[Bf-education] Re: ... (Carstentigges at aol.com)

Glen Moyes metsys at icubenetwork.com
Thu Apr 13 21:15:06 CEST 2006

 Carsten Tigges wrote:
> Another point, written quick and dirty:
> Does anybody have an idea about special exercises? I think that a lot of the 
> abilities which are required for a 3d-artist are like playing piano. You need 
> automatism on the one hand and on the other hand a free flexible mind to 
> follow your inspiration. We should provide some exercises like the following:
> 1.Take a photograph.
> 2.Copy the scene.Build it in 3d, but replace all complex stuff with 
> placeholders(e.g. a cube for a cupboard).
> 3.Try to find the same mood like in the picture only by placing and tweaking 
> lights....
Those kinds of exercises could work, especially for people trying to get 
used to lighting (actually that's a really cool idea, I might borrow 
that for my workshop). For first-time learners who are just trying to 
grapple with the software, it's usually best to have smaller exercises.

For example, I'll create a .blend file before the workshop starts that 
has a cube and a text window with instructions or keyboard shortcuts (if 
they forget), and have all the students open that file and do a quick 
"select one side of the cube and extrude it a few times." Once they got 
that down, we'll open another .blend file that may have a more complex 
3D object, but again we extrude to see how that tool works with 
different objects. The idea is that it's easy to remember all of the 
steps of an exercise because they are so short, and there's no set up 
for the students. If someone gets lost in the pace of each exercise and 
falls behind, they can pick up immediately with everyone else just by 
opening the current exercise file.

I do that just so students can get some experience using each tool, and 
not have to worry about many common problems associated with 
follow-along teaching where it's important that you're caught up with 
everyone else. I don't know how that'll work as far as teaching on the 
web, but that method might transfer over nicely, especially if done in 
conjunction with video tutorials.

> Another one, again quick and dirty:
> What about encouragement. I know a lot of people, which are interested in 
> Computergraphics. The most of them think it is to hard, why?
 From what I've found, people are just really intimidated by it and 
don't actually know how straight forward it is. 3D software is like 
creating a painting with over a dozen tools instead of just a 
paintbrush. A paintbrush is pretty simple to understand and use, as well 
as every tool found in a 3D package (every little button, every keyboard 
shortcut). The problem is that you see all of the tools at once, and 
people freak out, just like looking at the cockpit of an airplane. Every 
instrument has a very specific and easy to understand purpose, but when 
people see 3D views of wire frame characters and armature that make it 
look like something out of a science fiction movie, and a ton of buttons 
with numbers and words like "No V. Normal Flip," "OSA," and "Ray 
Transp", they just assume it's a whole different world, and that only a 
special few with years of experience can control something so complex.

That's why, when I first start my workshop, I explain to students that 
3D software is actually quite easy, but you have to understand a lot of 
really simple tools to do everything that you want. The first workshop 
is just explaining 3D terms, explaining the interface concept, and 
manipulating windows. I do a demonstration that shows what Blender looks 
like when it first opens. That is the part that freaks people out 
because everything they don't understand has just been flashed in their 
face, so you have to guide them through it. Once I tell them to not 
worry about the buttons, and only worry about how to identify the 3 
windows and their headers, then all the sudden things are simplified and 
they can now have a blast customizing the interface.

People really enjoy that part of the workshop. It's their first hack at 
software this complex, and yet in a few minutes after opening the 
program they are cutting and slicing the interface to pieces and showing 
Blender no mercy--not caring what the buttons to, not caring about 
putting the windows back to normal--simply having the experience that 
they are already in complete control of the interface by showing it 
who's the boss.

After the first week, everyone comes back. All you have to do is make 
sure they understand that even though they may not know what all the 
tools do yet, they are still in complete control from day one, and that 
over time they will understand what everything in the interface does.

- Glen Moyes

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