Women on Sketchfab: Nina Pal

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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!


About the author

Nina Pal

3D artist, from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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