In the last lesson, we talked about ways to get the most out of your education. Now, we'll continue by looking at how to keep learning throughout your career.
Once you've completed your coursework, and even if you've already landed your dream job, remember that learning never stops. Computer graphics technologies and trends are constantly evolving and growing. We have to be proactive in order to keep up with them and to maintain job security. A graduation merely marks the start of a new chapter – the next step – in a lifetime of learning.
Here are some things you can do to keep your skills sharp.
Figure things out as you go, based on project needs. There's nothing like the pressure of a deadline to force us to rise to the occasion and find a way to deliver. Keep pushing yourself to try new technologies and approaches, and embrace new challenges as learning opportunities.
Also, at a job, you have a great opportunity to learn from those around you. If none of your coworkers make computer graphics themselves, you can still learn from them by asking for their honest critiques. The vast majority of people who actually view and experience your work will not be computer graphics professionals. For this reason, you shouldn't rely solely on feedback from those working in your field.
Tutorials are a great way to continue your learning. They can offer both quick fixes to problems and comprehensive step-by-step training so you can grow your computer graphics capabilities. There are plenty of excellent free tutorials found on YouTube and Vimeo, as well as countless websites that publish their own content. There are also many paid options found on places like Skillshare, Udemy, Lynda, and Gnomon Workshop.
Tutorials are a great way to supplement learning, but like anything, the quality will vary. Even with the paid options. Over time you'll develop an intuition about which ones are good and which ones are not. As a starting point, you can look for tutorials that are made by teachers who engage with their audience, who have an impressive background and body of work, and whose videos are consistently highly rated and reviewed.
Personal projects are a very valuable and enjoyable way to continue to grow your abilities by creating something entirely on your own terms. In contrast to a project for work or a client, you can take a personal project in whatever direction you'd like.
In his interview on the CG Chatter Podcast, Senior Environment Artist Dana Loud talks about his "double-dipping" approach to personal work, where he tries to do projects that have other benefits beyond just the enjoyment of doing it. For example, doing a project as part of a contest, to share with an online community, or using a new piece of software to make it, so it becomes a learning opportunity. This approach can help keep you motivated and make it feel even more worth the investment of time and energy.
It's easy to work with a tutor online, and it provides an excellent opportunity to receive customized, one-on-one training and coaching from an expert. A good teacher will be able to structure lessons to address exactly the issues you are trying to solve and help you grow at your own pace.
If you do this through a site like TakeLessons or Wyzant, you've got the accountability of student reviews, background checks, a safe standard payment system, and consistently formatted profiles so you can easily compare teachers. You could also consider seeking out an artist you admire to see if they offer one-on-one tutoring.
Your task: If you're out of school, think of ways you can continue your education on your own. Continue to push yourself to try new techniques at work and seek out challenging projects. Keep an eye out for new tutorials that could help you grow your capabilities. Invest in yourself with high quality paid courses, whether in-person or online. Take on personal projects. And consider working with a tutor to accelerate your growth and learning.
In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to choose your computer graphics specialty.