Sketchtalk: Shaderbytes

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The gallery of Shaderbytes (or Ian Pretorius as he’s known in real life) is filled with awesome dioramas and characters. He was also one of the winners of the September Unity Community Art Challenge. Let’s learn more about him and his work!

Aladdin sega 16 bit by shaderbytes on Sketchfab

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

My name is Ian Pretorius and I am a freelance digital media developer living in South Africa. I started out in the print industry then worked for several years in an agency as a flash developer, back in the day when flash used to be cool 😉 Lately I focus on development using Unity Engine.

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

My interests are almost completely in real time 3D and I mostly use Blender for all my model development. I’m still rather new to the sculpting scene but am finding it to be an essential tool for character creations. I use Sculptris and Blender for sculpting.

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

While working at an agency I had other people in the team doing graphics and modelling and i would be responsible for putting the applications together and programming. With each project that went by I realized I loved the idea of being able to produce 3D models by myself and started learning at home in my free time.

Jaguar at the water hole by shaderbytes on Sketchfab

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

I am completely self-taught, the internet really is amazing!

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

I always start out by collecting a whole bunch of reference images. Within this collection I try to find examples of composition , art style and color palettes. Some times I do sketches but not always. The rest is pretty standard: blocking out, refinement/sculpting followed by texturing.

Something of interest for the readers may be that lately I have been using the “high to low” baking workflow as a means to bake across models with the same poly count but different UV layouts. Basically this means at first I unwrap various parts of the model to huge individual UV maps without concerning myself about the texel budget/scale and do all texture work on these.

When all texturing is completed I duplicate the model, consolidate and or atlas the UV charts with a texel budget/scale in place and use the “high to low” baking methods described earlier to finalize the textures.

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

I am working on my second 3D pinball game named “Monster Movie Pinball” here is a WIP render of the table :


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

The guy is jumping out of a toilet – what more is there to say haha. Joking aside, I completed this scene in two days and I enjoyed trying to capture the facial expression and pose of this character.

Booger Man – Sega 16bit by shaderbytes on Sketchfab

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

There are two main aspects of the pipeline that I feel need to be learnt. Firstly learning to use your software package properly and secondly studying topology. Lastly keep practicing and learning from others who have been doing it for a long time. I’m still learning everyday.

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

I think its great and have seen many examples of how useful it has been in many movie productions. I have no personal experience using it but would love to play around with it someday in the future!

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

I saw Sketchfab becoming more and more popular via the various digital media forums I like to read and participate in. I used it for the first time while participating in a 3D diorama competition on the Unity Engine forums.

Sketchfab is the perfect means to share any real time rendered artwork with others and also its great for a portfolio showcase display.

What inspires you?

I love art in all its formats. All animation movies or episodes are great inspiration but as a avid gamer I’m extremely fond of game art and animation. If I could highlight one game within the last year or so it would be Puppeteer by SCE Japan Studio. This game is a visual masterpiece of creativity.


– Bart


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