When ZBrush first became a big thing in the CG world, I remember learning it in class and thinking “This is cool but I don’t really need it.” So whenever the topic of this cool new software came up in conversation I would always repeat something along those lines. “ZBrush looks rad but I don’t really use it.” Over time, “I’m not a ZBrusher” kind of became an unconscious mantra for me. When it became clear that the ZBrush workflow was quickly becoming the industry standard, I started to get discouraged because I didn’t know how to use it like everyone else could. And while my mantra of “I’m not a ZBrusher” stayed the same, it’s meaning evolved from “I don’t use ZBrush” into “I can’t use ZBrush.” And so I just didn’t learn it and fell behind the rest of my peers. I hear a lot of students and alumni using similar self-limiting language.
“I’d like to get better at animation but I’m more of a modeler.”
“I’m not good at making characters so I just stick to props.”
Uh, no. You’re not good at characters BECAUSE you just stick to props. What I’m hearing is that you tried it once, and it was hard, and your first character sucked, so you gave up. If you make more characters you will be able to make good characters. If you want to make good animations, make crappy animations. If you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad at it first.
Another thing I hear a lot from alumni is “I should get back in to maya but…”
But what? You think you’ve been out of the loop so long that you don’t identify as a CG artist anymore? What you’re saying is you have to have to BE an animator before you can animate. But that’s backwards. There’s nothing special about being an animator. An animator is just someone who animates. A runner is just someone who runs. A weightlifter is just someone who lifts weights. You see what I’m saying? People have this strange idea that they have to be bestowed with some nebulous, undefined, mystical status of CG ARTIST™ before they can make CG art. But that’s nonsense. All you have to do to be who you want to be, is to do what you want to do.
“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago”
– Alan Watts
If you repeat something enough times, your words become your attitude and your attitude becomes your identity. That goes for positive mantras as well as self-defeating ones. There’s really no secret to getting good at whatever it is you want to be good at. You just have to stop doing other things and start doing that thing.