The Steeper the Learning Curve the Quicker You Can Get to Work
When learning new software or techniques, you'll often hear that a particular application has a steep learning curve. Usually when this is said, the implication is that the program is more difficult to learn and will require more effort to get to a productive place. However, when learning a new software, a steep learning curve means that you'll get up to speed on that application as quickly as possible. With our training, we try to help give you that boost, but here are some other ways that you can quickly get up to a productive level.
Apply Existing Knowledge
If you have experience with other applications or similar disciplines, this knowledge can give you a head start when learning a new application. You'll already be aware of many of the overall concepts and workflows, and you'll have an idea of the kinds of tasks you'd be able to do. Then you can seek out the appropriate tools and you'll know what questions to ask when something doesn't work as expected. It's also helpful to make a list of the things you do most, so you can have a game plan for the things you need to learn first.
Jump in with Both Feet
Try working a small project all the way through. Don't get bogged down in every detail of the interface right away, but take a project with a very focused scope all the way to completion. This will allow you to quickly see how the application works.
You'll not only feel successful more quickly, but you'll be able to identify areas where you need to focus. These could be tools that didn't work as you thought or workflows that require a very specific sequence of actions.
Focus on Difficult Areas
Now you should have a good idea of those particular areas that are giving you problems. It could be a particular workflow that just isn't clicking with you or maybe a particular tool is not behaving as you expected. With your project out of the way, start to focus on specific areas. Research the tools and begin to do some experimentation. Make small changes as you proceed so you can narrow down the exact recipe that will get you to your desired result.
Look it Up
Any time you come across something you don't understand, make a note of it. Then you can either research it immediately, or come back later and go through your list. Start with the documentation to research specific tool settings. You can learn more about this step in the 8 Tips for Mastering a New 3D Application in The Shortest Amount of Time.
You can also check out lessons devoted to a particular tool or technique. Try adding a playlist filled with relevant lessons.
Ask For Help
You can also search forums for topics relating to your issue. If you're having difficulty getting something to work, it's a good bet that others are having or have had the same issue in the past. Search for the solutions others have come up with or ask questions yourself. The 3D community loves to help one another, and when you figure out the solution, you'll be able to pass it along, helping someone else in the process.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you're learning something new, there's no substitute for just doing it over and over. You'll continue to come across problems but you'll also increasingly find quicker and more efficient ways of doing things. You'll find shortcuts and you'll avoid pitfalls as you get more and more proficient. Ideally you'll never stop learning, but you can help yourself out by trying to make your learning curve as steep as possible so you can spend more time being productive.
Make sure you keep these tips into consideration when you're tackling a new piece of software, whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist. You'll be able to learn the software in a shorter amount of time so you can start creating great work faster. If you have any questions or want to share your own method for learning new software, post them in the comments below!