I spent about 1 year learning how to make 3d models. I did more than modeling to be able to make 3d models. In this article I am going to share my review of what my learning path was like learning. I took the freelance, out of school path, but it does work.
First, I had a desire for making 3d models. I researched on google learning how much 3d artist make. I then research freelance artist. Looked like it was possible to earn some money outside of employment making 3d models.
Making 3d models means I need software for making 3d models. I research the commercial programs first. 3ds max, maya and many more. Because of the cost of these programs I decided to try and see if there was something free. I found blender 3d. According to the review blender was mature and good enough.
After getting blender I found out I could not use it. I then looked for videos on learning blender. I purchased a book on it, but the book didn't really teach me how to use blender. It only talked about a 'work flow'.
I then discovered cgcookie. CGCookie cost a subscription fee but was cheap enough I could get it. My education in using blender was worth the money.
After learning how to sculpt I decided to start making models. My first model was an elephant. The feedback for the model was this, "it lacks anatomy.". After learning why this was a problem I then started my search for anatomy.
I got a book on sculpting with clay. This book said it was required to learn how to draw before being able to sculpt. I recommend learning how to draw before learning blender. I not just drawing, but being able to do renderings of anatomy. Not much practice is needed, except to learn it, being able to use it for your own work.
I found ctrl plus paint for learning to draw. Ctrl plus paint teaches how to draw for free. Drawing I & II, along with composition. It was great learning to draw, but nothing gave me power until I purchased the videos from ctrl plus paint store. I started with the basics in the ctrl plus paint store then suddenly, my stylus was like a powerful tool. Ctrl plus paint is really good for learning digital painting, and even when using pencils. Drawing I & II is needed before the paid videos. The teaching method and drawing method is modern.
From ctrl plus paint, I learned why I need anatomy. Anatomy is the part where most artist give up. Most of them stop doing artwork. And I know why, because I did it. After fighting with anatomy I ended up getting a set of resin anatomy models. 3D total have a really good set of anatomy models, and it's probably the best your going to find for the price. There are resin anatomy models used for medical, but they cost thousands. The models from 3d total cost about $100.00. I learned from cgmasters on cgcookie, and also from forum boards that using a reference was good enough for doing anatomy. It's best to learn them by memory they said.
The part I had the most trouble was with motivation. Anatomy really gave me a hard time but learned to use a reference. The hard part is having motivation to practice modeling.
It doesn't matter if you learn art from school, or from tutorials. They all have the same requirement for learning to be good at artwork. That is actually doing it. You can learn the basics to doing artwork, but your not going to be good until you have done it enough.
A school will give plenty of practice as part of the lessons. But the tutorials will only tell you to practice. Learning it is not enough, it must be applied.
I am confident in my artwork that I can do it well enough to share my work. This is because of the paid lessons I took. If you can afford it I recommend proko.com for learning anatomy. And if you can afford it you should check out some only schools for learning to make 3d models. I learned blender but it's recommended for learning the other paid programs for doing work for studios. The studio has blender but it's not the main program.