How to improve your skills as an artist


I’m an occasional artist, who currently works in another, completely different field, and even though I already know how to do some stuff in 3d, I’m stuck at the mediocrity zone, and after a long time, I’m restarting my journey into awesomeness (!!!), but I’m getting frustrated again, mainly because I can’t choose my subjects to practice properly, in a way that they can promote an improvement in my skills as a 3d artist, without completely depleting my limited resources (3d skills, willpower, etc), which in time, makes me give up for another few months or years. So, I’m here to ask, how do you guys go about selecting your practice subjects, and what do you guys could recommend me to do, to break this stupid cycle I’m stuck in?

PS. I’m rusty, so I’m taking CG Cookie lessons to refresh, but I know that the skills that I need can’t be downloaded into my brain, they need to be acquired through practice, and I’m still not confident with my syllabus, any help, from anyone taking the same journey would be immensely appreciated, thanks in advance!

Make a model every day. Sun or rain, make a model.
Getting started is the hardest part in the learning process. Try starting a project and sticking to it. You want to have something that at the end you can say “this is what I’ve completed” even if it isn’t that good- it doesn’t matter, because you did something and that’s just fantastic.

Okay, I agree with that, but how am I supposed to model everyday, if I don’t know what to model? How I choose between a music box and a katana? Between a gear and a lamp? I’ve been thinking about keeping a subject journal, to store things I wanted to model and keep the deciding to a minimum when i’m supposed to model… But I don’t know, I wanted to know how do you guys stay productive

Either decide on an environment you want to fill with models, or decide on a project that takes you across multiple kinds of models so that you are forced to improve as you work your way toward the more complex.

Since you are clearly interested in making of 3d, you must have some sort of aspiration, even if you don’t say it to yourself.
So, don’t be constrained by the current level of your skill and feel free to imagine which kind of image, or movie or whatsoever you would like to be able to make in a near future, then start to try and learn what will allow you to accomplish the goal.

Without a purpose you will never really overcome difficulties and standstills, more easily you will give up.

This is just my humble suggestion.

I don’t think there are many guidelines as to what specifically you should model. I mean, this is art, so if you want to make a cool ass ninja sword, you can make a cool ass ninja sword, or you can make a less cool music box. I mean, for the model a day rule, it really doesn’t matter what you’re modeling, as long as you’re modeling something. I’ve had days where I’ve just been like “nope, don’t want to,” and days where I’ve, for example, had the flu, and so I would just model a 100 poly door or put a few ribs in a Taurus and called it a tire.
Really I think it just comes down to finding inspiration to make something, and making sure that that thing isn’t horrifically unrealistic for someone of your current ability to make. Those super epic things you want to make can always come later.
I guess keeping a journal is really very logical for this, but that really depends on who you are. Maybe it would have helped me to do so, but I’ve honestly never written any of that stuff down. Of course I do forget stuff I want to make, but that just gives me a pleasant little surprise when I remember.

I liked sourvinos Idea, but lets extend it a little, by getting some references of artworks I like, and reproducing them in 3d, maybe?

First of, take it with enthusiasm and expectations, free your mind from hindrances, and find in yourself the power to deal with the hard work ahead.
Nobody can tell you what is of inspiration to you, just find a subject or a project that you like, with a realistic perception of your current skill of course, but place no limit, as long as you are ready to spend time and effort.


Some suggestions:
Practice/work/improve always.
Do some traditional art also. For the techniques and the theory.
Realize you will ‘fail’ and do it better next time, learn from your mistakes.
Have fun.
Try different things and see what you like.

About recreating existing scenes: For more artistic pieces, I would be careful. For small elements/models/lighting/etc basing off of existing items (using reference items) is great, smart and recommended. But for the overall picture, don’t learn to rely on other things too much, develop your creativity.
For some projects like existing vehicles or architectural pieces, you want to recreate accurately, but for more artistic works, don’t use others, old, existing works too much.

That’s the thing about doing something every day. Choices matter less. Music box vs. katana? Flip a coin. You’ll model the other one tomorrow.

If you are stuck in the ‘mediocrity zone’ chances are you can’t see what you are doing. I haven’t seen many 3d tutorials that don’t assume you already know how to see, in the artistic sense, so your chances of picking up that particular skill from tutorials is slim. The remedy is traditional drawing courses. If you are near a community college, they often have art departments that offer studio art drawing courses, which aren’t very expensive.

I’m not that concerned about the art atm, what annoys me is that I’ve aways give up after some weeks of "What I should do now? ", but I’m satisfied in reproducing things I liked in beautiful artworks… Where do you guys go to get inspired?

My nieces coloring book.

Oh, great, can you send me a copy of that? XDDD

I guess you should not stop wanting to learn new thing about the craft. Passion.

Monday, do a music box. Wednesday, a katana. Friday, a lamp. Saturday, a gear.

Don’t keep a journal about what you "want’ to model: if you want to be a modeler, model something.

Every other day, open a dictionary to a random page and select the first noun on that page. Model it.

Above all, do not look for external affirmation. Dive into the pool … the deep end … every friggin’ day.

I liked the dictionary Idea, but unfortunately, I don’t have much time to model in weekdays, so I’ll stick to the jornal idea

This is what speed modeling challenges are for. Don’t have a lot of time? How much can you model in 15 minutes? 10? 5?

Not near a computer? Speed sketch with a pen on “idea paper” (napkin, envelope, your hand… whatever is nearby). Can you capture the essence of a form or figure in a 30 second sketch?

I see your point, long ago I used to carry a sketchbook with me, but I have difficulties keeping my studies relevant, thats why I gave up… Besides that, my poor drawing skills get in the way, way too much, It would take me some time to get over the basics. Should I invest my time on that, taking in consideration that I intend to start doing freelance in 5 months? I may get good at drawing in this time frame, but wouldn’t be wiser to study blender and cg in general instead?

you can get ideas and practice composition by sketching quick abstract compositions of pure line and form. If one looks interesting to you, then you can think about what sort of scene it resembles, and use it as a compositional basis for a scene.