In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hi I’m Miki Bencz! Besides going out with my friends, and playing Quake III, I really like to make 3D game art on my old ( but gold ) computer. I make low poly models with handpainted textures most of the time, because anything more complex than that would probably make my computer burst into flames ( it already sounds like a Formula 1 race car.. ). And I also love it! 😀
I like to move around on the magical place called the “internet”, where I usually encounter an artwork, which instantly inspires me to recreate it in 3D. When I settle on an image which I really want to make, I think it over, how I’ll make it in 3D from start to finish, and find solutions to every problem that could come up in the making process. This way I don’t have to worry about anything when I actually start modeling, because everything is already taken care of, and will be easily and quickly executable. (aside from surprise problems like 3dsmax crashing and losing an hour of work 😀 ) I found that taking a bit more time with preparation, and planning of execution can save a lot of time, and spare some precious working hours!
As a general thing I try and keep all phases of the work in mind when I’m making something. When I model, I already think about how I’ll paint it afterwards. When I’m painting, I already think about how I’ll make the presentation, and usually jump back to fix issues on the model. Even tho the workflow is linear, your mindset doesn’t have to be. The more steps you can think ahead, the less likely you will take a misstep 😉
“Cutie” was pretty straightforward: I found Irakli Nadar’s illustration, then I figured out how I could make the pose, and how I’d approach the texture, and what method I’d use for the hair, and roughly how I would present the final model. After I figured out all the answers for these questions, I moved on to the clicky phase!
For me every project has it’s ups and downs. Moments when I want to delete all the files, and everything that reminds me of a certain work that went downhill. To overcome the downs, and to maintain the momentum of a piece I try to work on stuff that has some personal connection to me aside from a good looking artwork. Maybe I make a sword that has a story behind it which is close to my heart, or I make a portrait which reminds me of someone close to me.
This connection will push me through (or not even notice) moments when the project I’m working on looks terrible, or I can’t tackle a problem as elegantly as I planned out. Also, this keeps me more focused, and I put more effort into the image than I would normally do.. Another ongoing experiment is that I try and never leave a piece while in a struggle.. which means when I get up from the project, and leave it for tomorrow, I try and have an idea what I’ll work on, and not leave when I’m in struggle with something… This way I can’t wait to get back to the piece I’m working on, rather than feeling weird because I don’t know what to work on when I get back to it.
My advice would be this:
Check your best works, and think about how and what you did differently than on other works that were not so good. After finding what you did differently, simply try and repeat things that get the best possible artwork out of you, and leave out techniques/methods/approaches/software that frustrate you and prevent you from doing your very best.
I made the head in 3dsmax, used the illustration as reference for the front view, and searched for similar heads to use them as a guide for side view. It’s a pretty simple technique, and there are many tutorials for this you can find.
When I’m working on a certain project, I try and do some study drawings beforehand and understand the structure of the thing I make. I already drew a lot of heads in my sketchbook, and made lots of copies from anatomy books to help me understand the planes of the head, the bone structure, and underlying muscles that a face has. This helped me a lot when I was modeling the head, many things are not visible on reference images, you have to know them by heart in order to create a nice version of it in a 3D space.
After I call a model done, I always take another round on it, and push it to another level of accuracy then I did before. The models I make are not perfect, and will never be, but it’s sure as hell it’s more accurate than the one before!
My advice regarding modeling would be this:
If you struggle with something in 3D modeling / sculpting the problem usually comes from not understanding it well enough. To get to know a subject, draw it. Many times, and from many angles. If you copy hundreds of heads from an anatomy book, guess what? You will make a much much better 3D version after it. This applies to everything from dogs, through buildings, to robots. Understand, memorize, and after that you just apply and bend the structures you have learned in a creative way.
I used 3d-Coat for texturing, along with my tablet. I move from big forms, and hue shifts to small ones. Figure out big forms first ( big planes of the head, eye sockets, side of the head etc.. ) then figure out secondary forms ( eyelids, nostrils, inside of the ear ) then move on to the final phase, detailing it all out with highlights, eyelashes and other smaller details. My goal with this piece was to keep it painterly and as close to the original as I could.
So I used big bold brush strokes, then smoothed them out where it was needed. I usually use really big brushes in early stages, and as I progress in the texture, I move to smaller brushes. This helps to keep my thinking simple, and big in the beginning and make it more accurate, and precise as I progress. If a big value is not right, all the values and details you put inside it will be off.
From shadows moving to the light, I always make hue and saturation shifts in the big forms as well, that way it will have visual interest color wise from far away. In the details, I keep the same mindset, adding patches of different colors, and strokes of desaturated colors to make the texture interesting from close up. Subtlety is key here, it’s easy to go too “colorful” and also very easy to keep a work monochrome. Since in digital painting you can set what kind of color you want, and it won’t change on itself, it’s easy to go too monochrome..
Borrowing a little from real life painting, experiment with guessing what color you want, instead of color picking it up from another part of the texture. This will lead to many happy accidents and maybe you will like that subtle green tone in the yellowish skin that was not supposed to be there.
Practice and Improvement
One thing I found is that doing things that indirectly connect to 3D help a ton in my work. For example copying drawings from anatomy books had a huge benefit for me in sculpting and modeling the human figure. It helps to learn the ABC of drawing and anatomy, and after some basic knowledge, you can start to form your own sentences, and stories with the tools you learned! Also, drawing various stuff from imagination helped me find gaps in my knowledge, and also it’s a pretty relaxing, and fun thing to do! It hugely benefited me drawing some of my own concepts!
My advice would be this:
Try and move away from your comfort software, or comfort medium. Discovering a new medium will get your mind in discovery mode, and that will bleed over to your comfort medium as well, and you will make new connections, or ask questions you never did before in a workspace where you previously was a bit rusty, and attached to fixed railroads from the past. It’s also tons of fun! 😀
It was hard for me to present a model in a proper way, since I had to translate it to a single jpg which then I could upload to a gallery.. Gotta love Sketchfab because here a 3D work can actually be 3D, not just a screenshot of something which supposed to be in another dimension 😀
Comparing yourself to others
There’s one thing I’d like you to prevent: I used to compare myself to other artists, instead of looking at other people’s work and being inspired by it. This took me a lot of time and energy to learn.
I felt bad, that I was nowhere near their level of awesomeness, and that I will never get to the place they are at. As they usually say, there is always a bigger fish in the sea.. This applies to the art world as well, you can always find somebody that is more comfortable with their style, who has more followers, who does more stunning images than you, and is also younger than you are.
This thinking kept me narrow minded, and poisoned my connection with my passion. Nowadays the one competition I keep is myself. I always try, and make a better work than before: get the texture better than ever before, push the level of stylization more boldly than my previous work, get the essence of a drawing more accurately than I had in the past. This way I got rid of the bad feeling of never being enough, and got to a place where I’m thrilled to try and reach for a more complex piece, and be excited by a new challenge I set to myself. I found that conquering my own thoughts and work is far more challenging and natural than to compete with the whole world thru the internet. And after a good day of “work” I can happily notice how far I’ve come from the first box I created in 3dsmax as a little kid.
Apply what you like, leave what you do not. I hope this helped someone. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
You can see more of Miki’s work here on Sketchfab and on his ArtStation.