I messed with Blender years ago, but was frustrated with learning everything new. Even the basic windows commands were different (CTRL-W instead of CTRL-S) and the no undo. I picked it up again a month or so ago, and it's been about a week learning curve for each agenda. Modelling took about a week for me to be fairy competent, Texturing/Lighting took about a week too. I haven't tried animation yet, and won't be for a while, but predict about the same. I can't believe the power and functionality of such a small software program! Very nicely done overall. I still require other softwares for precise detail, but I haven't given up hope that snaps and other precision tools are in Blender too. I'm having a lot of fun where I'm at, and I'll look into those thing later. I'm voting about a month to have the basics of everything (for me).
I know of Blender since the days it was a software solely running on expensive SGIs. Fortunately, we had some in the company. But my disappointment started when I first installed Blender. On the SGI as well the UI was a very own design
And the only tutorial just showed some very basic things.
When Blender got free (and that took many years) I made a second attempt and bought the Blender guide. Although the book is written by experts and has not been proof-read by novices (like me
) it provides a good start with the software. If you understand the basic things it just takes some hours to get started and some days to do useful things.
With that experience I got hungry to learn about good lighting and realistic modelling. But in fact, this applies to all applications.
So the key is to get a good book. If you try to do things with "common sense" you will loose. I can only encourage you to buy the docs, it is worth it. (Even if I do not make money with selling books...)
I agree with u guys, the first contact with Blender could be a little rough, but we all must admit that the interface itself just makes it like a mysterious girl, the new user just see its and wants to know more about it, and more and more, when suddenly BOOM u just figure out the sun rising "man, its 5 am" . I mean its kinda addictive, and i like that. I just want to have a 29 inches monitor to feel the complete power, but anyway blender its like a marriage, u can be with it for years and never stops to amaze you. See ya.
A mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
Blender doesn't take your whole life to learn, 3D graphics does..
I mean there is so much that can be done with 3D graphics.. Its like the old painters that psent their entire life perfecting their brush-strokes anbd their art, that's what takes all life..
I've used many packages for the last 15 years, Sculpt3D (where it started pretty much for a lot of early 3D artists), Imagine, Lightwave, Real3D, Rayshade, Renderman, BMRT, POV, Hash Animation Master, Wavefront TAV 4.0-4.3, TDI Explore's 3Design and IPR, Alias 7/8, Maya, 3DsMax (briefly), Caligari (Truspace).. Only have been using blender since 1998 when it was released. It took me about a 9 months to learn (with the help of Ton, who was eager to get me and B@rt going on it, I think for a couple of years we were freely helping users on the package, then I kinda lost contact with everybody), but the reason why its always a suprise to learn is it is changing and a the features of blender are meant to be used together, not seperately, so features of blender reveal themselves as you learn how to use the tools in combination.
The major problems with learning blender is the hotkeys, I'm hoping
there will be a feature in future blenders to reveal the hotkeys
in any context as well as describe them. I think it would be really bad to sugar coat the interface, some interfaces are best the way they are
and sugar coating them will make them worse for the power users,
so I think some of those who really understand blender are going to be reluctant to add "sweet" features of maya that serve no purpose
than to slow down productivity. This is the primary reason I'm doing tutorials as I see all these users who just really don't know how to use blender and suggesting features that are a result of not really knowing blender.. Blender is very conservative, features exist because they serve a purpose, if you want more features reuse the existing ones in creative
aways, there is no "make terrific animation" button, and Maya and other 3D packages only make it harder by allowing the users to learn more than they really need to learn (you know why there are mirrors in casinos in Las Vegas, so that the drunks can never find their way out, a lot of 3D users are drunk intellectually on 3D graphics, its not packages you know its what you can do with what you know that is important).
To learn 3D graphics, I suggest attending SIGGRAPH convention (www.siggraph.org) at least once in your lifetime, I've attended it 4 times, twice as a volunteer (which is the best way to attend). Its information overload in the world of 3D graphics, more than your brain can handle, but it will influence your understanding of the art and those involved. I suggest taking a course on OpenGL if you can program.
If you are an artist, I suggest taking an introductory course to computer graphics so you can get a bit of the history and theory. I suggest
reading John Lasseter's paper about Animation Principles in 3D (http://www.evl.uic.edu/aej/527/papers/lasseter.pdf, here's a copy).
Maybe subscribe to "Cinefx" and "3D Computer Graphics World".