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Completely new to Carrara and 3D, Badly Need “Where To Start” Advice
Posted: 27 July 2012 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi everyone,

I’m as new to 3D as one can get, and have chosen Carrara to enter into the world of 3D.  I’m really excited to learn this product - I can recognize a totally fun app when I see one!  And who knows - it might just end up being my permanent home if I can master it well enough.  I have, after all, seen some pretty darned surprising results from it’s built-in renderer.


My problem is that I’m having a problem finding complete and embarrassingly simple “New User” documentation in getting started with all of this.  This seems to be the only 3D app on the market that suffers from a completely scattered realm of documentation.


Where on earth do I start?  And doing what?  I need my hand held in the most serious way, as I’m a ground-zero beginner.  I have done nothing but read articles and web sites about 3D in general - no experience with 3D whatsoever.  I’m a good sketch artist, but that’s it (which is why I’m interested in 3D - I’m a lousy artist beyond sketch).  I barely know my way around Photoshop.  I’m motivated and excited about Carrara, but that’s all I have going for me at this point.  I’ve stumbled through a couple of test renders of the sample scenes that come with the product, and have had some fun watching that work, but I have accomplished absolutely nothing so far and hav eno idea how.


I have purchased the “Learning Carrara 8” tutorial set from InfiniteSkills, so I have that going for me, but even those are fairly fast-paced and seemingly somewhat out of order in which to learn the ground-level topics (you’re taught about rendering before being taught about working with primitives and animating…?).  I know these are very valuable in terms of learning the ropes, and I currently consider it the best place to start until shown otherwise.


I’m really not interested in working with other DAZ3D products/content at this time, just modeling my own stuff and animating them in Carrara for now (vehicles, logos, objects, simple stuff to start).


So, can someone steer me to the most complete, proper-order, “know nothing about 3D at all” documentation that exists for this product to get me off and running?


I consider everyone in here a total guru at this point, and I truly appreciate anyone who can point me in the right direction to help me hit the ground running if that’s at all possible.  If it is possible in the 3D world, it will certainly be through Carrara.


Mucho thanko!


BobH

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Posted: 27 July 2012 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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while you are here, grab Hexagon (and Daz studio 4pro and Bryce) while still free.
even if you only wish to model your own stuff they are handy apps to have.
Richardchaos who frequently posts on this forum and models and rigs everything himself (no Daz dollies for him!!)
swears by Hexagon for modelling and Carrara for rigging and rendering.
I cannot help much being more of a premade content user and vertex room tweaker
(I do animations but adjust premade stuff for my needs rather than make it from scratch)
there ARE plenty of modellers on this forum though as well as the content buyers and Posers!
some might drop in and say hi!

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Posted: 27 July 2012 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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There are all kinds of video demos on the www.carraracafe.com web site. Have fun searching through the list.

This site is also a great place to ask Carrara experts to answer more of your questions.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I really recommend the Carrara 5 Pro Handbook :

http://www.amazon.com/Carrara-5-Pro-Handbook-Graphics/dp/1584504633/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343410609&sr=1-1&keywords=carrara+5

Then back it up with Phil W’s carrara 8 training videos.

I’m like you - I really need clear and good instruction to get anywhere.

HTH

Tyler

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Posted: 27 July 2012 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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tyler zambori - 27 July 2012 11:38 AM

I really recommend the Carrara 5 Pro Handbook ...


Is there such a minor difference in version numbers that I can revert back to books/documentation for Carrara 5 and it would apply to Carrara 8?

 

I’m kind of spooked that I would be able to say “yikes” and it would be relevant…

 

 

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Posted: 27 July 2012 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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wendy♥catz - 27 July 2012 11:28 AM

while you are here, grab Hexagon (and Daz studio 4pro and Bryce) while still free.
even if you only wish to model your own stuff they are handy apps to have.
Richardchaos who frequently posts on this forum and models and rigs everything himself (no Daz dollies for him!!)
swears by Hexagon for modelling and Carrara for rigging and rendering.
I cannot help much being more of a premade content user and vertex room tweaker
(I do animations but adjust premade stuff for my needs rather than make it from scratch)
there ARE plenty of modellers on this forum though as well as the content buyers and Posers!
some might drop in and say hi!


I have grabbed those programs but have no clue what to do with them.  Grabbed Bryce as well, knowing that I will ultimately need scenery in a lot of the work I aspire to do.


I am REALLY thankful all this DAZ3D stuff exists, really cool - even though I’m intimidated by it all at this point.

 

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Posted: 27 July 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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bobh - 27 July 2012 11:41 AM
tyler zambori - 27 July 2012 11:38 AM

I really recommend the Carrara 5 Pro Handbook ...


Is there such a minor difference in version numbers that I can revert back to books/documentation for Carrara 5 and it would apply to Carrara 8?

 

I’m kind of spooked that I would be able to say “yikes” and it would be relevant…

 

The principles remain sound and there weren’t many changes needed to the basic functionality through each stage. The book won’t tell you about added features but it will give a solid grounding so that you can understand them when you need them.

(It’s kind of like learning to drive; you only need to learn on one car to get an idea of how to operate all of them)

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Posted: 27 July 2012 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think you’ve made the right choice with Carrara.  I started many years ago using a lot of 3d programs, and have settled on Carrara as the best compromise.  The tutorials you purchased are pretty good, so if you stick with them they should ... eventually ... show you the way.

There are almost 900 videos on YouTube resulting from a search on “Carrara Tutorials”, so you might find something that appeals to your way of thinking.

The best thing about Carrara to me is the direct support of Poser type content, i.e. it loads directly, no “import” required.  In addition to Carrara’s built-in manipulation tools (move, rotate, etc.), all the Poser style manipulation “dials” are available, so you can use the content right off the bat.  So find some free or cheap DAZ Poser content that you like, install it to a folder so the “Runtime” shows as a subfolder, then in Carrara go to the Browser’s “Content” tab and select “Add Folder” on the right hand side.  Navigate to the Poser content folder and it will be added to the list on the left side.  Drag the Poser element (figure, prop, whatever) into the scene and start playing with it. 

I prefer this kind of learning to tutorials, but I’ve been doing this a long time, may not work for everybody.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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bobh - 27 July 2012 11:01 AM

I’m really not interested in working with other DAZ3D products/content at this time, just modeling my own stuff and animating them in Carrara for now (vehicles, logos, objects, simple stuff to start).


So, can someone steer me to the most complete, proper-order, “know nothing about 3D at all” documentation that exists for this product to get me off and running?


I consider everyone in here a total guru at this point, and I truly appreciate anyone who can point me in the right direction to help me hit the ground running if that’s at all possible.  If it is possible in the 3D world, it will certainly be through Carrara.

Hi Bob. I floundered around in Carrara for a while too… Some things made sense, others were a total mystery.
I bought the Carrara5 Handbook. Some chapters were rather obvious and I skipped over them, but other chapters filled in many of the blanks. http://www.amazon.com/Carrara-5-Pro-Handbook-Graphics/dp/1584504633


The actual Carrara Manual use to be supplied as a book and it was actually a great reference. Once you knew a tool exists the manual usually provides a few crucial explanations as to how the tool works. I’m not saying “Go read the manual” unless you want to fall asleep, but I’ve heard some people still have it printed out from the pdf at a local printshop and they say it is well worth the money to have a physical copy.


Carrara’s original philosophy was to make 3D “fun” and “hands on”, so it tried to have a friendly interface that is mostly based on Drag-and-Drop (a byproduct of that new fangled “mouse” that PCs all seem to have these days, er, well, it was exciting and revolutionary a decade ago…). It’s not a term we hear any more, but a HUGE amount of Carrara’s interface is Drag-and-Drop or meant to be clicked on and manipulated with the mouse…. So much so that if you are using a touchpad on a laptop you will likely get fingercramps, and if you are not in love with your mouse you will physically have a lousy time in Carrara (I prefer to use a trackball). Other programs like Blender rely on fast keys to complete certain tasks…, Carara can program fast keys too but for the most part, the whole interface is meant to be clicked on and dragged around - along with the standard control keys: SHIFT, OPTION, CONTROL, etc… When you get stuck, or want to figure out a tool, dig right in and start clicking and dragging. Change the tool’s settings (usually listed in the tabs on the right) and then click+drag some more….


More recent additions don’t always adhere to this design sense, and to be honest there may not always be a way to make an interface be “fun” to click on…. Whatever the reason Carrara has a great many Number Fields where you are expected to type in a number even though you have no reference as to what the number actually DOES, or what the RANGE of numbers should be…. Carrara tends to use numbers that range from 0 to 100, except the whole program pushes you to inches and feet, and the Poser content generally ranges from -1 to +1…. Angles (and colors) are usually listed in degrees, but again this can be from 0 to 360, or from -180 to +180…. Sometimes it’s all an order of magnitude where a change of 10 is HUGE, and the real control is in the decimal range 0.10…. It’s all inconsistent, and worse there are never any indicators to suggest what kind of number range you are dealing with…. I suggest when entering random numbers to see what a number field does TRY TO START WITH VERY SMALL NUMBERS and work your way up. The reason is that very large numbers often mean more calculations, which will slow down Carrara possibly even putting it into an unresponsive tailspin while it attempts to calculate your instructions….


The trick to getting the most out of Carrara’s renderer, is in how you use the lights and shaders. You don’t get *better* pictures by cranking up the accuracy settings in Carrara’s render room, instead you get massively longer render times. Lighting and shading are whole topics unto themselves, but they make or break your image. It’s either “Art” or “Academic” because of the lights and shaders, in my opinion…. Usually newbies go straight to the Render Room and start cranking up all the settings, but that won’t make better images. The analogy is buying an expensive camera and putting all the settings at full manual—that doesn’t actually get you better photographs. The real meat of Carrara’s renderer is the shader tree, so spend a lot of time there “playing” with no real goal other than “to see”.... Look at your same shaders under different lights too, because they change substantially. In Carrara there is no such thing as a “perfect” shader that works under all conditions. You can almost always tweak shaders under different lights to bring out new things…. It’s really a matter of taste, so the better you understand these systems the better your renders will look.


Carrara is an art tool (like a paintbrush), not a science tool, so just because something works a certain way in real life (light breaking into a prism in a drop of water) doesn’t mean Carrara will do it, or do it efficiently. Being an “art tool” means it’s easier to just understand how shaders and light control Color and Saturation and Brightness so you can add or subtract shader values (or lights) as necessary…. If you attempt to show Carrara an encyclopedia on science and physics it just won’t care… It’s normal to “cheat” in Carrara to get the effect you want (that’s old-school 3D).... Parent a spotlight to a character’s face so their eyes always reflect highlights, use hdri because they look cool not because they are “accurate”. Avoid using time-consuming Global Illumination if you can do it with multiple conventional lights instead…. etc. Remember Carrara has been around for a LONG time making lovely images and animations on very slow computers, this is one of it’s STRENGTHS, not a weakness. There’s almost always a number of ways to skin a cat… I know this sounds abstract, but I’m trying to say don’t get too caught up in tech dogma, and listen to Carrara - when “she” does something very fast it’s because it’s easy for her, when she does something slow, she doesn’t like it so much… Let that feedback guide you as much as your eye.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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holly wetcircuit - 27 July 2012 12:42 PM
bobh - 27 July 2012 11:01 AM

I’m really not interested in working with other DAZ3D products/content at this time, just modeling my own stuff and animating them in Carrara for now (vehicles, logos, objects, simple stuff to start).


So, can someone steer me to the most complete, proper-order, “know nothing about 3D at all” documentation that exists for this product to get me off and running?


I consider everyone in here a total guru at this point, and I truly appreciate anyone who can point me in the right direction to help me hit the ground running if that’s at all possible.  If it is possible in the 3D world, it will certainly be through Carrara.

 

Hi Bob. I floundered around in Carrara for a while too… Some things made sense, others were a total mystery. ...... Let that feedback guide you as much as your eye.


This is a wonderful post, thanks for this insight.  It helps much.  I’ll probably read over that 2 or 3 more times, excellent information.  Also major thanks to the previouis posters as well, I’m reading every word in “desperate enthusiasm”.  Heh


“Usually newbies go straight to the Render Room and start cranking up all the settings, but that won’t make better images (it makes longer renders).”


Hahahahaha - that’s EXACTLY what I’ve been doing, and you’re totally right!


Largely what I’m looking for is really “where do I start”, and “what proper order do I learn things”?


I know this can probably vary about as much as there is sand on the seashore.  grin

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Posted: 27 July 2012 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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start here http://www.youtube.com/user/cripeman/videos cool smile

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Posted: 27 July 2012 02:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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wendy♥catz - 27 July 2012 01:44 PM

start here http://www.youtube.com/user/cripeman/videos cool smile


I’ve heard multiple mentions of these vidoes, I’ll certainly be pouring over them.  Thanks for the link, I’ll consider this an official starting point (paired up with the Infinit Skills video set).


And for any reading this forum, I certainly appreciate any continued advice and tips that anybody feels compelled to send to a total Carrara newbie.  It’s REALLY appreciated, and boy do I need it.


Keep it comin’!  grin


BTW:  I live in Layton Utah, about 45 minutes north of Draper, where DAZ3D is based.  Might stop in some time just to see if they give tours or anything like that.  That would be kinda fun.  grin

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Posted: 27 July 2012 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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As a Carrara rookie, thanks for all the tips and hints.

I am starting with the main documentation page, bookmarked it and started with the installation guide.
Then there is a Quick start guide, then there is the Carrara 7 manual.

Then maybe I will go for the amazon, YouTube, philw tutorials, but starting with what is included and free.

http://docs.daz3d.com/doku.php/artzone/pub/software/carrara/start

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Posted: 27 July 2012 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Here are some real basics:

- Determine what you want to do as a final result. Print a picture? save for web? do an animation? What quality? etc
- Sketch (on paper is better but in your mind is OK) of the view(s) you want.
- Determine if you are going to use preset/prefab objects or make your own or combination. Same for textures/materials
- Start a new scene (use correct size to match object sizes)
- make any objects you need to create, save them (not needed if you are not making any objects)
- start a new scene for the end result setup
- Insert, arrange objects, set camera view(s), setup lighting; do several test renders to see if you are getting a result similar to what you want
- Setup textures, more test renders until it looks just right
- do a final quality render and save both rendered image and .car file

This could take minutes or days or weeks depending on the complexity of scene

Most importantly, explore, try, play…start simple and add complexity as you feel more confident.

See pre-made objects before you make your own; to see how objects are put together.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions; we all started at zero.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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For what its worth !!
You sound like me 4 years ago !  Descovering 3D was (is) mind boggling. I did buy Carrara early on (version 6) but like you hadn’t a clue where to start and over time looked at other applications ( to see if they were any easier) dah! What a waste of time ! I mean “Maya” ? Ok so its brialliant (maybe) but I couldnt afford it anyway ha ha!

Like many I ended up really appreciating what great program Carrara really is. It may be weak in some areas but all round (at the money its a bargain)
youve got Modelling, Dynamics , Physics, Fur/hair, Animation, A great shader function, Terraine and plant creation, Skies and clouds,Particles and probably the best interface of all ( At least Carrara lovers think so)

Remember each skill can be developed by you to “specialist” stage so think about where to focus. I mean if you like to create fantastic buildings with the modeller you probably dont need to know much about “Particles” or if you like animation you probably dont need to know much about modelling.Decide on your area of interest and learn those skills first. Of course ther is overlap EDIT just reread your post and see you have defined your interest -

Appreciation will come by learning what it can do and how to do it, the latter being never ending because in many ways results are dynamic and depend on the settings you use. Knowing which and what work for you comes with experience and the help of the forum.

There are also very useful plugins available to expand capablity - some free and some paid for. Find references to them at the Carra Cafe
http://carraracafe.com/?p=1132

My humble advice therefore is - stay with Carrara and learn as much as you can. USE the manual it is a great resource. I have mine printed though I wish Daz would issue an uptodate one.

Watch as many videos as you can find.

The VTC ones by Mark Bremmer for Carrara7pro are excellent and even if you already have infinite skills I’d still recommend the VTC if you can afford them as Mark is very good at explaining.
  http://www.vtc.com/products/Carrara-7-Pro-Tutorials.htm

For 3d Modelling
its worth watching these hexagon ones (downloadable) - they used to be free but now author is asking $ 20 donation.(The site has changed considerably since I got my videos)

http://www.ezbrush.mediabakers.com/fullscreen/EZ-HexVids.html

However here is another site with good free online tutorials http://www.geekatplay.com/hexagontutorials/

Good detailed instruction on how to use the tools - so what you learn here can mostly be applied to Carrara - Remember if you decide to actually model in Hexagon there is a handy export function that opens it in Carrara for you.

Watching Video tutorials for other 3D apps can be helpful as sometimes its useful to see what other programs are doing and can give you inspiration -like ” I wonder if i can or how do I do that in Carrara”. But beware of confusing yourself .

Good Luck

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Posted: 28 July 2012 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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What I did was pick an area where I wanted to start learning, and once I considered myself fairly fluent in that area I picked another. I didn’t strictly limit myself to what I was practicing because there is overlap sometimes. Let’s face it, if you’re working on lighting, you need something to light.


The other thing to do is start loading some of the presets in your scene. Some are pretty crappy, but there are a few hidden gems. The idea is to pick them apart to see how they’re built, how the shaders are made, etc. The same goes for the pre-canned scenes.


There’s many areas to learn and many functions that you can experiment with.

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