If you missed the first article in this series where I introduce Mastery and explain the basis components, click back through here to read it now. I can wait.
To begin our quest we’re going to take a closer look at what I mean by ‘Ease of Use’ as it pertains to various stages in the 3D Art pipeline.
The simplest definition I can give you for this is how easy it is for someone to take your work and move on to the next stage of the process.
For example, how easy is it for someone to take your model and unwrap it for texturing? Or rig it for animation?
The goal when fulfilling this pillar of mastery is to make it as easy as possible. It is part of your job, from right this second, to make everyone else’s job easier (even if ‘everyone else’ is translated as ‘your job when you go to the next stage’).
Why Is It Important
It’s obvious why this is important in a production setting. People will like working with you more when you’re actively avoiding making their job harder. Production time can speed up instead of each person having to ‘fix’ things so that they can be integrated properly. Another nice side effect of no one having to ‘fix’ things is that everyone is only doing the work they’re fantastic at, meaning less stress for all involved.
These same things are important when you’re working on your own projects. Not having to ‘fix’ things later speeds you up, means you can focus on doing your best at each part, and there’s less internal trash talk going on when you find an error (because there aren’t as many, if any).
Finally, if you’re selling models or any other components then having a clean version that’s a joy to use can only help with customer satisfaction, sales, and income.
Basic Overview on How to Achieve
We’re not going to get too bogged down in exactly how to do this right now (this is an article, not an e-novel) but here are a few steps that will set you on the right track.
1. Allow extra time in your schedule.
This step alone will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. It’s going to take you some time initially to make the changes needed, simply because you’re not used to thinking about them. By setting aside some scheduled time specifically for the purpose of improving the quality of your output and making things simpler for others you’re reinforcing it as a priority in your own eyes. Which means its more likely to actually be acted upon.
Over time this step will become less crucial and you’ll start building it into the entire process, however for now its the most important thing you can do.
2. Think ahead
If you’ve ever attended a class in 3D art (or animation) you’ll be aware of the work that happens in the rest of the pipeline, even if you’re a specialist. And even if you haven’t you’ve probably worked in situations where you’ve had to think of it, or read an article on the subject – it’s hard to be in this industry without having some idea of what’s going on around you.
Because of this, you already have the basics for thinking ahead and examining what would make the next few stages of production easier.
In the time that you’ve set aside for improvements, think about these next stages and the people carrying them out. What would make life easier for them when using what you’ve produced?
It could be as simple as naming your objects and layers or as complex as re-working a section of a model to be fully quads. The point is to think about it and implement as much as you can in the time you’ve allotted yourself.
3. Review and Integrate
When you complete a model or piece do you ever think about it again?
The answer here should always be yes.
Spend a little time when you’re finished with each project to look it over and see where you can improve for next time. What did you do that made life easier? What mistakes cost you time and energy to fix? How can you make these changes earlier in the process?
In short, what do you need to change to be better next time? Figure it out, and add it to your plan. Follow through the next time you make something. Review again. Repeat forever.
In this article we’ve covered (on a very basic level) how to fulfil the ‘Ease of Use’ pillar in our Mastery definition. Obviously there’s much more to it than this and we’ll be looking closer at that in future articles.
As we move forward, remember that this is only one part of mastering 3D art and that you still have to create ‘Good’ pieces in addition to making them easy to use and infusing them with feeling. In the next article we’ll be looking at Emotion, arguably the more ‘visible’ pillar.
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