[Review] CGCookie Blender Workshop: Building Character – Realism
If anyone has watched any of my videos, you may have noticed that I love sculpting in 3D. So when I saw that CGCookie had a Blender sculpting workshop on realistic characters, I instantly said, “Yes, please!”. As the price tag is higher than what you would see for anything else at CGCookie, many may have questions about what to expect, and if it is worth the money. So, let’s answer those questions!
NOTE: Spring Workshop 2016 in Progress. Watch for the Summer 2016 workshop. (02/20/16)
So one payment later, I was signed up, and talking with the instructor, and professional freelance artist, Kent Trammell. That alone I thought was very cool, having the instructor contact you before it even started. The amount of instructor contact, and availability was very good. Even with CGCookie’s “4 day work week” the contact availability worked very well, as the workshop was laid out to work from Monday through Friday, giving you (and the instructor) Saturday and Sunday off. So, while it may seem like a pretty laid back setup, you did have to work very hard to keep up with the weekly assignment due on Friday. I eagerly tried to work with two different sculpts for the entire workshop, and by week 4, I had put the second one aside, as I was spending too much time on the first, with no hope of working much on the other. Needless to say, you will not be bored in the 6 weeks of this workshop.
“What is the assignment?”, you may be asking, and this is the best part. Before the workshop starts, you decide what type of character you want to create realistically, and that’s what you will create. In my opinion, this is the best assignment to have, as you are the one to decide what you want to do, and in my case creating something I wanted to see realistically. Now when they mention making it “realistic”, that does not mean to use awesome Cycles materials, but to add the detail needed to your sculpt to make it look realistic. Through the entire workshop, the instructor gives you feedback and critique on how to fix mistakes you may see, or not see. In my opinion, this alone is worth the money.
Now, what about the content itself? This was a good part that helped make the workshop. While there was some workshop specific content, there is also a lot of content that is referred to from the CGCookie site itself. The most important content was the methodology from the instructor, as well as critique. All of this together was more than enough content, and for a new user, a complete treasure trove of awesome content. I would have loved to have taken this workshop as a brand new sculptor, as there was so much, I would have exploded with happiness seeing all that was offered. The CGCookie Citizenship content that was referenced during the workshop was also given to workshop students for free, if they didn’t already have a subscription, so bonus there as well for those new to CGCookie.
In addition to the content, there was a workshop live-stream each week, where the instructor would critique early submissions, or Work In Progress pieces; something I happily took advantage of each week. If the advice was a topic the entire class thought was curious about, or though to be beneficial, the instructor would go much more in-depth about that topic. For these critiques, the instructor would sculpt live, allowing you to see these changes done right in front of you, allowing you to understand exactly what would help, and see it change your sculpt right in front of you. After the critique portion of the live-stream, the instructor would then go into an in-depth lecture and demonstration of the week’s topic. This portion of the workshop was a great addition, allowing students to see how he sculpted, why, and the thought process that went into that method.
So, what did I think of the workshop? I absolutely loved it, and I came out a much better sculptor, as well as understanding the cloth simulator more than I would have ever expected. Even though I knew a lot of the content previous to the workshop, I still felt like I benefited just as much as the new sculptors, as it helped me refine my art way beyond the point I expected. A lot of this was because I took advantage of every single resource that was available; I constantly sent updates to the instructor for critique, I constantly asked questions, I constantly made early submissions prior to the live-stream, so it could be discussed before the live-stream, and I asked for critique in the workshop forum (because that’s the purpose of a workshop, to learn from everyone not just the instructor). At the same time, seeing the critiques given to other pieces was quite helpful, as you would see issues you may have not thought of, or see a certain form in the sculpt you could see yourself taking advantage of.
At the end of the workshop, the instructor gives out a grade for your final piece, with ratings for the following: Realism, Construction, and Appeal. I loved this portion of the workshop, as it gave me something to work towards after the workshop, and push forward even more. Here’s the final piece that I created (It took 16GB of memory to render, and was 80 million triangles).
Overall, I would recommend this workshop to any and all Blender sculptors; new, intermediate, and advanced. No matter what the level, you will take in a lot of new concepts from this workshop, as well as learning how to create realistic character models. In short, it is certainly worth the money.