It’s been some time since I  wrote a post for my site, so today, I thought I’d put in a little update.  I could rehash why I’ve been away, but the last podcast episode that I did way back in the latter part of last year pretty much already says it all, so no need to go back and rehash it.  Instead, I thought I’d share some thoughts and insights based on things I’ve learned since the beginning of the year, my vision for the future, and what I’m doing about it today to help me get there.

So, outside of the procrastination problem (see the already mentioned podcast episode), what have I been up to this year?

Believe it or not, I really have been doing a bit in Blender, furthering my education and putting in some practice.  While I haven’t been up to the 15 to 20 hours per week that I really wanted to be able to do, I can say that I have spent at least 5 to 6 hours each week actually creating something and at least another 1 to 2 hours each week going through some tutorial.  Some weeks might be higher, others lower, but at a minimum, this is where I’m at.

What have I accomplished so far?  I keep flitting between a number of projects, so I really haven’t completed many — yet.  But I have at least made progress on quite a few “ongoing” stuff.

I have a cute little monster that hides under a bed that I did using a “xeroxing to 3D” technique I learned from a CG Cookie tutorial.  He’s not complete, but I did get most of the way through that project before I got distracted by some other ideas.

Another project I worked on was posting my first Blender tutorials.  After getting a number of comments on the striped shirt I did for my self portrait character last year, I had thought it might be a good idea to show how I did it.  In prepping for that tutorial, however, I figured how 2 other ways to do it, one of which made doing the stripes super easy and very intuitive.  I even figured how how to do some more complex striping patterns, such as plaids.  After posting the first tutorial, I figured out how to do another variation on the stripes, a ripple or zig-zag pattern, so I did a follow up tutorial on how to do that.  While I haven’t really used any of these  in my own projects (outside of variations on my shirts for my self portrait character), I thought it was a useful exercise and hopefully gave a glimpse into how to combine ideas from different sources to create something new and unique.  (You can find those tutorials in the tutorial section if you haven’t seen them.)

One quick project that I did late in April was a bouquet of sunflowers.  This was a quick project that I did as a present for my wife.  I intended to get it printed (that dang procrastination again), but still haven’t yet.  May make a few tweaks, but even though it was a quick project and there are still a bunch of flaws in it, I liked how it turned out.

I’ve also completed a  few quick “quote” projects, a couple of which involved using curves to create a “shadow portrait” outline used as a backdrop for the text.  While these were quick projects, I liked how they turned out and were super easy to do.

Somewhere around the end of February, I came up with this idea for creating a new outfit for my self portrait character that would be more in line with the artwork I eventually plan to try to sell.  This new outfit project has consumed most of my actual working time since I conceived it, and it is making some progress.   I decided to take a big step back and rework some of the details in the individual meshes because I knew they could be improved.  While I still have some work that could be done in the head, for example, I’ve made a number of changes already that were fairly easy to implement that make it vastly better than what I had back in August.  I’ve also given him chain mail, pants, boots, a sword and shield, and a few other little accessories that fit with the “medieval” theme that leads into the fantasy based artwork I’d like to be known for eventually.

And since I was going back and reworking a bunch of stuff anyway, I decided to re-rig the character as well. When I first did the rig, I didn’t give it the ability to change facial expressions, so a couple of the rigs that I have to try out will allow for that.  One is a variation on the first rig I used, but one of the other is a newer rig system that has been made available more recently.  I’m not sure which I’ll use — or I may try both to see which I prefer — but either way, I’ll have more experience and spend a little more time to work out the kinks and see if I can get better, more natural poses from my character.

I have another character I’ve started that is based on reference images I took of my younger son last year when I was taking my own reference images.  That one is more in the early stages, but it has seen some recent work.  In fact, this last week, I learned a new “technique” for sculpting that I used to create a better head sculpt than the one I had before.  I had tried a few weeks ago, and I had one going, but never really liked the way it was going, but this one is much better, even with it’s flaws.  I haven’t done the retopology of the head yet, but that is coming.

One of the things I’m excited about as far as my future as an artist is that I have finally decided to stop relying solely on my own work.  A few months ago, I purchased a material pack from the Blender Market, and I’m pleased that I did.  In fact, I have since bought 4 or 5 other packs or plugins to help with my workflow.  And I’m already seeing vast improvements in the overall quality of my work.

For those who might wonder why would I spend money to get something that I could make myself — Yes,  I could, but until you get these packs and explore them, and see not only how easy they are to use and how much more detailed they are than what you see in most tutorials, you’ll never understand.  I got them not because I couldn’t do them myself (though quite a few I know are above my capabilities) but for the convenience of not having to create them myself.  That alone saves me many hours of work that could be spent on other things (and, to be quite honest, most of them do it better than I could myself anyway).  But I bought them for another reason.  My hope is that by studying their work, I can improve my own.  (And as far as the plug ins, I know I wouldn’t be able to do those myself, so I’m glad someone else has.)

But the most exciting of all to me is the “behind the scenes” learning I’ve been doing.  Not just in the tutorials, but in starting to figure out how to do what it is that I want to be able to do.  Back in February, one of the podcasters that I’ve been following for some time, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, released a book, Will It Fly.  It’s a book about taking a business idea and putting it through some steps to figure out if your idea would work or not.  While I still need to work my way through most of the exercises, some of my initial work seems to confirm that the things that I want to be able to do could be possible for me.  And it’s gotten me excited about it again.

I had intended to do a podcast or blog post about it already, but have been putting it off.  But I just want to say that the book is an excellent resource, and what I’m learning about myself has already been a big help.

In addition that, I’ve started using a few apps that I’ve heard recommended from others, such as Todoist, that is really making a difference in helping me achieve at least some of what I want to be able to accomplish in a week.  This has helped me keep on task, and while I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, I feel that I have a number of things working for me that it hopefully sending me in the right direction now.

One last thing I want to mention is that over the next few weeks, I may try to experiment some with “live streaming” of some of my artwork.  If nothing else, it’s getting me to sit down and work and maybe it might be entertaining for someone.  Or educational.  Either are within goals that fit into my vision of the future.  If you see I’m doing one, feel free to stop by, say hi, and share it with those you think might be interested.

Someday soon, I’ll blog or podcast about my vision for the future, but for now, I think I’ve rambled enough.

Over the last few weeks, I have made a few changes and added a few things here on the site, including some artwork that I had shared other places, but not here, so feel free to look around.

In an effort to get myself back on track and get to where I want to go, I’d like to make a commitment that I’m going to work at least 10 to 15 hours each week to getting where I want to go.  At least 1 to 2 hours of that will be doing either a blog post and/or a podcast episode, sharing insights I’ve learned and progress that I’ve made over the last week.  I also aim to spend at least 8 to 10 hours of that time (at least 2 to 3 hours a day 4 days a week or more) actually working on a Blender project. I won’t stream all of that time, but I will put in the work.  Outside of this time, I will continue to spend 1 to 2 hours a week doing tutorials and fine tuning my understanding of what I want to do.  And I’ll spend at least a couple of hours trying to connect and engage with those who will help me get to where I want to go.  (This last, I do a lot anyway, but I may be more focused on how I do it.)

(If you read all 2000 words of this post, I wrote it for myself and my own clarity of mind, but hope it is of some benefit to you and what you want to achieve.  Or maybe it just gave you insight into me and what I hope to be able to do.  Either way, thanks for putting up with my rambling.)

If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this post, ask in the comments!  Or if you just have a comment or suggestion, I’d love to hear those as well!

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