This is the first of a new series of posts on the blog focusing on artists who sell their assets on Sketchfab. We’ll be looking at what drives them, how they create their work and what they do to create a successful business with Sketchfab. Expect tips, tricks and honest advice on how to make money from your passion.
Francesco Milanese has been a member of the Sketchfab community since 2016 and was one of the earliest people to join our Store beta programme.
My name is Francesco Milanese, I’m a freelance 3D Modeler. I’ve been a BFCT (Blender Foundation Certified Trainer) since 2010; I got a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from University of Catania (Italy) in 2011. My main technical skills include Blender 3D, 3D Studio MAX, GIMP, Substance Painter, Unity, Python programming (especially for Blender 3D scripts and add-ons creation). I don’t call myself an “Artist”; instead, I say I’m “just a 3D Modeler”: I lack the unique vision / inspiration Artists have, but I know the fundamentals of CG, I can use some software (and I made some scripts for Blender, 3DS MAX and Unity, too, to speed up my workflow) and, if you provide me a sketch/photo/reference, I can make it in 3D. I like to say that I HELP artists, architects, game developers, etc., providing them the assets they need to “realize” their ideas.
I started selling 3D assets 3-4 years ago, by chance: at that time I was making eBooks and tutorials (in Italian) for awhile and I modeled some assets to use them as “courseware assets” (e.g.: some scenes to be used in a book about Cycles Renderer, or in a course about Post-Processing Compositing in Blender 3D, etc…), when a friend of mine said to me “Did you know there is this “Asset Store” on which you could sell your 3D Models?” — so I put some assets there… and they sold! Last year, royalties from assets (both stock and custom-made, combined) overshadowed those from eBooks (in Italian), so now I focus more on assets and I call myself “a 3D Modeler” 🙂
As I told you before, I don’t have any “artistic work”, so I can tell you this: when I don’t have a request from a customer, I just model objects and products on my own. When I see something I like, I make it 🙂
For custom-made projects, I have an hourly fee — and sometimes I offer a discount if the model is non-exclusive (that is: I’ll be able to put it on sale in asset stores); for stock models, I calculate an average taking a look at models (with similar quality and features) by other artists. My stock models have been used by customers in personal projects, which sometimes dealt with VR apps. Custom-made projects (by professionals and corporations) have been used for advertising, primarily.
Right now, I’m working on my personal website in English; I had one in Italian, coupled with a Youtube channel, and they helped me A LOT before, but now I’m working to make it in English, to promote myself worldwide.
I export models directly from Substance Painter; I used to do that from Blender but, since I use a custom-made PBR Material, I had to link the textures in Sketchfab, so I switched to Substance Painter — it works like a charm. In Sketchfab, I don’t tweak the model further, I just put it on a white background, without “bloom” or any other effect, to let the users focus on the model itself.
Sketchfab allows users to take a look at the 3D Objects in real-time, exploring it even with VR devices too; to a (potential) customer, this is wonderful, because he/she can analyze the model in full 3D, taking advantage of the model inspector tools, too, before buying it (instead of relying on some renderings and screenshots from a few points of view). I strongly advise other modelers and artists to use Sketchfab to promote their works!
I can tell you that, sooner or later, everything sells — literally; so, I can’t suggest to you a specific topic / category that will are good opportunities for new assets. Regarding the features of the assets to be made, I think that PBR, VR-ready asset will sell more and more in the future.
Check out my Sketchfab Store to see more of my assets for sale.