Monday, November 24, 2008

3D animation and drawing

This is a post I put up on, and I wanted to put it hear, just because it turned out so darned well :0)

A member of 11 second is asking about the necessity of drawing ability for a successful 3D career. The portion of his post that got me going was:

"I still find it frustrating that I can't put down on paper what I can see in my head.... I really want to be able to do this, but to be honest, I just don't enjoy drawing. Perhaps this is because I can't do it well."

To some degree, this falls into the "I don't have the talent for drawing" category, which just doesn't hold any water for me. Here's my response; I really hope the original poster takes it to heart:


"When you learned to walk, you didn't stand right up and tear across the room at a run; you toddled on unsteady legs and fell repeatedly.

When you learned to speak, you couldn't put together thought-provoking sentences; you uttered sounds that were close enough to actual words to be understood.

When you learned to write, you couldn't string together complex thoughts while employing perfect penmanship, spelling and grammar; you scratched out "I Luv momMee" with an unsteady hand.

Yet I'm going to guess that, despite a lack of experience or training, you want to be able to draw well every time you sit down, and come away frustrated that you can't.


Drawing is a learned skill, just like walking, talking, writing. The difference is now you're a fully-functioning adult, and you have heaped the expectations of instant competency on yourself. We all do it - we expect to be great at stuff we've never done, right away. Doesn't work like that.

The good news is you can get better with practice. Keep everything you do, even if you want to line a bird cage with it. Date it, and then put it away. Keep working, then go back in, say, six months and compare. If you're working diligently, you should see improvement.

Drawing teaches you how to see and observe, how to abstract detail to the minimum necessary to represent an object, and so many other things. I know plenty of terrific 3D artists who can't draw well, but I know far more who can.

Don't give up. If you really want to learn, the first step is to cut yourself some slack. I recommend starting with cartooning - it's a much more forgiving genre, and you're not subject to anyone with no drawing skills themselves looking over your shoulder and declaring 'that doesn't look right.' It's a cartoon; only you decide what looks right."

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