There are many who have tried to learn Blender over the years only to quit within the first hour of using the software. For a variety of reasons beginners often consider Blender to be difficult to learn, unintuitive, confusing, and every excuse under the sun to not continue learning Blender. But is any of this true and is Blender really that difficult to learn?
The main reason why Blender is considered difficult to learn is it requires a skill set that is often completely new to a beginner user, the ability to navigate and construct models in a 3D space. The second reason why t is difficult to learn is that there are so many different tools and tabs in the Blender interface that quickly leave potential users disinterested in the software.
First impressions count a lot and in the case of Blender 3D, it really is that first hurdle that new users struggle to jump over when trying to learn a skill like 3D modeling.
Why Do People Think Blender Is Hard To Use?
There are several reasons why people believe or have stated that Blender 3D is a hard tool to learn and why many potential users have turned away from Blender within the first hour of trying it out, failing to get over that first hurdle.
The number one reason why Blender is considered by many to be a difficult skill to learn is that it is unlike any skill that the user has been required to learn. If you are learning Blender to learn how to create 3D models, then it’s unlikely that any other skills that you have will help, unless you have used other 3D applications.
Learning to create models in 3D space is a skill that you probably not have picked up in school, unless you took graphic design in your design and technology class, and even then who really pays attention.
The concepts of 3D design are only loosely affiliated with that of 2D design used in applications like adobe photoshop and many of the tools used in 3D design are often completely different.
There is a lot here that you will likely have never seen before yet it all stares at you as soon as you open up Blender, and that brings us to our second reason.
The high number of tools in the Blender interface and the lack of familiarity with the user are often key turnoffs for potential students who were initially interested in trying the software.
The Learning Curve Of The UI
The user interface of Blender 3D has undergone many changes in the last few years and its usability has improved a great deal. But even among 3D applications, the way Blenders user interface is designed is unique, and that adds an additional challenge to learning the software.
Everything has a learning curve, and that curve starts with the foundations of the skill or skill set. In the case of a 3D application, that foundation is the user interface.
If we were to imagine the learning curve of Blender 3D, the curve would be steep right from the get-go as users try to make sense of the UI and its quirks. Navigating Blender itself can be as challenging to a beginner as navigating in the 3D viewport.
But what people don’t realize is that the initial steep curve levels out very quickly and that once you understand how Blender inherently works it becomes surprisingly simple.
The introduction of workspaces in Blender version 2.80 has made the UI much easier to navigate in recent years and reduced the initial steepness of the curve.
As we have mentioned before it is all about getting past that first hurdle and for Blender that first hurdle is learning how to navigate the various panels and workspaces that make the Blender UI.
Blender 3D Is A Deep Ocean With Incredible Depth
When you are learning to swim the last thing that you want to do is dive into the pacific ocean. What if something happens? What if you are not as good a swimmer as you thought you were?
This analogy applies quite well to Blender and people’s opinions on the software. Blender allows you to perform a wide range of tasks from modeling, to animation, to video editing, to image compositing. And in each of these tasks of skill sets, you will have a depth of tools and knowledge to learn.
On top of that, you will find that your tools can be used in different ways to create different results or even find different methods to reach the same result. Think of these workflows as the currents of the Blender ocean.
When learning to swim, most of us prefer to start in an indoor swimming pool, at the shallow end, with a lifeguard nearby.
But in reality, Blender is not an ocean, and we have control over what we want to learn and where we want to swim. We just need to know how.
How Difficult Is It Really To Learn Blender 3D?
With the number of resources now available o learn Blender 3D, the reality is that learning the software is actually really easy if you learn the right way.
Below we have these tips for beginners to help learn Blender easier to and to pick up skills the right way.
- Pick a specific aspect of Blender and focus on that – Blender is a jack of all trades kind of software and there are a lot of skills that you can pick up. You should select one aspect of Blender and focus on learning that aspect and ignore everything else until you are comfortable with it, at least to a point. For example, beginners should focus on learning the basics of navigation and selection in the viewport before they consider learning about modeling tools.
- Vary what areas of Blender you learn – Yes this sounds like a contradiction to the first point but actually, it is a progression. When you are comfortable in one area of Blender like navigation, move on to the next, which could be modeling. But while learning your modeling skills practice your navigation skills as you work to embed the learning of each skill set.
- Use multiple sources of information – Most beginners will watch a video and then try to copy what is done in the video, but this is not really learning, just copying. Instead, watch through several videos on a skillset from different YouTubers, and look for other sources of information on the topic or tools like blogs and the Blender manual, and really make the information stick.
- Generative learning of the skill – This is a big one, generative learning is where you try to find the solution to a problem yourself before asking someone else. For example, if you want to learn how to scale your cube, look around the interface and try to find the tool yourself. Even if you can’t, watching a video showing you how to do it after you tried to do it yourself becomes more beneficial, as your mind is already focused on learning the skill.
- Practice a skill in your own project after watching a video – Again youtube is going to be the primary source of educational content for most beginners. The best way to learn from these tutorials is not to copy the instructor, but to use the skills demonstrated to create a different object. For example, if a video focused on creating a hologram material for Suzanne, could you create a hologram material for a different object? Or could you change the pattern used by switching out the nodes? Or even change the color of the emission.
- Adopt the 80/20 rule of learning – Skills are not just facts, but habits that you have to develop and improve over a period of time. One mistake that students of all levels make is that most of the time learning is spent listening to instruction, while the practice part is often limited to following along with the instructor. To truly develop a skill, practice it in your own time and learn from your own mistakes. 20% of your own learning keeps from watching those youtube videos and reading those articles, while the other 80% of your time is dedicated to practicing those skills and making them stick by actually using them yourself.
For How Long Does It Take To Learn Blender?
This is a very common question, and is the wrong question, because learning Blender is not a skill, at least not a single skill. Blender is an application that allows you to do many things, but you do not have to learn every tools and every workflow related to Blender.
If you did, then the answer to the question would be something like 10 years, because there is so much to learn and most people only ever scratch the surface of what Blender can do.
What you need to ask is ‘How long does it take to learn how to navigate the 3D viewport?’ or ‘How long does it take to learn how to animate models and render animations?’
These are more specific skills that you may or may not choose to learn as you decide why and how you want to use the software.
The answer of how long it takes to learn a skill varies, as learning to navigate the viewport can take as little as 30 minutes, while learning how to animate could take 8-10 hours, speaking from personal experience.
When learning any skill we should follow the 20-hour rule, which states that it typically takes 20 hours to learn a skill to the point where we have memorized the foundation of that skill and are able to use it competently.
This rule applies to any skill that you want to pick up and not just those that are related to Blender. If you want to learn how to model characters in Blender, you should allow yourself 20 hours to fully learn the skill. If you want to learn how to create realistic materials in the Eevee render engine, give yourself 20 hours to ingrain the concepts as habits while you learn.
Why Do People Say Blender Is Unintuitive?
You may have heard from time to time in forums or blog posts that people dislike Blender because it is unintuitive, but what does the term mean and who makes the claim.
Well, the people that often say Blender is unintuitive are the ones that attempt to learn Blender after using other applications such as Maya for a given length of time. Both Maya and Blender work in a similar fashion creating objects, scenes, and animations but each has its own UI and its own quirks.
For example, Maya has always had an excellent toolkit rigging and animation in the viewport, and when you transition to Blender this aspect is not as easy to learn or use.
The term unintuitive though does not focus on learning the application, but on using it in everyday scenarios, but for every negative point that you can find with Blender there will often be many positive points as well.
For example, Blenders modifier system is fantastically easy to use and makes it easy to procedurally create your models following a non-destructive workflow.
The reality is that Blender is not perfect and that there are most certainly aspects of the software that can be improved, however, to label the software unintuitive is an over generalization based on individual experiences, and so the answer to the question relies on your personal experience using the software.
So Is Blender A Suitable Tool For Beginners?
The versatility and usability of Blender actually make it a fantastic tool for taking that first step into 3D modeling, sculpting, animation, and more. The key is, like with any skill that you wish to learn, in how you choose to approach learning.
In my personal experience, I found learning Blender to be quite challenging back when I first used it with version 2.7. But this was child play compared to when I first started learning Houdini.
Trying to copy what other people do is not the best way to learn Blender, and although it sounds counterintuitive, making mistakes through your own projects and learning what to do differently (Reflection) is a much surer way of cementing the skills that you practice.
Blender is also free, open-source software, which makes it accessible to anyone and everyone that has a computer and an internet connection to download.
The sheer variety of resources available now surpasses that of any other comparable software with 1000s of videos on youtube and 100’s of video courses on sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Blender boot camp.
Most importantly, Blender is not suitable for beginners because it is easy, but rather because it presents a challenge that makes it more viable to learn, as despite what we may believe, easy learning is as beneficial as facing those challenges, as our experiences in dealing with those challenges become more memorable.
The Articles That Claim Blender Is Hard Are Older!
Chances are that in order to find this article you opened up google and typed in something along the lines of ‘Why Is Blender Hard To Learn?’ or ‘Is It Difficult To Learn Blender 3D?’, and if so you will come across articles and forums of people venting their own frustrations of using the software.
However, take a moment to look at the dates of those posts and articles and you will see that they date back as far as 2006.
When we are convinced of something as fact based on what we have heard from other people that are referred to in the psychology world as social influence. An illusion of believing in something without the actual first-hand evidence to support that belief.
Blender is very different now and is certainly easier to use and easier to learn thanks to its revamped UI and much-improved toolset.
Why Learn Blender At All?
If you have gotten this far then one of the last questions that you may have is if it is worth learning Blender in the first place.
The answer is yes, both for those interested in using the skill for work and for those who may wish to use it as part of a hobby.
While the larger companies in industries like game design still use Maya as an industry standard, smaller companies are adopting Blender as their choice of 3D creation software in part due to just how many people out there have Blender downloaded to their home devices.
There is a huge untapped market of potential talent out there of Blender artists and many more who are just waiting to take that first step in learning the software.
Even if you want to learn comparable software programs instead, those applications may not be immediately accessible to you and so Blender is a great alternative for at least learning about the core concepts and workflows of 3D modeling, animation, etc.
Thank You For Reading The Article
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