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Spencer Fanuka

Whats the best way to learn (anything)

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What do you guys think the best way to learn c4d or any software in general is. For instance, Should i start by reading the entire manual first, then practice, or just start experimenting right off the bat. I’m curious to see how you guys have learned. Personally, I learned After Effects by just experimenting and practicing right away and watching lots of youtube tutorials. However, I feel that I missed lots of beginner techniques that could’ve been picked up if I did things differently.

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I feel like getting the absolute basics (including basic modeling, animation and the rest) down through tutorials and then just learning the stuff you want (which is how you did it with AE and I did with C4D in general) is probably one of the better ways. Doesn't burn you out as fast and there's little chance of missing some very basic techniques you didn't even know existed.

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When I started learning 3D software it was much more primitive than what I have now with C4D Studio.  By the time I got to C4D I had a good base to start with but even then I needed to get comfortable with the software, this is very important.  I first like to make sure I can navigate around the software and get a general feel for it.  I would most likely be in demo versions at this point as there is no way id part with cash unless I was 100% sure I will get on with the software, and it will really dose what it says on the tin.  I learned this from years before where id jump on a sale for software that I didn't gell with and it didn't deliver quite what it promoted.  It took me years before I got C4D as at the time I was considering it, it lacked some essential features like native rigging presets and SSS Sub surface Scattering material for skin.  I kept coming back asking questions like has this been added yet, or that been fixed.


Id seek a general overview of the software like on lynder.com, pluralsight.com where they do a "getting started into C4D" tutorial.  Greyscalegorilla.com has such a tutorial where you go through a project using various toolsets and its free.  I would have had a main objective before I even got the demo, for me it was character design, rigging, animation.  Once I purchased the software Id work on getting down to what I wanted it for and use the user manual extensively.   I know from experience that the best way to learn is to spend more time doing, than watching videos, so Id think of a simple project and work my way through it.  Along the way Id hit brick walls, this made me learn from the manual, tutorials, or forums where others hit the same hurdles. It would by the end of the project tell me some of C4D strengths, and some of it weaknesses and where I need to invest in some plugins eventually.


Once I could get my way around the software and feel comfortable this is where I would target tailored training to my needs,  Cinivercity.com has a huge amount of videos.  I joined https://cmivfx.com/ and went through some videos on there, but made sure I got through them fast.  I would learn a new feature and without delay go off and replicate it over and over again without looking back at the training.  Repetition will hold it to memory.   By the time I got through a video tutorial, id go off and do the whole thing from scratch without any video guidance unless I got stuck.  Once I can do it from beginning to end from memory I know iv got it down.


Now I have always believed that to test myself If I know something well I should be able to explain it verbally, and show it physically, if not then there are gaps in my knowledge.  If I cant teach it, I don't know it.  This is me personally it may not be a rule for everyone.


If I had to start within C4D without any prior knowledge of 3D then Id do the following.


1:  Seek a getting into style tutorial project-based.  This will get you familiar with the software in general.

2: Learn to model.  this is going to be at the core of most users unless your aim is to use pre-made assets, but you still need to know some modeling regardless.

3:  Learn to Uv map correctly, and how to finish off a 3d model asset including texturing, baking, and basic usages of sculpting tools as a modeling aid.


Steps 1 to 3 will cover a heck of a lot of things to learn including modeling principles, what structures to avoid, Hard surface and organic modeling, SDS modeling, edge flow, Uv mapping, body paint for painting textures.  There is a good few years to get these things down or at least a year of full-on getting stuck in to get a decent 3d asset made to good standards but thats at a push in this time unless your just geared for it.


4:  Surfacing including how to make your own materials including all basics on reflection, refraction, sss, procedural textures.

5: Lighting including basic lighting principles in which photography will teach you allot.

6: Composition, camera set up, and rendering settings.


Steps 4 to 6 will take some time too but your begin to gather some knowledge on these as you go but its good to set their own a dedicated time period to get stuck into these areas.  It wont take one pass it it, its a refining process that everyone goes through even after years of doing it.


By the end of it you should be up to modeling an object with good edge flow and polycount, all Uvs done with texture maps complete ready for rigging if needed.  This would be a good time if you wish to learn rigging.



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I am a huge fan of learning by doing. Be it 3D, programming, electronics, technical design whatever. Pick a super small thing to accomplish and then check for ressources that help you achieve it. By ressources i don't mean big tutorial projects. First should be the manual, second a search on the internet for existing forums help and general information, third a look at existing tutorials that cover the topic and fourth a request for help on the forums.

Good luck :)

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9 hours ago, Spencer Fanuka said:

Personally, I learned After Effects by just experimenting and practicing right away and watching lots of youtube tutorials. However, I feel that I missed lots of beginner techniques that could’ve been picked up if I did things differently.

You've sort of answered your own question here. If you missed beginner techniques while throwing yourself into AE, take time to search out beginner tutorials and watch lots of them because they don't all have the same information. 


I would also suggest looking for a way to work where they employ people with the skills you want to learn. In my case, I found myself working at a photo lab as a general helper/intern when I was 18. I picked up skills from every department, but I was most drawn to the graphics department. I watched skilled people working in Photoshop (2.5!) and asked lots of questions. Eventually they offered me a position and I was on the CG career path. 


School is also an option, if you can afford it. In the mid-90s I began playing with Worldcraft, the 3D editor used to make Quake-based maps, which was the precursor to the Hammer editor by Valve software. It sparked an interest in moving into the games industry. There were very few game design courses at the time (2003), so I chose one and jumped head first into a degree program at the Art Institute. I learned the basics of Max and Maya, texture painting, animation, and rendering among many other things. Especially, that I didn't want to work in games! After graduating, I had the skills and references to get into a small ArchVis studio. My learning exploded from there.


Aside from expensive full-blown degree programs, there are online courses these days which are far more affordable.


Looking back, it is apparent that having access to others with skills I wanted was the backbone of my learning career. And it continues today, right here.


It can be difficult to be inspired on your own, so the best way is to get with others with similar interests. Barring the paths of my personal journey, just practice, find local groups, or cultivate your own, research, and use online resources. And of course have fun!

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1 hour ago, Vizn said:


Looking back, it is apparent that having access to others with skills I wanted was the backbone of my learning career. And it continues today, right here.

This. I wish I knew someone with strong 3D skills in real life. I think I lost a big amount of time finding problems by myself and the internet.


I also think tutorials quality on the internet has greatly improved, maybe I would have an easier time learning nowadays. I started around 10 years ago.

At least there’s a lot more quantity. I remember being desperate looking for information on specific subjects.


edit : For example I didn’t heard about Edge Flow until not so long ago. This obviously improved my modeling skills a lot.

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As a newbie myself I seem to be getting along well given the fact that i have 0% background of this. Here's what i did:


1 - i watched ONE long session of C4D beginner tutorial that explains the interface, the logic behind 3d modeling, the animation part and the textures, cameras, everything, etc.


2 - i looked for resources that i could find online for free of C4D documents created by 3d Artists, downloaded them and opened them on my own and i started investigating the logic of what they did and how they did it. this is an excellent resource tfmstyle.com


3 - this board here can be helpful when you have questions


4 - always make sure you're ongoingly learning this otherwise you won't. watch 2 to 3 tutorials weekly and copy them RELIGIOUSLY, bit by bit the logic will start to come out of what you're doing and you'll start to depend on yourself. but based on my experience, it's very difficult to learn 3D if you're working on it for just a couple of hours every week, you really need to like it. its super fun :-) 

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