Learning to master 3D

When you first began to dabble in a 3d applications like cinema 4d or 3ds Max ten to 12 years ago, it was always hard at first. Simply understanding the interface and where to find things in the menus was a huge step forward. The  amount of hand holding learning materials available for 3d work today basically eliminated this difficult step. Now it’s possible to start playing around and making things in less than an hour of starting to learn 3d.

Which means that today you can go from knowing nothing about 3d design to making your first good enough model in less than a day. That’s impressive. Getting your hands dirty in 3d has never been easier.

What this low barrier to acces and entry means is that people who want to learn 3d now confuse learning 3d with mastering it. They think that doing their first project in 3d means they know it all or almost all of it. But this is a huge mistake. Working on a complete 3d project from beginning to end, a project that involves all types of skills and indersganding of 3D, like lighting and modelling, is still extremely difficult. It’s nice to encourage new learners to begin but it’s unrealistic to make them think it’s easy.

We are all guilty of focusing on how easy it is to start and not highlighting how complex and time consuming 3D work really can be. The reason for this false belief is that its’s what sounds like a useful thing to say to someone who wants to start learning 3d design.

Now that we know this is a misleading advice for ourselves and others, we need to get into what it really takes to master 3D.

First of all, getting really good at anything takes time. A lot of time. 3D design is not an exception, even with all the tutorials in the world. So we went from difficult to learn fifteen years ago and difficult to master, to easy to learn today and STILL difficult to master.

After being at it for 10 years, we’re still learning it. It might not take you that long to learn it properly but it means that you can now be more realistic in terms of what to expect from this journey, because the question is not really how long it will take you to learn 3d, but how long it will take you to become an expert at it. It’s great knowing that you can create things with many different tools in your 3d software, but it’s another knowing which tool does the better job.

This is why we like to compare the skill sets needed to produce various kinds of 3d work. Architectural visualisation, in itself, requires a very specific set of skills. Motion design and animation is another. Product design and 3d engineering work also require different skills.

People who know and understand 3D today still find it puzzling that a begginer in the field doesn’t use the right tools to create their work. But they forget how long it took them to understand all these things themselves.

So to all lovers of 3d, let’s keep encouraging new comers in learning this very interesting skill, but let’s also set realistic expections for them. Learning 3D it tough but the rewards are worth the journey.

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