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.

You start off making an array of basic objects.

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 headphones were one of my favorite projects.

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.

We created plants and populated a forest.

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.

Making this chain, doing the UV unwrapping, and adding the materials was cool.

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.

We learned how to paint with photos on a sculpt to create a realistic head.

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.

We even learned to age a face.

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.

How to paint on your model.

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.

Julien lost me somewhere in this process — look at those nodes — but it’s the only part I ended up skipping.

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!


And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here. Or go directly to my account. Patreon-account
Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously). donate-button

12 replies on “Finished the Course: Blender 2.8 Complete Training

  1. Thanks for this, Eric. I love Photoshop, and would consider myself relatively proficient in it’s use. I have Blender and it completely baffles me! I have spent hours and hours watching YouTube tutorials, but as soon as I’m faced with the Blender interface, the learning curve required to even begin using it defeats me every time. I’ve never heard of Wingfox, but I went and had a look, and it looks great. I might give it a try, especially as they are advertising a 30% off, Black Friday deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re a junkyard dog, and I mean that in a good way. You hang onto something and don’t let go until it’s yours. Congrats on completing the course, and I’m sure there are plenty of future users out there who will appreciate the final critique.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will take junkyard dog, minus the mange. I like to fancy myself a fairly healthy specimen. I mean, I try. Thanks. I’m not giving up on this digital sculpting and environment building direction. The potential is unlimited, but so is the requisite learning.

      But, uh, I started in on making my own robot, and I’m quite enjoying that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually bought the cheaper blender one done by the French guy, it was US$15. Unfortunately, I have run into problems with it straight away! When I opened it, there was a ‘preview’ video, so I started watching it, till I realised it was chapter 8 in the series, so I clicked the ‘start course’ button, and my course now starts at chapter 8, and there is no way to get back to the start! I’ve emailed them, but I really don’t hold much hope they will reply. Really pleased I didn’t waste US$40-odd!

    Like

    1. I’m not sure which course you mean. I just checked both, and I can access any file. There should be a side menu with all the lessons, and you should be able to scroll up to the first one and start there. At least that’s how it works for me.

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      1. Yes, there was a side menu, and it started at 8, and I couldn’t get it to go back to 1… but, happy ending, and I feel ashamed for being so cynical… they got back to me within hours, apologising, and told me that the course has two sections, 1-7, and 8 to whatever that goes to, and that for some reason I had been started in the second section. They sent me links for both courses. So I’m all set, and my faith in human nature and foreign online learning schools has been restored.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Glad to hear it. So, you got the course I evaluated from wingfox? Well, either course is a bargain for $15, and better than trying to piecemeal learning through tutorials on YouTube, though there are some pretty decent ones.

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          1. It turns out the single course you evaluated was earlier sold as two, shorter courses. I thought I was getting a cheaper, shorter course by the same guy, but accidentally bought the second half of the same course. I then had to pay another US$15 for the first half, in order for my purchase of the second half not to have been pointless. So I wound up paying US$30 for the course you evaluated. All a bit convoluted, but it’s all worked out in the end. And I have to say, their customer service is great, in the end, they were replying to me in minutes.

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            1. Sorry to hear that. Well, for some reason Blender courses are pretty cheap. I’ve paid over $100 for digital painting courses, and I get more out of the Blender tuts.

              I haven’t reviewed the other two courses I’m doing yet, simply because I haven’t finished them. One that is $60 is probably better than Julien’s course, simply because it has a comments section, and the guys who run it will answer your questions. My strategy is to triangulate a few courses, and a bunch of tutorials, because there’s so much information that I need to reinforce it with different contexts, and multiple exposures, before it really sinks in. I used this course as part of the triad.

              All in all I’ve spent about $100 on Blender courses, and if I can get through them all, well, it’s worth it for many reasons, just one of which is that it’s excellent for the brain. Not only do you learn the specific skills, but you also learn a lot more about all aspects of visual reality, a bit of engineering, and you update your understanding of cutting-edge computer programs. Blender is so broad that it provides a general art education on a practical level without even trying to do that.

              That said, I gave this course a score of 7 out of 10, and it does have some limitations. If you’d asked me, I might have recommended a different course which I haven’t evaluated yet, but, ultimately, I personally need to do more than one, in which case it doesn’t matter which one does first, and this one certainly works to contribute to a solid foundation.

              I would download Blender 2.8 to do this course with. We are now up to 2.91, and the interface is a little different, and things are going to be moved around, which can cause me a lot of confusion. One of my strategies for getting through tutorials is to use the same version of Blender the tutorial uses, which is never going to be the latest one (for that you can use YouTube tuts with people upload ASAP to get the hits). Blender downloads fast, installs like greased lightning, and you can have more than one version on your computer at the same time.

              It’s a serious commitment to learn this software, much more than I realized when I initially undertook it. I’ve got a long way to go to being really comfortable with it, so I can just create without having to figure things out and looking things up so much.

              Good luck.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so exciting! I haven’t been popping much on WordPress this last year, but I think you’ve come a long way with Blender in such a short time. I’m looking forward to see how you will integrate this practice in your art.

    Liked by 1 person

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