Saturday, 11 January 2014

Escape Studios: Week One

So this is a day late, but in my (poor) defence I went out for a couple of drinks with my coursemates after Friday's lesson and collapsed into bed when i got back, which looks like it might turn into a weekly thing so we can all blow off some steam! In light of this, I hereby christen Saturday as blogging day :)

So it's a tad overwhelming that this has happened so quickly, I made the decision to consider VFX as a viable career option about six months ago, and here I am now on an 18-week journey to becoming a 3D artist! We dived straight into Maya on our first day, and though there is certainly a creative/arty aspect to creating models, there's also a hell of a lot 
of technical knowledge that you need to learn before you can start to visualize what's in your head. I think the promising thing is that I don't feel put off by this at all, it's more a motivation to learn the software so I can play around to my heart's content (and make shitloads of dragons).

This week we've been covering the Maya interface, using several of the tools, and going through explanations of what they do and why they do it. With Maya, there's at least two or three different ways to achieve the same effect, and the challenge is a) learning how to use them and b) knowing when to use what.

In our first tutorials, we began to model using NURBs, and creating basic shapes, then learning to manipulate them using the vertices/faces/edges and a number of tools.

This involved learning how to draw EP/UV curves, the Revolve and Extrude tools to name a few. The thing I like about the course is that though our tutor provides us with a model example on the projector, even after a few lessons I was starting to make mine more individual, and I could be creative even after a few hours. Don't get me wrong, I made a whole lot of mistakes and if you don't listen you do end up missing about five steps in about a minute, so I probably annoyed my neighbours quite a lot...The majority of my class already have a fair knowledge of this software, so I'm going to have to work pretty hard to keep up!

In the second half of the week, we moved onto texturing and rendering. I think I enjoyed the texturing process a lot more than the modelling process, as once you've gotten to grips with how each node is connected, you can start to play around with colour/light values which is a lot closer to how I use Photoshop! I think this will help once me move into creating and sourcing our own textures, as at least I can navigate a little better around the software. I'd say I was most pleased with my apple (as dorky as that sounds) because I went a bit off piece from the tutorial (oops) but ended up with quite a nice product:

Finally, we created a scene from the objects we'd been putting together, lit it, and rendered it. Learning about lights was fairly confusing, but I was quite pleased with the end product. Sadly I forgot to screenshot this before I left, but I'll update this entry once I can get my hands on them!

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty overwhelming if you're an absolute beginner, and though I took on a lot I've still got a hell of a lot to practice. Hopefully I'll have a new laptop soon which will mean I can use the software at home and improve my understanding of it in my own time. Either way, I refuse to be scared off, and as we're beginning our first official project next week, I'm going to try and commit to practicing as much as possible. This might mean a few (lots of) late nights, but hopefully the end result will be worth it! They have a free coffee machine, I'm pretty sure I'll manage.

I'll post again soon with my final scene from last week as well as some updates from next week soon. Currently deciding on what to do for my first project, decisions are hard!




  1. Annie it sounds amazing & free coffee is the perfect way to deal with late evenings! Good Luck with your second week & I cannot wait to see more of your work!! :)

    1. Thanks lovely, that's v sweet of you :D I'm very excited haha (yay unlimited free coffee/no sleeps for four months)

  2. Hi Annie. Great blog definitely keep it going. I'm currently on the same course but as the mentored online version. Would have liked to have started my own blog but work and the course keeps me very busy. Good luck and look forward to seeing more.

    1. Haha keeping up this blog and doing the course might be a bit of a hefty task but I'm going to try at least! Thanks so much, good luck with your work too :) If you do ever get a chance to post anything online then would love to see!