There’s something special about Blender tutorials. Even more than digital painting tutorials, you really get into the instructor’s minds, and learn their workflows. Part of the difference is that digital painting has a lot more to do with the physical process of drawing, whereas in Blender the computer handles most the mechanics of representation, and the creative part is more on the thinking end. A Blender image is going to, for example, automatically have perfect perspective. A digital painting is always going to be an approximation.

It was much easier for me to make a realistic depiction of the Starship Enterprise in Blender, than if I were to try to make a photo-realistic digital painting — which is not to say it was easy at all — especially an original image of it.

It’s an entirely different way of working, and the polar opposite of my most consistent approach. Days ago, to take a break from the rigors of 3D art, I did a couple one hour drawings, using one brush in Photoshop, and on one layer. I used a timer. I just made some marks, looked at them, and slowly images emerged. It’s all imagination merged with the process of drawing.

One of my concerns working with Blender is that it’s much easier for others to copy whatever I produce. You can’t copy the drawings above exactly because there are just too many infinitely subtle permutations that are the inevitable consequence of just going through the process of drawing. In order to get beyond where people can copy my Blender art, I need to out-skill the majority of the competition, while adding idiosyncratic details that are difficult to reproduce. The latter will be the easier part.

The point of all of this is that because you can produce roughly the same results as the instructor, if you go through a tutorial, you can follow along very snugly with their methodology.

Above is a droid I produced using a tutorial by Ryan King. And below is a screenshot of him producing the droid in the tutorial.

It’s basically spot on. But when I’ve done digital painting tutorials, there’s a lot more difference. Below left is a digital painting by Aaron Blaise, and on the right is my version after doing the tutorial. Obviously mine is purely derivative, but it’s also easy to tell the two images apart, despite my attempt to make a faithful copy [note: I didn’t look at them side-by-side until after I’d completed my version].

The short of all this is that I like doing Blender tutorials in order to study how other 3D artists think, which tools they rely on, how they approach subjects, and how they tackle problems.

I was working on a new robot, and if you follow my blog you might notice some improvements:

I was going to make it along with Ryan’s tutorial, because he goes through the whole process of making an animation. But then I decided I’m making things a bit hard on myself by doing a humanoid robot rather than a hovering sort of droid. So, I’m switching to making a droid first, and I’ll come back to the robot later. I made some sketches for my concept, which I’ll share when I’m further along.

While working on my robot I suffered a bit from being rusty on my hard surface modeling skills — for the last several weeks I’ve been working on other aspects of Blender, and overwhelming my circuitry and memory banks — so I decided to do a few tutorials to brush up.

I did this retro ray gun from a tutorial by Bespoke Cube. It was so much fun I did his other tutorial on making a plunger.

These were beginner tutorials, but that just means I could whip through them faster, while still picking up a few good pointers.

Last, I did a more difficult tutorial by Josh Gambrell, who is one of the leading instructors in the intricacies of hard surface modeling.

Above, those orange and yellow objects are “cutters” which one uses in “boolean operations” in order to create complex forms. Basically, you can intersect shapes in order to combine them, or subtract one from the other, etc.

Here’s my finished product:

I posed mine differently, and did that little doodad in front differently, but it’s otherwise very close to the same object. Below is Josh putting on the post-production touches in Photoshop.

Now I feel confident that my upper-beginner hard surface modeling techniques are up to par, so I’ll start working on my original hovering droid tomorrow. Mine’s nothing like the instructor’s.

Don’t touch that dial

~ Eric Wayne


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One thought on “Projects and Tutorials Update

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