Course evaluation of Blender 2.8 Complete Training by Julien Deville.
This adorable robot is not my design. Anyone who completed the course would have produced something very similar, along with a bunch of other small projects. [Never fear, dear readers, in order to retain the skills we learned, I’ll create my own original robot next.] The course is composed of 15 chapters including over 100 video lessons. I’m doing two other full courses simultaneously, so that they reinforce each other, and will review those as well when I complete them.
I give this one a score of 7 out of 10.
The instructor is an expert, and the course is the most comprehensive of the three I’m doing. It’s well organized, and moderately easy to follow most of the time. There are a lot of practice exercises, and all the materials needed are included in the files corresponding with the lessons. It’s a very good value at the standard $49 rate, but I got it for $39.
However, the course has some significant limitations. Blender evolves so fast that it is already on version 2.9, and there are myriad improvements that are not covered in this instruction. That’s almost always going to be the case, because comprehensive courses take so long to produce that by the time they are finished, Blender has almost inevitably moved on. It’s still good to learn from a prior version in order to hone the fundamentals, but it means you’ll have to look elsewhere to catch up. So, this course is a tad old.
The hosting on wingfox doesn’t provide for comments, and there’s no way to ask a question when you hit a snafu. Even free YouTube videos will contain people’s questions and solutions to problems they encounter in video tutorials, so this is a serious drawback. Fortunately, Julien is a very professional instructor and manages to explain procedures well enough that I only got lost once where I couldn’t figure out what was wrong on my own.
There was a very important video missing, and I had to write to wingfox to inform them. They got back to me days later, updated their directory, and I was able to go back to complete the lesson in question, but it interrupted the flow. I emailed the instructor directly, but received no response. I don’t think it was his fault, but rather that of wingfox.
The instructor has a strong French accent which is only a problem on occasion when it comes to keyboard shortcuts. When he says “air” with a rolling “r”, that’s just the letter “r”. But when he tries to say the letter “l” it also sounds a lot like “air”. Hitting the wrong shortcut key can put you in a world of hurt, but you can usually ctrl+z out of it. The most confusing is when he says “i” because it comes out “y”. You just have to look at where the shortcuts appear visually in a corner of the screen to confirm what they are until you get used to his pronunciation.
English isn’t his first language, nor is he very fluent. He doesn’t know the past or future tense of verbs, so will say things like “did make” for “made” and “will can” instead of “could”. He relies on the practical level of English he’s mastered, and thus overuses certain phrases to the point where it’s impossible to ignore them after dozens of videos. You’ll hear him say, “you will have the possibility to …” and “you will have the opportunity to…” and “it’s a very powerful technique” thousands of times by the end of the course. I’m an expat who has struggled to learn several foreign languages on a rudimentary level, imcluding French, so don’t much mind his imperfect English except when it causes me to make the wrong keystrokes. Even some of the native English tutors are difficult to understand at times. Some will talk too fast and slur their words.
The course includes a section on organic sculpture, which is often missing in general courses, because it’s broad enough to constitute its own course.
Blender is way harder for me than Photoshop, or Zbrush. It’s more like 3 or 4 or 5 programs bundled into one. You’ve got your hard surface modeling; organic sculpture; shaders/materials; lighting; particle systems; simulations; UV mapping; texture painting; rendering; compositing; armatures and rigging; and animation… There are jobs just doing animation, or even rigging.
The difficultly isn’t so much understanding how to do any given technique: it’s being able to remember them all, and all the intricacies of which menus to navigate, and where to find that all important box to check or uncheck,etc. I have to do a procedure a few times, in a few different contexts, before it really sticks. And even then I start to get rusty in one area while working on another, even if I’ve only taken a few days off learning in the last three months.
I never intended this course to give me full training. I’m not even sure the three courses I’m doing in tandem will provide the level of competency I’m looking for. Well, Blender offers “very powerful techniques” that can “give you the possibility” of creating whole scenes from the imagination. With so few limitations on creating virtually anything, limitations on the learning process are also scarce. I mean, the damned program is a miracle for artists (and FREE). We just have come to take it for granted that you can near perfectly recreate visual reality.
It’s already really cool to “have the ability to” make a robot, copy it, pose it, and seamlessly integrate it into an HDRI photo, with realistic shadows, lighting, and reflections. One could cordon off one’s learning and explore endlessly with just a handful of Blender’s tools. For my purposes, I need a solid handle on all the sculpting tools, lighting, manipulation of the camera, and everything else necessary for creating complete, realistic scenes.
This course was very useful to help solidify my broad-based foundation, but I wouldn’t really recommend it alone above the other available options. I had a question in another course I’m doing, and the instructor sent me a video in which he demonstrated what he thought I did wrong, and how to fix it. This course can’t compete when it comes to customer service, or any help at all, and most of us are going to need it somewhere along the line. You can Google any problem and find answers, but it’s nice to have them easily available when you are paying for a course.
Now let’s see what kind of robot I can come up with and integrate into an environment. I don’t want to spend too much time on it, because I want to get those other courses under my belt, but I promise I won’t give it a mushroom head, or make it kawaii.
Don’t touch that dial!
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