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Show me your genitals. Actually, no, show me how you go from a mental image of the thing to the 3D geometry of the thing.
It is highly reccomended that you do explain in detail your methodology.

In my case as in the pic i carefully shat vertices all over blender edit mode until i realized scaling individual rings of spheres would suit my particular cartoon character's chibi face much better, so here i am sticking to a two step cycle of deforming each lego piece and then duct taping them all together.
Seconding. I have literally no depth perception, and I think it holds me back.
do something easier
You should use much simpler geometry (start with a round cube) and use a subsurf modifier to get clean curves.
making a character requires creativity and experience.
when you have no technical modeling skills, making a character becomes harder. especially when you don't know when to model the entire thing or fake detail by painting.
watch other do it, take fucking notes.
watch tutorials, get really good at modeling, model anything that seem challenging to you.

you don't need to be an expert in modeling, but becoming good at it will free up time to concentrate on the creative part
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you know what, for the first batch of 3d models i ever made i should just be projecting simpler real stuff i have around the house or see in town, stuff like flashlights, TV remotes, chairs, my own hand...
If i'm gonna be building a 3D model out of scratch i'll have to at least get a hold of how things curve inwards and backwards, how the surfaces deform, you know, the basics i should have been practicing instead of straight up building 3d from 2d.
sculpt the entire fucin thing bro
follow yanal sosak

I tried sculpting before this with a high resolution grid and the resulting geometry i got was kind of good but when i did the limited dissolve thing to lower vertex count the whole damn thing turned into some kind of cactus surface with random tiny little triangles pointing outward.
if i can sculpt with a cube you can do it too, just learn how
This post is "HOW DO I BOX MODEL????", and the answer is go do tutorials and stop jumping ahead.

A big part of your problem is that your reference images are dogshit. The less information contained in your reference images, the more you have to manually fill in the gaps and that requires a lot of experience, skill, and fiddling.

>limited dissolve
The process you want for getting good geometry from your sculpt is called "retopologizing", you'll get to that tutorial eventually
so basically i have to work my way learning the introductory first and when i finally git gud i do a sketch with more shading detail and better alignment to use as the reference?
sounds right. I'll be going that way.
Nobody has depth perception looking at a 3D object being rendered to a monitor you moron, the actual depth stops at the screen.
It's honestly just practice. Hours banked senpai. Have you made, like a dozen other things before trying to make a character? Go model your favorite game console, a sword, whatever, then come back to a simple character.
ask yourself this.
can you model hammer, scissors or handcuffs perfectly? if not then you are not ready yet.

they let you do those things in college, you should be able to do them at home
I don't really 'see' my designs, it's more of a tactile sensation of form and weight and texture. You'd think this would inhibit 3D modeling, but it's helped me a lot by making it easier to map out how curves should be placed.

I got gud at modeling anime figures by fondling the faces and limbs of a bunch of anime figures.
At first, when modeling, don't think of the asset as a whole. Instead, decompose it into smaller shapes to be assembled together later on.

Think of negative space and the natural flow of the edges you're creating.

Start simple and detail progressively, where needed. You then won't have to deal with a bunch of vertices you don't need at all.
Do you have anything that visually breaks down this concept in the context of box modelling?

I can see it a lot in sculpting but obviously it's not a huge help for this.
No, don't dissolve or whatever you are doing.

If you like the sculpt you made, you retopologize over it to have your new 3D model.

Retopologizing is like making a 3D object, but instead of using an image as a guide you use your already-made 3D sculpture, and some tricks like guaranteeing the vertex stick to the surface.

There are good tutorials on youtube, albeit you will need to learn how mesh flow works. Nothing that practice cannot give you, really.
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