Women on Sketchfab: Alina Zhdanova

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About me

Hello! My name is Alina, I’m a 3D artist from Russia. I have been working in gamedev for 5 years. I think I’m very lucky to find a career that I like so much.


From an early age I loved drawing and doing other creative stuff, that’s why after school I decided to get vocational art education in the College of Art and Culture in Novosibirsk. Then I was sure that I would be a traditional painter. I especially liked gouache painting and Russian folk art.
But at that time I knew absolutely nothing about the CG industry. Yes, I was raised on Disney’s films and a lot of fantasy movies. And like many kids, I always enjoyed video games. When I was in middle school and played The Sims 2, one of my favorite things was to find textures in game files and repaint them with Photoshop to make the clothes that I wanted. But even that didn’t give me an idea that I could earn a living from making game graphics. I just never thought about how exactly games or films are made.

Meanwhile, at some moment I realized that I couldn’t see myself as a painter. So I decided to get higher education at the Siberian University of Telecommunications, where I learned programming and web-design. It was fairly interesting for me and gave me much perspective, like everyone said it would.

And one day I just accidentally saw on YouTube a speed sculpt from Raf Grassetti where he was making an orc, and that, no kidding, changed my life. The possibilities of 3D modeling just blew my mind.  ZBrush became my main hobby. I spent all my free time after classes learning all the tutorials that I could find and making some first unshapely works. In that way it took my last two years in university to get enough skills for commercial working.

In 2016, when I graduated, I succeeded in getting my first job at a small indie studio that makes mobile games. Since that time I have continued my work in the games industry.

My artistic focus and challenges

For some reason, finding my particular focus is the hardest task for me. Initially, I was fascinated by all the spheres of 3D modeling. To be honest, at the start I didn’t dream about working specifically in gamedev. Then I was also interested in many careers like animation, advertising, 3D print or interior visualization. All of them were about the same level of cool for me, it didn’t matter, the main thing for me was the possibility to make models. Now I’m already deep in the game’s theme, loving it and I’m going to develop further here. Most of the companies where I have worked produced casual mobile games. So I have a lot of this type of work in my portfolio.

But in general in gamedev I like so many styles, and almost all specializations. I can’t choose one from characters, environment, props or even stylisation or realism. So I’ve tried many different things.

I used to think that I needed to continue trying and someday I would know where to focus my efforts. But it looks like it may never happen. But I absolutely agree with the opinion that you only can become a real professional if you focus on one thing. If you mess around in many directions and styles, it is a high risk that you will be not so good in any of them. Repeating a style and pipeline gives the ability to understand all their nuances and maybe go further down that road and find something new and personal. Not to mention that it’s much easier for an employer to see you and your goals when the portfolio clearly fits in one category and it isn’t populated with a cute cartoon, a hyper-realistic human, a mountain scene in UE4, and 2D icons, and final absolute chaos!

So with effort of will I decided to restrict myself at least in style. Stylised hand painting and texturing is something that I can do pretty well, according to some of my associates. Maybe my painting studies in the past help me with that. That’s why now I would like to focus on stylised models and improve different skills in that area.

Also, I would really like to bring more creativity and my own ideas to my work! This is probably the curse of the 3D artist—it is absolutely necessary to be able to clearly follow the concepts, this is how the work in the industry is built. At the same time, when you make a model based on someone else’s art and post it, you get some likes and praise—you have a clear feeling that in general this is not your merit at all, the beautiful visuals were created by a concept artist. It’s hard to create concepts for my models myself, so I’m only at the beginning of the journey.

Community сhallenges are very important to me. It was the weekly speed sculpts in the ZBrush group in VK that helped me make my first portfolio, they were a great motivator. Since I have been working at studios, unfortunately there is little free time left for such activities, but I try to participate in the ArtStation challenge every year. Of course, I can’t really hope to win yet, but the concepts on this challenge are always amazing and inspiring themselves. And besides, of course, the community is very motivating, the opportunity to observe the work of many artists and move along with them. This year I participated for the third time, but unfortunately I didn’t get to complete the work on time (please ArtStation, don’t set a deadline before the New Year holidays again). However, I like the character that came out.


I really love this platform. I have been using Sketchfab almost since the beginning of my journey in 3D, probably for four years already and I am amazed at how the platform develops! In my humble opinion and personally for me, this is definitely the best opportunity to present your model interactively when you aren’t satisfied making render images. Rendering capabilities are already incredible, and new cool features are constantly appearing for setting up the scene, materials, and lighting—even in the free version.

In general, I am grateful for this opportunity to show my work. And thanks a lot to Abby, Mieke, and Jasmin for inviting me to participate in this article series. Reading about the experiences of other women was very interesting and inspiring for me!

Alina on ArtStation

About the author

Alina Zhdanova

3D artist from Novosibirsk, Russia

1 Comment

  • Omar Faruq Tawsif says:

    It was very inspiring! Also I can’t help but admire your handpainted artworks as an enthusiast in that particular region. Looking forward to see more of them!

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