Where to Begin, what road to take

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  11 November 2010
Where to Begin, what road to take

Hi all,
Preface: I'm an unbelievably poor 20 y/o Graphic Designer with no available funds for classes, so I've taken it upon myself to teach myself Maya (and/or Max) and Zbrush. This is one of the most daunting things I've ever put before myself, but I've recently had a [few] epiphanies about what it is I want to do with the rest of my life, and 3D animation is at the core of it.

My Goals: To become at least proficient enough with the software and techniques to be able to sit down with a piece of concept work & model, texture, and render it. Longer-term I'm looking to have the skill set and portfolio to get a job in the industry.

What it is I'm asking: I've got a few tutorials, but even so, I haven't a clue where to begin. Do I start in Maya, or Zbrush? I want to build a solid foundation; and I want to learn the pipeline as I learn the steps of it to ensure that my work is efficient. So, my question (and the ultimate point of the post) is to ask for suggestions on how to structure my self-teaching. I'm going to put together a 'cirriculum' of sorts for myself, and then get going. This is the final piece left for me to get started, everything else has been taken care of except for a learning plan. With that, I feel that I have the dedication and time required to at least make an attempt at entering a piece in Dominance War V.

I've been lurking these forums for months now, and I appreciate the help in advance. You folks here make up one of the finest communities I've seen on the net.

  11 November 2010
Edit: No offense intended

Read my learning for free sticky (link in my siggy).

Never the less, get started today!
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys

Last edited by Kanga : 11 November 2010 at 02:25 PM.
  11 November 2010
If you're going for gameart I would check out a few different forums. Polycount.com is a great one and has a wiki full of how to guides. You can start reading here.


Last edited by KillahPriest : 11 November 2010 at 01:10 AM.
  11 November 2010
Originally Posted by Kanga: Game art is the highest form of 3dcg at this moment.

Don't you think that's a bit unnecessarily elitist and presumptuous? You're basically saying that artists working in every other field are inferior somehow. I love game art, but I see it simply as being different to what I do, not superior or inferior. Just different. Put a game animator to work on a film and they'd need a fair bit of work to be able to produce an emotive performance; likewise, put a film animator into a game production, and they'll also encounter a new learning experience. The one is not superior or more difficult than the other, they just have different processes because ultimately they have different goals.

TheMumm, entering any competitions would probably be a great place to start, because they push you to learn at an accelerated pace. Additionally, many contests, like DW, tend to come along with an enthusiastic and active community that you can get feedback and advice from. So yeah, go on and enter that and take it from there. Also, start in Maya. You need to learn and master 3D fundamentals and you won't learn those in ZBrush.
  11 November 2010
Originally Posted by leigh: Don't you think that's a bit unnecessarily elitist and presumptuous?

Edit: No offense intended.

Erik, just climb into Maya and enjoy the ride by getting to know the application the easy way without pressure that may take the fun out of the experience.
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys

Last edited by Kanga : 11 November 2010 at 02:26 PM.
  11 November 2010
First of all, welcome! You have taken a good first step by making on online presence. This will be a great place to get feedback and advice as you make your progress.

First, definitely start with Maya (or max). You wonít have a clue what you are doing if you start in Zbrush without the fundamentals, and you wonít be able to get anything useful from Zbrush without any structured pipeline. It doesnít really matter if you choose Maya or Max, but stick with one of them for at least a year to get a solid foundation. After that it isnít too difficult to switch.

Secondly, I recommend getting a membership to a training website. You mentioned that money is definitely as issue, but you can get a digital tutors membership for something like 30-40 bucks a month. This will get you access to all of their tutorials which are structured in such a way that you will learn an actual pipeline going from concept to finished work.

Lastly, I will say that you should plan this to take a long time. Itís good that you stated you near term goals clearly, and kept getting a production job for the long term. Itís impossible to say for certain, but you probably shouldn't expect to be working at a game company within the first couple of years. Of course, this depends a lot on your ability to learn quickly and how much time you have available, so itís more of a warning to keep your goals realistic.

One more thing, make sure to have fun. You will need to find many sources of motivation during the long night hours studying, and it helps if you really enjoy this kind of stuff.

*Edit* Also, personally I wouldn't bother with dominance war. Maybe a more realistic goal would be to enter it next year. That's like asking for advice on how to learn to swim, then diving into the ocean during a hurricane.
www.psvisuals.com - 3D Visualization and Content Creation

Last edited by Decency : 11 November 2010 at 02:44 PM.
  11 November 2010
Alright, Gents, I've decided that I'm going to post what I've done every day in order to document my learning (ala MindCandyMan) and hopefully pick up some tips from you dudes along the way.

Firstly, I'd like to thank you guys for the helpful suggestions and reassurances.

Now, onto what I've done. I only had a little while to work in Maya this evening, as I was working on a freelance job.

  • Flow is important
  • Creating Basic NURBS and Polygon shapes
  • That Edit -> Delete By Type -> History is my new best friend.
  • Navigating around a scene
  • Creating Basic shapes (Polygons and NURBS)
  • Conversion of NURBS to Polygon
  • Basic Shape 'Deformations' (Scale, Divisions)
  • Selecting Edges/vertices
  • The Round Tool (NURBS)
And now, my Nub-Questions:
Is there any vocabulary I should start studying?
Cheers, Gentlemen, I'll be checking in tomorrow. With some images, hopefully.
  11 November 2010
Originally Posted by TheMumm: Gents


Also, what exactly do you mean by vocabulary, with regards to CG? Oh and don't bother learning NURBS right now.
  11 November 2010
This is pretty much where I'm at (going to start learning Maya soon--yay!), so I think I'll take up lurking in this thread. Great advice here
  11 November 2010
Originally Posted by KillahPriest: I think entering the DW is a good idea. Obviously he's not going for the win, but it would be good to have a set deadline to get a project done.

Actually yeah. I would advise against the DW. I didn't realize you were just learning the software.

To get enter the DW you need to have a lot of core concepts down already. A lot of industry professionals enter it and still struggle to finish their entry.
  11 November 2010
Realistically, I don't expect much from DW, but It's there, and makes a good goal for myself.

Decency, I took your advice and got my hands on a couple of DT tutorials from a buddy of mine.

(and I'll probably be picking up a membership on my next paycheck)

Right now, I'm working on their Product Visualization tutorial, where you make a bluetooth headset. Only 3 lessons in, and I'm having a blast. I'll post some pictures later when I've made some more headway.

  11 November 2010
edit: spelling

Alright it's been a little over a week. Thanks again for the words of encouragement. I haven't spent as much time as I like on this, and happily I'm making some decisions that will put this higher on my priorities list; 'cause I'm loving it.

I'd like to get some feedback on my current learning process from you guys (I'd really like to avoid teaching myself wrong, so-to-speak). Presently, I'm working through a tutorial from Digital Tutors where One models a cell phone hands-free device from scratch to photorealistic render. I figure this is a good way to get to know how to model while keeping steps further down the line in mind.

Simultaneously, however, I'm reading and paraphrasing the Maya help file to get to know the tools from a more "text-booky". I hand copy these onto notebook paper to make sure I'm remembering this stuff. Seems a bit archaic, but it's working.

Is there anything else I could be doing to help myself here? Thanks in advance.
  11 November 2010
nice, i like this thread.
i started learning Maya in the spring, but kind of slacked on it during the summer, and now im back on it. The good tip for you from my own experience is to try creating things around you in 3D. For example, model your computer, desk, keyboard, or anything you can imagine.

When you see the thing before you, its easy to visualize it in 3d space, and of course, model.
Thats how i started learning to model. And of course, i watched a bunch of Digital tutors videos before i started, this is important. First see the workflow from start to finish, then go back and follow along the tutorial. this way you remember more, in my opinion.

I'm looking forward to see your WIP (work in progress)

  11 November 2010
After you become more familiar with the tools, I would really recommend taking a CGworkshop in whatever subject you're interested in. It will push you and teach you a lot.
  12 December 2010

my experience learning MAYA after the last 5 years has been a challenge since I learned basically from tutorials and myself investigation on the tools

the DT DVDs are a great start

I recomend u always to learn Modeling no matter if you are going to do another thing like animation, texturing compositing, ormodelling is the foundation of everything POLYS and SUBD, Nurbs is not used so frequently

product visualiazation is a good DVD tut from DT, I recomend you all the "INTROS" they have in their site, like into to lighting, intro to hypershade, intro to mental ray, intro to rendering,

for me is very helpfull to write down in a text file or moleskine all the instructions I am learning froma specific tutorial
the cognitive learning connections in your brain will be more strong than if u just watch the DVD
the connection at the time of writing between the hand and brain is strongest for the learning process
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