Not to sound like a fanboy, or in my case fangirl, because we all know that I am a huge fan of the CG Cookie network of sites and I spend a huge chunk of time watching all the videos. But that is not the reason this workshop was so incredible.
The workshop was very well thought out and prepared to guide participants through a very focused course on core modeling techniques. Something I really needed to take my modeling to the next level. I found it very helpful to have the course set up the way it was. It kept my mind focused on the fundamentals and each week built on and reinforced what was already learned. Especially the section on Topology. I liked that all the videos were available for download, this meant I could watch them on my schedule and as often as needed.
Two weeks in, I was already thinking differently about how I approach the modeling process. To be honest, now I actually think about the model before I start. LOL, seems to make a huge difference in the final outcome.
So what did I get out of the workshop? Well to begin with, there were four different units covered in the workshop.
- Poly Intensive Modeling
With each unit being broken down into 3 different sets of video tutorials.
Once you got through all the videos for the week/unit, there was an exercise for you to do and turn in to test/practice if you had understood the material. Which honestly, by time you got to the exercise, you were more than prepared to tackle the exercise or at least I was. 🙂
Of the four units, the only one I had any real experience with was poly modeling. And by experience, I mean I have spent 11 years modeling, … all be it badly. 😛 Don’t get me wrong, I can model, but over the years I have managed to teach myself some rather bad modeling habits and while my models look like what I was going for, they were not pretty or clean by any definition available. Which would of course be why I wanted to take this workshop in the first place.
So the first week of the course was all about Topology. Now if you are not aware of it, topology is the foundation of a good model. I vaguely knew that but could never quite figure out how to apply that knowledge or even where to really start. Which of course made all my previous attempts a “hit or miss” proposition at best.
Of all the units, I actually learned the most from this one. Finally all the pieces to creating clean workable topology were presented all in one place. Jonathan explained what topology was and how to go about setting up clean topology. He explained all those arcane terms like “all quad junctions”, poles, edge flow etc and how and when to use them.
At the end of the first unit, I could already feel a shift in my modeling thought processes. Sounds kind of silly, but it was almost like a light had finally gone on and I was like “OH!”.
The next unit on Poly modeling, of course explained the different types of modeling, organic vs hard edge, box vs edge to edge etc. Which I was already aware of, but now in light of my new found understanding of topology, opened up a deeper level of understanding of modeling itself. The best part of this unit for me, oddly enough was the exercise. We were asked to model a cartoon dog based on provided concept art. It took me 3 tries (I kept getting too bogged down in details too quickly), but I ended up with a nice clean model of a dog. I was so proud of myself. I do believe that the dog is the first model I have created that had clean topology and was not weighed down with a huge number of unneeded vertices and edges that didn’t add to my model.
Yay! Progress already.
By far the funnest unit was week 3: Sculpting. After learning all about best practices and good uses for different brushes. I spent a lot and I mean A LOT of time playing with the exercise. I could have called my exercise good and turned it in fairly quickly, but playing around was far more fun. I ended up making several different creature heads just because it was so much fun to play with. 🙂
The hardest unit for me was the Retopology unit. I understood the unit, but understanding and putting it into practices takes … well practice. I spent a few weeks working on that exercise. I would get one area all clean and pretty and look over to discover I had managed to mess up several other areas. Sigh this went on for some time. Finally, I decided to just start over. I moved the model I had been working on to another layer and started over. I carefully set edge loops around my main features and then set to work connecting it all up. Surprise, it actually worked with very few problems this time.
Best advice from the workshop was a Albert Einstein quote that Jonathan repeated through out the workshop. “As Simple As Possible, But Not Simpler”. I love that quote and will probably print it out and hang it next to my computer. It is definitely something that I need to work on and practice when it comes to modeling. Prior to this workshop, my models not only suffered from bad topology, but an over abundance of unnecessary vertices, edges and faces. Making them heavy and difficult to edit or animate.
I enjoyed taking part in this workshop and wish it had been available when I first started using Blender 11 years ago. Just think what an amazing modeler I would be by now. 😛
In the end, this was a great workshop and has added so much to my knowledge and skill set that I would encourage everyone who can to take part in the next one. It is well worth the time and money.
Now I am off to start my certification model. I want that certificate!