My name is Nina Pal and I’m a 3D artist from Ljubljana, Slovenia. My formal education is in fine arts and painting. After receiving my bachelor’s degree at the Faculty of Arts I decided to teach myself 3D, learning mostly by trial and error. At first, I intended this to be a continuation of my academic work with digital collage, but I eventually lost interest in the fine arts scene. Instead, I found 3D to be a liberating new technique, allowing me to pursue my own interests and develop my own style.
I started a blog to keep track of my progress and motivate myself by sticking to a schedule. I was surprised to see it gain traction and a following with lots of positive feedback. That led to my first commissions and from there I was able to start freelancing for larger projects.
Artistic focus & approach
My work is mainly inspired by the nature around me and the many plants I have in my home. I really like a single prop to be the highlight of the scene, especially if it’s an object that would usually be considered kind of mundane or just a part of the environment.
Because of my background, I try to apply painting techniques to my work. I love hand painting textures and experimenting with different brushes. I approach each model differently but the first step is always gathering references and making a bunch of sketches. For my personal work I tend not to refine my sketches too much, I like to just jump into ZBrush and begin with a sculpt.
If I don’t plan on baking any normal maps, I keep the sculpt really loose. Then I import the sculpt into Blender and start doing a model on top of it. When the model is finished it’s on to my favourite part, the textures. I export the UV map into Photoshop where I do the bulk of my painting. If I end up with any visible seams I paint over them later in Blender.
Most of the time I’m going for a render that will have a shadeless look, no lights and no shadows. I keep this in mind when I paint and utilize a lot of light gradients because of that. I think that makes for a clean and impactful look that works really well with the format I use to post on social media.
In the beginning, I was unsure what kind of 3D work I wanted to pursue so I explored many different options and software choices. In the end, I chose what worked best for me, rather than what was considered the standard or common knowledge. I believe you should not be deterred from creating with the tools you’re comfortable with. Of course, often you don’t have a choice, but I’m really glad that the path I took did not require me to use programs that did not suit me.
Because I’m self-taught and somewhat of a perfectionist I also often deal with imposter syndrome. I catch myself overthinking my work or being really unhappy with something I made, only to come around to it later. I’m always questioning if I’m doing something “the correct way” and overcoming these doubts is a daily struggle.
I was anxious when I got my first video game related job, but seeing the great work done by other women gave me confidence that I could do this. The works of Rebecca Cordingley, Heather Penn, and Grace Bruxner inspire me to attempt making my own game one day.
I was invited to join Sketchfab in 2016 and found it to be an amazing learning tool, especially when I was still learning 3D. I would recommend it to anyone starting out in 3D. Just seeing a model up close, looking at wireframes and texture maps taught me more than anything else.
I would like to thank the staff for being so supportive of all the artists on their platform. The updates done to the website since I joined are absolutely amazing. I could spend days in the post-processing menu just adjusting the sliders. Even though I usually go for a shadeless look with my models, I love playing around with various lighting settings to see how they would look in a different environment. I would also like to give a special thank you to Abby, Mieke, and Jasmin for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this inspiring series!
Thank you for taking the time to read this! If you’d like to see more feel free to follow me on Twitter!