A New Day – Intro to 3D Modeling

Why 3D Modeling

Actually, there’s a few obvious reasons, and some potentially not so obvious reasons.

As I’ve been spending years trying to create a video game of my own, one of the major problems that I’ve run into (aside from the Vile Maths) is the visual aspects. Despite conventional wisdom, at some point early in development I need to see something representing what I’m trying to accomplish. Sometimes I could use primitives (cubes, spheres, etc) for simple representative presence, but other times I really want to have something that looks like what it’s supposed to look like. In some cases — like animation concerns — that’s actually imperative. So being able to create my own 3D models is something that’s always interested me.

Another reason is that 3D modeling is becoming rather hawt these days, with the increasing interest in 3D printing and such. I know someone who uses CAD-like applications to help him create custom guitars, and another friend who uses it for 3D printing as well as for woodworking. While my primary interest is in designing models for games (or maybe just for rendering), learning the how and why of 3D modeling can extend well beyond the gaming realm.

Where to Start?

This is by far the biggest question I have: where the hell do I start? We’ve got several millennia of having learned things under our collective human belts, and you’d think we’d have mastered the methods of imparting relevant information, but…you’d be wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for information that I need to get started in 3D modeling, and have found a whole lot of similar info, but not relevant info.

Most of the content on the web, in print, or in video form has addressed the use of specific applications, such as “how to do X in Blender/Maya/Something Else”. I look up “Intro to 3D modeling” and I get a wealth of articles that start with “getting to know your software” which is undoubtedly important, but it skips a crucial step: 3D modeling concepts and jargon.

I have thus far found one site that covers the absolute basics by way of terminology. It’s by no means exhaustive, but what I need is the “I know nothing about 3D modeling so where do I start” guide to 3D modeling. Before we get to the software. Before we get to the act of using the terms, we have to know what the terms mean. Most tutorials I’ve come across just…skip that info. Whether they assume you know it (if I did, I would be more advanced than your tutorial, Mr or Ms Tutorial Writer), or they’re just bad at writing tutorials (which is probably more the case), I don’t know, but I need to continue to search for really low-level information on 3D modeling concepts and terminology before I can really consider making a go of it.

A Good Resource

Despite not having a firm grasp on terminology, I did buy a series of video tutorials on using Blender from the instructional site Udemy. Udemy has been very good to me over the years, and this course is no exception. It’s got over 270 short, individual videos that guide you through how to use Blender, but also which take some time to explain general 3D modeling terms through the lessons.

I have been through sites like Blender Cookie and 3D Buzz, both of which I really love and appreciate, but since they’re both subscription sites, I want to make sure I exhaust the free or one-off cost information out there before I jump into their more advanced and in-depth catalogs.

The Difficulty

The difficult part of learning anything (at least for me) is that if I’m not using what I’ve learned, I tend to forget it rather quickly. Maybe this is old age, or just the way I’ve always been, but take something like 3D modeling that has a lot of jargon and methods, and then layering something on top of it like Blender or Maya which has it’s own set of jargon and buttons, sliders, and shortcuts, there’s not a lot of daily, practical application I can employ to reinforce those lessons.

So I’m going to have to work hard to put aside the time I usually reserve for gaming and devote it to working with 3D modeling. That is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because my current malaise regarding gaming means I have decided on something else to fill that gap, but a curse because, well, it’s work. Work I want to do, at least in theory, but work is work, and requires dedication even when the spirit is weak.

This Space

So this page on Levelcapped.com is dedicated to the posts I might make regarding my ongoing efforts related to 3D modeling: my progress, concerns, interesting information from third parties, and so on. Hopefully I won’t jinx myself by posting here…I’m superstitious like that. Learning 3D modeling has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and hopefully now the time is right for it.