Recently I was asked to help with a thread/document that wanted to provide a bunch of quick answers to common questions, a noble cause no doubt; however, on further reflection I think this sort of thing sometimes does more harm than good.
The problem with absolute rules, or explaining solutions to common problems with sound-bite type phrases, is that you almost never get the reason why. The root of the problem is rarely explained. For instance, in the not so distant past, artists used blue specular maps for skin. Many artists would tell others to do this or would see this and then copy it; yet few really understood why, so it’s a phenomena that carries on to this day even though the reason for doing it is typically outdated and irrelevant. What we end up with is this telephone game of people regurgitating information without understanding.
When I write tutorials, I try explaining why things happen rather than how to fix them. The waviness thread is a prime example of this. I could have wrote a list of common problems and solutions, but that would not have encouraged people to be creative, to experiment, to think, to understand the cause so that they will have a solid foundation on which to solve other problems in the future.
Even when I’m pretty sure what I write makes sense, I don’t think it should be taken as absolute. As soon as you take someone’s word as absolute, you turn off that part of your brain that is responsible for critical thinking. I’m constantly trying to learn, I am often proven wrong and generally, when I look back on my older work, whether it’s art or tutorials I’ve written, I find a lot of mistakes. If you really want to know how something works, find as many sources as possible to study, and perhaps most importantly, test the theories you read about and see how they apply in reality.
My advice to anyone looking for quick fixes, looking for simple rules to complex topics, is to find your curiosity. If people take anything from the articles/threads I write, or articles/tutorials written by anyone, I hope it is inspiration to learn more about the topic and the desire to experiment.
I've noticed that a lot of people just want to be spoon fed every piece of information and refuse to do any work/reading on their own to figure it out. There are dozens of threads where someone will ask for a question, someone will link an amazing article or two (which could be quickly found by searching the wiki/google). Then, instead of reading and trying to digest the article, that same poster will keep asking questions that are clearly answered. You could probably search through like 3 pages of technical talk and find a couple of them pretty easily.
I think a small part of being a successful 3d artist is the willingness to search for information yourself. I think that learning how to "problem solve" by searching through old threads, the wiki, google, other forums is an incredibly important skill to learn. There have been many times at work where having a general idea of where to look or what forums to check for a problem can save you tons of time.
In a weird way, maybe it's kind of like doing homework in school. Sure, someone can give you the answers and the basic formula for a set of math problems, but next time you run into a problem, you won't have the background of knowing where to look or the approach to solve the problem. I guess this is more or less what you're saying though.
I'm not saying that it's bad to ask questions (I have done it many times), but there are plenty of topics that have been covered over and over and over again. If you can't take the time to search for the answer and understand those type of problems, how will you approach harder stuff? I think this goes into Joe's point about critical thinking.
Its their ability to problem solve and that doesnt mean never asking for help.
It means doing ones Due Diligence, before asking for help. It means sometimes banging you head against a wall, or in the 21st century banging your head against Google, and trying and failing to find the answer yourself (regardless of weather its a tutorial or a technique youre looking for) THEN turning to others.
Yeah it can suck but in the end you'll learn more and the people you ask will be appreciative that you tried.
I'd prefer you just spit it out and if you care to, elaborate all you want.
It's great that you want to your time spent teaching to get good milage but ultimately it's up to the learner.
This. I am very similar. I need to see the big picture first and then I can go back to the very basic ideas of it. Why? Not because of laziness, but if I don't start with the solution, I might miss the connecting dots and might give the wrong details too much attention while missing out on the really important stuff. That's why I paid for my lectures and went there to get the quick introduction. I don't leave it at that naturally, but without it I get lost in thousands of approaches and details and it takes me too long to even start because I can't evaluate the quality of information in front or me. Now on the other hand I can do my job and I am able to find the issues for most bugs/issues faster than most of my current colleagues although they have up to a decade more experience than I do.
People learn differently. I know how I learn the most efficient way for myself and yet I would never encourage someone else to do it the same way - everybody has to find his own. You will never see me taking notes in a class, you won't see me happily working on my own exercise while the teacher is doing his stuff in front of a class and you can be sure that my first attempt will be a failure, but once I failed I can digest the information I was listing and watching to, rely it to my own approach, evaluate it and from that moment on I seldom need any more problem solving from others regarding this matter. Again this is what I've learned about myself while studying at university and later on in 3D classes and has nothing to say for others.
But this approach isn't an excuse to ask everyone questions that google or search-functions give you by investing 2 minutes into it. I see just the WHAT you are doing as an introduction to your explanation WHY you are doing it. Its up to the students to do more with it and get the whole picture and don't stop at the WHAT.
Edit: A small but to me extremely important addition - Thank you to all those people sharing their knowledge online (and especially for free). This is far from to be taken for granted in other fields and therefore highly appreciated. Without people like Earthquake and others it would be so much harder to learn and understand the stuff. So a big shout-out to all of you! Don't forget for every 'let me google it for you'-type question you see there are many people whose question you already answered so they don't even need to post and are far less visible
To be fair there is nothing really peculiar about that - as a matter of fact I'd say that this is pretty much the best way to learn. People going bruteforce/headfirst might get a head start but it usually doesn't go anywhere and the result is usually derivative work.
That said, this did play tricks on me during schooldays (as in, not art school, but with things like science classes as a kid/teenager) as I had a tendency to spend too much time on lessons as opposed to practicing exercises.
But as far as self-teaching is concerned, taking the time to understand the why is a pretty damn good thing !
"I think a small part of being a successful 3d artist is the willingness to search for information yourself. '
This applies to every field of employment. Those that put the effort in finding out how to do something they don't know versus sitting inside their box of ability are the ones that do well. I work with a lot of people that simply are fine with the status quo of how things are done currently and don't try to improve upon anything.
Basically his point was that successful game/tech artists have the ability to sit down and feel the pain of learning something new or exploring a topic, without giving up. Software, skills, etc. Its like a muscle, its an ability that only grows as you exercise it. He's basically describing being disciplined, but in a way that incorporates how specifically technical/game/digital artists feel when they're beginning their journey.
I'd go a little further by adding that it needs to be coupled with a good bullshit detector. What I mean by that is, an ability and a willingness to identify time-wasting and/or straight up unfit workflows and being proactive enough to get rid of them and find something better regardless of the time investment it requires. Many artists seem to proudly "force through" stuff by just repeating inefficient practices over and over again, and zero progress ever comes from that.
In other words ... learning being painful and confusing is a good thing ; but sticking to painful processes is to be avoided at all costs, in favor of fluid and responsive practices.
Case in Point:
An F-Stop makes no sense to someone, who has no recollection of what a manual analog camera is.
Without the knowledge of an F-Stop, they don't understand Aperture. So they don't understand Tone Mapping.
So they won't understand Gamma Correction, or Linear Space.
All they're left with is "Leave sRGB checked for Albedo, and Spec Colour Textures", as an absolute rule they have to follow, just because that's the way it's done.
A couple of others I've come across:
- Why we normalize Normal Maps.
- Why we angle our bevels for baking onto straight surfaces for Normal maps (and handpainted textures), and generally understanding what will bake and what won't.
And The only thing I could think of was.. but.. that would.. bake better....
For instance, let's take a hypothetical tutorial on how to make 3 point lighting. I could write the condensed version:
Okay now you know how to make a 3 point lighting setup. Assuming you don't know much about lighting: you don't know why you want 3 point lighting, you don't know why the lights are position where you are, and you don't know what the different types of lights are and why that is important. You probably don't know how to apply these concepts to other situations either.
Now, let's present the same information, but also the why:
Okay, now I'm explaining not only what you should do, but why, and hopefully giving you some examples and theories that apply to any lighting setup you wish to come up with. I didn't explain the entire history of photography to get this point, but rather the essentials for understanding these concepts.
But tutorial writing style is only a portion of what this thread is about. Even if presented with the shortened version of the above tutorial, the curious artist will try out the concepts, experiment, look up external resources, and likely come to understand much of what I have written in the extended version through the natural progression of learning.
On the other hand, where things can get damaging is when you have the shortened version, and people implement these workflows without understanding why, and worse yet parrot this information to others. Then we end up with 3 point lighting being the "correct" lighting and nobody really knows why.
Yes, but increasing size of industry and things that need to be learned that is something that can't be avoided. There will always be a high number of people just copying what others tell them. This happens everywhere.
You will always have this things happening and in absolute numbers this will happen more and more often. As a couple of people mentioned here you need to master a lot of things just to start working. When I started back in 2013 Maya/Max and Photoshop added by ZBrush was carrying you a long way. Now applying for a character artist job Substance Painter and Marvelous are also expected. I at least had the time to get some experience with the first 3 (still far from mastering them) and now I have to learn just two, but newcomers are facing 5 programs within a short period of time - and its not just 2 more programs, but with them come several workflows, techniques - aaaand the history of 'why?'.
In my opinion you have a great way of explaining things - and looking around this board you and others reached a very big base of artists that understand all the things you explain. But this won't prevent the 'feed-me!-questions/attitudes' and this should not dishearten/discourage people who are doing the tutorials. Let's face it enough people don't have the will to do more than necessary and until s*** hits the fan they don't care about the 'why'... but they are not those all this is for and they are not those the manage to do the stuff that inspires us.
it is quite sadden me when people choose to private message me asking for solution for their layers of issues.
I told them , to post in the group page, so at least everybody can have equal problem and solution proper database , instead of asking it privately ,
there is couple of good way to ask 3d question, this kind of question i think will likely to get accurate and satysfying answer :
- hi I tried this and this, but somehow it gave me this error, or this is what happen
instead of what i expected from the tutorial I saw.
- hi I managed to follow the tutorial until this stage , however I still have no clue on how to make it move . my goal is to make this thing works.*explain
it shows you that you are really trying, taking some note on your problem, and make question by stages/steps
If u give the man a fish, he eat for a day. If u teach a man to fish, now he has all sorts of expensive fishing lures to buy and goes bankrupt. If u turn a man into a fish, now whenever he takes a bath he has an abundant supply of fish sauce.
It's so true though. The tinkerers inherit the earth. Great thread.
I'm a seasoned programmer, I understand some vast concepts so when I need to implement a 3rd party tool, I typically only need a code snippet. But it's always nice to see the snippet broken down afterwards just in case.
The mindset is generally "Well, you already figured it out, why don't you just tell me the answer? I don't have time for all that figuring-out business."
But they just don't understand the answer is not a simple 1-sentence thing. It's the journey itself.
Learn, get cut, fall, fail, get up and repeat till it's done. Then when that's done, do it again... and again. The bruises and cuts turn into scars, a reminder of what you did and what to do and what not to do. You take those experiences and call on them. You become more fluid and able to adapt because you learned the steps and struggled.
You do that one thing... what was it? Damn it's on the tip of my tongue... that thing you do when you investigate or study something to reach a conclusion... Reverps? Spleesterch? Research!!! That's it!! Research!! You do researching!!
(so awesome that the new forum saves drafts, I've been meaning to post this for like 3 weeks).
I still have a long journey of learning in front of me. With that being said, I realized that some mistakes I did in the beginning are basically what you guys are talking about. When I was watching animation tutorials, I would follow those and do more or less exactly what the guy in the tutorial did. The issue was that because I was so focused on following this guy's "rules" and workflow, I pretty much cornered myself and found that I was not really improving. Only after I stopped stubbornly follow their workflows and started animating (and sometimes rigging) by myself and trying different things, I realized what worked and what didn't work.
Basically, something wouldn't work and I would sit there and try and find out why and how I can avoid it in the future. That is something that really helped me learn many things and improve overall.
It's a combination of feedback, tips and mostly learning from your mistakes. Trying to get a workflow for something from someone and then taking that as the true and only way to do it, without analyzing it and trying things out on your own will just hinder you from going deeper into the material.
Also funny thing, what @perna said:
I am not a modeller, but I kinda still thought that n-gons are a no-no, because that is what I was constantly being told in the beginning.
Which proves your point, I guess.
It rings so true for me at work.
I have found just getting some people to google things for themselves can be a pain, they always retort with "but you are here, and you know the answer" -_-... but they fail to understand the wider band of knowledge you can get from the google, the journey to your answer can teach you new things on the borders of your question. Or show you an answer you didn't even know existed simply because it popped up in some search response, or as part of a thread you found on your search journey.
Long live curiosity! Long live tinkering!
I would say 4/5 people don't even know how it work and use it everyday. And I'm talking about people with 5-10years experience as artist. Is it important? In most case, no. When is time to do some magic however, it come in handy.
Also, I noticed that the best talents I came accros know's how a game is rendered, how is processed inside a computer ( GPU, CPU etc... )
Most of us, including me at some level, don't really know the process of it, and is a shame.
That being said, I think EarthQuake is 100% right.