My name is Juani. I am from Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. I’m a freelance 3D artist focused on characters. I’m working mostly in the gaming and advertising industries. My style comes from my love of epic stories and games. I’m also a big history nerd. Whether it be history or fantasy, I just love working on organic models with hard-surface elements! Armored characters are my favorites.
Why sell models online?
As 3D is a very demanding career, I have always been grinding and studying a lot outside of working hours. A friend spotted one of my characters and suggested that people would be very interested in buying my stuff. At first, I wasn’t very sure, but if I could sell one of them, perhaps it’d help me buy my next tutorial.
I was surprised and very happy when I sold my first model. Someone liked what I was doing during my free time! Learning felt way better now. With a couple of extra bucks in my account, now I could afford coffee and lessons!
Since then, I have been selling more and more! I’m always eager to upload my study models to Sketchfab to see the response. Sometimes, the things that I think won’t sell at all, are the ones that sell the most. It’s always great to learn the preference of your customers. It sort of shapes you into a business person.
Balancing artistic vs. paid work
I’ve gotten so much better at my paid job thanks to my artistic work. I think one needs to be relentless and begin to like learning outside of working hours. At first it’s super hard! You’ll find yourself sacrificing family and leisure hours, but as you practice more and more, you build muscle memory and end up being faster and more effective at work.
Try focusing your practices towards what you do in your work, except add something to your liking, perhaps something that’ll make you forget about work itself. For example, if you are working on a Sci-Fi character for your company, try doing a Fantasy/Medieval personal project. Doing contrasting projects for work and personal art will help you have fresh eyes and rest your brain as you change from one to another.
As I’ve practiced and been able to sell models online, I’ve found that I can get better-paying jobs that I can complete faster, all while earning a little passive income from my store page. Seize every minute of your time! Your art is valuable, and being able to sell it online is sweet proof of it!
What assets should I make?
At first, this is a little hard to decide. As I mentioned, I started by uploading my artistic work, so I really didn’t know what would stick and what wouldn’t. It’s been great to start with a varied portfolio. It kind of revealed the way people buy and what people are looking for as I sold. As you work, you will develop a style and certain traits that clients will look forward to in your next models. As you sell more and more, it’s great to focus on packs and assets that can complement your other successful models.Yet, don’t forget to keep surprising your customers from time to time with unexpected work.
If you do want to focus on business rather than art and are confident with your skills, I’d say make a small market study.
- Find out what’s missing in the marketplace. New and original stuff will always inspire potential clients.
- Keep up with the trends. For example, if the new cyberpunk hit is coming up, try modeling sci-fi stuff as there will be game developers inspired by the upcoming big titles.
- Enhance, don’t compete. If you’d like to work on a saturated theme, try not to make an asset that is too similar to what you’ve found. Instead, twist it, or find a way to complement what is available.
- Ask around. You can find clients or customers that are looking for something particular that will sell well. Non-exclusive licenses will help you fund your project, all while having a final result that you can share or sell to the community.
Pricing your work
For pricing, it’s best to keep in mind that selling assets is a slow recovery endeavor, and you need to price according to the market needs other than the hours put into the work itself. As you keep increasing sales and number of assets, however, you’ll start to create a snowball that in time and with exposure, will grow bigger and bigger, compensating for the small price.
When freelancing, I usually gather all of my living expenses and figure out an hourly rate. Once you have a little experience, you sort of know how long it takes to make each piece so you price it accordingly. When a client hires you, they generally want something more specific or complex, and you also may not be able to re-sell the model. In this instance, you can expect to charge more for your models.
Selling from a digital store means you don’t have to worry about inventory. The piece you’ve produced will be sold many times. Perhaps it will stop selling when technology starts getting better or new workflows are discovered. In order to recover your expenses, it’s best to create something that will be selling consistently. Try to figure out a breakeven, and after you’ve passed a couple of sales and recovered the costs, you’ll see that the rest are winnings and will pile onto the winnings of future assets.
In short, do some research on assets that are similar. Think about what kind of customer your asset is directed to, and ask yourself if they can afford it. If you are aiming for a big company, then perhaps the price can be higher, but most indie studios and individuals are looking for affordable models, otherwise, they would hire a freelancer.
How to promote your work
For me, the best promotion is the quality of the work itself. People will get interested if they see passion and dedication in your pieces.
Another great promotion method is making a few of your models available for free download. Perhaps you can’t use them commercially as they are fan art, but they can help someone learn something. Or maybe you weren’t planning to release them, but they are high quality and will help someone with a project. People will be able to appreciate your work firsthand and will be thankful or happy to share it with their contacts.
Finally, and a weak spot for me because I don’t invest the time I should in this matter: social networking—whether it is on Instagram, Artstation, or Facebook. I’ve seen a lot of successful sellers have great social networking skills. Without a doubt, I will be delving deeper on social networking for promotion!
Sketchfab, setting up your products
Sketchfab is probably one of the easiest stores out there to set up a model. All you have to do is drag your model in. Once it’s been processed, you are free to go to the 3D editor to set up the display options. Do take some time with the lighting, material, and post effects options, as presentation really sells your model. The right mood and lighting will do wonders.
Sketchfab makes the setup super fun and easy. What’s great is, in the end, it’ll count the vertices, materials, and polys automatically.
Once you’ve uploaded your model, you can establish the price, and even add a .zip with other model and texture formats. I generally compile everything into a ZIP for easy access for my customers.
Why do I use Sketchfab for selling?
There are many stores out there, but few have the benefits Sketchfab gives to content creators.
- First, I loved that they acknowledge the hard work of artists and take only a 30% commission. This was new as I was selling on other platforms, and felt really underappreciated as those platforms would take up to 60 to 70% commission while not having remotely the same advantages.
- I already talked about the easy set-up, but it’s really so easy and fun! I am really looking forward to how my piece is going to look on their platform as I’m finalizing it.
- True PBR real-time rendering. My PBR maps work exactly as they should, giving the look I was hoping from the moment I texture my assets in Substance Painter. My customers also get the chance to spin the model around, and check every characteristic, from texture maps to topology; my client knows exactly what they are getting. I know when I sell something on Sketchfab that my customers are happy because they know exactly where they put their hard-earned money.
- Get paid immediately. I get payment in my Paypal account in real-time. Most stores will hold onto your money until next month. Here, you sell something, and you are able to re-invest that money as soon as possible as you receive the money immediately after the sale is completed.
- Huge and supportive community. Not only does Sketchfab have millions of users, but it also has a huge community of artists that will engage with you positively. Be it in the form of likes, follows, comments, or friendship in their Discord server, I’ve found this community to be incredibly supportive and amazing.
For more information on selling your models, you can visit this link.
Future opportunities for assets
Opportunities are always growing with technology and people. With more and more creatives exploring the beauty of 3D, one can always hope to come up with a great idea to support these minds and their projects.
I found that people really like historically accurate assets. I try to provide history-driven characters and assets for games. At the same time, historical assets are always very compatible with fantasy and have a great range of uses. Be they educational or for entertainment, people can modify them to their purpose, and if they have proper realism, they can fit into so many projects.
All in all, I think there is huge room for any assets as long as they are made with passion and creativity. Happily, this gives me the freedom to focus on what I like the most as I’m sure I’ll give my best for what I love doing!