CG Cookie "Collaborations", Announcing #COLLAB2021

Feb 25th 2021

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!


Kent Trammell
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