Concerns regarding following Blender Tutorials

First off, I just joined the forum today because I have some questions Google can’t readily answer which I hope that I am not the only one who is wondering. Hopefully someone will be able to clear this up for me and anyone else who may be wondering the same thing. My question is: Is it natural when following a video tutorial series such as -“Chris Plush’s Environment Modelling and Texturing”- to take a long time to follow along in Blender? It’s not by choice really, but in trying to emulate what the person in the video is doing it takes me anywhere between 3-20 minutes sometimes to create a passable copy. I have also had this problem when following Blender Cookie’s Low Poly Character Creation Training.
It could very well just be that I lack the skill necessary to quickly follow along with what they are doing because I have not done a lot of the things they do in the videos before but I’m concerned because it is rather discouraging to have to invest 50+ hours to get 1/4 of the way through a 21 hour video series. As a result it is difficult for me to be motivated to keep following the tutorials when I would rather be creating stuff on my own. The other side of it is that when I create things on my own my knowledge is too limited for any form of finished product to be created and so I am stuck in a vicious cycle where I finish half of a lengthy tutorial series and am too demotivated to continue so I start a different one or tool around with making texture-less meshes. My clear need for guidance is what has finally brought me here.

Hi there, Titans_Prince! Don’t know if I can really help out much, but I’ll give it a shot :wink:

I can definitely relate to the experience - following tutorials is a bit of a lengthy process, especially with completely new concepts. Constant rewinding, double-checking, etc - it can get really annoying. Through force of habit and experience, though, you’ll eventually be able to follow along more quickly, as well as re-adapting the techniques to your own projects more easily.

As for half-finished projects/tutorial series and motivation, I’m all too familiar with the vicious-circle feeling. I’ve spent a lot of time bouncing from project to project and never really finishing most of them because of that.
The thing I’ve found the most helpful though, especially when it comes to modelling (I’m a topology geek XD), is to start a project that’s just slightly out of my reach, and then fight through it until I’m happy with the result. Then on the next project, I try and out-do myself and have a greater level of detail on my model(s).
I’ve done this 4-5 times so far in the last 4 years, and I learned more in the process than several tutorials combined. Not to mention I watched tutorials in-between, learning new tools to use on that project and trying new things.

However, it does take quite a bit of perseverance and motivation, but I often took breaks of days, weeks, even sometimes 2 months, where I wouldn’t touch Blender at all and work on other side projects (lord knows I always have 5 or 6 going on, LOL). Then I’d open up that project file again and blast through another few months of progress and stop again, working on smaller Blender experiments to try and learn smaller, more specific things like Smoke simulation and so on.

In the end though, the real trick is to find your own rhythm. Sometimes you need breaks to recharge, and to me it sounds like you’re in one of those phases (like I said earlier, I’ve been through similar situations :)) Of course if you’re not and I’ve misinterpreted, my apologies for making assumptions :wink:

Having an account on BlenderArtists is also a great help, so you’re off to a great start in that respect :wink: I personally had underestimated just how valuable a “resource” it is back when I joined, especially with tougher projects. In fact I would probably have finished my NES Console model several months later than I did if it hadn’t been for the support, advice and enthusiasm from some fellow Blenderheads. The same goes for my current project (in my signature, if you’re interested), I wouldn’t have gotten the motivation to model the interior of the Audi A5 if I hadn’t had “supporters” and other car-modelling enthusiasts around me.

Anyway, I’ve lost most of my train of thought now (it’s currently 2am here) so I’ll have to cut this short. I’ll see if I can add to this tomorrow morning :slight_smile: Best of luck to you, and Blend on!

Yes, it takes significantly longer than the length of the tutorial to follow along even if you mostly know what you’re doing. Such is the way of things.

If you’re impatient to make your own stuff, do shorter tuts. Or don’t actually follow along with the tuts, just watch them and see how much you pick up once you go to make something of your own.

I agree, It does take longer to follow along with tuts. I think Phillipe M. has accurately detailed most peoples experiences, mine included. What I would add is, remember what you are trying the learn is difficult, really rather difficult infact. You are trying to create art. That in itself, is a difficult thing to do. But, you are also doing it in a complicated medium. So don’t be so hard on yourself, yes it can take time, but you’ll get there.

Just keep your motivation going. Compare the process of getting familiar and great results out of Blender with learning to paint really really (really really) well: To become a skilled painter and artist, you would expect that you would have to do courses, training, exercises and after a year or two be ready to tackle your first great results. Blender is not different, as it is only a tool allowing you to drive your 3D artistic process. The workflows of Blender are (necessarily) so complex and vast, that tutorials can drive you through the workflow chain towards one specific result, merely touching all the things behind the doors in those corridors you have to walk.

Therefore some tips:

  1. do not let yourself be discouraged, go on - if a master of Blender such as Andrew or Jonathan is taking 21 hours, it is completely ok that you need 5 to 10 times as long (I certainly do!)
  2. look also for less complex tutorials, such as on interfaces, modifiers, some basic mesh modelling, material generation, etc. - those might be boring (as the result usually is a cube with a light and a bevelled edge, but if you do these, you will see that your tutorial walkthrough will be more swift as you can understand the workflow better)
  3. check the existing models on blendswap and use them for your test projects, this way you can sometimes skip steps and therefore advance to other areas, so that you are not always stuck to pure modelling
  4. brace yourself for the moment you unlock a level of blender capabilities which all of a sudden enable you to create things your friends find awsome. Took me a year, but happened in September, and now I am even bold enough to join this forum (…and have to do 7 other useful posts to be able to publish my first result - ha! ;-))

Hope this helps you stay in there!

When I first started, I watched em, more than followed along; I made notes of the short cuts; Jonathon williamson’s tuts were invaluable for that. Whilst there are a huge numbers of short-cuts, it’s harder to find them in the lists, and as new-comers, how do we know which are more common. I presumed (mostly rightly) that I’ll pick them up quickly by watching a few tuts.

Knowing or having access, quickly, to the most common short cuts makes a huge difference to one’s workflow. I very rarely follow along with tuts; I try to apply what I’ve learned to my own stuff.

Definitely watch tuts on the interface, customising and adding add-ons.

It’s easy to want a quick fix, as society these days seems to make us believe that that is what we are entitled to.

Blender, like all 3d software, is complicated to learn. If you’re new to 3d, then you’re learning to model and a complicated piece of software.

… Imagine learning to write at the same time as learning how to use Word, well.

I know the feeling of learning something new and getting it all shoveled in your face. Especially when something’s not working out and you have no idea how to fix it.
However I find it odd that you’re actually clinging to the tutorial.
You’ve got a lot of perserverance to actually follow along the tutorial, but what really helps you learn and help you understand is to step outside of the world the tutorial provides you and try something yourself. This can be anything. Try to toy and tinker with the things you’ve learned so far.

I did what Writer’s Block did and mostly just watched while starting out. At the time I was going through the Blender Underground series (really outdated now). I had literally zero 3D experience at all and didn’t even know what the word “mesh” meant. From there I just failed a bunch of times trying to do my own things. After awhile things clicked into place and it got easier to follow a long (sometimes I even think of better ways to do things).

It’s just part of the learning process. First you learn it, then with practice you develop speed.

One thing I would add to what everyone else has said…

While watching a video tutorial, pause, take notes, do a screenshot if it helps you remember. Then follow your notes/screenshots for practicing the procedure.

Personally I think that video-tutorials are the responsibles of such a slow paced learning, in one hand the beginner has to pause the video to be able to “tag along” while doing things, backtrack and search in the video file, witch can be annoying. In the other hand some video tutorials are either too fast (with some focus on more advanced users) or waaaaaaaaaay too sloooooooow, making them most of the time impractical and/or a pain in the ass.

For more advanced users/user with some understanding on the basics thing do not get better, sometimes you just forgot a step and searching it in a video is painfully slow, some of them are 40 minutes long to explain the simplest things, and you got to either wait for the whole video to load, or search while it’s buffering!

Personally I can’t wait for people to start making tutorial that are written (with some images) and ditch the video tutorials for good, unless they are actually needed (for some cases can be useful). That way you can just search what you need and go your pace.

Hang in there. Watch the tutorial once without trying to model anything (while taking a few notes) and pay attention to what the author has to say. They’ll often mention why they are doing what they are doing, or mention common pitfalls, and you’ll potentially miss this if you are just trying to follow along. Learning 3D is just one of those things that takes time and patience, and don’t forget that there is a great help section in this forum.

I picked up everything by just watching the tutorials. I know you need to follow them in order to practice, but for me it was enough just to watch and invest that time. I balanced the time spent watching with attempting to apply the new knowledge to my own works.

Rather than the actual method, I find that simply knowing something is possible is more valuable than knowing the exact solution. You just need to know what to ask Google. The idea that something can be done a certain way, is what is valuable.

Here’s my take on things. YES, it will take you longer to follow the tutorial than the length of the tutorial itself. For me, it’s usually 3-5 times longer. If it’s an hour tutorial, it will take me around 3 or 4 hours to follow it. There are many reasons for this - the author goes really fast (I’m looking at you blenderguru), it’s new stuff I’ve never done and so spend half the time trying to get it right, I pause it because I’m trying to just absorb it, I can’t manipulate the mesh/controls with the ease of the authors, etc.

You also need to realize that the tutorials out there are geared to different levels of users. Blender Diplom has some truly incredible tutorials, but they are really geared toward the intermediate user. CG Cookie has tutorials aimed at all different levels, but sometimes it’s hard to know before hand.

For me, I’ve just plowed ahead with them and spend the time. I rarely would do it in one sitting and I have several half finished projects sitting around. But remember that the key is to learn something. And if you learn something even though you didn’t finish it… well, mission accomplished.

Let me say one thing about how long to watch tutorials. I started with blender about a year ago. I still watch tutorials, but now I tend to watch them on specific things or interesting looking ones. For the first 6 months I did just about any tutorial that looked fun to me. I learned a lot. I pretty much did not do anything original because I was just trying to get my head around the most basic stuff. Don’t be afraid of doing that. Eventually you will have enough knowledge under your belt that you will branch out and start trying something on your own. That’s good, but don’t feel bad to keep doing tutorials. Everyone is different, but since I had zero experience at all with 3d, I needed the tutorials to teach me basic techniques and concepts.

I honestly think there is a lack of beginner tutorials out there that go slow, mention every keystroke, and model relatively simple things that people can actually finish. I wrote have done some video tutorials like that because I really wished they existed when I started out. No, I’m not an expert, but I know enough that I can explain to beginners how to model basic things like plates, bowls, etc. And based on the feedback I’ve received from people that watched them, they are really thankful for how slow I go and that I explain everything on a very simple level. I wish there were more tutorials like that out there for beginners. But I understand why most are aimed at the intermediate user.

In brief, I think what you’re going through is normal…