Learning to code is difficult, especially at the beginning, especially if you’re trying to learn on your own. Courses at colleges or universities are good for beginners because they give us a sense of direction but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own.
Way back, in 1995, I purchased my first computer. A Power Mac 7200. I was a mostly self taught artist and I wanted to learn CG animation. The internet was in its infancy and few people had experience with CG programs so resources were scarce, but by trial and error I learned enough to get my first job with a game company in St. Catharines Ontario. Silicon Knights were creating top down role playing games the old fashioned way, tiled backgrounds and frame by frame animation using a software package (I can’t remember the name) which allowed us to animate pixel based images and output sprites (drop in animated characters/cycles).
After the first game I worked on was released the game company decided to go 3D, not 3D in the sense of special glasses, 3D like Toy Story which had just been released. They chose 3D Studio Dos R4 from Autodesk (which would become 3DS Max) as their software of choice. Once again there were no courses available or in-line tutorials so we bought books and taught ourselves. I can remember those early days as we poured over the manuals and books amazing our colleagues with the next fascinating thing we discovered we could do with the software.
I learned then that its possible to teach yourself complex programs but more importantly I learned that big programs with big (or many) manuals should not be intimidating. During my time as an electronics technician in the Canadian Army I learned the trick to complex circuits. Break them down into small manageable bites. I used that same approach to learn 3DS Max and I quickly became proficient in CG modeling. I also learned over time that most people learn just enough of a program to make it do what they need to it to do. In cases of large complex programs (like 3DS Max, Maya and Nuke) that might only be about 10% of the whole program, an expert might know 20% but no one knows even close to the whole program, its just too big and it’s really unnecessary. Most CG artists have what I call a toolbox. A set of skills that lets them do 95% of what they need to do, the remaining 5% they look up in a book, watch a tutorial or ask another artist.
Have a good day and talk to you soon – Tony