In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hi! My name is Antoine Bassin and I’m a French 3D artist. I completed my art studies in Paris a little more than a year ago. It was a graphic-oriented school (e-artsup for the curious) which gave me a good variety of skills in many fields (graphism, photo, video, animation, programmation… ) but very few in 3D (never heard about UV unwrapping at school). While continuing my studies, I found enjoyment in making interactive design, and particularly games. So, I decided to teach myself to be a 3D artist.
I think it’s important to understand and be able to do any step of the whole 3D production pipeline (modelisation, texturing, rigging, animation, dynamics, lighting, shading, rendering…). So I try to make personal projects which cover several of these steps. The last one, the 3December challenge, allowed me to mix sculpting and content creation in VR (of which I am a huge enthusiast).
I think knowing several tools is a good point too. Other softwares can promote different workflows, sometimes faster, sometime which helped to better understand constraints. That’s why I keep informed on and try out new industry tools.
When I heard about the 3December challenge, I thought it was a good opportunity to improve my skills as I felt I was very slow at sculpting. The idea is simple: a mesh a day, so I decided to create an animal each day. I chose animals as the theme because it enabled me to drastically vary shapes, textures and, colors with organic silhouettes. It was also an excuse to study various anatomies. For me, social challenges have two advantages: it prevents laziness and brings social visibility. When I published the first model, I had to continue!
I produce the first seven with ZBrush and Maya, only focusing on sculpting due to lack of time. Then, I received my Oculus Touch… My VR controllers arrived December the 10th. As a VR enthusiastic, I like to try new experience as soon as I can: I couldn’t wait more to use them. The timing was perfect: 3December challenge = one thing a day = fast work + social network visibility, Oculus Medium = new tool + VR experience + sculpting. Working in VR was so pleasant that I continue to produce my animals with Oculus Medium until the end!
Each day, I started by searching animals with interesting silhouettes and save some reference images. I often use Pinterest for this task because I like their “similar images” algorithm, the images are beautiful, it can embedded video contents and finally, it is easily accessible and shareable.
15 minutes later, I run Oculus Medium and start to sculpt. First, I searched the main shape. Constantly moving around my work, I tried to have a good looking silhouette from everywhere. I think 3D is done to be dynamic: I mean the subject or the camera must be in movement or interactive. For me, a model which is fine from only one point of view is not interesting.
The Oculus Medium’s main strength is its ability to quickly and easily add matter from nowhere. I just hit the trigger, move my arm and 3 seconds later, I created a leg in a lively gesture! We can remove matter and move object parts with an equal ease. For instance, I may take 2-3 minutes to put my octopus’ tentacles in place and try some variations.
When I was satisfied with a roughly shape, I began to add details. I experiment texture variations, volume informations… Sometimes I sculpt stamps and re-use it immediately to make more interesting surfaces (like the feathers on my owl). Oculus Medium use a layer system which can be hidden, duplicated or flipped. I like it because I can quickly try, hide, and compare some tests. If I dislike a part, I can just hide and keep it for later. I guess this step generally took me the third of my whole time.
Then I spent around 20 minutes painting the different part of my models with a spray-like tool. Oculus Medium does this by use per vertex color, so it’s not very accurate, but in return, we don’t have to worry about UVs. Then, I just hit “export” and I have an .obj in a folder! I followed this tutorial hosted on Sketchfab to reduce the polycount number with Meshmixer. Raw files are generally about a million vertices that I convert around 30 000 in 5 minutes before re-exporting an .obj.
Finally, I upload it into Sketchfab (only one file because color information is stored with vertices coordinates in the .obj file), set lights and camera and share it! I guess it took me 15-20 minutes between taking off my VR headset and sharing my work on Sketchfab forum, Twitter, and Artstation.
In hindsight, I’m very pleased with this series. I missed some days but it’s not important because I still made 24 models between December the 5th and the 31st, and I feel that I’ve improved my sculpting skills and speed. I found my last models better than the first (better proportions, better postures, more lively). Moreover, last one have only been done in 2 hours (from referencing to sharing), which is good for me.
Coming back to what I initially said, because Oculus Medium is a new tool, it brings different potential actions, different constraints, different workflows. It forces me to think differently.
For instance, by contrast with ZBrush, there is no image importing option, no move tool, no dynamesh, resolution is very low due to VR technical restriction, symmetry is inaccurate… But, by preventing fine tuning, Oculus Medium forced me to focus on general shape, to experiment by moving, rotating and scaling part (which I did rarely because I have difficulties to use this tools in ZBrush), to take away from references and be more creative, to use stamps a lot, to don’t rely on symmetry, to don’t waste time on detailing small areas… In other words, it train me to work faster!
My models are far from being game ready assets because they still needs some work (cleaning shapes, retopology, uv unwrapping and texturing) and Oculus Medium don’t enable to produce professional content yet, but using it undoubtedly gives me better sculpting skills.
Doing social challenges is also a good point because it brings visibility and feedbacks. As a junior freelance and autodidact 3D artist, I’m continuously in search of others point of view to improve myself and become more confident in my workflow. Moreover, it forces us to rigorously work. It’s an advice for those who, like me, want to learn every nook and cranny of the 3D world: don’t hesitate to do challenges and to share your work. At this time, you can join the #SculptJanuary challenge. By the way, it’s a good transition to say that I started a new project (for the curious).
For me, 3D must be viewed in 3D, and that’s why Sketchfab exists! Polished render images are important but they don’t show the models’ whole potential (3D silhouette, motion, real time shading…). I think Sketchfab embeds are essential for a portfolio. Moreover, the website is really easy to use. In 10 minutes, I can upload files, set lights and share my work to any social network. It saves me a lot of time!
Moreover, I’m impressed by their efforts to be compliant with any kind of software, tools or social networks. I don’t use their exporter because I like to have a clean exported file separated from my scene file, and their drag and drop process is enough fast for me, but I really appreciate their Twitter and Artstation native embeds.
Regarding the community, it is lively and the staff takes the time to listen to our exact needs/problems. It’s a pleasure to get feedback or to see other artists’ works.
As I said, I like feedback, so don’t hesitate to give your opinion (what’s your favorite model of the series? Was you do it otherwise?…). I’ll gladly answer your questions too!