There are no degrees and no official qualifications for using Blender 3D or any of its functions, although there are some qualifications that use Blender as a tool to learn broader subjects like 3D computer graphics. Most users are either self-taught or work through online courses on platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare.
It is entirely possible to learn how to use Blender 3D for whatever purpose you require it for at your own pace. There is a huge range of both written and visual documentation and tutorial content that will allow new users the ability to learn Blender at their own pace using whatever approach they want, but it is difficult to learn Blender without those resources.
So the question is not really if you can learn Blender on your own, as thousands of people already do, but what are the best methods for learning a 3D application like Blender and how can you go from being a beginner to an expert artist.
The Misconception Of Learning
The first misconception that new students have when learning Blender is that they expect to be able to learn a new tool and then always be able to use it for any scenario, but different scenarios allow us to work with the same tool in different ways.
3D modeling is a skill that is developed through practice and experience. The more you use Blender the more you will learn and the more comfortable you will be using those tools. But you will also find that the workflow for modeling a new character for an animation, which you can read about here, is quite different from modeling a rocket ship for a still render.
Most people believe that you learn something once, but that’s not true either. Your brain, as many of you will agree, loves to forget things. But this is an evolved characteristic that is designed to help keep the brain healthy. It forgets that which it does not consider important, so if you learn how to use a bevel tool to create curved edges, but then don’t use the tool for three weeks, then you will probably forget that the hotkey for it was ‘Control + B’.
The more you perform a skill, and the greater variety of scenarios that you use it in will convince your brain that this skill is worth remembering, and perhaps even developing. But skills only develop if you use them consistently, in other words, Blender is not one and done for learning, it’s practice, practice, practice.
Youtube Vs Courses
Opening up Blender and trying to learn how to use it on your own without any tutorial content is a difficult task for several reasons:
- The User Interface will likely be something you have never seen before
- Navigating 3D space on a computer screen is very different to navigating 2D programs
- Most tools are hidden away at first glance
- There are ALOT of tools and skills to learn, and some may not be relevant to you
When you ask the question ‘Can I learn Blender on my own?’ We are really asking the question ‘Do I need to pay someone to teach me Blender?’. And the answer to this, for most people, will be no you don’t need to pay for a course to learn about Blender.
But that answer can change depending on the student. Being a part of a course can bolster several advantages, such as the potential for feedback from both fellow students and your tutors. You also get taught, depending on the course, the different workflows when using Blender. You can learn not only how to use a tool, but when and why you should use it as well.
But for me the biggest plus for enrolling in a course is accountability. You commit yourself to learn a new skill and develop that skill through a course project, taking you on a learning journey to become better than what you were before.
When it comes to just wanting to learn about a tool, however, you seldom need to look beyond Youtube. There are perhaps more video tutorials on using Blender than any other creative application in existence, with the possible exceptions of Adobes headline apps like photoshop and more content than other competitors in the 3D space like Maya. See a comparison between Blender and Maya here.
Youtube is recommended for everybody that wants to learn Blender. It’s a very visual thing to both learn and practice, so youtube is a perfect primary resource. But if you want to try out courses, make sure to do research on those courses, and pick the right one for you.
Some Good Youtube Channels To Start With
This article is a Blender resource in and of itself and so why not offer some of our top suggestions for Youtube channels that can help you get started with Blender? We picked these three options because they offer full beginner series learning the fundamentals of Blender 3D, offer excellent video and audio production and offer additional resource material as well.
Real name Andrew Price, the Blender Guru Youtube channel is in a sense a testament to the success and popularity of Blender itself. With over 1.83 million subscribers it is the most popular Youtube channel with the main focus being Blender. That’s a lot of subscribers for what is effectively a tutorial channel for a single application.
The Blender Guru has several youtube series on learning how to use the software, but the most famous of which is the Donut tutorial. Split into four sections, the donut tutorial is as close to an actual course on Blender that you will find in the Youtube search engine. In fact, it’s probably better than many of the equivalent courses out there.
A teacher by trade, an artist at heart. Grant is an outstanding first choice for those who want to learn the fundamentals of 3D modeling with Blender. Grant has 330,000 subscribers and over 800 videos as of August 2021, meaning there is an incredible amount of content to access here. His style is also perfect for beginner users and a lot of his videos will focus either on 3D modeling or sculpting.
Sculpting is exactly as it sounds, the use of various brushes and tools to sculpt highly detailed objects. The toolset can also be used for creating the shape of objects and is particularly effective when it comes to soft body models like characters.
Grant is in my opinion the number one choice for beginners to sculpting in Blender and is also a great choice for 3D modeling in general.
If you are looking for a slightly different approach to learning Blender then try the CGCookie channel on youtube. Many of the tutorials themselves are more project orientated and great for learning a little bit about the different workflows that you can adopt as a Blender artist.
Like Grant, CGCookie also has approximately 330K subscribers on its channel as a result of its consistent, high-quality content over the years.
While it is a great channel for beginners, this one is very well suited to artists once they already have a grasp of the fundamentals. Although they do still have some fantastic introductory content for the newer Blender users.
Are There Any Courses That Would Be Recommended?
Absolutely, on both Udemy and Skillshare, there are a ton of courses available, and thanks to new rules and guidelines for course creation the standard of the course content has risen in the past few years. Udemy is the premier platform for purchasing high quality courses for very manageable price tags and is home to some of the most popular Blender courses around.
You can check out Udemys’ selection of Blender related courses here.
The first course that we recommend you check out on Udemy is ‘The Complete Guide To 3D Modeling With Blender‘ by GameDev.tv (Of which Grant Abbitt is a part of by the way).
Skillshare also offers a wide variety of courses for learning Blender 3D as the main topic, and while the interface is a little bit more old school compared to Blender, the content is generally up to par. Two big characteristics that skillshare has over Udemyis that its courses, in general, are shorter and more focused on specific topics, and also the requirement for every course published on skillshare to be project-driven, with the inclusion of a class project that students will be asked to complete either during or at the end of the course.
You can check out Skillshares’ selection of courses here.
The first course that we recommend you check out on Udemy is ‘Learn Blender 3D – Become An Artist By Creating Over 50 Models With 3D Modeling Workflows‘ by BailyDesign.
What Other Resources Are Out There?
You also have easy access to written documentation from the blender manual, which offers information on the use of each and every Blender tool, offering examples in many cases. There is a manual for each version of Blender however so make sure that you access the manual for the version that you are using as there are always some notable changes made with each new Blender release.
If you want to take a look at the Blender manual you can do so using the link here.
There are also a few websites that post new articles on the latest Blender trends and topics providing additional valuable resources, like this one for instance. Another good one is 3Dtotal.com, and then there are the forums like quora and the Blender stack exchange.
You also have numerous social media groups that are focused on either learning Blender, asking important troubleshoot questions and even general art sharing. blender 3D has an impressively strong community thanks in part to its free, open-source nature.
Some online courses and Youtubers are also terrific sources for learning about other resources, such as PDF cheat sheets for Blenders hotkey system or established websites for acquiring materials, textures, and even full 3D assets.
How Long Does It Take To Learn?
Any skill can be learned in approximately 20 hours of practice, in order to gain what others would perceive as competency in the topic or skill. Check out this Ted talk from Josh Kaufman on the topic of learning below, and trust me it applies to learning Blender more than you think.
After the first 20 hours of learning to use Blender, you will be a lot more comfortable with the fundamentals. Moving forward it will become a case of developing on the foundations that you have acquired. In other words, practice, practice, practice.
But there is one small problem here, and that’s what you spend 20 hours learning. For example, if you learn about the fundamentals of Blender and 3D modeling then you will have an excellent base for using Blender with that purpose in mind. But if you then decide to start learning to write Python script with Blender then that’s a completely different set of tools that you will need to learn.
It’s also not a case of spending 20 hours watching tutorials either, not even close. A lot of that time is going to be spent actually practicing the skills that we learn, and that brings up the next big question, ‘What is the best approach?
What Is The Best Approach To Learning?
For learning any skill or in fact performing any task, we like to go by what is known as the 80/20 rule. In the context of learning, this can be interpreted in one of two ways. First, we can become 80% competent in any skill in the first 20% of time spent learning the skill. For example, you spend 100 hours learning how to create 3D models for characters in Blender. By the time you reach the 20-hour mark, you will have likely already learned much of what you need to know, after that it’s all about development.
The second interpretation is comparing the amount of time spent learning compared to the amount of time spent practicing. Say you have 5 hours a week to practice creating characters with Blender, one hour would be spent learning the tools and general workflow through visual tutorials. The next four hours would involve you actually practicing those skills on your own character models.
Using this approach the artist will be able to develop at a steady rate through a balanced combination of learning and practice.
Learning Blender takes time and patience, much like any skill that’s worth learning. The more time your spend working on your craft the better you will become.
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