So you want to become an awesome 3D Modeler? Do you want to make 3D models like the pros? Over the next series of posts, I will show you some helpful ways to become the best 3D modeler you can be!
Well firstly, you’ll need motivation and inspiration. There are many ways to get inspired to do 3D modeling. You could watch a good 3D animated film and wonder how they would have created that, or feel a sense of motivating energy like “I want to create something like that one day!” You could watch behind-the-scenes footage or see other 3D artists at work on YouTube. Some of my biggest inspirations have come from seeing other 3D artists at work on YouTube who aren’t really famous or earn a lot but I can feel their passion and am always in awe of the work they produce. Another way that I get inspired is just by being imaginative. My own imagination is a form of inspiration for me as somewhat conceited as it sounds. When I was young, I always pictured my own made-up city. Maybe I was a little weird, as I didn’t know too many kids at the time who had imaginations like me. But I always pictured this vast, beautiful green city and even created names for some of the buildings. I know, I was a weird little kid. Little did I know that that would inspire me to take up and learn 3D modeling. I remember feeling that “Aha” moment when I realized the possibility of showcasing to everyone my imaginary world in CGI. It would be the perfect way to visualize my dreams instead of letting it stay stuck within the boundaries of my mind. If you tend to be a visual person and can “see” your imaginations in 3D, then you will naturally be motivated to do 3D modeling and even have a stronger eye for detail. One of the best ways to get inspired is through learning. I don’t know if that sounds a bit cliché. The more you learn and discover new techniques of 3D modeling, the more you will be inspired to keep making 3D models. Sometimes I may look out the window and see a tree. I tell myself “I can model that”. But then I may look at the Ferrari parked next to it and wonder “Hmm, I don’t really know how to model that thing yet, I’m gonna go home later and try to figure it out.” It’s that desire to learn that can help us become better 3D modelers. You will likely experience it too, once you start to the hang of 3D modeling.
Real life references can help make the modeling process a LOT easier. The idea is that you take a real-world object you want to model, and either use a photograph of that object or have it physically right there in front of you as you model. Using references is not cheating. You won’t be classified as a better 3D modeler if you can model anything without having references of them. Actually, come to think of it, you would actually be a pretty talented 3D modeler if you could do that. But the reality is that 3D modelers, even the best ones, use references all the time. The only time I can think of where I modeler doesn’t use references is when they may have created the same object (like a cup for example) over a hundred times or so as they pretty much know what they’re doing from the get go. They still would have initially started out using references though.
References can also be a source of inspiration. Instead of sitting in the same place in front of a computer all day, once in a while, go to your nearest local park. Sit on one of the benches and just observe everything around you. Try and find something that would be interesting to recreate in 3D. Maybe it’s that beautiful oak tree, or one of the slides in the children’s playground. Perhaps it’s something as simple as a bike or something as complex as humans. A word of advice, do not observe any one human for too long. They consider this behavior to be quite creepy. Never engage eye contact with other humans for an extended period of time. Again, I have no idea why I treat humans as if they were a separate species. Anyways, just spend time observing things around wherever you are. Maybe you’re on the train or bus, waiting in line in a café, or just walking the streets. Just observe the things around you and try to understand the object’s shape and form. For example, I could look at a leaf and think “Wow, most leaves on this tree are symmetrical. They have pointy ends and they bend towards each other on the symmetrical axis. The leaves also have a bit of thickness.” See how this can help? You should probably carry a notepad around with you to help jot down your memory. Without making these observations, I would have probably modeled the same leaves as just a bunch of squashed ovals with no thickness. I would have thrown that at people’s faces and tell them to tell me how much they love my work. While these squashed-oval leaves might actually be a good idea for stylized models, you may get better looking stylized models by observation. In this instance, you may exaggerate some of the distinct features of the leaves that I’ve described, which in turn will help get that nicer, more relatable looking stylized leaves.
And that’s only the observation bit. You could use references during your modeling as well. References while modeling can assist in making the process a whole lot easier. If you don’t know how to accurately model a chair for example, you could take a front and side photo of the chair and load that into your 3D software. By placing the front and side photos in the front and side views of your 3D software, you have a basis upon which you can build an accurate 3D model of your chair keeping the proportions intact. The reference images within your 3D software can help you evaluate much better how you’re going. We will be covering doing exactly this in a later chapter.
Books are great to learn 3D modeling and assist you in your journey to become an awesome 3D modeler. There are many quality books on Amazon teaching you various aspects of 3D modeling. For example, how to create detailed 3D characters. These books are written by seriously awesome 3D modelers. Your library may also have books teaching you the art of 3D modeling.
Sometimes reading a good book can be an eye-opener and teach you many things you didn’t know before. Taking the time to read a good book and trying out the exercises can help greatly. Books allow you to work at a pace most comfortable to you and in turn this will allow you to retain information much better in the long run.
Continue onto Part 2 .
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