What a year. It’s been a tough one, but throughout all the highs and lows we saw the Sketchfab community growing and coming together as its members expressed themselves creatively. We (Bart, Tom, and Abby) want to round out the year by sharing our favorite things with you. But first, a quick recap of some of the big things that happened this year at Sketchfab:
- In March, we added the USDZ file format to every downloadable 3D model
- In April, we introduced app-free AR for brands
- In May, we launched Sketchfab for Teams
- In September, we reached 4 million members + added Projects to Sketchfab for Teams
- In December, we reached the amazing milestone of 500,000 free downloadable models on Sketchfab
What were your favorite parts of the past year on Sketchfab? Let us know in the comments.
Bart, Head of Community
For a community of close to 4.5 million members, the Sketchfab community team is incredibly small: with just the three of us, we manage to keep everything running smoothly. And our list of tasks is long: we’re doing daily staff picks and moderation, running weekly challenges, engaging with everyone on social media, our Forum, and Discord server, posting daily updates on our blog, writing newsletters, and helping internal teams with messaging community members, product feedback, copywriting, and much more.
One thing we’ve really ramped up this year is sending personal postcards to community members who made a contribution. One of my favorite things is to keep an eye on social media and see messages pop up when they arrive—these really make my day. 🙂
Another personal highlight is the livestream we did on Discord with our 3D developer Rémy Bouquet. Rémy was showing the ins and outs of our 3D editor and afterward, the session turned into a fantastic interactive conversation with questions and product suggestions. Having seen the success of this live stream, we’re planning to do many more in 2021—hosted both by our team and by community members.
I love low poly work as well as isometric scenes. For some reason, breaking with the laws of perspective just ‘works’ for me, especially when in a complex scene. (I keep a collection of my favorite scenes here.) So the Isometric Room Low Poly Challenge that we ran in September was one of my favorites this year and I had my eyes glued to the tag gallery as the entries were coming in. 👌
Favorite blog article
It can’t be a secret that I’m a Blender fan (I even run some Blender communities in my spare time), so as my favorite blog post this year, I’ll pick the Grog the Adventurer Art Spotlight. I really enjoyed the detailed overview of the work that went into it and think that Kai did an excellent job with this model!
One of my favorite collections on Sketchfab is ‘How things work’ by Sketchfab team member Paul. Paul likes to focus on scientific and engineering models that come with in-depth explanations. Highly recommended!
Tom, Cultural Heritage Lead
I’m really proud to have worked with museums around the world to build Sketchfab’s public domain initiative for cultural heritage. The project got underway at the end of 2019 and launched in February 2020 with 3D models from 27 cultural organizations based in 13 different countries. Among other press, the project was shortlisted for Digital Innovation of the Year by Apollo Magazine. I look forward to growing this initiative in the new year.
Another project I worked on a lot this year was collaborating with Run the Jewels to launch the 3D remix challenge RTJ4D. It was a very special experience to work with Team RTJ and the nature of the collaboration pushed our challenge format to a new level. The response from the artistic community was awesome.
Favorite blog article
How Studio Jester Blank Digitized Collections for Staatliche Museen zu Berlin feels like a very relevant story for this year. Like many other museums worldwide, the SMB is unable to welcome people to its real-life venue but has taken this opportunity to develop its online digital presence. This is a stunning example of an entire exhibition being digitized and made available online for free, alongside expert audio commentary in both German and English.
Ok, so this is not quite ‘a model’ but I absolutely love the effect of the ASCII Model (April Fools) filter that Sketchfab’s developers built this year. Better yet, you can try this effect on any model on Sketchfab by adding ?post_process_ascii=1 to the end of any model URL—what do your favorite models look like in ASCII?
Abby, Blog Editor
I’ll admit that I was a total Discord n00b when we first launched the Sketchfab Discord server in April. Since that time, however, I’ve really enjoyed using Discord to get to know community members, share challenge information, see artists’ works in progress and final models, and watch how our community members help each other out with software, API, or Sketchfab support issues. Our server came along at a good time, too, with many (or most) of us being locked down, and few opportunities for contact and conversation with people outside of our households. During that time, I certainly benefited from the interactions that I had on Discord with all of our talented, engaged community members.
It’s hard to choose a favorite challenge because we had so many good ones this year. If you want to know my top 5 list, you can ping me on Discord. 😜 For now, though, you get my #1.
My favorite challenge was the Souvenirs scanning challenge that we ran for two weeks in July. Travel hasn’t been much of an option this year, so it was really fun to see everyone else’s travel memories and share my own. Hopefully, we’ll all be collecting more souvenirs (and scanning them) again soon.
Favorite blog article
As the Blog Editor, I love all of our community contributions equally. That said, Mikaël Sévère’s Roman Hypocaust Art Spotlight really impressed me. Not only is the featured model an eye-catching piece of low poly art, it’s an excellent educational tool. Having spent years both learning and teaching about Roman archaeology, I can only rue that didactic tools like this didn’t exist “back in my day”. And the Art Spotlight that Mikaël wrote about how he created the piece was detailed in a way that highlighted the choices that one has to make to convey information effectively.
I really love our Real-time Demo collection. As the person in charge of creating these demos, and having spent a fair bit of time with each of them, I think they do a great job of illustrating how different Sketchfab features work. I have learned a lot about Sketchfab capabilities while creating the collection’s demos, and I always hope that our community finds them a useful resource. Big props go to the creators of the models that we use to illustrate Sketchfab features—without their incredible art, the collection would just be full of 3D scans of sleeping cats.