Sorry for how long this is, but I’m really desperate. As much as I’m pleading for some kind of advice for myself, maybe there’s a chance somebody else could learn how to avoid my problems by reading this.
I heard a lot of advice like this back when I was starting Animation Mentor about six years ago. I took the advice of the pros to heart, dropped out of AM and devoted all of my free time to learning drawing. I bought a ton of art supplies, and books and videos about color, character design, forceful gesture, etc.
It’s been nothing but disappointment the whole time. I’ve gotten nothing out of the pursuit that brings me any closer to a job or to a portfolio that would get me into a good art school.
I live in a very small town in the deep south (USA) and there aren’t any art classes around here but Bob Ross crap for retired ladies. I’ve been totally on my own and I can see what I’m doing wrong in my drawings just as easily as anybody online could. There’s nothing I can do in natural media that doesn’t come out looking shaky and clumsy, despite how much I’ve learned abstractly about various principles related to composition, perspective, etc. I just don’t have the hands for it.
I’ve only got very limited experience with modeling (most of what I did in 3D was just animating provided rigs) but it seems like this kind of problem is ameliorated in the case of 3D art because I can stop, take my time, tweak, undo, build geometry, etc. It’s not like 2D where the appeal of your character is determined by how deftly you can push a pen across a paper, and how steadily you can erase your mistakes without erasing the rest, and how long you can stomach the process of tiny incremental corrections that cramp your fingers and wrist. The principles might be the same but the actual work is so, so different.
It’s my own fault for whatever reason, and I’m sure your advice is good for a lot of people, but it’s been really, really hard on a personal level to try to keep this up for so long so that “someday” I could make my own animation projects and get exciting work in a studio. Every idea I’ve had has gone to the back burner while I’ve made crappy copies of Preston Blair, Reilly method exercises, and photos from online. I can get the basic ideas of everything down, though my perspective is still weak - but it never, ever actually looks “good” like the kind of finished artwork that gets people paid or (more importantly for me) accepted into a real art school or a place like Gnomon.
I did very well in Animation Mentor. I love 2D art, but what matters most to me is creating characters, scenes and stories, so ultimately I don’t have a preference about 2D vs 3D. I dream of getting into some kind of art school that would teach me absolutely everything about how to make art, make animations, and finally turn them into films or game assets. But all the good schools have strict portfolio requirements and nothing I’ve done is going to cut it there.
I took this advice, spent six years following it and after all that time I’m basically back where I started - except I have to relearn all the 3D programs that changed in the meantime. I have no idea what I’m going to do about college, which I kept postponing because I thought I’d eventually learn enough about drawing to get into a good school.
In hindsight I should’ve stayed in AM and just tried to learn art on the side, likewise for basic modeling - but with the way that the posts and articles and tutorials I were reading were stressing traditional art as so essential to 3D, I really believed I was doing the right thing by focusing on drawing 100 percent. Moreover, because all the good 3D art schools put the same kind of stress on traditional art in their acceptance process, it seemed necessary, if I was ever going to get to the kind of school that would teach me how to model, rig, and texture like they do at Dreamworks and Pixar.
But the requirements of those schools for a portfolio of traditional art mean that I’m stuck. To their admissions review, it doesn’t matter what I know if I can’t show it with drawings and paintings. I really don’t want to go to some place like Full Sail and end up only being to make iPad games and local commercials. What I want is to make 3D art with cinematic quality; I took advice like the kind in this thread and all it seems to have done is push that goal back by more than half a decade.
I’m not saying anybody’s wrong - there’s probably just something weird about my coordination, I even have really horrible handwriting. But, I did what I could, and this is what happened, and now I have no idea what to do next. I’m dying to go to a school and work my ass off, but it looks like I’m in for another few years stuck in this awful town while I grind Maya tutorials.
After this long, I don’t even feel like I have a chance anymore.