As I noted in my last entry, I finally joined up as a Citizen Member with CG Cookie. Currently, my main interest is in Blender Cookie, but I look forward to a side-helping of Concept Cookie at some point in the next 3 months.
I decided a 3 month membership was the way to go. Even though I don’t currently have a large budget for this kind of thing, one month seemed a bit too stingy. Maybe it’s just me, but this is quality training and I didn’t want my experience to be grab-and-run. Since Blender itself is open source I’ve already gained so much for free.
Only time will tell if new additions to the site over the course of my membership also made paying upfront for a quarter worthwhile. What I do know is that there is so much already on the site for me to work through that it hardly even matters.
My Second Paid-For Blender Cookie Course: Model a Guitar
The first tutorial I did was the Cute Elephant Character creation and rendering with Josh Maule, which I wrote about here. I was so impressed with the course and with Josh’s teaching style that I went straight on to his Modeling an Electric Guitar in Blender course.
This one too is in the beginner’s section but be warned, it’s a 4 part one (almost 4 hours in total) and that’s before you even get to rendering! That’s a whole lot of ground to cover.
I worked through it over the last 3 days, as 4 hours of viewing means a whole lot longer in terms of time spent doing. There are parts too where Josh speeds things up or skips on when doing something repetitive that we’re already been taught.
What I Learned
As you can imagine, you learn a lot in 4 hours! For me, the things that were new-ish to me and I found most helpful were:
- Learning how to model around a hole
- How to keep good topology flow on a complex shape
- A smoothing trick to neaten up edges on the finished topology
- Working on top of a background reference
- Using the bevel tool
- How to make convincing 3d screws, nuts and switches
- Creating a guitar string from a bezier curve
- Optimal UV unwrapping to a single map layer
- Texturing on layers that can be merged down to a single texture file
- And quite a lot about the anatomy of the guitar!
This is by no means everything, but even if you know all of the above it’s an interesting project to work on. Who knows, you might find a more efficient way of doing something you already do?
As with the other tutorial, Josh is a clear instructor who went at the right pace for me. On one hand I think it’s quite a challenging one for a beginner due to the length and all the different things you’ll work on. But on the other, you take it a step at a time, and only need to focus on the task you’re working on right now. I wouldn’t recommend it for an absolute beginner, but if you are comfortable with the Blender UI and able to figure out what’s happening when you end up with different results than those on screen, then you should be fine with this one.
I appreciated that Josh made the extra effort and took us through texturing in GIMP. Personally, I’m a fan of GIMP and don’t even own Photoshop right now, so I’d have had to adapt any Photoshop segment by myself. Josh saved me that trouble as well as demonstrating some good ways to go about texturing this kind of model.
The final video you’ll need to create a professional looking render is one by Kent Trammell. It lasts almost an hour. I’ll admit it, I found this one tough going and only did as much as I needed to get some kind of finished render. Josh’s novice-friendly style has clearly spoiled me (I hope he publishes some more videos soon). I wasn’t ready to drag shader nodes around or get the perfect reflected light shape on a surface. Not just yet. I’ll stick with the hand-holding of the paid-for beginner courses for a while longer.
Clearly the end render is less than ideal and probably looks plain weird to anyone who owns a guitar. (I also apologise if you’d never rest it on a tuning key like this.) That said, I’m happy with the pre-textured model and found Josh’s GIMP stuff useful too. And I dare say I even picked up a thing or two from the difficult final video.