Time management and how to avoid burnout while learning new skills

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  08 August 2012

Originally Posted by conbom: disagree, life isnt all about pulling points around. Even the best will suffer fatigue and stagnate if they constantly do the same thing, actually the best artists i know arent like that at all. Its not all fun and games if you truly care about it, its actually challenging and will stress you.

As somebody that isn't a 3D artist and just a try out see what I can do, even using tutorials, I find myself feeling frustrated, and would think about how to go about achieving an effect, and would think about it while watching television. I'm creating a very simple supposed to be a pixar looking eye, and the thought about getting the lighting correct, and colour and trying to compared it with the images of the character eyes, just drives me to give up.

I'm glad I'm not a 3d artist, because I'd probably lose it.
  08 August 2012
Rather new myself, I have found it best to not jump into that really cool big project right away. Focus on one tiny part and learn how to do that. Everything will build up. Perhaps go back to old projects as your skill improves. Don't stress about the big things right away, especially if it is just a hobby at the moment. Of course considering my very short time doing 3D work, take what I say with a grain of salt.
  09 September 2012
Originally Posted by Wolvenmoon: I'm not looking for ways to be motivated, I'm looking for ways to avoid demotivation while expanding my skillset in the most efficient and effective way possible. I can't throw unlimited time in to the meat grinder because I don't have it and the reason why is a physical limitation that I've talked to my doctor about.

The biggest help for you will be not skipping your breaks. Seriously. I have similar timed break requirements, and despite irritation when I have to get up and I'm just really getting in to something, it's better than the lost time because you overworked and are in pain later. Beyond that, I suggest finding some things you can do that don't require sitting. If you can stand, do some work with an easel (or get a standing desk, I've heard good things). If you have to lie down, look in to a laptop or tablet if you want to continue the digital work or take a notepad and pencil with you. For 2d practice, just draw. Then draw more. Draw anything; even practice at drawing consistent basic shapes can help. If you also practice figuring out how to break things that you see into shapes mentally, you can combine those for some readily noticeable improvement.

As for staying motivated, I've found that a lot of my burnout comes from stress, even if it's wholly unrelated or indirectly related stressors. Stress is tricky, because it tends to make you want to do things that aren't at all actually helpful for you. The best thing for that, by a long shot, is to start anyway. Just make yourself do 5 minutes, or even 1 if that's all you think you can manage. Tell yourself you can check that forum post or whatever is distracting you after those 5 minutes are up. Odds are that once you've started you'll keep going. Use a timer, both for this if you need it and to make sure you get the breaks you need. Gradually extend the 5 minute minimum until you're at your 40-50 minute between breaks time. Then use the timer to make sure anything you're doing that isn't work isn't pulling you away for too long. Allow yourself 10 minutes or so to do whatever if you need it, but only if you'll really stop when the timer goes off. Don't let yourself say, "Oh, I'll just finish this one bit," because that's how you get to 1 AM without any work done. Don't even stress about tutorials that much -- play around in the software. Poke it and see what things do! If you've only got an hour, those 45 minute tutorials aren't going to help you.

For help with pre-planning, look in to concept art tutorials and guidelines. Get some good books or borrow them and read those when you can't be at the computer. (Digital Lighting and Rendering was the one that helped me the most when I was starting out, and for an added bonus you can find the author around here. I don't know which subject matter you need the most help with, though.) In your case, I recommend saving the modeling practice for days when you can sit at a computer for a while without wiping yourself out, and go with drawing or whichever other non-computer-based art you'd like on other days. Don't sweat about how much time you're working, but rather whether or not you've learned. Study some other people's art on days you can't do any yourself. Really look closely at it and try to figure out how they did it -- why is the light where it is? Why are the shadows there? Regularly thinking about those things will help you grow as an artist. Ultimately, you can learn software any time. Learning to look at things and think with a grounding in traditional art techniques is what you need if you don't have those skills already. If at all possible, take a drawing or painting class -- I know they're often hard to get in to for non-majors, but at my school the summer courses usually didn't have the waitlists that the regular term classes did. If you're at a school that doesn't have a fine arts department, there may be adult continuing education classes in your area.
The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself. - Rita Mae Brown
  09 September 2012
So I come on and read this post about not skipping breaks after a 3 hour homework marathon. Your timing is perfect!

I do have a standing desk. An Ergotron Workfit. Integrating a tablet in to it is difficult but it can be done. I highly recommend it.

I have a program installed, http://www.workrave.org .It lets you set microbreak times, longer break times, and a daily limit on computer usage. It'll squawk at you when it's time for a break, and chime at you when the break's over, so I have an auditory reminder to help me do 45/10 increments. It's resource-light and stable as long as you don't use the network mode (which works, but if the server system is down the client system's copy crashes). The timer counts down as long as it detects input device movement. It also has a reading mode where it'll count down continuously even if your keyboard/mouse/tablet aren't in use.

It's free, open source software, too. Unfortunately it's annoying as heck and I've been ignoring it entirely lately.

So, your timing is great (and funny) and what you said was exactly what I should be doing, can be doing, and wasn't.
  09 September 2012
One thing that really helps is to not do brain-intensive stuff later in the day, when you're already tired from using your brain all day dealing with work, school, interpersonal relationships, etc. What a lot of people do, is to wake up early and get at least an hour or two in of the things that are the most brain-intensive. For example, most writers write first thing when they wake up, so the brain is working at its maximum capacity, after having been fully rested. I do this when I work on my novels and it really does work. Just get up an hour or two earlier (or however much time you can devote to your learning/practicing), and after washing your face/brushing your teeth/eating breakfast, go straight to it. Don't even check your email because that will distract you.

When you establish a routine like that, you'll find yourself being a lot more productive, as you'll always be fully rested when learning/practicing, and you're always doing it without distraction or a full day's worth of life's various pressures on your mind.

I also use Workrave, and I use a time/project manager called Klok (it's free). Having a time/project manager makes my life so much more structured and I can easily plan and manage my life effectively.

And when planning your learning/practicing of anything related to visual art, ALWAYS put the emphasis on the critical foundations of visual art such as composition, perspective, values/lighting, color theory, anatomy/figure, etc, because they are what will make you a good visual artist. Operating software is much easier in comparison, since they're just technical steps you follow, like operating a DVD player. The critical knowledge of how to create compelling visual art is much harder because that's the stuff that really forces you to think and be creative about. No amount of technical knowledge is going to matter if there's no compelling creative vision behind the work (unless your goal is to find a technical job where you're bringing other people's creative vision to life).

Last edited by Lunatique : 09 September 2012 at 05:18 AM.
  09 September 2012
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