How did you learn


Ive seen most of the veterans’ work in here and it just baffles me how ppl can get so good at this program… Can anyone plz tell me a method to learn starting from newbie to advanced… so far online tutorials are crap unless im looking at the wrong places… i still have yet to find a beginning tutorial that goes over most of the tools ie: spline tools, lighting basics, etc etc…are videos the only way to go? and if so, which vids are good to buy


i learned 3d rendering and modelling using AutoCAD and max from nearly 15 years ago.
but c4d? i only converted from max to that about 3 years ago or so. and maybe because of my past 3d experience i found the change over quite painless.

my advice is just to stick at it. keep practicing. i never ever use tuts. havent got time for them in my job as im always too busy. i learn by using the program 7 hours a day, every day, for years on end, just experimenting and trail and error. no quick fix unfortunately.


Glad you wrote that, saves me the trouble of stating the very same thing :slight_smile:


I agree with Strat- there’s alot to learn and I think you really need to practise as much as possible-I’ve been doing it almost every day for nearly two years. I found it completely alien and difficult when I first started, lots of going backwards and forwards again and again!(always good to keep saving backup copies of your objects as you go!) I only did one tutorial, the ‘Human Meissie’ from the Maxon site-it was difficult but worth it, as it teaches you all the basic modelling tools.Forums like this are also invaluable-even just doing a ‘search’ for a problem often comes up with lots of answers. One thing I often found helpful was to download free models from Renderosity and work out how they put their hierarchies and materials together. I think it’s like anything-if you desperately want to learn it enough, you’ll get there. good luck!


It might be a good idea to also point out that the final quality of the images and animations produced has very little, if anything, to do with "how ppl can get so good at this program… " - But how to make a good image, that’s another story, and something best dealt with by studying drawing and photography for instance.

And I dare claim that it’s solid advice :slight_smile:

You need to learn the technology, but more importantly, you need to study and love the visual arts as something unrelated to software as such.


I’m in a rush so this will have to ben condensed: Read the manuals, do tutorials and experiment. Repeat as often as needed :slight_smile:



first off i’m still learning and got loads to learn.
you have to remember some people on here have been in 3d and c4d for a number of years and often came from other software. some are in design fields already so there eye is already in there to some degree.

you need to get familiar with what each function does…what controls you have with lights…don’t just look for tut in c4d look at other softwares tuts also…

the manual is your friend…3d is a pretty technical subject in reality and you need an understanding of the technology to a certain extent.

there are also many different areas…eg making the model…texturing the model…lighting the model…rendering…post work…etc.

you need to practice areas…and look at example scenes or setups others have worked on and you will realise methods are very wide in spectrum a lot of the time…anything youre uncertain about in the scene ask the reasons for doing it…or check up in the manual what that setting does get familiar then you’ll be less overwhelmed by it all…when you have a spare moment think about how you would do it in 3d…eg how to light a room…or how to model and break down an object…how to break down an objects surface into texture channels…its good practice without even clicking a mouse button.

don’t rule out tuts so quickly either…and practice its never gonna happen overnight.


This is a really good question. I am an architect by trade and by degree so I have been immersed in design now for about 20 years now. That said, I have been on computers (autocadd) for 14 yrs and 3d now for 4. I suppose my point is practice. I made a conscious effort to learn 3d by making it part of my daily routine here at work. We had a site plan due here that had a one week deadline. I drew the image as I had always done AND parallel to that I used Bryce to ‘model’ the same design to be rendered out as stills to force me to start learning the program. It was nerve racking to say the least but now I have become comfortable with 3D and am now ‘asked’ to produce 3d work on a regular basis.

So… If you can somehow intergrate 3d into what you do for work or on a school project you can create the time needed to master any program.

AND those ‘simple’ tutorials JUST show you how to make a sphere: lighting it, placing it texturing it , is another thing. Thats where studying art (in all its forms) comes into play.

A former collegue here and teacher of Maya and XSI told me it takes about 2weeks to 2 months to ‘get around’ in a program and about 2 years to really start understanding how it works and what it/ -YOU- can produce…

Good luck!!!


Well, there must be a reason you’re into 3D and you’ve picked probably the easiest to learn. If it’s spaceships, make a spaceship. Cars, make a car. Cartoon character, make one of those. Model, texture, animate, light. Read the manuals and ask for help along the way.

I actually learned a lot from Maya and XSI videos for general ideas, then go back to C4D and see what the equivelent would be.

And…take everyone elses advice on this thread… :wink:


its all very good for people to say practise but i think most people have forgotten what it was like when they first tried a 3d app, it took me a while to understand the whole concept of points edges and polygons and all that junk, it is quite bewildering, the question is practise what?

I only started 3d in December so i remember, the problem with tutorials is that most of them dont explain the very simple things which a newbie need to know such as “make editable” - do what?, where’s that button - thats why it is best (albeit boring) to study the manual first

Try the tutorial on Maxon site - they are very good


Hi! As the others said: practice, work a lot with your software, learn about it’s features, bugs (yes, I know. Cinema has no bugs.) and ways to deal with problems, draw a lot, dream a lot. Or, if you are totally bored, you can even use cinema as a chess program… :slight_smile: Really, you can. Try to find out. :wink:
As for me, I first started with AutoCAD 13 with the age of 14 and architectural desktop from it’s beginnings here in austria. Then my interest in 3d began, and I started using cinema in school (some kind of a mixture between a college and an university here in Austria wherefrom you degree in structural engineering), and there it went… I worked in an architectural studio afterwards, as a autocad/adt operator. After a while I got bored doing blueprints and floor plans and give uninterested people lessons in acad/adt, so I asked the boss if there’s a possibility for me to start doing 3d-projects. voilá, there it was, just the next day… so without proper preparation, he shoved me into a huge 3d-job with a week till deadline. Believe me, that IS the ultimate experience, where you gotta learn a lot, and do this fast. So basically what I am trying to say, try setting yourself a deadline for a project of yours or get a small job, and then learn come to terms with it. radical, I know, but it worked out for me. :slight_smile: You’re forced to visit forums then, ask people questions, find or invent workarounds, and so on, and so forth. And then, work on the skills you gained, try to improve them,… AND the thing I learned most, is to plan your time well, so you don’t waste too much time on playing around with things like: “hmm… 10% with soft shadows, or rather 12% with hard shadows?” too early. Doing a few projects like that you can always tell how much time you would need for modelling, how much for light, textures,… so you can make a time management for yourself, and (often more important) for your employer. Everything else comes with your ideas, and trying to realize them in 3d. A good practice is getting photos from the net or draw sketches and try modelling them. this will result in hundreds of WIPs (for me it did g), but you will get better.
A last piece of advice: don’t push it too far. :slight_smile: I caught myself last week thinking about the fact that that particular tree over there has way to few polygons. :slight_smile:
I’m also at the beginning now, so I guess it’s everyones fear that they won’t become so good as the others, especially when you see people’s pics here at cgtalk. But don’t forget, they do this things for like decades, so they have a bit of a routine.

happy rendering


I’ve been working with Mac graphics apps for 15 years, but just bought my first 3d program (C4D) 4 weeks ago. I had tried out demos on several of the 3d programs and found C4D the most intuitive (for me at least). Knowing zero about the program, I can usually pick up a new trick in any tutorial, no matter how mundane it might seem. As with any program, repetition is key. So, if I just have a free hour, I might try one of the simple tutorials on Maxon’s site.

My progression so far:
Tutorials from the supplied documentation.
Maxon’s web site tutorials: chess pieces, haunted house, various.
Modelling various home objects.
Jeff Carlson’s Bel Air tutorial.
Joel Mill’s Beginner tutorials.
CD4Cafe’s video tutorials

Even the simple stuff provides the structure and the repetition I need to learn the program. In the more challenging tutorials, either by design or lack of documentation, progress might be a frustratingly slow, but typically, you are learning 3-4 other tricks in the process.


Fought with 3ds for awhile, then got “Learn 3ds MAX 4 in 24 Hours” (by SAMS) and that helped me a great deal. Eventually I switched to Cinema which was fairly easy to get into - then it was just trial & error, leafing through the manual, looking up tutorials and just generally fooling around with it.


sat down with the manual over a month and a bit during a summer one year with 5.3, if there was the rare chance the manual didn’t help me I checked postforum.


Read the manuals. Don’t flip around and try to pick up a bit here and a bit there. Read them from start to finish and follow along in the program. Then do some tutorials and go back to the manuals to help you complete them (because you can’t absorb all that in one pass). Once you’re comfortable with the toolset try modeling some common items–just stuff sitting on your desk. You won’t start to understand why tutorial authors make the choices they do until you run into problems on your own. Now add in some materials and lighting, aiming for realism even if that’s not your ultimate goal in 3D. Start in on some basic animation. Repeat until Toy Story. :slight_smile:


The best ways to learn 3D and C4D specifically have all ready been stated. Let me tell you a few things not to do.

Learn only one app at a time. I have used most of the 3D applications on the market. I run into the problem that I think there is a tool in the app I am using when it is actually in another application.

The result of my style of learning has been ’ user of many, master of none '.

It is also a great way to spend a lot of money, and waste a lot of your time (in my case I qualify this in years). Well not truely a waste, but you never really excel in any one application.

Also do not let the skills of others get you down. Many of the good artists here have spent hundreds of hours or years working on their skills. They may also have art degrees, and may have studied in the traditional arts. The best thing is to treat the work of others, that are better than you, as inspireation.

If you have already bought C4D, follow the advice above. The manual is your friend, learn it, love it, sleep with it under your pillow.

The tutoral book that comes with C4D is a good way to learn the tools, but you will be going back and forth between the tutorial and the manual.

If you are just looking at C4D as an option, download all the demos you can of all the applications that you can find. Use the demos and find the one that works the best for you.



Well, some very good advise from all… I think most important is:

understanding how to take basic primitive shapes such as a cube, and learn to work with transition tools such as move, extrude, scale etc, along normal and axis…

From there…

once you get the idea of how these tools work in conjuction with normals and axis, then it is to create some basic cool shapes from these primitive objects… Like creating a pencil from a cylinder, an eraser from a cube etc… then learn to colorize (texture) these objects.

Then onto some more advanced objects in order to make up a scene in conjuction with the simple objects you have already created… such as a desk, a lamp etc… after which you again texture said objects and begin to learn how to apply simple lighting to this scene in order to realize some sembelence of reality.

I think that one of the most important routes to take when first getting into 3d is to gain focus of the idea that each new object you create could easily fit within a scene with the last object you created… thus your library of objects begin, from model #1 right on through to say model # 30 or so…

Pencils and erasers, to lamps and desks, to wine glasses and perhaps chess sets, to other furnishings etc… all of which could easily be worked into a scene… :wink: :slight_smile:

I mean this is only one kinda group of items which could work well together… maybe you interest is cars, in which case which are the most simple shapes to model, which when combined with others gets you closer to your goals… ie, a stop sign, to a set of trafffic lights etc until you realize your first auto… :slight_smile:

happy modeling :slight_smile:


it’s a good point :slight_smile:


Extremely good point. One last point in my opinion is to have fun! Tinker and enjoy! Ask questions.

I got hooked on bryce v2 way back and went from there on up to 5, added poser, picked up C4D CE last winter and upped it to R8.5 in February this year. I tinker on average about 1-2hrs a day.


I just want to bring a different perspective to this and that is to do with the comment “the Manual is your best friend”.

In fact the mamnual can be your worst anemy! What you are dealing with complex 3D package is a multi-discipline platfrom. In Cinema 4D Studio you have Modeling, Painting, Animation, Particles, Rendering, Scripting, Lighting, Cinematography, and I can go on and on. In fact there is no one on this forum or any other who could say they are masters of all the above (and more) however long they stuffed the manual under their pillow.

What you need to be clear before you start are your strengths and interests. You need to bring something into this to get anywhere. If you can model in clay than try to learn modeling, if painting is your strength concentrate on texturing and lighting and so on. My feeling is that you need to have a skill outside 3D, than 3D becomes easy (easier!). The reason for this is, you only need to find the tools in the application which anable you to do that which already are good at.

Than you read the manual with a purpose. You will find what I just said in the preface of any manual worth the ink it was written in. If you learn first how to draw, how to sculpt, study anatomy, are good in maths, have a love for creating, Cinema 4D or any other package is nothing more than another brush.

Personaly speaking, I learned most things outsite the manual and came back to it only to reafirm my discoveries.