3d modeling

Column: First steps with 3D modeling

Computer generated graphics are becoming more and more prevalent these days and have become a staple in the entertainment and design industry. As such, 3D modeling has become a skill sought after by many people, with its ever-growing industry.

Seeing these works, many people may be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and skills needed to create such content. However, all great artists come from a place where they didn’t know their craft either. With a little effort and time, anyone can easily learn 3D modeling and start creating on their own, even without a mentor, like I did.

Choose software

The first step to getting started with 3D modeling is choosing software to do your job. There are tons of different software out there, and choosing one solely depends on what suits the user best. Maya, 3DS Max and Cinema 4D are all widely accepted and used software in the industry. There are also slightly more specialized software, like Houdini, known for visual effects, and ZBrush, known for sculpting. One of the most accessible software, however, would be Blender, because it’s completely open source, the many add-ons it offers, and most importantly, the number of tutorials that can be found online using Blender.

Of course, the main drawback is that there are almost no companies that use Blender as a modeling tool, due to its far too frequent updates and non-industry standard keyboard shortcuts. There are also many other more rare software, such as Modo, Fusion 360 and Lightwave. Ultimately, whichever software you choose, it all comes down to your preferences and what you’re looking to do with the software, whether it’s sculpting, hard surface modeling, VFX, animation , etc

To start

From my personal experience, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the software. Having skills and knowledge in computer generated modeling and graphics means nothing if you can’t navigate the software. To familiarize yourself with software, you can just play around with the user interface and all the features it offers, until even the developers don’t know what you’re doing, as the saying goes. Blender Guru in his old donut tutorial.

In my experience, it’s extremely helpful to find a beginner’s tutorial on YouTube and just follow it. It will teach you all the basic shortcuts that are often used and also introduce you to the different interfaces of the software. Good tutorials for beginners will help you familiarize yourself with the workflow and the many tools offered by the software. Also, you will most likely make a mistake by following and not knowing how to get to where the person you were following is, and that is most definitely a good thing. Learning to troubleshoot is a very important skill, and the earlier you make mistakes, the sooner you’ll become familiar with the software.

Common Barriers

One of the most common hurdles I’ve seen come across when 3D modeling just doesn’t know how to model on their own. 3D modeling is nearly impossible to figure out on your own without having a tutorial to guide you through the process. However, it also causes people to get stuck and unable to do anything without having a tutorial handy. This usually results from a lack of understanding of the basics of the software and therefore the only solution is to gain a better understanding of the software. Because everyone learns differently, there is no formula for doing this. In my case I ended up binging some Daniel Krafft “Explain Everything” videos as well as “100 advice videos”.

A few other YouTubers that I have consulted a lot for help with 3D modeling are Inverted Normals (for carving), CGMatter/Default Cube (this is the same person running two channels, usually doing VFX tutorials and explaining Blender nodes), and Josh Gambrel (for tips and tricks on modeling hard surfaces). Of course, these are just a few of the vast amount of educational content creators out there. There are plenty of resources available to help you understand the software, and once you get past that learning curve, you can go on to create awesome scenes and renders.