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Don’t Be A Monkey – Learn Outside Your Discipilne

February 27, 2010

MonkeyI few days ago, someone I know emailed me asking for some modeling help. He wanted to model a funky 1960s egg shaped chair. Ironically I had just stumbled upon a tutorial for a similar chair that fit his needs almost exactly. Well, when he replied to my reply, there was bitching. The tutorial I had sent him was for Studio Max, and he uses Silo as a modeler. News flash here for everyone – except for a few odd programs out there, modeling is pretty much that – modeling. I sent him the Max tutorial link because it pretty much covered what he wanted to do. It was just a different program. No specialty tools were used in Max, it was just plain old box SubD modeling.  The concept and general method were pretty much the same.

If you have to be told every single button to click, every single edge to grab in building your model, then you need to spend more time within the discipline of your own program. In other words – RTFM – Read The Freakin Manual. Once you have accrued skills within the software program you use, you can pretty much view almost any tutorial for almost any program out there. Because good modeling isn’t a sequence of clicking the particular buttons in a particular order. Good modeling is about the planning, attack, and execution.

Sure there are things that are only native to your program where only the appropriate Silo tutorial would help, such as in using the Topology feature, but for general modeling, take a chance and look at some of the tutorials out there for programs that you don’t own. There is some great stuff on YouTube that will easily apply to more than one program. Even though some of the buttons may be different, the concept and path of execution are sometimes pretty much the same.

I really hate the word Tutorial. People think that a Tutorial is a “First you do this”, “Then you do that” clear cut path. And it’s a shame the Tutorial is construed as such. Katrine Eisemann, Photoshop retoucher extraordinaire, at times has written some thoughts about this. In essence she said that if you put a bunch of Photoshop artists in a room and gave them a specific assignment, that all of them could come up with a very similar end result, but all of the artists would have taken different routes to get there. Sort of like the Infinite Monkey Theorem 😉 only not really.

When someone offers help, always accept graciously and glean what you can from the resource you received. Stop “memorizing steps” in Tutorials because it gets you nowhere and it clouds your thinking. Grasp a concept and learn to apply it, and that’s when you’ll be on the road to real learning.

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