Daphne Lameris

How to decide what to focus on?

Hi everyone,

My question is how did you decide what to focus on? There are so many possibilities and specializations (character creation, product creation, photo realistic rendering, architecture, environments) and I think they are all awesome so now I'm stuck. There is too much to learn to do it all so I want to specialize. So I would like to know, how did you decide what to do with CG?

My background: I studied Industrial Design Engineering and during my bachelor I fell in love with 3D printing, so I focused my master on this. I opened my 3D printed jewelry webshop in 2011 and have been designing jewelry as a hobby every since. As you can imagine, after 7 years I have a quite the jewelry box. Cool, but it might be time for the next challenge. I started working at Shapeways (3D prining company, see one of the recent blogpost) in 2014 and since then have seen an endless stream of awesome, unique and sometimes weird 3D printed products. Which is super inspiring but also a little bit demotivating, because how am I ever going to compete with 3D printed armor (Lumecluster/Melissa Ng) or automatically perfectly fitting dresses (Nervous Systems)? 

I started learning Blender around 7 months ago (tried it before, but the switch with other software was just too big) with the tutorials from Blender Guru. He's great but has a big focus on photo-realistic rendering and architecture, something I was really not familiar with. It inspired me to create a few renders that are now hanging on my walls. I subscribed to CGCookie to improve my modelling skills. I love the wide range of courses. However I do not have the time to follow them all. 

So I'm stuck between a few directions that I could go:

  • Keep on modelling and printing. Make more realistic jewelry even faster. 
  • Create renders and art. Draw and model environments and landscapes.
  • Learn how to make good characters which can also be 3D printed
  • Go code! Learn how to use python to generate customized or fitting jewelry or part of whetever (the nervous systems way)
I don't expect someone else to have the answer to what I should do, but I would love to hear your story. How did you decide?
  • crew

    Why not try them all? Focus is always something that everyone needs to work on. I myself always have a ton of ideas and things I want to pursue, but by trying to do them all at once I'll stretch myself thin and end up doing a poor job. You can still pursue it all, you just need to dedicate time and effort to each to determine what you'll want to pursue further.

    John Lee Dumas has a great acronym for FOCUS which is Follow One Course Until Success. Start with something that really excites you, regardless of the effort it takes to build. Don't do anything just because someone else says you should, instead pursue your curiosity. I find that building a project tends to yield the best results. Find ONE thing that you're really interested in learning about or becoming better at and build a project around it. Once you feel you've "quenched" yourself with that move on to something new. 



     

  • crew

    Great question, finding what to focus on can definitely be a challenge. It's like blank canvas syndrome in a way, where there are so many possibilities that it can be difficult to get started on any one in particular. I decided by finding which core skill would open up the most possibilities for me in the future. 

    If you're still passionate about 3D printing, improving your modeling sounds like the best way to go since it's the main foundational skill that will then in turn allow you to create realistic renders, make characters to print, and create more complex jewelry designs all at the same time. Focusing on that one area will allow you to easily expand into any other domain of 3D later on, and whichever path you choose you'll be better off for it.

    I'd encourage you to continue branching out from jewelry like you've already been doing. Characters, environments, anything that interests you. Even if jewelry design is your end goal, messing around with other topics will stretch you in new ways and give you fresh ideas for how to approach your designs. You don't have to become a master in these other areas, but do give them a shot. It's less about the subject and more about refining the core skill. 3D modeling is all about problem solving, so experimenting in these other areas will help you solve problems you might not even know you have yet. Plus, you'll be able to practice your lighting and texturing as you complete each project, which in turn could help you advertise your jewelry in new ways. 

    Learning to code also sounds like it would be good for you, but from looking at your portfolio I think continuing modeling would be best. You're off to a wonderful start but haven't hit the limitations yet where coding would be most helpful. 

    That's all opinion of course, but hopefully it helps. 

  • Hello Daphne,
    "When one's Head is overloaded with information, the Heart is the place to go, when looking for inner guidance"

    So to find your own unique answers, let the Head take a break from it all and look inwards, to the Heart spark that got your ignited/fired up going into CGI. Reading in between your lines, it looks like you are experiencing the "7 year itch" in the relation to your once chosen path with the 3D printed jewelry webshop.... which means in my book that you are realy to evolve up, into something higher .. something more expressive from within, something more personal.
    The fact that you are already doubting about "... competing with 3D printing armor of automatically fitting dresses" is a sign to me.

    Here are some reactions / tips from me:
    Getting stuck between:
    - Keep modeling and printing........... while drain your enthousiasm and creativity, since you already know this tricks.
    - Create renders and art............... this could tickle your right-brain more, go for it...
    - Draw and model environments.......... Why not, give it a go...
    - Learn how to make good characters.... This is something HIGHER then your current level-of-expression.
    - Go Code. learn how to use python..... This is ALWAYS handy to customize/extend Blender

    SOME TIPS:
    A - DECIDE / DESIGN WITH THE END IN MIND:
    What is your OWN LONG TERM goal that you want to use Blender as a tool for?
    Once you got that goal clear, everything falls in line to that original desire and making choices gets easier along the way.

    B - CHOOSE SOME PLAY PROJECTS ALONG THE WAY
    Allow yourself some playtime while learning Blender. After all it can not all be serious.
    Have some fun and discover Blender's endless possibilities along the way
    Who knows you get inspired by them too.

    C - BARE IN MIND THAT THE ENTIRE INTERNET IS FILLED WITH GOOD TUTORIALS/ COMMUNITIES:
    The CGCOOKIE is a very educative and fun place to start, but its not the only kid in town.
    There are lots of other artists and companies offering Blender and art related materials, ebooks and courses. The choice is ours.

    So first decide what YOU want and find the best tutor for that job (and not the other way around since there is simply way to much to learn as you already discovered ;-)


    D - HOW DID I DECIDE TO US E BLENDER?
    I wanted to make my own Microsoft FSX flight-simulator aircraft model, stumbled upon Blender as tool to achieve it in a kind of C.A.D.-way (hard surface modeling to be exact).. but along the way I totally fel in love with the entire Blender suite and all its free add-ons and build-in abilities. So now i'm just follow my own gut-feelings, have learned to (character) animatie too
    and am slowly digging into Blender Render and Cycles to find the internal Blender Light(ing)..

    Long-term goal: Create CAD/ Character like (short=movie) animations and educational videos to "show how stuff works".


    I hope my reactions, tips and story will helps up to get you (Blender)Head clear (again)
    and follow your Heart's trail through the CGI landscape.

  • Thanks Jonathan! My big quest is finding what interests me the most, because there is so much potential in everything. 

  • The blank canvas syndrome is exactly how it feels! Thank you for your kind words. I'll definitely keep improving my modelling skills continuously because there is still so much to learn. 

  • Thank you Ronald for your in depth answer! 

    My super high end goal is to create something so awesome that it is museum ready (like the Nervous Systems dresses). Thanks to my work I see so many inspiring people that have found success in their niche markets (nature growth patterns, science jewelry, corgis and light sabers just to name a few examples). They created awesome stuff because of their passion for something, mostly completely unrelated to 3D printing. I guess it's time to find my passion outside of creating products. 

    At this point I'm thinking of creating some fantasy or nature environments. My plan is to first play around with 2D sketching. It should not always have to be 3D. 

  • My story is different from most people have said so far. I only want to make characters, and I knew immediately. It's interesting for me to hear about how much some people have pondered about this, because it was all I have ever really been interested in since I started drawing in 2D!

    So perhaps my advice will not be as helpful, but I'll still try. Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child. What were your favorite things to make? What have you loved for your whole life?

    The answer may be simpler than you think. As soon as you find your passion, you may just think, ok, this is it. And it may just click.

    Think about how you can expand on what you are doing now with the jewelry. Scroll through tutorials on here and pick the first one that looks cool.

    I suggest being impulsive and just picking things on a whim. Doing the first thing that comes to mind. I think that art is one of the few areas where it can actually be good to just dive in without thinking.

    Be wild. Try new things. But don't forget to remember what you always have liked, and just follow that. And when you start doing something and you don't want to stop doing it, you'll know that is a good route.

    So in summary I guess don't overthink it, just start diving in!

    Maybe it's not like that for everyone. But that's my experience at least!


  • I guess it's time to find my passion outside of creating products.
    Yes! Once you let go of the I-must-create-a-product-first mindframe, you will discover that you can simply create anything you can put in front / inside your mind's eye Daphne. I'm curious what your next passion(s) will be.


    At  this point I'm thinking of creating some fantasy or nature  environments.
    And where could one get more inspired then... by walking through real-live ones? For example
    - Take a hike in the woods,
    - Walk along the beach
    - Cycle through vast grasslands, or prairies
    or - you can even take an tour through the local urban jungle..
    Just empty the mind, to fully BE there and to FEEL yourself totally to get submerged in it.


    My plan is to first play around with 2D sketching. It  should not always have to be 3D.
    Exactly, the-thing-called-creativity does not limit itself to 3 dimensions DaphneJust start inside you head, and let the Universe flow you consciousness with great new visions. After that, get those ideas and visions out of of your head again on plain old paper first so you can en-vision your next project ON PAPER FIRST and perhaps share them with others too

    Next step: Find any! expression vehicle / tool (perhaps a analogue paintbrush, sculpt-kit and/or any computer device) and start carving out a new reality for yourself.

    Here are some inspiring storyboard, concept-art websites for you to look at:
    - Khan Academy - Pixar in a Box
    - Pixar - The Art of Storyboarding (and more)
    - Disney - Planes - Concept Art(ist)
    - Disney - Emojy Movie - Art design

  • Just do everything.  That's what I do.

  • crew

    Another thing, and something that might contradict what I mentioned initially, is to find the one thing that really excites you. Ideally this is some big goal that would make you think "yes I made it". Even if it seems unattainable at the moment, just have something big in mind to shoot for. Then break it down into smaller pieces. You mentioned

    My super high end goal is to create something so awesome that it is museum ready (like the Nervous Systems dresses).

    So I'm going to assume this is what it is for you. Great, now walk backward from that. What would you need in order to make that happen? Maybe start with exploring the dresses you mentioned, find out who made them and how they made them. Did they get in contact with specific people? Do you have the current skillset to create something similar? If not, what would you need to learn to do something like that? and continue breaking it down to the smallest of pieces that you can actually take action on. 

    Working on a big ambitious goal can be exciting and can drive you, it also gives you an actual project to work on that has specific smaller goals that can be achieved.