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.
Last edited by Geffex : 05-26-2008 at 02:12 PM.