Best way to learn?

Im new to blender and imaging in general… in fact i think this is the first imaging program ill take seriously…

what is the best way to refine my blender skills and learn to produce some work as good as what i see on these forums?

since this is basically my first imaging program im a bit lost and not sure how to gain experience… ive already started reading the manual… but what after that?

should i spend most of my time going through tutorials?
should i try to find other manuals?
should i try to start creating my own work right away and just click around and experiment as i go?

how did YOU learn to use this program effectively and how long were you using it before you started creating respectable renders?any tips?

and another question i had was how often do you use other programs to tweak your blender renders?

Im a linux user and the gimp looks like it will be a bitch to figure out… id feel uneasy if i have to learn to use another program after this to make my work look as good as some of yours… is it needed? do you commonly use other programs for touch ups?

thanks for helping a newb get started :smiley:

well i learned without reading the manual but i did google search for all the tuts possible! i started in linux but switched to windows cause i have better post production stuff there. I never figured gimp out but if you have windows on dual boot you could download Ultimate Fx which is a simple but powerful eidtor! But just remember that you should first try to make it as good as possible in blender before attempting to pp edit it.

to recap:

follow tutorials modeling exactly like shown then after you just finishe the tut and it works properly like it should then try implimetning the tecchniques learned in your own design - if it works great if not try agian. Then move to the next tut.

once you feel that you have a good grasp of it (it takes atleast a month to get familiar with keys and all) then began to experiment out of the box. Then start your first project or major modeling endeavor.

you’ll quickly learn what you can and can’t do and besure to look for the manual on how to use the gui controls cause i modeled an entire robot with selecting only one vert at a time! (not easy) then i looked at the manual and it said shift+rightclick! needless to say i was ticked!

so just think it through and it’ll work great!