Denoise Podcast: How Long Does It Take to Learn Blender?

Jul 25th 2023

Learning 3D is universally experienced as challenging. Over the years, some form of the question “How long does it take to learn Blender?” has come up again and again, often from students suddenly realizing the size of the challenge and frustrated that their pace of progress is not as fast as they would like.

This post is from episode 2 of the Denoise podcast. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, GoogleAmazon, and wherever else you find your podcasts.

With great power comes great complexity

Unlike character creators and effects apps which let you choose between and adjust pre-made options, Blender truly allows you to create whatever you’d like from scratch and have pixel perfect control over the result. In order to allow for that amount of creative control and flexibility though, Blender inherently needs to be fairly complex. The more options there are and the more powerful the software is, the more buttons and menus and nuanced ways of doing things will inevitably be there too.

Blender has gotten easier to use over the years, but it’s still quite a lot for anyone to take in all at once. Modeling, texturing, shading, lighting, rigging, animation, compositing… It’s going to take time, even to master one of those! How much time, though, depends on your pace of learning and what you choose to focus on.

A rough timeline

Let’s assume someone is learning 3D and is able to put in several hours per week, mostly during evenings and weekends. As a rough rule of thumb, the first year will be beginner territory, years two to five will be intermediate territory, and after five years they’ll likely be pretty advanced.

Even that guess has some very wide margins. I’ve met users who have picked up Blender after having already studied art for years and made some incredible things very early on in their journey. The projects are usually not technically complex, but good proportions, colors, and compositions can go a long way when even just using the basic tools beginners learn on day one. I’ve also met folks who have been messing with Blender for twenty years and have yet to make much of artistic merit, mostly because they’re fans of tinkering with the software itself as a hobby and don’t push themselves much when it comes to the final output. Neither of those extremes are inherently good or bad, but they do illustrate how the speed of getting to the point of making incredible renders depends quite a bit on how you go about using the tools and the type of practice you put in.

Comparing to the best

I’d bet that most of us got into computer graphics because of something we thought looked amazing. It probably isn’t something average or poorly made that inspires someone get into this craft, but, for the first few months or even longer, that’s all we can create ourselves. The gap between what we want to create and what we initially expect to produce is quite large at first.


An animation of Master Chief by Kent Trammell when he was a beginner and a recent animation by Blender legend Ian Hubert

You probably won't be creating action packed short films by yourself in the first year. Or few years. And that's ok! 

Nobody picks up the guitar expecting to be Jimmi Hendrix right away. There’s still enjoyment and satisfaction to be had from creating something that’s authentically yours, even when it’s not perfect. After a while, you’ll look back and be surprised at how much better you’ve gotten.


In episode 2 of the Denoise podcast, which is about this exact topic, Kent recalls a time when he was starting out and incredibly excited and inspired to create an animation, only to quickly have his hopes and dreams demolished by the monster that is complicated 3D software. In some form or another, we’ve all experienced hitting that concrete wall of reality in Blender, Max, Maya, Modo, or some other tool.

I’ve quit or “indefinitely paused” many things in my life - learning to play the drums, getting good at video games, and fixing my car on my own, just to name a few. At a certain point, I just didn’t care enough about them for it to be worth it to me. But, for some reason, computer graphics stuck with me and I’m still working at getting better at it a decade and change later. We all care about and are fascinated by different things. Whether that’s Blender or not isn’t good or bad - it’s up to you!

Back to basics

But, if you do want to conquer the learning curve and wish that it would take less time to learn to make amazing renders and animations with Blender, the best thing to focus on would be the core fundamentals of the tools and of art in general. Of course, we’re biased since we’ve spent years teaching exactly that but, regardless of where you find them, we recommend following tutorials and then immediately putting what you’ve learned into practice in your own projects.


The more projects you create, the faster you’ll improve. Blender is a big beast to tame but, when mastered, the only real limit will be your imagination.


Jonathan Lampel
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