10 Essential Tips to Complete Any Blender Project

This is a guest post by SouthernShotty

I just spent 5 years of my life dedicated to completing my short film. Watermelon Girl.

At over 230 shots, over 18,000 rendered frames, and 13 minutes in length – I have learned a LOT over the course of these last few years. Things that worked, things that didn’t work, and I want to share that knowledge with you.

Plan Ahead

Know what is boring? Planning.

Know what will prevent you from failing your project? Planning.

It’s the unfortunate truth, but spending just a few hours upfront building a plan can radically improve your chances for success.

Hate planning? Me too. I recommend scheduling 1 day a week to spend planning ahead on your project, that way you can spend the rest of the week working on it.

Avoid Perfectionism

It’s great to strive for high quality, but perfectionism will defeat you. You’re never going to get it just right and if you do, you’re going to waste a lot of time.Aim for 95% perfection, because that last 5% will burn you out. It’s also wasting time you could be spending on gaining valuable experience creating other projects.

Learn Just Enough

Learning is great. Tutorials are great. I reference tutorials from Grant Abbit, Kaizen, Ducky 3D, CG Boost, CG Matter, and more all the time.

Bloop Animation has courses about making your own short film, as well as many others. You should do tutorials and you should do courses, but that shouldn’t be ALL you do.

It can be easy to get stuck in a learning loop, it feels good to learn, but you need experience to practice those learnings and grow. So, take pauses in learning and apply what you’ve learned too.

Don’t Let Hardware Stop You

Look, unless you have a REALLY old computer, you can probably do SOME 3D.

You may not be able to do super cool realistic renders like Ian Hubertz or beautiful classical production renders like Blender Studio, but maybe you can make something like Blender Studio’s Coffee Run?

Complexity doesn’t always equal quality. Think in simpler styles that won’t hold you back from working.

Keep it in Scope

Manage the scope of your time, your hardware, and your abilities. Picking something outside of your reach is a quick path to failure.

As you gain more experience your scope and abilities will broaden, but keep your expectations realistic. It’s important to challenge yourself, but also set achievable goals to continue making progress.

Use Tools

Take a deep look at the repetitive tasks you’re doing on your project. Lots of UV unwrapping on mechanical models? Intense character lighting scenes? Sculpting creatures with lots of fur? Identify the repeat tasks you’re doing and research tools that could speed up your workflow.

For me that looked like using this Gobo Asset Pack or Bone Dynamics Pro to speed up animation and lighting. Some tools I wish I would have discovered earlier like Curvify. Ultimate Animators Bundle and Animation Layers are also ones I used a ton. Of course, I’d recommend my own VFX and Material packs.

Take Breaks

Breath. Relax. Go outside and touch the grass. It’s important to pause. I burnt out multiple times on my project and feared I wouldn’t finish it.

At one point I had to take a month or two off just to recharge. It’s better to make slow steady progress than to work hard and crash hard.

Review Often

It’s important to pause and review your project. It can save you time in the long run. It’s easier to make revisions and alterations early on, rather than when everything is rendered and done.

Share it with artists and designers whose opinions you trust along the way. You want honest, good feedback.

Fail on Purpose

Failure is just learning along the way. Fail on purpose. Try new things, learn new things, accept you won’t be good at all of them. This is how we learn. Don’t ever let a failure defeat you – just let it teach you.

Don’t Give Up

It’s hard. Motivating yourself to sit down and do extra work. Sure, the project starts fun, but at the end of the day, it becomes a chore once you’re deep in production.

Don’t give up. You started the project for a reason. Remind yourself of that. You can finish it. I promise.

Want to learn more? Check out our Blender Animation course

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