At the 11th hour of 2020 I set myself some goals for the coming year. As I’ve done for the past two years, I set myself 6 months of writing as a goal. But now that I’d been achieving a lot with my art and had been looking for a challenge I decided to put to myself a tough and SMART goal: do one 3D render every day in January.
Obviously I don’t want to go into this half-cocked, so some planning and preparation was necessary. I wrote myself a series of prompts and outlines that I stored in Google Keep so for every day I’d have something prepared. Especially since I was returning back to work I wanted to limit the amount of energy required to get into and do the work.
I also reorganised all of my assets by type and in descriptive folders so I’d be able to find or search for them easily. Lastly I set up a new folder naming structure and a local Hugo site to manage the ideas, executions, and interlinkings between them.
Unfortunately on the 5th of January I fell very sick with some sort of cold/flu and on the 7th I first failed to do a render. I got myself tested early for COVID-19 which came back negative, although I expected as much as my state has been 9 months without community transmission. However it doesn’t change the fact that I was pretty out of action (fatigued, sore muscles/skin/brain/throat, delirious) and even though I was taking sick leave I had no capability to focus and do 3D rendering.
I managed another render on the 8th of January, but since then I’ve fallen into disarray, and now officially I’m deciding to pull the goal. Although I wasn’t successful, I don’t necessarily consider this a failure, for reasons I’ll outline below.
I’m still relatively new at this 3D rendering stuff, I’ve only been doing it for about 6 months and that’s while also working full time and keeping up with other hobbies and interests. As much as I’ve created cool stuff, I don’t think I’m ready to commit to something as intense as a daily render, especially not for an extended period of time. I’ve narrowed the reasoning down to a few main points.
Aiming to push out a quality render, especially after a full 8 hour work day including 2hrs of travel as well as groceries, cooking, etc is a lot to ask. It’s multiple hours of envisioning a scene, finding and setting objects, updating textures/materials/shapes, setting up lighting, and then a long process of minute adjustments till it’s set. This can easily eat up hours - some of my works have taken 12+ hours to get right. So already I’m spending a lot of time distracted during the day thinking about how to set my shot and my models, what sort of lighting and what compositing to do. Overall I don’t want that distraction from my daily life; for now I want my 3D rendering to be something fun that I look forward to.
While some of the daily renders turned out pretty rad IMHO the overall quality per piece started to decline. With a mixture of limited time to work on it, not a lot of time to scour for new objects or modify things to perfectly suit purpose, I felt that the finished products started looking more plain and sometimes garish. I didn’t feel wow’d by my work or super proud of it. In some cases I had to just pull up and submit something average because fixing it would have taken way longer than I was willing to with all my other life commitments. Remember: this is just a hobby for me.
To reiterate: I’ve only been learning this for 6 months, and I think maybe that’s too early in my art journey to commit to doing daily renders. Not ruling it out again sometime down the track. But for now, let’s focus on upping my skill. Thinking over it, there’s probably a lot of stuff I can branch into and work on getting better at before I decide to focus on daily work.
So for 2021, some areas that definitely need improvement:
- Nature scenes (grass/bushes/trees)
- Blending genres
- Compositing and post-processing