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I'm learning Blender. What should I do next?

Apr 29th 2022

Congrats: you completed a full course! If you had fun and learned a ton, we've succeeded in our mission to bring top-tier Blender edutainment to our members.

Now, you may be asking yourself...

"What next?"

"I have all these ideas buzzing in my head...but every time I open Blender to bring them into 3d life, I struggle or run into problems and give up. 
~ CG Cookie member
Sometimes I don't know what to make next and can't come up with any ideas.
~ YouTube comment

Sound familiar?

It happens to everyone, especially early on in our 3d life.

The endless possibilities may feel overwhelming.

To reign them in, it's helpful to break down the creative process into stages.

(It's surprising, but the process is - mostly - the same for Picasso as it will be for your next Blender masterpiece.) So let's take a look at what happens.

👉 Stage One: Inspiration

If you're inspired already - congrats!

If you need a little help, here are a few categories of tried-and-tested Blender projects to sink your teeth into:

  1. Tools - Hammer, Saw, Drill, Wrench, etc.
  2. Furniture - Sofa, Chair, Table, Bed, Bookcase, etc.
  3. Electronics - Television, Laptop, Radio, Phone, etc.
  4. Vehicles - Car, Motorbike, Cycle, Boat, Train, Aircraft, etc.
  5. Mechanical Components - Gear Cogs, Suspension Springs, Belts and Pulleys, etc.
  6. Space - Rocket, Space Station, Satellite, UFO, etc.
  7. Characters - Human, Alien, Robot, etc.
  8. Animals - Dog, Cat, Elephant, Giraffe, Sheep... Mmm, Nom Nom, eat sheep.

💡 Recommended: 9 Simple Blender Projects for Beginners

inspiration.jpeg

Inspiration can come from the strangest places...  

Still not feeling inspired?

It may be helpful to pick your art style first:

  1. Realism - The feel and atmosphere is based upon how reality is visually perceived.
  2. Photorealistic - Extreme realism. A digital render should be indistinguishable from a photograph.
  3. Unreal Realism - Fantasy, Sci-fi, Steampunk. Creation of the unreal whilst maintaining a level of realism.
  4. Stylised/Cartoony - Crafting a unique look and feel. Gives the artist creative license.
  5. Anime - Exaggerated physical features and highly emotive facial expressions.

💡 Recommended: 3 Blender Exercises to Improve Fast

👉 Stage two: Percolation

"Boring!"

OK, fine, maybe not the most exciting part of the process, though vital to creating.

(Disclaimer: Not a coffee percolator...but a good cup of coffee may help.)

thinking.png

In this step, we take our original idea and refine it - ruthlessly.

It may involve getting rid of some bits aka trimming the fat.

When percolating, you would typically take the time to think about your future creation and perhaps make a few sketches.

Let's say that during the inspiration stage you chose to model a hammer. Now is the time to think about it and ask some questions:

  • What type of hammer is it? Nail hammer, sledge hammer, war hammer?
  • What is it made of? Wood, metal, kryptonite?
  • Who uses it? A carpenter, metalsmith, Thor?

Chances are, if you've had your idea for a while, you've been percolating (and it didn't even hurt).

👉 Stage three: Preparation

Percolation and preparation are sometimes used interchangeably.

But while percolation refers to thinking and refining your ideas, preparation is an active process.

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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Typically, this is what percolation involves:

  • Collecting reference images of your chosen subject, including size and shape, materials and textures.
  • Settling on a final design sketch.
  • Sharpening your tools (watch another CG Cookie course, perhaps?).

At the end of the preparation stage, you have your final design.

You may still need to alter it in the later stage, but if you didn't skip the percolation process (and consumed lots of coffee) this is less likely.

👉 Stage four: Creation

"At last! Finally!", I hear you exclaim.

A new Blender scene started...mouse at the ready...delete the default cube...and we are now creating!

This stage, too, can be broken down:

  1. Blocking. During this step, make a rough model. This will help set out the scale and proportions. For example, the size of a head vs a body. After the next stage, changing the scale or initial shape after detailing will be much more difficult, so do it now or suffer later.
  2. Detailing. Add all the detail to your model and smooth its shapes. The lighting and camera can be set at this stage to assist with fine detailing and in preparation for step three.
  3. Texturing. An important step to make or break your 3d model. This is when your UV mapping and texturing knowledge will be put to the test: materials and textures, as well as shadows and reflections, dust and dirt, scratches an scuffs.
  4. Rendering. Almost done, but not quite. With lighting and texturing complete, now is the time for your first render. It's usually at this stage that mistakes are the most noticeable and adjustments are made.
  5. Post Processing. The final step. Compositing in Blender can be time consuming and requires lots of concentration, so take a deep breath first. Adding a vignette, a final color treatment and even filters can enhance the appeal of your 3d model.

💡 Recommended: 6 Key Principles of 3d Modeling

👉 Stage five: Reflection

On completing your masterpiece, a flurry of activity will take place when you post your work on social media and share with friends and your grandma (she is so proud of you).

Whether you want it or not, you will experience a period of reflection.

pothead_console.png

The experience can vary from artist to artist and even project to project.

Post-creative depression is real. You may feel empty, disappointed even.

Or you may feel relief; finally, you can move on to the next project.

Or there is regret; if only you had added more detail, or made your hammer pink instead.

All of the above is normal and can inform your next project. It's all part of the 3d journey.

Most importantly: pat yourself on the back. You've completed a 3d project from start to finish and that's something to be proud of.

What next?

We end with the same question we started with.

❤️  If you need a push in the right direction, remember: the awesome CG Cookie community is bursting with amazing people with the answers to any questions you may have.

🖼️ 

Share your finished projects in the CG Cookie Gallery for friendly input.

Need a little guidance? Try our curated playlists:

And most importantly: keep on keeping on.


Over to you: what do you usually do when one Blender project ends? What's next for you?

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