pursuits.
  06 June 2013
Well simulating galaxies is more to do with using particles and math, then modeling, if any modeling is used at all. You said before that you want to prototype. What kind of prototyping? For parts in space robots or rockets? If so, max or maya might not be right for you, since they are more for the entertainment industry, and I don't think they would offer the mathematical precision, for prototyping space equipment. Although, I don't see how learning them could hurt. Really for that type of application, you'll probably be using a multitude of softwares for checking every physical aspect of your prototype i.e. dynamics, stress, airflow. I really can't think of what main software NASA would use for their equipment. If you want to use max or maya for 3d printing, I would do your other choice of 3d printing characters.

Whatever software you use for 3d printing, you still want to make sure the geometry is clean, so stay away from booleans if you can, and make sure your normals are all good. The STL check modifier in max is decent for seeing if your model is ok for printing.
  06 June 2013
Originally Posted by Nyklaus: As far as what I'd want to use 3D for in the first place, my dream is to work for NASA/science to model galaxies and simulate them, etc. Also, like I said, 3D printing, also hopefully in aiding space pursuits.

If you haven't heard of it Universe Sandbox is probably right up your alley.
HMC: Model Collection
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  06 June 2013
This has nothing to do with space and NASA (unless you are making ads for space agencies), but if you enjoy making flawless renders, advertising is all about that. And you can tie in your graphic design degree/background too.
  06 June 2013
Universe Simulator seems pretty neat. I just might pick it up on steam when I get paid.

As far as advertising goes, if I was advertising for space programs, or something, sure.

Hm. I just feel really unsure of what steps to take for the time being.

Would it be a safe bet to pick up some more books/tutorials & get some solid, general-purpose modeling experience under my belt?

Last edited by Nyklaus : 06 June 2013 at 08:43 PM. Reason: forgot my ampersand, yo
  06 June 2013
Originally Posted by Nyklaus: Thanks so much for the reply! I appreciate the input.

As far as what I'd want to use 3D for in the first place, my dream is to work for NASA/science to model galaxies and simulate them, etc. Also, like I said, 3D printing, also hopefully in aiding space pursuits.

Well sounds like you need some Computer Science and/or Engineering.
Here is a breakdown of Jobs at NASA.

I think anything with an 'artistic bent' is likely to be contracted externally
to a production company (who 90% work is 'other' than NASA with them being an occasional client).
If NASA is the end game than 'art' may be the wrong path to get there.

Last edited by circusboy : 06 June 2013 at 09:21 PM.
  06 June 2013
There has to be ways to help out the causes I'm interested in beyond the hard sciences, though, no? Design, propaganda, interactive games, that kind of thing?

The thing is, I guess, I don't even really need hard "answers" to a lot of these questions, since in upcoming years I think a lot of that will work itself out for me. Mainly what I wanted your guys' input on is what I could/should focus on, or methods to focus on, for the summer/time being that would be relevant to my interests. Does that make sense?
  06 June 2013
Yeah circusboy is right, any design work at all which is used by NASA, will be contracted by other companies not exclusively working with NASA. So you'll probably have to make a decision, NASA or design. Also, you're on a forum with people who are passionate about design, so you're likely to get people to suggest you study design. If you want to seriously learn modeling and want to learn online, some good courses are Gnomon Workshops or Digital Tutors. Also don't forget there are hundreds of tutorials on vimeo and youtube now.
  06 June 2013
Heres a path that someone I know did and has been very successful doing all sorts of different engineering and simulation projects.

Major : Structural Engineering .
MInor: 3d and visual FX

He's worked as consultant from movies, video games. all the way to space stuff. So, worth thinking about. He's an engineer foremost, 3d artist and simulation second and gets work in both worlds. When they want to go, Hey , how would this actually be made in the real world, but can translate to our fictional world? They ask him. Sounds like a career path you'd like.
  06 June 2013
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