CG Cookie "Collaborations", Announcing #COLLAB2021


We're proud to announce a new learning format for CG Cookie Members simply called “Collaborations”. It's a learn-by-doing experience that facilitates a team of Citizens achieving a big Blender project together. It combines pre-recorded video learning, livestreams, and teamwork that's open to members of all skill levels. It developed by accident last year...

Origin Story Time

I wanted to demonstrate my process for modeling complex hardsurface models. The idea being that, as a big project, I could revisit the model periodically and it would gradually evolve into a final product. But after the first couple streams it was painfully obvious the model would take forever. Literally years. So the viewers and I talked about it, casually opening the project to volunteers that wanted to model along with me.

From there the project became an official group effort that spanned most of the year (7 months!) and resulted in the most comprehensive, complex model I’ve ever worked on. Here's the final showreel for it:


It’s a project I’m deeply proud of. And what’s more, contributors were vocal about how uniquely impactful the experience was to their educational journey:

“I have grown more than I would have expected. This was/is an amazing collaborative project! Thank you Kent and contributors for this amazing opportunity!” -Martin Bergwerf

The CGCookie Collaboration Project of 2020 was incredible. I finally felt like I was participating in something bigger than myself (literally and metaphorically). I learned how to work on a team.....but where everyone showed up because they were driven by the same passion I was. We didn't have an office to work with. But we did have great communication on a dedicated forum and found a way to take both our instructor's feedback and each other's as well. When life happened the project was open enough to let new team members roll in and pick up where others had to leave off. The collaboration and spirit was so great that we even made a team name and mascots, and magically many members "found themselves" on this project. In the end we made it our own and even placed our insignia's on the finished product as our stamp of approval. It was truly a laborious project, but one I can say I totally fell in love with." - Shawn Blanch

“Participating in the collaboration, the experience of working on a large project as part of a team, improving my skills and making new friends, far out ways the 937 xp [I earned]. It was an honour to be a part of this huge collaborative effort by everyone involved....Such a fun team to be a part of to be honest. I feel like we have grown to know one another here at the Cookie as members because of this project. That is worth the price of admission!” -Adrian Bellworthy

"This collaboration project put my modeling skills to the ultimate test. Working with the group to find best practices, and make sure everything fit together felt like a very realistic working environment. Under the direction of Kent, we built something amazing, and it's so gratifying to see my work featured in this way. I look forward to whatever comes next from CG Cookie." -Parker Bourassa

Making Collabs Official with #COLLAB2021

We want to keep doing these collaborative projects between our instructors and members! It combines a few things that are very important to us: Teaching and learning obviously, but at a deeper level through live interaction and teamwork, but also just making cool stuff. Big stuff that needs a team to complete. Stuff like complex models as we discovered last year, potentially micro shorts, vertical slices of games, maybe an episodic short animation series - Really anything! As a group the potential is limitless. And the learning experience that comes from being part of a team is very rare outside of professional studios.

For #COLLAB2021 we will be creating this fantasy environment from Vadim Zaitsev:

Which means we will be learning and applying skills of low-poly modeling and stylized texture painting primarily. But within that we will also experience technical aspects of teamwork in 3D like syncing project files through the cloud, quality control, systematic asset preparation, library linking, as well as receiving and applying constructive feedback.

Details about the Format

To define some specifics of the format, the project will last 1 month: April 5th - May 4th. At the beginning of April we will start with nothing but an illustration and dream. By the end of April we will have a completed, high quality environment. 

Schedule: Each week in April will begin with a livestream where I demonstrate the task at hand; walk through the workflow, answer questions, and review homework submissions from the previous week. This serves as our primary meeting each week.

After this stream, the rest of the week is spent working on our respective assets and communicating through the central forum thread. I’ll be committing my whole month to this project, both as a contributor myself and being consistently available for advice and admin. It’s possible I will stream a second time each week as a casual stream-while-working thing, mainly as an opportunity to field questions if needed.

This format is mostly a learn-by-doing system but I will also be providing a list of relevant CG Cookie courses as optional guidance each week. If you’re an experienced Blender user then you may not need to watch these at all. But if you’re new to Blender they will be very helpful. If you wanted to get a jump-start on the project you could watch all the courses in March and focus entirely on applying those skills through April.

This list of recommended content along with more info about Collab2021 can be found in the HQ forum thread.

Teamwork makes the dream work: As a team we will be dividing the overall scene into smaller assets that members can volunteer to build. To accommodate all skill levels, some assets will be simpler and other more complex. There will be something for everyone.

Depending on the number of participants that join the project, it’s likely that I will need to divide everyone into sub-teams led by a team leader. This will keep everything manageable and mirror a studio setup.

A Presentation worthy of Mom's fridge: The final step of the project will happen after April is complete. I like to take our finished creation and develop a presentation for it. Last year it was the assembly animation to showcase the model’s complexity. For 2021 environment I’m thinking a peaceful still-life sequence from various angles within the scene. We will discuss the best way to do this as a team but the point is to present our work in the best possible light; something we can collectively be proud of.

Every contributor will be credited in this presentation and they’re more than welcome to include their part in a demoreel, showreel or resume.

Join the #COLLAB2021 Team Today!

The project officially begins Monday, April 5th. It's reserved for subscribing Citizen members. Again, you’re welcome to sub before April 5th to get a jump-start on the recommended content but if you want to participate make sure to sub by April 5th.

Register for COLLAB2021 by filling out this Form. Note that registering for the Collab is different from subscribing as a Citizen Member.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. You can also find more info at the HQ forum thread!

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  • onelombax

    Thank for the opportunity :) I can't stress how much I wanted this. I will try to complete the list of recommended courses and be ready for April 5th

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    oonelombax So glad to hear it! I'm kinda giddy about it myself :)

  • Carlo (lucky)

    Really cool, I'm a Citizen Member for quite some time now but it has been a long time since I did a course. So...... I'll join this one ;)

  • Omar Domenech (dostovel)

    A month makes me worry. Is a month enough time to complete the project? Judging from the last one, I thought Collabs would be a two to three months endeavor.

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    dostovel Seeing as this is the first "official" collab, I was intentional about choosing a [much] smaller-scope project. After outlining the month's schedule, I feel confident we can do it in a month. I think starting smaller in scope, working out the kinks in the format, will pave the way for bigger multi-month collabs in the future.

  • Keith (beefkeef)

    Bravo guys! The show-reel of the heavy equipment was really a work of art! I loved seeing how all the pieces come together, it's really cool to watch!

  • Jake Korosi (jakeblended)

    Oh yes - it's on now!

    Can't wait to take part in this. Photorealism has been my so-far-specialty, or at least my preference. This impressionist art-style is going to take me out of safe and familiar territory, and I'm looking forward to it!

  • MK Burns (marykateburns)

    This is gonna be awesome, whether or not I will be able to contribute I'm so looking forward to it

  • Shawn Blanch (blanchsb)

    Priorities first. When I got home and after putting kids to bed (obviously after watching that amazing video twice in a row with the kiddos), I signed up for all of the Collab 2021 Events. Nothing else matters.

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    blanchsb There he is! 🤝

  • rw3iss

    Hi. I'm wondering if it's possible to just "sit in" to watch and learn a little, but not be a part of the building process for this project?

  • Peter Varga (rationalrats)

    rrw3iss, taking the liberty of answering, before a more official communication reaches you; ) from my own experience with the legendary heavy machinery mega-proto-collab: YES. and it proved valuable for me... taht's pretty much how I've experienced[it] despite my original aspiration due to sheer volume and scale of the project resulting in an extended interval of time required for such an undertaking, with only one or two "jump-in points" for active participation (the more manageable/ less ambitious format of the upcoming one is a good decision in that regard I believe btw, even if it comes at a cost of a comparably less epic results; )
    TL;DR
    I'd start with "sitting in" as you've put it (chances are you'll learn a lot like so "only" too, and, I see no reason not to): watching the streams and using the chat and forum, and see if you feel like switching gears in a more proactive mode as you go...
    see ya in april!
    : )

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    rrw3iss Sure, all members will have access to watching the streams. You could do this fly-on-the-wall style if you'd like.

    Well said rationalrats

  • Aubrie Lee (aubrie)

    I have loved seeing everyone's collabs from afar. Great work. Perhaps the CG Cookie community has a future as an animation studio! :)

  • robcampbell26

    Just signed up will try to do as much course work before hand! Really looking forward to it

  • Simon Buz (svetimas)

    Wow! This really will be a very good motivation! As I spend 99% time of watching vids and one 1% doing instead of 90% doing and 10% watching.... And doing stuff with the team is a commitment and you don't drop out when inspiration disappears then working alone.

  • Ivan Cipriani (jaivatur)

    Hi all! I have signed up for this and I really look forward to doing some cool stuff with you guys! I am quite novice with Blender and I hope to learn a lot! I'm very excited about this collaboration project! :^)

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    jaivatur April will be a blast! You'll be fine as a novice and will learn a lot. Glad you signed up.

  • Mona Loren (monaloren)

    Hello, I am back and signed up and and ready to blender.
    Not really sure what I want to work on but I really hope I can do something useful for the team.
    Thank you so much Kent for your effort and this opportunity to learn in a team.
    (I am very exited and also a little bit nervous about this and hopefully I can follow because you are all writing sooo much.I also really need to improve my english skills.)

  • William Crespo (willcrespo)

    THIS LOOKS SO DOPE!!!

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