Posted In:Ideas | Page 2 of 10 | Greyscalegorilla
I was honored to speak at Creative Mornings Chicago last month. I talked a bit about my first job, trying to get closer to 99% happy, how MK12 got me into all this, being the worst in the room, my leap from client work to personal projects, and a quick story about how I ended up with my name on a pinball machine.
Thanks to Mig, Trunk Club, the film crew, and everyone who helped out that morning. Thanks so much for having me.
Happy New Year! Now, I’m not big on huge, sweeping resolutions when January rolls around, but just maybe this is the year to try a daily project to get better bit by bit. Here are a few reasons why:
Short projects remove the fear of posting your work for others to see. It can be hard to show your work to your peers, especially early on. But with a new project everyday, you have the freedom to post and move on. That giant six month project can be fun, but not when it comes to learning fast and trying out new techniques. Especially for a beginner, aim for small projects that give you the freedom to fail often and learn fast.
Daily projects get you accustomed to deadlines. Deadlines are what force you to finish work. They keep you on schedule and give you a hard deadline to deliver your work to the world. With a long project, work can flounder and it’s easy to wait until the last minute to make big decisions. Instead, make every day the last minute. It won’t always be a work of art (it can’t), but delivering small projects every day will build a HABIT of creativity. Deadlines are a part of every project that matters. Might as well get used to delivering work now.
Learn faster by asking for feedback often. Honest feedback from your peers can be hard to get. Most people want to be nice and tell you, “It’s good”. That is death for creative work. Make one thing every few months and it’s, “That’s nice” from everyone. Make one thing a day and suddenly people are more willing to give you their honest opinion, and that’s more helpful to you. How is that? Well, It’s much more useful to receive feedback on short projects because you can use the critique right away on the next piece. Also, it’s easier for your viewers to give you feedback because this isn’t your life’s work. You have more work coming tomorrow, and people giving feedback know they can be honest without killing your baby. “I don’t like the color choices,” or “The lighting is to dark,” is much easier to hear when you only spent a day on it, and when you have something to apply that knowledge to tomorrow. Side note: Don’t let your friends say only nice things about your work. A “nice” comment doesn’t help anybody. Cultivate or even demand constructive criticism, and don’t defend yourself when you get a rough critique. Say thanks, write it down, and get better next time.
Daily projects allow you to try something different every day. Building your taste and your style takes a lot of experimentation. With daily projects, you get to hone your style and interests bit by bit instead of burning out one technique on one huge project. This is HUGE early on or if you have a job that isn’t as creative as you would like. If you want to try a new piece of software or plugin, download the demo and make your daily project with it. Same goes for new techniques, and design ideas. Your interests don’t have to wait if you have a daily way to try them.
You will end up with a TON of new work to choose from to show off in your portfolio. They won’t all be masterpieces, but you will be surprised on how much great work you will have 365 pieces later. The bonus? You will see your work getting better. This was HUGE for me. I posted a photo a day for over three years and became WAY better at photography than when I started. Daily practice is recommended with anything. Even if it’s a little bit. Work every day at what you want to get better, and you will see results.
Here are some other daily and weekly projects to check out to get some ideas.
- Beeple (With over 2400 Consecutive days!!!)
- Joey Camacho
- David Brodeur
- Make Something Cool Everyday
It’s easy to get started. Make a tumblr blog or start a page on facebook. Then, post your work every day and ask for feedback. Don’t miss a day. Here are some good rules for a one-a-day photo project, but the ideas will work with any daily project. Post your page in the comments and ASK for feedback. Tutorials and learning is always a good idea, but only by making your own work (and your own mistakes) will you actually learn how you really work, and find your true style.
A well written reminder from Seth that being competent isn’t all you need to succeed.
…access to tools is no longer sufficient. Everyone you compete with has access to a camera, a keyboard, a guitar. Just because you know how to use a piece of software or a device doesn’t mean that there isn’t an amateur who’s willing to do it for free, or an up and comer who’s willing to do it for less.
It’s true, if someone wants professional work, then he will need to hire professionals. But it’s also true that as amateurs are happy to do the work that professionals used to charge for, the best (and only) path to getting paid is to redefine the very nature of professional work.
Read his entire post, Here.
See Also, “MORE“.
The release of C4D R17 brings us another identical looking Cinema 4D icon. I find myself never knowing what version of Cinema I was working in. Maybe it’s just me and my need to test products on all versions and do tutorials in different versions, but I needed a way to quickly differentiate between different versions. So, I made some icons. I also added some for the Net Renderer and clients since those can get confusing too. Feel free to use them on your different versions or just change your old version of C4D to the R14 icon just to look cool. Either way, here ya go.
How To Change Icons In OSX
- Select the Version of the C4D application you want to change.
- Right Click and select “Get Info” from the list.
- Drag and Drop the NEW icon you downloaded onto the existing one in the Get Info dialog box. (you may need too enter your password)
Download the Numbered Cinema 4D Icons Here
no f–ing way…yes, I’ve never done this walk before, but I *know* it does not take 70 days to walk from San Francisco to Los Angeles – Michael Wolfe
This is a great analogy to how difficult it is to correctly estimate hours on a project. The answer is in regards to a software project, but I think that the same problems come up in Motion Design and FX work.
I’ve been asked about the border that surrounds my open and save dialogs when I do my tutorials. It’s called Default Folder X and it saves me so much time and headache when messing with files and figuring out where I save them. Highly recommended.
James White of Signal Noise writes about learning from tutorials vs learning on your own:
If you only do tutorials without exploring things on your own, then you learn only 1 thing: how to read. They’re a wonderful place to start, but it’s up to you after that. You should figure out how to do that thing you want to make instead of waiting for the tutorial to emerge. What does Fabio do before he writes his great tutorials? He figures it out.
His post cuts to the heart of the difference between learning from watching and learning by doing. To be clear, I learned a TON from watching tutorials. They are a super fun and practical way to learn. If it weren’t for people like Brian Maffitt, Tim Clapham making great video tutorials for After Effects and Cinema 4D, I never would have gotten into this stuff. It’s one of the reasons I make tutorials today. To try and give back and help the next kid like me that is looking for good quality tutorials online.
Like James, However, I have always learned the most when trying to figure out how to do it on my own. Seeing something cool and trying to figure it out on my own is always WAY more fun, rewarding, and educational than following someone else’s directions.
Like most great things, moderation is key. Watch all the tutorial you wan’t, but for every hour of learning from tuts, spend four hours playing and experimenting with those concepts. Try this. After watching a tutorial, instead of just following it verbatim, try to see how you can use that technique in a different way. Maybe combine two tutorials together or try to use it with a logo or your name instead of just primitives. Experiment, combine, test, and break. Anyone can follow a recipe perfectly. But, be sure to combine all of what you learn and make something that doesn’t have step by step directions. That’s where the real learning happens.
1. Fabio from Abduzeedo.
2. Beer, Coffee, High Fives, Rage Against The Machine, etc.
There seems to be some push back away from abstract C4D stuff lately. This piece by Andrew Serkin sums it up by making the quintessential abstract mograph animation and adding a message to STOP MAKING THEM.
Scratch Scratch Scratch
Any popular technology or trick is always over-used by beginners at first. When turntable scratching became popular, it was EVERYWHERE for a few years and then it became more subtle as DJs learned how to use the new technique more tastefully. Same thing happened with synthesizers in the 70s and auto-tune in the 2000s. 
Our current auto-tune is Abstract 3D. Starting in the last year or two, 3D has become more accessible and can now run on laptops instead of huge expensive machines. Software like Cinema 4D is made to be used by designers instead of technicians. This means more people have access to the technology and can learn how it works. More people entering a market always means a big glut of beginners that need to go though the process of learning.
Abstract animations are a fun way to learn the software without worrying too much about your scenes not looking realistic enough. In fact, I use simple abstract shapes and animations as a way to teach Cinema 4D without getting too hung up on stuff like modeling. Of course, if you want to become a real 3D artist (you know, one that gets paid) you might have to learn more than just abstract stuff. I don’t see the harm in playing and learning, but nothing let’s you know where your 3D skills stand more than a “Real” project.
We need experts like Andrew to point out the trend and to start conversations like this. However, in the end, its about being good at what you do and your ability to do what clients are paying you for. Don’t let people tell you what NOT to make. Learn, play, and make fun/abstract stuff. But, when you’re ready to learn more, remember there is much more to 3D than spheres.
1. I always use music analogies, but this happens everywhere. Look at how photography has taken off since digital cameras made it so anyone could try photography, or how Trapcode Shine is used in so many commercials on it’s default settings.
2. Also, I’m not that great at the advanced stuff either. This is a big reason why I am trying to get more Cinema 4D artists like Mike and Chris to do more advanced tutorials for Greyscalegorilla.
Imagine everyone competing for that dream job of yours has just watched and followed the same tutorial you just did. Imagine they just read all the same blogs and articles about how to get a job that you just watched. Assume that everyone with an internet connection has all the same software you do and are playing with it all day.
Now what do you do? More.
What MORE are you doing to be better than them? What MORE are you doing to stand out? What MORE are you doing right now to learn and to get real experience? What event are you going to this month to meet people that do what you want to do? What extra class are you taking / book are you reading / project are you starting to give you the advantage and to help get you paid to do what you love??
Tutorials aren’t enough. Get going.
Jonathan Coulton wrote about the way he makes a living.
If you are Steely Dan, you will not want to record onto a Mac Mini through an SM58. If you hate writing, please don’t set up a blog.
When deciding what path your creative career will take, do only what works for you. There are tons of articles and people trying to tell you the right way to do it. I’m sure they are trying to help. But, be careful. It might be THEIR path that they are describing, not yours. Sure, get tons of advice, read plenty of books, and ask everyone’s opinion. Take what works and ignore the rest. When it comes to doing what’s right for you, nobody knows that but… you.
More from my marble experiments. This module was inspired by the catch and rotate machines in this huge Lego Mindstoms Marble Run.