Chaitanya Krishnan (a.k.a Chaitanyak on Sketchfab) is a long time Sketchfab member and talented 3D designer, who just won the 3rd place of our Legofast contest. We chat with him on a regular basis, on thought it would be cool to share a bit of this with the community.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello everybody! My name is Chaitanya Krishnan, I’m a designer and CG generalist living in Bangalore, India. I’ve been a member of Sketchfab for a while now. I think this was the first sculpt I uploaded on Sketchfab, 2 years ago.
Can you tell us about what aspects of 3D you specialise in?
I’ve primarily been a modeller, but now I do animation and low poly game art as well.
How did you first get started in 3D?
Back when I was at Design School (Srishti School of Art, Design and Tech) I was studying communication design, 3D was never part of our syllabus. However we had a common computer lab with other departments. So when I saw my friends in the furniture design department doing their 3D courses, I would find an excuse to sit next to them and watch what they did… Then go home and replicate what I saw them learn 🙂 Of course while they were modelling chairs and tables, I would do aircraft and robots 🙂 Stuff like this.
Do you have any academic training or are you self-taught?
As far as 3D goes, I’ve had no academic training. However at Design School I was trained in the basics of color theory, composition, etc. I even did a Bronze casting/sculpture elective during one of the semesters. 🙂 I also used to do a lot of paper craft and paper sculpture. In fact my graduation project was a pop up book. Where i attempted a 3D modeled version of one of my story’s characters. Ultimately decided to go the 2D way, due to time constraints.
After College, my first job was at a design firm that did a lot of interior graphics. I had to generate a lot of visuals to be printed on vinyl and put up on walls. Here’s where i started to do large scale 3D renders.
The second job was at a gaming company, where I got hired as a modeller, and basically got payed to hone my 3d skills 🙂 That was a fun way to learn 3D!
My 3rd and last “job” was with Flip Design. This was a high energy creative place and we did a lot of animated flash websites, a lot of the animations were done in 3D. This is where my 3D skills really flourished.
How did you come across Sketchfab and how does it help you in your career?
I had just started printing my models on shapeways.com when i noticed this 3D preview they had on their site, it wasn’t webGL, but got me thinking about ways to embed my models into my website. I had achieved this once before using the old Cult3D plugin (wonder if anyone remembers it) but that required the viewer to install a 3rd party plugin… and was a general hassle. Someone at Sketchfab saw my work online and contacted me, I think via Twitter. Once i saw what it could do, i never looked back. Now all my models eventually wind up here.
It has actually helped a lot with my work/career. A couple of my clients live overseas and sharing my designs with them used to be tedious : mostly with a bunch of 2D renders… or actually mailing them bulky source files. Now i just send them a sketchfab link like for this project :
Tell us a little bit about your creative process and how you go about starting a project?
In certain projects I do sketch first. Especially projects where I need client approval before starting. A lot of times I just start modelling/sculpting freestyle. If I’m building an aircraft for instance i block out the general shape and show that to the client for approval on things like proportions, scale, etc.
With characters and scene composition its a bit different, lighting comes into play at an early stage where you’re trying to set a mood or convey a specific emotion.
Of all your pieces currently on Sketchfab, which one is your favourite and why?
My favorite personal model is this one :
It was based on a series of whimsical character sketches I did a long time ago and only got to model recently. My long time favorite model for a client would be this one :
The way the fake lightbox and composition worked.. just blew away my client 🙂
Do you have any personal projects at the moment?
I have a WIP model of Hellboy… Just never get the time to work on it 🙁
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from TV shows, games and comics. For example my Portal/gateway series : I just sat one weekend and modelled all my favorite intergalactic doorways, one from the game Portal, one of the comic The Authority and another one from Stargate.
Do you have any hobbies that allow you to get away from the computer screen?
I love pets! I have 2 dogs and 3 aquariums. I also do a bit of painting, not canvas, usually on objects.
What is a normal day like for you?
Wake up, walk one of the dogs (the early riser), check mail, have breakfast, walk the other dog (the lazy one), watch some TV, then off to work (which is in my room). I’m part of a 2 person Film and animation studio called Falana Dimka Films so usually me and my partner Aarthi (filmmaker and writer) work pretty late into the nights on our projects.
Apart from Sketchfab which tools are you using frequently?
I am a Blender convert and evangelist. I also love Inkscape. I work on Windows and Ubuntu, usually on a Dell laptop. The other sites i use a lot for my 3D work are Behance, Shapeways and Thingiverse.
Are you active in any other communities?
I’ve been on DeviantArt since ages. Most of my 2D work goes up there. I also joined CG Arena and CGSociety years back… And frequently took part in their CG challenges as an exercise in developing my 3D skills, nothing makes me learn faster than having a challenge to finish!
What would be your personal advice to someone getting started in 3D modeling ?
Don’t do any work for free, unless its fun for you (or you’re absolutely sure they’re going to return the favour). Don’t trust those sites that put you against other designers and then pick the best. Thats crap… you will just waste your time.
Never do business with family. If your uncle or cousin asks you to design something for them, call it a gift or favour. Trust me, bringing money into the equation will screw up the relationship.
Would you be willing to share a trick/tip for 3D modeling beginners ?
Too many beginners try to do a complex project and fail because of lack of experience in modelling and then get disheartened and give up on the 3D field. Set some simpler goals and every time you achieve them you will build up your confidence. Start simple but pretty. Create simple characters/props out of basic shapes, learn to create good well lit compositions with just that. For my first few paying 3D jobs thats what i did. As long as the final composition looks pretty and professional, you will get paid!
Thanks again to Chaitanya for taking part in our interview series. There will be more featured artists from the community and 3D industry over the coming weeks, stay tunedIn the meantime be sure to check out Chaitanya’s Sketchfab profile and personal website.
Want more interviews ? Check out our entire series here.