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TimEdwards 05-25-2008 02:31 PM

Nervous About Comparing!
Well I've been in these forums a bit in the past bit and I've noticed everyone saying it's all about portfolio. If you don't have a standout portfolio, you'll find it near impossible to get a job. So I stopped what I was doing and decided I needed to get working on new things for my portfolio to keep my skills up.

Now, my degree was an intro to animation, and also only a year long... but I am realizing that 5 months after graduation I didn't forget what I was taught, but I wasn't taught anything exactly. Reading directions and following those is easy, however the more vague the directions, the less I can fill in the details. So that means I was "taught" how to do those particular things but not why or the reasons behind the choices for most of those. For example, I decided I wanted to model my favorite car, the Nissan Skyline GT. I set up my viewports, and began modelling, but as soon as I smoothed the car it had obvious mistakes. Suddenly, I'm starting to wonder... I had an average of 95% and graduated pretty easily... now I'm wondering just how easy it was.

I suddenly feel like I paid $8500 for a computer, 3d studio max and adobe photoshop and some very kind support... but I don't feel like I've learned anything. Perhaps I didn't retain any information, but I really just think I wasn't taught the reasoning or methodology behind making cuts here or editing a polygon there. Wahoo to head aches. Anyone have any suggestions on where I should go to learn more about 3D Studio Max 8 (despite 9 being out now) or even a book?

Anyway thanks guys!
Tim Edwards

Adrir 05-25-2008 03:10 PM

I'm a bit dubious about my Computer Science degree myself, since it seems far too easy and basic. Although, at the end of the day, it's just a piece of paper that employers want to see and in the long run it will net me more money than I would have saved if I never went to university.

I think the skills and portfolio you develop in your free time is what will demonstrate your enthusiasm and differentiate you from the crowd. So, I guess there is no point worrying about that when you could focus on something else.

CKeene 05-25-2008 04:08 PM

I think everyone has had doubts about their program, Tim. I certainly have. What you have to realize is that very rarely is a school program going to give you something 100% new; something you didn't possess - at least in part - before. And certainly not something you couldn't get for free elsewhere, in terms of training and education.

But the main thing a college degree teaches you is the value of hard work, perseverance, and finishing what you start. I barely graduated high school, but have learned to use my passion to help motivate me. That's what my program has taught me most - that if I want something, I can absolutely get it; I just have to work for it.

Sure it's a bit corny, but look a bit deeper. Do you have something now that you didn't have before, aside from knowledge of Max, and some debt? ;)

As for Max, I'd just start off by looking for tutorials on the web. Have you visited 3DTotal?

TimEdwards 05-25-2008 06:50 PM

I have checked out tutorials online. The part that is bugging me is when I'm trying to follow a car modelling tutorial, I find myself asking, "Why did they put that there?" "How did they work that flow into the design?" and the questions keep coming... but now there is no one to answer my questions really like I had while taking my course.

One of my friends told me about Animation Mentor, but again that is so expensive. I can't justify shelling out that much cash in general, but especially in mid move across the country.

Other than beginner's knowledge of Max... I honestly can't say I learned any more than that. The thing is I was already working full time and decided to do school in my spare time. Prior to this I made my attempt at Computer Science to which bored me to sleep. There hasn't been a time where I wasn't working and trying to do school at the same time. So all I really learned was my limit. I can't do 2 full time (or more) things for a year straight.

I suppose the only reason I feel very shaken in my degree's credibility is mostly due to the marks I received and the other projects I've seen from students in the same program only a few months later. It's frustrating to know I got great marks, but I don't compare to someone else who obviously excelled. It was like seeing the difference between night and day for the first time and understanding what you see. I feel like I received the destination to which to travel and the tools to travel with... but no actual road or directions to travel with. Those it seems will be an extra investment.

Tim Edwards

yaustar 05-25-2008 07:19 PM

3Dbuzz have quite a selection of video tutorials. Perhaps they will be better for you?

CKeene 05-26-2008 07:37 AM

You could also take a look at some of the Gnomon workshop DVDs. Try and catch them when they're on sale. The instruction given is generally quite good.

TimEdwards 05-26-2008 09:56 AM

Man this sucks, but ah well...

How much are those gnomon dvds normally? They sound fairly familiar. I also realized I didn't get any textbooks from my course. Hmph.

Tim Edwards

CKeene 05-26-2008 11:06 AM

They're normally about $80. That's generally for 4-5 hours of instruction, so you're getting essentially private tutoring from one of the best in the business for about $20 an hour.

When they're on sale they're around $40.

Geffex 05-26-2008 02:06 PM

First off, its not all about portfolio at all. Thats a huge naive statement, no offense. I have seen great students from SCAD be refused by every company due to attitude.

Tutorials are a great place to start but honestly, they only go so far. I have never seen a tutorial that says "Now I put that there because if I smooth this model without that segment of geometry in this precise location there wont be the visual look of an indent for a door panel of this car". If they did this for the entire tutorial it would be like 14+ hours long. All tutorials really cover are the large lines of shape defining geometry placement and usually the ones that cover that are simple objects and not something as complex as a car. And when it comes to something as modifiable as a car, having someone say do this and that to have this result is really limiting you. It would be like if you owned a R34 and I say hey, you must go full carbon fiber, 19 inch front 20 inch back light weight OZ Race Rims and a T-88 Turbo and thats all you can do - nothing else. You would probably be pissed off because its your Skyline and you want to mod it the way you want it. Same thing with 3D. Make thigns the way you want to model it. From my experience, achieving the understanding of how to define form comes with just about the same thing all parts of art come with, trial and error.

Think of it like this, In my concept work I used a mixture of white out and Prisma marker to get some really cool effects. Now I have the skills to do it and the knowledge to use Prisma but I experimented with things to get a certain look. Same goes for modeling. You have the over all form but you have to experiment with new segments of geometry to see what will work. Trial and error are a huge learning curve in Maya. Professors can assist you along the way but they honestly will not sit there and be like "do X so it results in Y" and "do A so it results in B". Sometimes you may get some advice like this but the majority of the time you have to just mess around with things yourself. Once you do something that formed a nice look on your mesh you now know to do that specific cycle of steps to produce it anywhere on any mesh. It sounds like you are missing the rationale that makes geometry do what it does in 3D programs. I honestly do not think you will benefit by investing 100 bucks into a tutorial. I think you need to figure things on your own. After all theres hundreds of ways to make a mesh do a certain thing which is one huge part of style. Just as we have in 2D, 3D has style based on the way you model. This is one of the first things game development teams do in style guides, define how they will create form and what they will emphasize. They will say weather they want sharp lines, realistic form, smoothing groups, rounded corners etc. to define a style. So, experiment with Maya and see what you can do to build certain forms until you create a style and the knowledge of why someone put a certain amount of geometry in a particular area.

Over all I just think you did not have enough education and experimental time with 3D. I have been working with it for 6 years and I still discover new things and styles every day. It was a solid 2 years before I even began to understand how to control Maya and 3DS Max to do what I want instead of it limiting me.

TimEdwards 05-26-2008 02:28 PM

Well number one, thanks a lot Geffex, that makes a whole lot of sense... and I suppose with most art if I try and do it someone else's way, it's not my own. I need to develop my own style and not be afraid to experiment. Makes perfect sense.

It definately shows that you talk from experience. I suppose this definately would be the largest learning curve getting to know your own models and getting them to do what you want them to.

I did just finish my degree and am now experimenting with it. I mean there was one assignment, a house, where they gave us a floor plan for 2 levels and a painting of what the house should look like in 3d after textures. That was one assignment where I believe I went from complete beginner to the start of intermediate. Now intermediate is where I definately believe I am stuck.

Also, I assume there are things like Polygon limits and things like that in the industry, but I've never heard of them... any one know where I can find out about them?

Oh and thanks again Geffex for the kind and seriously inspirational words.

Tim Edwards

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