Best way to learn a 3D modeling software?

My first interaction with a CAD software occurred during my college days. And the 3D modeling software really amazed me. At that very moment, I decided to learn CAD software. Like any beginner, the first question that struck my mind was “How can I learn one?”

And not very surprisingly, I wanted an easy, cheap and fast way.

Let’s explore some of the options available and I’ll add my views to them based on my experience with these sources.

Books

“Books are a man’s best friend.” 

But are they really helpful in learning the software?

I personally find books boring.

Reason: They cannot show how a command is actually used and can just tell you the function of the command with a few examples. And most of the books available use very complicated language. Not everyone is an avid reader.

But I still recommend using them for reference as they are very handy if you are looking for the exact definition or for that matter, preparing for an examination. Nothing beats them in these cases.

But they are not the best way to learn a 3D modeling software for SURE!

Video tutorials

Youtube is the first thing that strikes us when we want to learn something on our own with a visual experience at it. As expected, it has all the resources you need to learn a CAD software. But I would say that it has a downside too.

Let us first try to find out what it offers and how can you really use these resources.

For a beginner, who is yet to decided which software is best for him (Read”),  it is the best place to start and try a few 3D modeling software and later decide which one  best suits him and his requirements.

From my own experience, I feel that the problem in learning from the video tutorials is that they are in a hurry. Hurry to finish on time. They don’t have time to explain you the real logic behind things using the best possible approach.
I personally find it a very easy and better way to learn but definitely not the best.

You may learn the basics but unfortunately, there are very few tutorials available which really help you progress from basics to advance.

I will list few of them which I have used:

CATIA:

SOLID WORKS:

AUTOCAD:

Coaching Institutes

I feel that the beginners need some guidance as they end up doing fancy models (Freestyle modeling to name one, which is not that relevant to engineers) and it sometimes proves to be useless and does not provide for any value addition in their learning. Moreover, what counts is the way you do them. (Read “). Here, Coaching centers play a major role as they follow a syllabus and the tutor clears all the doubts you have. You get an environment of learning and time dedicated solely for the purpose of leaning the CAD Software.

And yes, in my opinion, the best teachers are the “mistakes” that we ourselves or the people around us make. Learning in batches helps you understand different approaches used by people around you and gives you an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

So, If you feel you get easily distracted with your plan or feel you couldn’t get where to start and continue. Then may be the coaching centers are best options for the first 3D modeling software. Another advantage is the certification provided by coaching centers.

But every coin has two sides and these institutes prove to be no exception. Coaching centres are costly and quality of teaching depends on the teacher. Not everyone with an expertise in some particular software can be an expert teacher. Being taught CAD by an architect is completely different from being taught by a mechanical engineer. Read ”

Also, you will acquire a capability that will be isolated from any practical application and may end up being irrelevant to your future career. Read ”

Online CAD Forums:

Not for beginners, you will get confused. But for the experienced engineers, who wish to explore and learn, contributing and participating in different CAD forums could be a great practice. The downside of these forums is that sometimes they end up giving vague information which does not cater to the purpose for which they are organised.

 

What if you already know a 3D modelling software?

If you have the background knowledge of Designing, Machining and a bit of experience, then taking admission in a professional CAD/CAM training institute might not be the most useful option for you. Instead, you can use your existing knowledge and skills to teach yourself using online tutorials, videos, help documentations, discussion groups and forums.