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Women on Sketchfab: Cassidy Elem

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Hello there! I’m Cassidy, a 3D environment artist & recent grad! I like to work on fantasy themes and enjoy creating stylized models with hand-painted textures & lots of plants.

My Background

I’m from the midwestern United States—I lived very far from anything and raised cows, sheep, and a little flock of chickens. At some point when I was in middle school, I was gifted my first digital drawing tablet, and I was hooked on digital art and took every traditional art course I had available to me in my tiny town while teaching myself digital art. After graduation, I moved and attended a public university studying Fine Arts. I really enjoyed it, but found it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue as a career.

Encouraged by a dear professor, I transferred to an art school and began to study game design.
While I had a pretty steady base in the fundamentals of 2D art, 3D art was a complete mystery to me, and I essentially started from scratch. It was during this time that I decided I really enjoyed creating and texturing models and environments for games. It was when I got to work on my first self-directed environment that I really felt proud and excited to be able to make environments for a living. Before graduating, I worked as an environment artist on our senior game, Doggone Hungry, which was a great experience in terms of learning more of the stylized workflow.

After graduation, I worked full-time while job hunting before moving to quarantine with family and save money. Currently, I am freelancing and polishing up my portfolio while I send out applications and emails to try and get my foot in the door!

My Artistic Approach

Lately, I have started tailoring my 3D work to a more stylized, hand-painted approach. Because I am learning as I work, I find it easiest to get started by taking inspiration from the stylized work I see being done by other artists on ArtStation and Sketchfab. Sometimes, I see an illustration that I love, and, after asking permission, work from there. Other times, I create my own concept, usually after creating a nice mood board. Once I have a firm grasp of what I am intending to do, I start modeling!

Generally, I model in Maya, as I’m the most comfortable/efficient with it. I try to do a blockout first, to see how everything plays together in 3d (sometimes 2D illustrations do not work as well in 3D as I think they will!), then I go ahead and add all the smaller details. I’m used to modeling in a fairly high-poly workflow, but am now trying to be smarter about it and think about what I can paint in as opposed to actually modeling in. After I’m satisfied with the naked model, I’ll usually go ahead and unwrap the UVs using UV Layout Pro (I love this! A professor showed it to me in school—I personally find it so much easier to do my UVs this way).

For texturing, I use a mixture of Substance Painter & Procreate. Lately, it’s been more Substance, as I like the real-time effect of painting directly onto the model. It took me a little time to get used to Substance (in fact, I fought it tooth and nail in college), but once I realized I didn’t always have to use it for realistic PBR work, it completely opened up so many options for me. Something just clicked in my brain, and now I go straight to it!

If I’m just working on a small prop or trying out new techniques, I usually export them straight from Substance Painter to Sketchfab. If I’m working on creating an entire scene or environment my workflow is completely different, as I generally use UE4 as a combination pre-vis, testing zone, and final result all at once.

Challenges

At the beginning of my journey into 3D, I really struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I went from a teeny town with 6 or so drawing classes to a big city, where many of my classmates had had years of 3D experience under their belt by the time they got to college. It was one of those situations where I would see the absolutely stunning work being produced by my peers and would find myself struggling not to tear down my own. Luckily, I had some incredibly supportive classmates, friends, and professors. I learned to see my art as a work in progress, and now seek out critique as a way to understand not only what mistakes were made, but how to correct them in the future.

Following graduation, I experienced true burnout for the first time. It was awful! It took me months and months of time to feel like I had any ability to draw, model, or create in general. It was probably the lowest point in my art career. I’m finally emerging from it, and the amount of creative energy I have is crazy! I can look back and see that pressing too hard for too long, with not enough sleep and way too much stress, is a surefire way to kill off my creativity. I’m taking big steps to not only practice but promote self-care to help keep burnout at bay in the future.

A current challenge I am facing is that of self-promotion and how that plays into the job hunt. I’m very much a quieter person, and selling myself is not something I’ve ever been great at. I’ve only just recently started confidently posting my work to social media and really trying to promote myself and my work. I have a long way to go, but I’m happy that I’m beginning to feel more confident in my work. I love to interact with people about my work, and look forward to hearing thoughts, tips, and tricks to make myself a better artist.

Sketchfab

I was introduced to Sketchfab by a close friend in college—I had seen other art sharing sites and hadn’t really been sold on their UI and way of displaying art. The ability to really get a nice look at other artists’ work was such a huge source of inspiration; we often turned to Sketchfab in our courses as a source of inspiration and learning. I also feel that it is very accessible for artists of all levels—sometimes a front page of a site can be the most intimidating thing in the world, but here I was comfortable seeing the wide range of styles, genres, and skills that are represented.

Thank you so much for allowing me to ramble on about myself! I was truly flattered and pretty nervous when I was asked to be a part of the Women on Sketchfab series, but I’m so grateful as well. It’s great to see women in the 3D field represented. <3

 

About the author

Cassidy Elem

3D Environment/Prop Artist: I love stylized, hand-painted modeling & plants c:



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