3-D Modeling and Virtual Design at the Institute 4 Creativity

3-D Modeling and Virtual Design at the Institute 4 Creativity
This page will be updated and edited frequently. This is the most current overview of our winter/spring 2014 3-D program and goals. We are starting our first class in January, 2014. If you would like to see a full list of our course offerings, or to register for these, or other classes at the Institute 4 Creativity, please visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Institute4Creativity) for more information, or email Nicholas Lake at 3dModelingClass@gmail.com

We are offering 3-D modeling classes for both youth and adult artists.

January, 2014
3-D Modeling and Virtual Design Club
(Beginning Blender Class) Participants will enjoy a “club” atmosphere while learning the basics of 3-D digital modeling and design. You will learn to use Blender, a free open-source software, to create 3-D virtual objects and environments useful for video animation, video games, still images, as well as 3-D printing. Projects will include a group collaboration to create a virtual world! No programming or coding knowledge necessary for this class. Students must provide their own laptop with Blender installed.

Youth Classes: Wednesdays (January 15 – March 12, 2014), 3:30-5:00 pm, $75.00
Ages 13-17

Adult Classes: Wednesdays (January 15 – March 12, 2014), 6:00-7:30 pm, $85.00
Ages 18 and Older

Syllabus / Itinerary
Class One: What is an object model, and what can we do with it? What are the practical uses for these things which we are creating? What kinds of artwork can we achieve with Blender? Basic overview of Objects, and Scenery.

Classes One and Two: The most basic methods of model creation, and a quick overview of how to make an animated video (dope sheets, and rendering videos). Object and edit mode, appending objects, brief introduction to lighting, still image production, and video.

Class Two/Three: The basics of materials tab, textures, and colors.

Class Four: Overview of the blender game engine and physics (now that we have some models to play with, what else can we plan to do with them?) Make a car drive, and a plane / spaceship fly.

Class Five: Armatures– make a simple humanoid avatar, animate it with the use of the IK tool. Intro to recorded movements, motions, and gestures.

Class Six: More on animating your avatar: tips, tricks, advanced tools, applications.

Class Seven:Advanced effects. I’m leaving the last two weeks open, so that the students may determine what they want to learn. Blender is a bottomless pit of functionality, and there are enough tools to teach a new class every week of the year. Officially, these last classes are penciled in as “work days” with a demonstration of new information each week (TBA), and a discussion of project-specific issues that have cropped up. This will largely be a time where the students can gather to work, engage in trouble shooting, and consult each other on their projects.

Class Eight:Advanced effects, overview of Advanced Blender Class at the Institute 4 Creativity. (TBA)

March 2014
Advanced Blender Club at the Institute 4 Creativity officially begins. Once the students have demonstrated a baseline of skills and understanding with Blender (and other related software), they may choose to join the Advanced Class. Together, we will continue to polish our artistic skills. In addition, we would like to begin to create products and explore any and all marketing strategies that we can identify. This will be an ongoing “club / guild / society / school” devoted to the perfection of our models, improving our technical and artistic skills as a group, and finding practical / creative applications for the things we produce.

Small Business Laboratory
The biggest goal of this club is to launch a functioning 3-D modeling business by the start of summer, 2014. This seems to be the most practical opportunity for the students to “learn by doing.” Simply put, we will attempt to market our blender skills and products. Optionally, the club members may choose to make their own team, and pursue their own projects entirely separate of what is going on at the I4C. This club is a way to network with other local 3-D modeling artists, and to learn from each other in an art studio setting.

This club is best described as an “independent study” / “study group” dedicated to improving our artistic skills, gaining marketable vocational skills, and even practical job experience, if you so desire. We will facilitate your creative needs by providing a creative community, and a forum to display your work. Members will be able to choose how they wish hone their skills. Our studio space is an ideal place to meet and conduct a dialogue with other club members, and creative people in the local community. The sky is the limit for what we can achieve together. This is the ground floor where you, the aspiring artist, are encouraged to assume the responsibility for your self-education, and professional development.

Summer 2014 and Beyond…
Ideally, by summer 2014, we’ll have several Blender artists who are qualified to run seminars and related classes of their own. Other club member options would be to take a greater role in helping market our products, or defining a different role for themselves. Naturally, a member may simply continue building their artistic skills with no deeper involvement required.

Blender software is complex, with many areas in which to specialize. The goals of the Blender club are broad enough that there are many niches that a club member might choose to occupy. For instance, we are seeking a formally trained 3-D imaging specialist to help guide our advanced students. We also need a serious coder or two who are willing to share what they know, and commit time to making some portion of this project get off the ground. Other roles exist for the right person to come along and define it for themselves. That person may be a specialist in web design. Another person might become the resident expert in video production, or audio mixing, or operating the game engine. Blender itself is so complicated that you might only master a small portion of it, and become the go-to person for guidance in your specific area. If you ever wanted to be a 3-D modeling guru, or if you ever wanted a chance to launch your digital dreams, then this is a great place to begin your journey.

March 2014:Beginning Blender Classes will start again, with a fresh crop of new artists who are interested in learning about 3-D design software. Anyone enrolled in the Advanced Blender Class may attend any of these classes for a “free refresher course.” Late registration is available with permission of the instructor.

What’s in it for the 3-D Modeling Club members?
Personalized instruction, Small Classes, Self-Guided projects
Beginner classes will be taught each week. These classes will cover “the basics” of how to get started with Blender. If a student is more advanced than the instruction provided, then they may simply use the time to pursue their own projects. All students are encouraged to share what they discover with the rest of the group. We will learn more from each other than what any single person can share. Thus, the teacher will serve as a guide for newcomers, until they are ready to engage the software on their own terms. Each week, we will cover a basic process, or “theme,” and the learners will determine for themselves how to employ the techniques in a way that feels natural to them. Students are greatly encouraged to share what they learn with the other class members.

Learning Tools, Tutorials, Examples, Free Models
The “textbook” issued to each “student/club member” is a disk with a variety of different lesson examples, and free models, as well as a file with a variety of links to online resources. These files will be updated regularly, and you will be given an updated disk upon completion of the beginning class. The teacher will provide instruction on how to put those files to their intended use. However, these are open-source materials, which 3-D artists may employ in any manner that suits them.

Job Experience
One important component of the 3-D Modeling Club is that it will function as a small business laboratory. The things we make are, at their essence, products with no significant material overhead, which can be marketed in myriad ways. We’re going to experiment with different ways to monetize our efforts. As such, the learners will gain invaluable business experience, and potentially a professional job reference. Ultimately, the students are encouraged to assume responsibility in the club, and vital roles in the program as a whole. It really depends on each member’s personal interests and goals for themselves, and the program itself.

A Very Rare Educational Opportunity
If you ever complained that school is a pointless waste of time, then this is your chance to learn a skill, and apply it in the most practical way possible– the laboratory of the real-world. However, this program isn’t “all about you.” This is a team-learning environment. Our combined efforts to improve our artistry will determine the “grade” that we earn for ourselves. Learn a skill. Learn a lot about art. Learn to work with a team. Learn to run a small business. Learn what works and what doesn’t when the rubber hits the road. Make the most of it. Make this program, and yourself, world-class. It all starts here. It all starts today.

Networking and Synergistic Creative Learning
Where better to make contacts with other creative thinkers who are interested in 3-D graphics, and the wild world of digital imaging? This is an “artistic study group” involved in all aspects of the software– What better way to learn than with an informal group of interested people experimenting with what can be achieved with 3-D modeling software?

I’m just a kid (or, I’m just a beginner…)
Answer: We all start somewhere. We all learn at our own speed. There are “kids” who can play musical instruments on a level that makes adults blush. We all have a beginning point– where else would you start your journey? When else should you start learning 3-D modeling, if not today?

How long will it take for me to get proficient with 3-D modeling software?
Answer: That depends on how much effort per week you spend playing with the software. The only way to learn this stuff is by doing it. Several months of diligent effort will endow you with an enormous amount of knowledge and creative power. Frankly, the sky is the limit of what you can learn, and this knowledge has cross-over applications in many fields.

What if I’m already an advanced user of Blender?
Answer: Come anyway, and be a founding member of the 3-D Modeling Club. No need to wait until March– start today! You can help teach new artists. You can help the teacher learn new skills. You can be an example for the rest of us to follow. Share what you know, be helpful, make a niche for yourself. Impress us each week with your work. Be helpful. Be enthusiastic about what we can accomplish as a group. Everyone will benefit in a hundred ways. As we grow, you’ll grow with us.

Why Blender?
Answer: It is open source, and it is free. What we make in Blender can be exported to just about any other software package you can name. The I4C is, in essence, a bricks and mortar Wikipedia. As such, we celebrate open source learning. Blender is a natural fit with what we are trying to accomplish.

What about other software packages?
Answer: We’ll also be employing Gimp, and possibly Unity 4. I haven’t made any final decisions on what the best combination of software actually is. We’ll figure all of that out together. If you love something, make a case for it, and we’ll test your ideas.

I don’t know… Can my kid do this? (or, Can I do this?)
Answer: I learned the basics of blender from a 14-year-old. This software is as complicated as you’ll find, but the basic functions are quite accessible to the new user.

I’d rather pursue my own projects rather than take part in the small business laboratory component of this program…
Answer: That’s perfectly fine! This program is not about exploiting the students or club membership. We encourage you to find your own path forward in an independent manner. We encourage you to work with other members of the club on outside projects of your own definition. The “business” is basically a giant laboratory experiment. We want this educational program to be world-class. As such, we are offering practical, real-world experiences in building a company (which, may or may not succeed– we’ll only learn by doing it.) Where this “application” leads is anyone’s guess at this point. What you do within the club or outside of it is entirely up to you. We want you to be completely satisfied with your educational experience, and your creative development. You’re a 3-D artist now. How you market yourself is an important consideration that we will help you to address.

If I take a leading role in the club, will there be any money in it for me?
Answer: That’s so far in the future, I can’t say. I rather doubt it at this early point. I’m open to the idea, but that’s pretty far down the road. For now, consider yourself a student, an artist, and (maybe) an apprentice. The merits of the program itself will be your first pedigree. If we become insanely successful, then you will have a really impressive educational, and professional job reference. You’re entering a training ground. What you get out of your time here is entirely up to you. We can only be great through our combined efforts. If we are all great together, then you will be fully equipped to write your own ticket to the stars.

Mr. Lake, it kinda sounds like you’re trying to get rich…
Answer: I’m a teacher. I’m running a school. I measure my success by an entirely different set of standards. If I was in it for the money, then I’d be doing something else for a living. I’ve long since dedicated my life to art, to education, and serving my community. I want this program to be the best of its kind the world over. That’s my goal. This is a way for me to empower other people to pursue their own dreams through a practical, team-driven, self-educational experience. If the people of my community can learn the skills necessary to make their own dreams come true, then I will have succeeded magnificently in my professional life. You can’t buy satisfaction with money. If you aren’t doing what you love, then you’ll never feel rich.

What is the Institute 4 Creativity?
Answer: Well, this is a difficult question because no single word seems to encompass our mission. The I4C is a combination of different business models. We are a non-profit that facilitates creative and artistic endeavors through classes, seminars, clubs, and events.

We are an multi-disciplinary learning center. We have a loft in downtown Champaign, IL, with classrooms, studio space, an art gallery, musical performance space, and a workshop area. Essentially, we are a “school” in the classical sense– Probably, we are better understood as a guild of artists and creative thinkers. We believe that we can accomplish greater things by bringing people together to engage in the “act of doing” creativity. We seek to teach our “students” what they need to manifest their creative goals and desires.

Ultimately, we reject the contemporary dynamic of teacher/student, by approaching the act of creativity as equals. We provide a space where a dialogue is taking place between everyone who visits. The word “synergistic” is very important to us, because we believe that one experience informs the next, often in highly unpredictable ways. We are convinced that creativity is enhanced when the artist shares space, ideas, and skills training within an active community of creative people.

At a formal level, we teach vocational skills to help you manifest your creative desires. At an artistic level, and at an academic level, we provide a community space to create and display your work. On a philosophical level, we are seeking to improve the quality of our community by helping people find ways to achieve their goals. The I4C is really what the people choose to make of it.

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