August 30, 2012

Tools of the Trade - Training

One of the most important things as a developer is education. While it certainly helps to be well rounded and intelligent with life experience, it's specifically important to be well educated about your tools. You work with the same set of tools every time which makes it important to understand what they're for, how they can be used, and how they work in general. While there's plenty of info to find on the net most of it is specific to a given task with only minor detail or insight and it's teaching you a trick sure but it's not teaching you the underlying information you really need. To clarify there's plenty of information, but a lack of high quality information.

After you become familiar with your common or base tools it's time to learn them inside and out, not only to speed up workflow but also to learn new ways to use them. While you might use a given tool for the same thing every time it can always be used in more than one way and often can be combined with other tools for new results. For example you might use mirroring to work on symmetry but it can also be used to cut your initial workflow in half to begin with. Though that's a weak example the idea is present.

Moving onward my primary suggestion to anyone in modeling, animating, or for that matter anyone using 3d max at all would be the "max bible". The go to guide for understanding every tool and getting ideas on how to use it. I also suggest learning about max script to create macro's for operations you repeat often to save time. If you're more visually oriented I can also suggest youtube tutorials which are a dime a dozen but trapt cg tends to make worth while vids. There's also a site called cg society which quite honestly is an amazing site where even a few short days of paying attention to the forums can teach you quite a bit. The cg society is where industry professionals really strut their stuff and talk a bit about what they know or how they got where they are.

If you're interested in more about textures I can recommend the Luke Ahearn "Create Professional Game Art with Photoshop" book though it may be prone to outdating soon as it was made in 06 and already some of the information is becoming outdated. The core concepts presented however are always relevant.

Another great source of info is always 3dbuzz which has tons of free tutorials and information, they also are reliable for new information on a regular basis. In particular I recommend a look at their UDK particle tutorials.

The same ideas above are relevant for any program you're using. Find the official know it all book for the version you're using, find a few good tutorial sites or series, and study them hard. Ideally if you can find a community of professionals and learn from them then you should do that as well.  In a developers case it's also important to find sites with program extensions, plugins, or other add ons for programs you use regularly. For photoshop it would be worth the google search to find a site that regularly updates high quality brushes and a few tutorials on making your own. In the mean time I can suggest deviant art for finding a wide selection with a familiar or at least intuitive interface that gets updated with some regularity and certainly has an existing catalog to choose from.


  1. i will become professional gamer :)

  2. If I ever submit anything to the Steam Workshop I'll keep these in mind. :P