Do Ability

Leveling Up


The number 1 biggest mistake that students make is biting off more than they can handle.

So this class is about planning for projects that are doable.

Here’s 3 of my private student reels who scored jobs recently. None of these guys have created a full lip sync character piece with a character they’ve modelled themselves.

Halil Mehmet


Asim Saeed


Sam Tull



The trick in 3d is to impress without smashing yourself over the rocks. Understand concepts to a good level before moving on. Otherwise we’ll end up trying to juggle too many balls without moving forward on a strong learning path.

Errors students make

1. Comparing themselves to other students rather than professionals
2. Wanting to make a film and become an animation director
3. Tackling subject matter that is too hard for their level of ability. Realistic humans, fur, cloth etc.
4. Burning out
5. Getting stuck on fun stuff like sculpting, or quick models and never really perfecting anything, or diversifying a skill set into lighting rigging animation etc.
6. Becoming extremely bored of long projects and as a result not finishing anything.


Here’s a short film I made with 2 other students back when I was in 3rd year 1st semester. This is a very common sort of animation, starts off ok then nose dives into nothingness.

Mex Failed Short Film


Almost 5 years after we started 3d, Dave and I made Cane-Toad. By this stage I’d built and rigged about 30 characters. I had attempted 4 short films and had been paid to make 2 failed cut scenes each consisting of about 6 months worth of full time paid work. We’d worked 2 years professionally by the time we made this.

Point is 3d is a marathon not a sprint. Each element is relatively simple to master in isolation and given time. In total it becomes very overwhelming very quickly.

Cane-Toad Short Film



1. Realism is hard. Pick characters that are simple and cartoony. No cloth folds, no realism. Try creatures not close to humans, reptiles are good because their textures can be created relatively simply. Monsters are easier than humans. Caricature the hell out of models to the extreme.
2. Skinny characters are easy to skin.
3. Simplify. It’s easy to fall into the trap of adding more detail to make a model look better rather than trying to think of ways to simplify.
4. Stay away from detailed textures. We can do detailed textures one day but leave that for later.
5. Short and sweet. The shorter the piece the better. 1 shot one character. 10 seconds max. Avoid scenery or backgrounds unless you choose a project with scenery and no character. Not for this class!
6. Focus. Do one project at a time. Put your priorities in the project you want to do most. Let other projects go/slide etc, do what you need to do to pass uni, have a life etc. Focus on only one project at a time.
7. If you want to cruise pick something very easy. Try characters with few limbs, or just a head etc.

Here’s the runner up from the World CGI Student Awards. See how she focused and put her attention into something doable and then she polished and nailed the crap out of it. The last 10% of work is worth more than 50% of the effort. She will get a job just about anywhere in the world.

Simplify and nail the crap out of your projects. Good luck!




Andrew Silke

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