I've often received e-mails where people ask for more or less specific info on how to learn Blender. Sometimes all that is needed is to understand the community and documentation around the Blender application. In order to avoid repetition, I've come up with 10 tips for Blender beginners. I developed these methods and hope they will prove useful for you as well.
Assuming that the reader has begun learning Blender, let's look at some general tips you'll be able to use to become a better Blender artist. Some of these tips are self-evident, so you might already have figured out a lot of this info for yourself.
Tip#1: Discipline, drive & curiosity
The study of Blender (in fact study of any kind!) works better if you are willing to learn and don't expect the information served on a golden plate. Be determined to learn things yourself! Curiosity and drive to learn will serve you better than a ton of manuals. Be interested in everything that pertains to the subject you want to learn. Be 100% devoted and focused on your target: Learning Blender.
Tip#2: Use those search engines!
This is probably sounds easy for me to say, but it's true. Too few beginning students use search engines (Google, Yahoo etc.) as much as they could. Some never use them at all! It is a solid principle to try search engines first, especially utilizing different keywords. In most cases, it's the fastest way to get your question answered or problem solved; much faster than a personal mail, posting on a forum, often even looking in the manual. It's true!
Tip#3: The manual
Some people tend to disregard the manual, claiming it's useless too big and too hard to understand by the beginner. In Blender's case at least, that's not true. Well, in Blender's case at least, that's not true. We have a great and evolving BlenderWiki covering many aspects of Blender. It might seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but take a bit time to read it and you'll quickly come to value this excellent resource.
Tip#4: Forums have search functions, you know?
In forums (like the Blender Artists Forums) many questions have been asked in the past. It is very likely that the question you have has already been asked and answered numerous times. Forums have search functions, so use them to quickly find the answer you're looking for. There's no sense in posting if someone has posted the same question already. It's more efficient to search first.
Beginners often find difficulty in using the search functions in forums. Agreeably they often aren't as effective as common internet search engines, but often a combination of a few keywords will get you the results you seek. In many forum searches you can use capital "AND" between the keywords. This makes the search show threads where all the keywords are utilized instead of just some of them.
Tip#5: Aim realistic
Avoid undertaking huge projects straight away. A solid learning process takes time. It's much better to keep your projects down to a size where you'll be able to finish them well, yet still feel challenged. Big unfinished projects are not as effective as small finished ones. A completed project is more rewarding in the long run than one in which you aimed too high to be able to complete.
Tip#6: Feedback & criticism
Show your works to others. Peer critique, done constructively, will be one of your greatest forces. Avoid being overprotective of your work. Listen to every opinion, consider everybody's viewpoints and don't hesitate to change things. Avoid being pressured to alter what is a proven success, however, and remember that opinions are just that. And while it's valuable to be able to see your mistakes when somebody points them out, receiving constructive criticism is all about being humble and the sharing of ideas.
There is always someone who is more experienced. Don't allow that to interefere with your learning process. Jealousy won't serve your interests, nor will feeling bad about yourself and your abilities. You are your only competition.
Tip#8: Watch & learn
When you're away from the computer use your eyes. By looking closely at the real world and observing, you'll improve your chances of replicating it in 3D. Don't take anything for granted. The world is a spectacular and unique place. If you want to model a pencil for instance, have a look at the real thing, find pictures of it on the Internet, etc. These pictures are called reference images (or "refs" in short). Use refs whenever you can. It'll improve your work noticeably.
Tip#9: Have fun!
If you're not enjoying learning Blender 3D, maybe it's the not the right venue for you Having a good time helps you learn faster and optimizes your technique.
Tip#10: Teach others what you have learned
Teaching others helps you understand what you have learned even more. Share your experiences as much as possible and you'll enhance your own learning experience. However, it's a greater learning experience for others to figure things out for themselves, like in some of the tips above.
Most of these tips can be considered as common sense. Take these 10 tips as you please, like them, or don't. It's up to you how you utilize these tips; they are offered earnestly. My hope is that someone will benefit from the tips above - after all that is what sharing is all about.