Hi there! My name is Emily Mitchell, and I’m a 3D artist from Halifax, Canada. I’m currently working as a character artist at Behaviour Interactive in Montréal.
Even though I began making art and playing games as a young kid, my journey to creating art for games has been a bit of a roundabout one. Since, at the time, neither pursuit was seen as leading to a career, I was encouraged to pursue an academic path in my post-secondary education. As a result, I gave up on art pretty much entirely for many years. I nevertheless remained an avid gamer in my free time, and have always held a special love for games that push the medium’s possibilities in terms of art and storytelling. I never stopped feeling inspired by those stories and the way games could tell them. After a fair bit of flailing about in search of a career path, I decided to make a go at art again, with the hopes of joining the games industry. With that in mind, I set out to learn 3D and immediately fell in love.
While I could say that I’m a self-taught 3D artist, really I owe much of my education to the wonderful 3D art community gathered on the internet; to all of the tireless creators who spend their time making in-depth tutorials, and to the 3D art community on social media which is full of kind and helpful people who are always ready to offer encouragement and advice.
Having powerful tools so easily accessible has also been key to my learning process. I began learning 3D with Blender, and still use it extensively. Sketchfab, too is a wonderful tool, not just because it showcases inspiring art and artists, but because it allows for a deeper inspection of the technical side of 3D models. Looking at a piece you love with a critical eye is an excellent way to learn about other artists’ styles and methods.
Art & Styles in 3D
I’m still continuing to learn all the time and to grow as an artist, and I like to try out different styles as much as I can. I don’t want to typecast myself as someone who only makes one specific kind of art—a big part of what I love about 3D is how versatile it can be—but at the same time, I often feel inadequate and underdeveloped when I see other artists who have a strong and recognizable style. I’m constantly torn between wanting to settle on one style and work hard to improve at it, and trying new methods to give a different look and feel to a model I’m working on. I am still working to find a balance between versatility and personal expression, and I’m sure it will be a long journey, but it is often easy to criticize oneself for not doing things in the “correct” or “professional” way.
In the games industry especially, there are certain styles and subject matter that receive more acclaim than others. Hyper-realism is often touted as the pinnacle of 3D by industry professionals and gamers alike. Meanwhile, styles like handpainting and low-poly are judged to be inferior, easier to create, and more juvenile. I think a lot of artists feel pressured to make the kind of art that is considered “best” in order to be more successful in that world.
But increasingly I’m seeing more diverse and experimental styles on the rise, which is really exciting. Being able to engage with a varied community of artists on platforms like Sketchfab and Twitter is really encouraging on that front—there are so many people making and sharing the art they want to see in the world, and encouraging others to join them. I’m hopeful for a paradigm shift in what quality art means, and looking forward to playing all of the games that come from creators expressing their own unique styles and perspectives.
A big thanks to Abby, Mieke and Jasmin for putting together the Women On Sketchfab series. It’s fantastic to have a platform for female voices in 3D, and it was an honor to be invited to join in! If you’d like to see more of my work, or chat about 3D art, games, or D&D, you’re welcome to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or ArtStation.