Blender and the Art of Learning

In case you did not know, I play around with a 3d rendering software package called Blender. It is open-source and very powerful. Projects have used it to make short films that are amazing (I will link my two favorites at the end).

So, as I said, I play around with it. I am nowhere near capable enough to do it for a living, but it occupies me and keeps me out of trouble. And it is FUN. Even when it frustrates me. Much like any other skill or ability, there are recognized masters of their craft. Reynante Martinez is one of my favorites. Looking through his gallery, you can tell that this person does not fight the tools, he uses them at a level that enhances the expression of their creativity instead of hampering it (as happens with me when I realize that what I want is light-years away from what I am currently capable of).

Now, for anyone who has had occasion to talk to Mr. Martinez can testify, he is very supportive of others and their journeys to becoming skilled with the tools Blender provides. One piece of advice he offers frequently is to simply “Get in there and play with it.” This advice is reinforced by a significant number of successful professionals, and at least one sports equipment company (Just do it!). This implies that we already have the “right stuff” to become good with the tools, we simply need to learn how best to use them. This is a message worth repeating, and resonates with me on a personal level.

There are times, when working with someone on teaching them a skill or process, when you know they have decided that they are not capable of what they are being asked to do. That is when our role as teachers/coaches/mentors/parents is truly put to the test! At times like that, it is important for us to remember what it felt like to be in their position, and analyze what we can do to help them past their own self-doubts and move them towards the greatness we know they have within them!

As promised, hopefully to ignite your “I can do it” fire, are two of my favorite short features done with Blender. First, “Big Buck Bunny“. This is a short film about justice and the consequences of not being nice. The second is a short science fiction piece called “Tears of Steel“. When you watch both of these, please remember that these were not big studios that produced these, and think how amazing it is that these types of free tools are available to us.

(FYI, the image for this article uses two of the fantastic materials in Reynante’s Cycles Material Vault)