PDA

View Full Version : Article: The Right Tool(s) for the Job



WilliamVaughan
10-19-2016, 06:06 AM
Over the years Ive noticed a trend in games centered around weapon customization. I find the weapon selection and customization in games to be similar to the massive number of tools that are now available to artists these days as well as the ability to customize the tools.

With all these options available today, where does one begin?

http://www.pixelfondue.com/blog/2016/10/16/the-right-tools-for-the-job

lardbros
10-19-2016, 06:33 AM
Nice article William, and also good to see you posting here still :)

Agree with all the points, and think many artists could just add other tools to their armoury, rather than get angry with a certain tool for not being perfect. :)

WilliamVaughan
10-19-2016, 06:34 AM
Nice article William, and also good to see you posting here still :)

Agree with all the points, and think many artists could just add other tools to their armoury, rather than get angry with a certain tool for not being perfect. :)


Thanks.

I think Steve White's quote in the article kind of nails it.

bazsa73
10-19-2016, 07:33 AM
You are the best thing William on these forums.

tischbein3
10-19-2016, 10:01 AM
Im not suggesting that everyone stuff as many tools in their toolkit as they can. Too often Ive seen artists spending a great deal of time hopping from one software package to another, hoping to find the golden software with the Make Good Art button. They lose a great deal of time on these quests that could have been spent on honing their skills. Im simply suggesting that one be open to the tools that are available and to not be limited to one piece of software or off the shelf software.

From my experience it's recommended trying to master _one_ program and cover all the basic knowledge before you should take other options into account.
I do think the best point to take other programs into consideration is,when you feel a certain amount of stagnation
(not to confused with the walls you hit during the learning process).

Because truth is, _all_ program out there do have a crap side, where the alternatives are lightyears ahead (Not to mention specialised programs like zBrush and 3DCoat), and parts where they do excell.

Also by looking at other software, don't just look at the features itself, in most cases its more important to look at the workflow they do provide with that feature. The unconvinient thruth is that all programs do have elemental design flaws for certain tasks, and to avoid a rewrite every two years, they just bolt on a feature as a compromise, just to be feature complete.

Also an important tip workflow wise: don't try to emulate the same workflow you have learned in your last application (trying to force the same workflow and keymaps you have learned before) !

start fresh... in the beginning this might feel like a set back, but in the end it helps get deeper into the program and its overall design.

WilliamVaughan
10-19-2016, 10:05 AM
From my experience it's recommended trying to master _one_ program and cover all the basic knowledge before you should take other options into account.
I do think the best point to take other programs into consideration is,when you feel a certain amount of stagnation
(not to confused with the walls you hit during the learning process).

Because truth is, _all_ program out there do have a crap side, where the alternatives are lightyears ahead (Not to mention specialised programs like zBrush and 3DCoat), and parts where they do excell.

Also by looking at other software, don't just look at the features itself, in most cases its more important to look at the workflow they do provide with that feature. The unconvinient thruth is that all programs do have elemental design flaws for certain tasks, and to avoid a rewrite every two years, they just bolt on a feature as a compromise, just to be feature complete.

Also an important tip workflow wise: don't try to emulate the same workflow you have learned in your last application (trying to force the same workflow and keymaps you have learned before) !

start fresh... in the beginning this might feel like a set back, but in the end it helps get deeper into the program and its overall design.



Some great advice here!

tischbein3
10-19-2016, 10:19 AM
so does your article :)

jeric_synergy
10-19-2016, 10:34 AM
It's good to know the weaknesses of programs so that you can design your workflow according: for example, it appears that Zbrush doesn't preserve weight maps at all (very surprising, no?), so obviously if weights are a part of your workflow you'd want to place your Zbrush work accordingly.

hrgiger
10-19-2016, 10:37 AM
Thanks.

I think Steve White's quote in the article kind of nails it.

Oh thats me. Thanks William :)

prometheus
10-19-2016, 11:02 AM
Krita has grown on me, free and offers some stuff that photoshop dont ..mirror painting, kaleidoscope painting, great brushes and some nice path options where you can clone any type of brush or even a particle paint brush.
And blender has also grown on me now when I finally managed to be a bit comfortable with the UI, or should I say I just understand it better and find the tools better, I dont even open up sculptris anymore since I consider the sculpting tools in blender a bit better generally, though sculptris may handle higher mesh detail better.

Prince Charming
10-19-2016, 11:32 AM
This time I agree... One thing I do want to mention though.
I think its important to master, and fully understand an art form before one goes using all kinds of different tools. I see lots of people who claim to use all these different tools, but then when I look at their work it could all have easily been done with one tool. As the saying goes..."jack of all trades, master of none". IMO, that is the only thing that people need to watch out for when buying many different tools.

samurai_x
10-19-2016, 09:17 PM
As the saying goes..."jack of all trades, master of none". IMO, that is the only thing that people need to watch out for when buying many different tools.


Agree 100%. The article is good. But tools needs to be chosen carefully.

People should watch the zbrush summit 2016.

You will see the best people there are not generalists. They are specialists.
And they take the work to another level. I personally try to minimize the tools I use. Its so easy to forget how to do things from app to app. Zbrush still irritates me sometimes. But its the best sculpting app out there.

Sande
10-19-2016, 10:28 PM
Good article. As a Jack of all trades - and definitely master of none - I partially, kind of, agree with previous posters, but would still advice broadening the skillset and tool selection when possible. Specialization has it's benefits (and risks), but knowing your way around the whole pipeline and all the relevant tools does give you more flexibility and better tools for problem solving.

Without even a hint of jealousy, I'd also say that Masters are often overrated. I love the fact that those people exist, set the bar for the rest of us and we can learn from them, but more often than not a job doesn't really need the Best one out there - people who can wear multiple hats can save your *** (and project) when the unexpected inevitably happens.

prometheus
10-20-2016, 06:13 AM
Yes..there is a danger in trying to test and learn all tools out there, it takes a lot of time doing so as well, so guides and advices is good to look out for.

Spinland
10-20-2016, 08:03 AM
This time I agree... One thing I do want to mention though.
I think its important to master, and fully understand an art form before one goes using all kinds of different tools. I see lots of people who claim to use all these different tools, but then when I look at their work it could all have easily been done with one tool. As the saying goes..."jack of all trades, master of none". IMO, that is the only thing that people need to watch out for when buying many different tools.

Fully agree. I sometimes get that "tool itch" where I contemplate buying some new toy for the coolness factor, but usually I can resist. When I add a new tool it's usually because I'm on a project and have run into something knotty that said tool can unravel quickly enough to make the cost pay for itself in time saved.

Dougster
10-26-2016, 03:15 PM
When I add a new tool it's usually because I'm on a project and have run into something knotty that said tool can unravel quickly enough to make the cost pay for itself in time saved.

It's an interesting balancing act, isn't it? How do you know if a tool will pay for itself? I think it's good to try to add new tools to the kit periodically, as long as they serve a different enough purpose from the tools one already has. When I find a new tool that I'm interested in, I put it on the want list and wait to see if it goes on sale. A couple times that has helped me choose which tool to buy. For example, I ended up with Vue instead of Terragen purely because Vue was on sale. I think either tool would have served my purposes, but getting one for about half the price of the other was the deciding factor for me. So far, it's done everything I need, so I don't regret using price as the primary metric. Of course, I actually didn't get around to using it for a couple months after I bought it, but then I had a sudden need and it was nice to be able to fire up that tool right on the spot.
:beerchug:

WilliamVaughan
10-26-2016, 07:15 PM
I just wanted to say that I love the conversation that this article started... I wish more talks like this would take place in this community. We need more of this imo.

bazsa73
10-27-2016, 12:33 AM
Let's choose tools carefully guys!

DarkLane
10-27-2016, 04:41 AM
I got a kick out of reading the article and can agree with so much of it. Id like to raise another aspect of our tools, and in particular software tools, that can make or break the way you make art, that is the company that makes them. When I go looking to use software that costs a lot of money, I look not only at the functionality but the reputation and ability of the company to support it. I think Ive made some decent choices for longevity as well as functionality but Ive also been burned as well leaving me with tools that work now but probably wont work in a few years time. The nature of software is the ability to be collaborative, not only with my operating system but with the other tools I choose and I need a company that will grow with me as I will support them. Now free scripts are great and I use a lot of them, but I expect them to break eventually and would never rely on them to create my art. They are the icing, the cake has to be rock solid.

Spinland
10-27-2016, 04:50 AM
It's an interesting balancing act, isn't it? How do you know if a tool will pay for itself?

That's the real trick, n'est-ce pas? ;D

When I put together a quote for a gig I take a lot of things into account, including expected tools acquisition and/or upgrades I think will be a necessary part of the job. The depth of the client's pockets determines whether I try to amortize that cost over multiple future (hoped-for) gigs or hit them with the whole hammer in one go. Unanticipated acquisitions after the fact can throw a real monkey wrench into my profit margin, O Yeah. :cursin:

Spinland
10-27-2016, 04:54 AM
I look not only at the functionality but the reputation and ability of the company to support it.

Definitely, and a great litmus test. On the other hand, at least for smaller stuff, I've picked up no few single-purpose tools from small vendors who have, indeed, fallen by the wayside. One trick I do to future-proof such toys is I keep an external USB boot drive around with a bootable Snow Leopard installation on it. Some of those unsupported utilities died when Apple got rid of Rosetta but all I need to is boot up one of my Macs into SL and voila. Definitely a smart move to focus on tools that will be supported for a long time but sometimes one just takes a leap of faith to get a nifty capability.

Dougster
10-27-2016, 03:52 PM
One trick I do to future-proof such toys is I keep an external USB boot drive around with a bootable Snow Leopard installation on it. Some of those unsupported utilities died when Apple got rid of Rosetta but all I need to is boot up one of my Macs into SL and voila.
Yeah, I'm with you there! I actually still have my G3 tower running OS 9 so that I can still use my Ensoniq PARIS rig. LOL! It's going to be a sad day in my house when that thing dies.

I always burn multiple DVDs of software installers along with any license files that go along with them, and I pretty much don't ever get rid of any computers just in case I need to boot an old one up again. I probably have 20 computers in the garage - Sun workstations, PC clones, several Macs. My heirs are going to have fun when I die...!

Julez4001
11-12-2016, 04:56 AM
I tell you what, if I were younger and only 1- 3 years of 3d CG experience, this article would be not joyful because i would have to spend literal years to go through a application as diverse as Lightwave or Maya or 3DSmax to determine its weakness. I have been using Lightwave since I was 18 years old back in 1993 so I have a real deep history of Lightwave and its areas of weakness. I have compensate those weakness over the years with learning other apps.

Messiah:Studio, because of other types of jobs and my new family, I really left this app between 2011 - 2015. But I was a early adopter from it's plugin days (1999) and this year have had 4 jobs that I am incorporated it back into my workflow. So much I am using it for my personal anime project. So LW's weakness of deformation slowness , expression IK, multiple characters dragging the system has been a huge reason for me to bring back M:S. I know that the app is now defunct in terms of development but what most people don't realize that M:S 's Character animation tools, speed were light years ahead and really a lot of apps haven't caught up to it yet. In fact, I use version 5 than I use version 6 because its even more rock solid on some of its tools. Its autorigger are enhanced with the sliders that actually works with the GUI and the presets for hands and various IK are speed boosters. Lightwave's multiple MDD importer makes interchange between the two apps painless, a tool I never used before. Genoma and Rhigg-it are nice but they still have to function within LW's inherit decades old problems.

Zbrush, I have been using since 2.0 but never added into my workflow because getting it back in LW effortless didn't exist however when Zremesher and DynaMesh release, it renewed my belief that I as a single person shop can use it as a tool. It not only rejuvenated me but now I can model organic characters faster and also in ways I never thought of. LW or Maya are actually slow and laborous. I haven't gotten into Zmodeler yet as I can't wrap my head around it.

3DCoat. I was a early adopter and bought it at the chep under $100 price. I use this pre-Zremesher when I was discourage by Zbrush. I have never used use the app for sculpting but the UV tools are second to none. Its a joy to UV map in this app and it retains the .lwo format was a bonus. I have recently start using the paint tools which are really nice. I paintned my robot in my film Chinny Chinn Chinn. Paint are good for hard surfaces better than Zbrush in my opinion.

I flirted with Modo early in its release with its UV tools and uber versions of LW's Modeler tools but its now a foreign app to me because it's so massive now.
As a unified app, I feel this is a huge reason why I love the 2 apps that LW have rebellious maintain. Don't get me wrong there is a lot to like about Modo and if I were a beginner might have taken to it with its modern look and feel.

I would love that Layout get Layout dynamic text tools, more geometry tools creation for front projection and camera matching but stay two apps.

The big tools that I really would like to have updated its a hair generator ( I miss Sasquatch, I use when I can) and more than anything an updated volumetric smoke and fluid solver.
I also use Turbulence FD (rather hired a guy) for my needs but would love that LW concentrate on upgrading Hypervoxels.

I have four monitors on main workstation at home.
I have Layout on one screen, Modeler on one, Zbrush on center with the Wacom tablet and Messiah:Studio. All with one button updates to layout!

That's a lot of power right there. A very efficient workflow and all the right tools for the job.
Lightwave 3D is a old beast but production proven.

Of course I use Adobe Cloud products : After Effects for putting it all together, Premiere for the edit, Audition for its sound tools, and undeniable Photoshop. However one can use the classic CS5 versions and be just as happy.

gerry_g
11-12-2016, 06:48 AM
I have a G4 solely to play classic Tomb Raider on and I keep one workstation running Snow Leopard which I still think is the best OS ever, though I do miss all the emoji in later OS's. ZBrush,Modo are great but you really do need to keep up with changes,not so much AE,Premier as subscription not innovation seems to be Adobes thing these days, whats missing from your list is PBR and the whole workflow that goes with it (thinking Substance here) Painters fine but Designer is a can of worms.