An artist's struggle, or how I just need to vent. Mostly related to Blender and visual arts in general.

Since I was 12 up until in my early twenties (when I got my first computer and internet access) I did a lot of writing - mostly poetry, some prose and theatre, and a looooooot of journaling.

Then, around 21 I got my first PC, a Pentium 4 with 512mb of ram and a 64mb nVidia card. I took up music production, for about ten years. I had a couple of releases on Juno, but mostly played local parties and festivals. Having no musical training whatsoever and also probably tone deaf, I ended up quitting it altogether after a while of being burned out and basically copying myself over and over again. The fun was gone, the money was never there so I saw no reason to go on.

Then I dropped any sort of artistic endeavor for gaming for a good few years, but that got old fast.

Mid 2016 I took up photography and videography. I started by making short edits out of game-footage, some macro videos shot with a phone and a clip-on lens until I got myself a DSLR and went into shooting weddings and baptisms. I got burned out with that in just a couple of short years. I gave it up and decided to only do it for the art.

I’m pushing 40 years old and I’m pretty certain photography and visual arts in general is where I feel most comfortable expressing myself.

This is where I need to vent a little. I’ve been a creative person ever since I can remember, and I constantly feel a burning hunger to create, to express myself artistically.

I go out shooting macro at least once a week (more often if time permits) usually very early Sunday mornings. Then I edit the photos (I love this part of the process at least as much as the actual shooting itself. Post-processing has almost entirely replaced gaming for me, I find it that much fun).

I also do a bit of freelancing product photography, sometimes for cash, sometimes for free, for very close friends. I enjoy this also.

But that’s not enough. I’ve developed a sort of obsession for Blender. I find it fascinating. The possibilities are endless, but sadly, my knowledge is very limited. As it was when I started making music, but it did not stop me. I read and learned for endless hours and spent many sleepless nights studying music production. Just like I started doing with Blender this spring. I’ve watched many dozens of hours of tutorials, I’ve read articles and blog posts and reddit threads. I sometimes do it as entertainment, but I can’t seem to make anything worthwhile on my own.

While I can follow tutorials and do achieve very similar, if not the same results, I find this to be very dissatisfying, and already frustrating. A trained monkey could do this.

Whenever I try to create something on my own, I get stuck very fast, firstly due to a lack of vision and any sort of training in visual arts (I’m thinking sculpture, painting etc) and secondly due to insufficient understanding of 3d modelling. I very often get stuck because something doesn’t work like I think it should and I can’t understand why or how to fix it.

Then I go back to youtube and watch some more tutorials, get hyped up again, jump into Blender, get stuck very early in my project with very minor things (like why doesn’t this edge get beveled) and frustration sets in and I ragequit.

I’m telling myself I should focus on photography and leave 3d altogether. Better to be excellent at one thing than to know a little of a lot of things, no?

Then I see something someone else made in Blender and I find myself fantasizing all day at work about how I’m going to pick up Blender again and stick with it. It’s an obsession at this point and the cycle keeps repeating.

Please excuse the (uncalled-for) length of this post and the fact that it’s a rant more than anything, but please do feel free to chime in with anything.

While I will never stop doing and learning photography, the hunger I mentioned in the beginning of my post is very real when it comes to wanting to learn Blender and 3d modelling. I just feel I HAVE TO learn Blender. It’s a visceral need to prove to myself that I can do it. Also, I know that in many ways 3d is the future and I want to keep up with the times. But I’ve just about had enough with the frustration that inevitably follows when I (inevitably) get stuck modelling the simplest objects, or whatnot.

If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate it. If you want to share your thoughts, thanks.

Creating stuff on computers can be highly frustrating. Learning a tool like Blender takes a long time, and for much of that time we are not creating, simply learning. We can get bogged down in the process.

A remedy that I find useful: do something physical. Get some modelling clay and paint, and have fun with it. Don’t dream about making anything fancy, just mess around with it like a child would, and see what happens. Don’t call this “sculpture” because that sounds formal.

And then you can use your macro photography skills on these thigs you have made. (That’s not a typo. These are “thigs”.)

Alternatives include: crayon and paper, wood and chisels, and gardening. Make something useless out of plaster, or sand/cement, or wood or metal. Whatever you do, don’t read about it or think about it or admire other people’s work. JUST DO IT. The idea is to turn off the scientific/engineering/critical part of your brain and switch on the purely creative.

Making thigs will feed back into your more structured work, and vice versa.

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Hi zerosapte,

I would like to touch on your struggles with 3D a little bit. You do have a few years on me as I am only 33 but I too did try 3D at one point with blender. This was a huge struggle for me as well I originally bought a camera to use so I can get texture assets. In that process I found I enjoy photography more and decided to just stick with that.

3D is hard there are not only a lot of creative concepts but also tons of technical concepts and those technical concepts do not line up with out things in the real world tend to work all the time. This leads to struggles especially if you are going for realism.

I too realized that no matter how many tutorials I followed out there I was never able to translate these concepts into my own projects. After talking with a lot of the blender community I found that tutorials as you would find on youtube are a good starting point but they are very follow these steps get this result. They do not really teach any 3D theory that is necessary to learn. They all pointed me to CG Cookie.

I am not trying to make a plug here but if you really want to learn blender and how to understand 3D from theory CGCookie is the way to go. It is not free but not absurdly expensive but they have a structure of their courses that not only provide video instruction but they also have support threads, quizzes and exercises that force you into doing things on your own without step by step hand holding. Which is super important and each class is dedicated to learning one aspect.

So if you do really want to consider 3D with blender I would go with CGCookie as it is taught by professionals in the industry not just hobbyists on youtube. Sadly it does cost money I forget the price but a year of access is around $200.

Best advice I can give if you are really passionate about 3D don’t give up and keep pushing it is really really difficult to learn but very rewarding in the end if you truly love it.

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Excellent insight already. Thank you.

Life is too short to put that much pressure on yourself. You have to enjoy the ride. If you’re not, do something else.

I enjoy all aspects of photography (except calibrating my monitor!) and thus I’m never really frustrated and I never feel like quitting. If I did I’d take a break.

It seems you have pinpointed the reason for your frustrations yourself. :slight_smile: Perhaps you could look into classes, books, tutorials on gaining a stronger understanding of visual arts and theory first?

As @snibgo mentioned - grab some medium and play. Photography is a little easier in some cases because the subjects are already there (usually) we just need to compose and capture what we’re seeing.

The bigger problems occur when we’re presented with a blank slate (paper, clay, marble slab). The artistic conveyance of our vision is entirely our own responsibility to create. Every. Single. Detail.

If you can’t sketch/see the idea clearly with a vision the problem is not just the media.

This is even worse with Blender 3D because the darn program does so much. It can be overwhelming when the software provides multiple interfaces and use-cases with different workflows to support them all depending on what you’re doing (animation rigging is very different than static modeling, which is very different from shot composition, which is very different from color grading, which is very different from compositing, etc…).

Blender is a journey, not a destination. (So as @paperdigits pointed out - enjoy the ride).

With that said, there are a ton of neat tutorials (as you already know). Perhaps dedicate time to a good single project (even replicating something else) and work through it, be proud of it, and immediately shelve it and move on to the next one - keep it interesting enough to maintain your interest, and simple enough that your current skill level can rise to the challenge?

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All, from scratch, creative endeavors are hard. Some find support in the structure of the technical aspects. I think that’s part of the reason photography is relatively popular. You can sort of mix the technical and the artistic at the strength you find comfortable.

Blender and such is several steps up the technical overhead. I’ve used 3d software for a very long time and have just slowly learned more and more. I started using blender when it had the really funky interface and use it quite frequently at work. In the beginning I was just a kid fiddling around doing “cool” stuff without any artistic ambition. I guess not having any ambitions helped with putting up with having to learn so much.

Coming new to 3d software and having artistic ambitions is tough, real tough. Almost any other media is likely to bring more satisfaction in the short (and probably long) term. That is unless you feel at ease in the technical side of things.

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My cousin recently started making renders of dim sum on a table. No prior Blender experience. Just watched a bunch of good YT tutorials and went from there. Some people are quick studies.