Sketchtalk: Heather Knudson, Student of Digital Animation and Visual Effects

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We’re seeing more and more teachers and students using Sketchfab in their classes. Last week, I saw Heather Knudson’s super charming Mr. Mouse (see below), which got me curious about her projects.

Could you introduce yourself to our readers: Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Heather Knudson. I am currently part of the graduating class of December 2014 at The Digital Animation and Visual Effects (‘DAVE’) School in Orlando Florida and am originally from Gilbertsville Pennsylvania.

Three Headed Monster Dog by heatherknudson on Sketchfab

Can you tell us about what aspects of 3D you specialize in?

Being so new to the 3D world, I would not say that I specialize in anything quite yet, but I have taken a liking to hand painted low poly models and hope to pursue that more.

How did you first get started? What was that ‘I want to do this’ moment?

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, and started taking my art more seriously in high school. I found The DAVE School and decided to give it a try. My moment was about a week into the curriculum when I finished my first project. I loved the feel of 3D and enjoyed what I was doing.

Torchlight Armor 2 by heatherknudson on Sketchfab

Do you have any academic training or are you self-taught?

I taught myself how to draw and paint, then through school was able to apply it to 3D. The guidance of my teachers has really helped me improve and refine some skills. But there is still so much more to learn, especially in a field like this that is constantly growing.

Tell us a little bit more about your workflow/process?

The first thing I like to do when getting a new character is to draw out orthos of the body. I think this helps me to visualize what it is going to look like in 3D and clear up any tricky spots. After that I build it in 3DS Max, UV it, and take it into 3D Coat. I like to do a base coloring with rough shadows. If I find something I don’t like or want to refine more I’ll go back to Max and fix it up. I sort of flip back and forth until I’m happy with the model then just paint the rest of the time.

What project(s) are you working on right now?

The final block of school is a group project with my classmates where we make a game. We are working on a very cool IP but I cannot say much about it yet. But I have enjoyed getting to work with them to make lovely art.

Mr. Mouse by heatherknudson on Sketchfab

Can you talk a little bit in detail about your favorite model you currently have posted on Sketchfab?

My favorite model of mine would have to be Mr. Mouse. It was the first project where I got to choose what I wanted to make, and I felt like I got to incorporate my own flare on a fantastic concept. I had a lot of enjoyment painting him and am very proud of the result.

What would be your personal advice to someone getting started in 3D?

I think the most important thing to remember is to not get discouraged with a 3D program when starting. I had a tough time learning how to work the programs at first, it took me a good 6 months of modeling courses until I felt comfortable with it.

What are your thoughts on 3D printing, Are/Do you plan to work with it?

I really like the idea and application of 3D printing and actually just printed my Mouse! It can be used for so much more than characters, and I have seen people around my school use the printers here to make holders for objects, parts for a motorcycle, and even for cosplay!


How did you come across Sketchfab and how does it helped with your project(s)?

A teacher told me about Sketchfab, I was amazed with the way it can show 3D Models and the vastness of its use. I personally use it to show my family what I am doing, as well as posting on Polycount. I think critiques from a distance become a lot more in depth when someone can see your model, its wire-frame, and get into all the nooks and crannies with ease. I also enjoy looking at other people’s work here, and seeing how they went about making a model. I’ve learned a lot looking for tricks people use to make fantastic models.

What inspires you?

Everything! I like looking at other art, photos, and even listening to music to get inspiration for a piece. I love doing this, it’s my passion and in a way I feel like when I finish a model, its part of me. It makes me want to create even more!

Thanks Heather!

You can see more of Heather’s work on her personal website,

– Bart


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