Women On Sketchfab: Anthea van Leeuwen

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Hello Women On Sketchfab! These articles are a great spotlight for the community and are a great source of inspiration for me, so I hope to pass it on with some additions of my own!

Since I was a kid, I loved being creative and drawing the characters that inspired me back then. These are characters that everybody knows, of course; Mario, Link, Zelda, and many more! For the longest time, I didn’t know what direction to take with this.

Luckily enough, I found the university I went to at the perfect time! I attended NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, the Netherlands, and took their International Game Architecture and Design course. That’s where I specialized in 3D Art and branched out into environment art. It wasn’t enough to satisfy me, so I continued making character art in my free time as well!

As part of an internship, I worked with the amazing people at Sumo Digital, and contributed to the lovely game called Snake Pass! They taught me a lot, but once I graduated, I wanted some different experiences. Some of my friends that work at Playtonic Games threw my portfolio at the Art Director, and they were interested in hiring me! I ended up working with some of my biggest inspirations for about two and a half years, and their work has motivated me to keep improving and pushing myself. The work I got to do on Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair has been a delight and a great opportunity. It’s been a few months since I made the decision to move on from them, to broaden my horizons and find what it is that I’m looking to achieve, but they’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

My Art

Usually, when I start a new piece, it comes from a certain idea I got from browsing the internet. This can be an image that inspired me, but also just any song, random story, or prompt. Sometimes the image I have of it in my mind is really clear, so just gathering references is enough, but when I want to create an original piece, I prefer making a sketch of my own. 

Some quick, really rough iteration on my Chef-o’-Mancer

Once I know what shapes I want, I usually make a block out in my 3D modeling program, and subdivide it a few times so it’s not too low poly. The reason for this is that I can then start smoothing the mesh in ZBrush without it losing its shape! Plus, it makes it much easier to add nice details when there are plenty of polygons to sculpt on. 

When I’m done and happy with my sculpt, I make a low-poly version of it, which I then bake my sculpt on. Using the baked maps, I start blocking out my materials very simply in Substance Painter so I can easily see the color palette and how everything reads. Nowadays, I’ve been very fond of hand-painting the diffuse after applying a very simple color gradient. Keep going on like that until you’re satisfied and… Presto! You got yourself a cute little art piece! 

I try to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and the most important thing is to have fun. In the end, I do have a full-time job, so extra stress can cause really nasty burnouts. Take care of yourself!


The industry we’re in is highly competitive, which means there’s plenty of room for self-doubt, inferiority complex, and toxicity. These things have also been the biggest struggles for me, personally.

In order to get recognition, you have to be good at what you do, which means putting a lot of time into making art. It’s tough continuing to do what you love whilst also making it your main source of income, and this can put a lot of stress on you and take away the fun you used to have when making art. When this starts to happen, I try to take a step back to look at what I need and try to act accordingly. This can be taking a break, or talking to someone about it. Thankfully, we’ve got so many great people in our community that can easily support each other. In the end, we are all in it together!

Another point I wanted to bring up that might help you, is that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ art piece. You could go on and polish the thing you’re working on for years, but if you don’t finish it, you’ll never be able to get the mental satisfaction of doing so. Finishing a piece of art you’ve been working on for ages ticks it off your ‘mental list’, and gives you a great boost of motivation (and serotonin!). And, keep in mind that a finished piece means an extra entry in your portfolio that professionals can come across, enticing them to contact you!


Since it’s such an accessible online platform, it’s a no-brainer that I gravitate towards Sketchfab as a place to share my 3D models. Sharing pieces has never been easier, the interface is incredibly clean, and it even has great mobile support (you know, for when your family asks you what it is you do, and you can easily whip out that cool food art you made).

What makes it the best though, is this amazing community that I have been so lucky to share my art, ideas, and friendship with. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from hanging out with plenty of other great people, and I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if I didn’t get the chance. So thank you so much for bringing us all together, Sketchfab! You’ve created an amazing platform for us artists and women to stand on and share our experiences, as well as friends that continue to help me grow to this day.

You can find me on Twitter, Artstation, and of course Sketchfab!

Thank you guys for reading, and stay safe!


About the author

Anthea van Leeuwen

Full-Time Environment Artist, dabbling in Character Art. Overall admirer of beautiful colors, tasty materials and wacky shapes. Nintendo is my main inspiration!

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