My name is Tomislav Veg. I was born in and live in Croatia. I’m a self taught 3D character artist, digital sculptor and 3D animator. I create stylized 3D characters that are ready to be used in game engines, create animations for characters, and I also cover 3D printing with my digital sculpting of mostly realistic human portraits.
I don’t have any formal education in art. I learned everything that I know about 3D modeling and digital sculpting from the internet and with lots of work and practice. My formal education was in mechanical technique and engineering. But I never liked math, and never liked obeying any strict rules, even if they are natural laws like physics and mathematics. So I was never successful in that field. Instead I worked as a delivery driver, warehouse worker and in similar “blue collar” jobs. That type of work also never provided satisfaction because I always felt I could do much more with my life – I just didn’t have any idea where I belonged for a very long time. Since I suffer from chronic disease (Crohn’s syndrome), which includes a lot of exhaustion, pain and body weakness when the disease is active, it was very difficult at times to work on the physical labor jobs that I worked on.
One day a friend who is a freelancer told me that there are many opportunities on the internet to work from home. I started searching what was available that I could learn and be good at, and then after roughly one year of searching, by chance, I discovered 3D modeling. That chance is a funny story, but it is true. I was playing the popular online game Dota 2, which advertised in the game: “create cosmetic assets in our workshop and earn real money”. So I clicked on that to see what’s it was about, and discovered there is this thing called 3D modeling. I started to google about it, watched some videos about how it’s done and immediately I felt that this was something for me. It is difficult to describe that feeling, but I just knew “this is it, this is me”. I always loved computers, and I loved drawing portraits. Since I was kid I had a good eye for likenesses of the human face and I drew portraits occasionally with pencil as a hobby. When I saw digital sculpting in ZBrush, I was immediately drawn to it. It was a combination of my love for computers and drawing. This was fun for me to do, and given that this is a thriving industry, I was determined to learn how to do it and change my life.
After 10 months of intensive study of various aspects of 3D modeling (roughly 8 hours per day, every day), practice and networking, I got my first job offer as a freelance digital sculptor for a client. It was not much money, but at the time I could not have believed someone was actually paying me for my work, and he was happy with my work so he became my regular client. But at the start I had lots of free time, so I got the idea to try to make some models and try to sell them on the websites on which I now sell them. I had zero expectations when I uploaded – it was more an act of “what do I have to lose”. To my surprise my first model got sold that first month. So this opened “Pandora’s Box” 🙂 and I took making and selling 3D models online as a serious thing and dedicated most of my time to it. I love the freedom to be able to create whatever I want and to try to make some money of it.
It is sometimes difficult to decide which assets to create. I rarely have the time to make something purely artistic to indulge my artistic drive. Even if I don’t have client work I always create something with the intention of selling it on the Sketchfab store and other sites. Maybe I’m paying some price for it in terms of my “artistic soul”, but creating something which is not only of good quality artistically, but also has practical uses either in game development or 3D printing for which people are willing to give their money for is an art of its own, I believe. It is challenging, but I like it.
I learned I must find balance between my heart and logic. That is the only way to create successful assets. I found I can’t only follow my logic “this type of asset would sell much better”, if I don’t feel like I want to make such an asset. So I listen to my heart whose portrait or stylized caricature I’m going to make next, then I make a subjective estimate of whether it would ever sell, and find some compromise if needed.
Where my Work has Been Used
There are many examples. I will feature only few. Here is game called Blood of Patriots with my stylized political caricatures. On this game I actively worked with an awesome young team of developers on creation of animations and characters. The game is a 1990’s style arcade fight game, available on Steam and all mobile devices.
Here you can see one of my characters used in the game on my Sketchfab store:
Another example is a bit unusual, since the model was primarily made for 3D printing. My bust portrait of Mr. Trump was used in this satirical video during the 2016 US elections. The video was made by director Mike Diva, and it collected more than 10 million views.
The Trump portrait bust used in the video is still available in my Sketchfab store:
This is always a difficult question. It also highly depends on the asset in question. If there is a lot of competition in a given genre, I need to adjust the price to be closer to competitors. But I always try to produce a higher quality than competitors and set a higher price. I never go below certain limits. So quality is the key. Customers would rather buy something for $100 or $200 if it’s of good quality for their needs, than pay $20 for something of low quality which requires lots of work or is eventually useless. From a business perspective I tested and noticed that if I offer something for cheap, the number of sales will be only slightly higher, with the result of lower revenue overall.
I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube) to promote my work. I post every new piece that I make on every social platform. This can sometimes take an entire day just to publish on all stores and on all social media, since various social media platforms prefer different formats of videos and image resolutions. I also use opportunities to post my old work when I have the slightest reason to do so. For example, Trump said something…“Here is my Trump 3D caricature, game ready”. I don’t have direct insight into whether this strategy is bringing me more customers (except for a few occasions when I got contacted directly on social platforms for work/models that I sell). But I don’t see how it would harm sales, so I post. I’m sure it is more useful than watching yet another show on Netflix. 🙂 I also ran a small ad campaign on Facebook once, but I didn’t notice any difference in sales as a result. But that is just my very limited and subjective experience.
Setup on Sketchfab
Since I’m a character artist I try to showcase the strongest features of my character. If it’s a 3D printable portrait or sculpture, I use matcap materials. If it’s a game ready character, I use PBR.
If my goal is to make clients spend their money on my work, they need to trust that they will get what they are paying for. Here Sketchfab shines, since you can examine models from all angles. There is no opportunity to “hide” bad spots with shiny render images. “The emperor is naked” on Sketchfab. 🙂
Speaking of emperors, here is my (not naked) stylized game ready Emperor Hirohito:
The Future of Asset Creation
I believe that in any genre there can be good opportunities to create new assets. I’m going to continue making what I love and work where I’m proficient, while constantly trying to improve and to expand the topics I cover.