Women on Sketchfab: Violaine Fayolle

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Hi there! I’m Violaine, a French 2D and 3D artist, specializing in game art and virtual experiences. I worked on several Augmented Reality games and some other Mixed Reality experiences over the years, often stylized towards a cute aesthetic.

My background

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, always doodling next to my class notes, drawing humans and creatures when returning home. I still have a folder full of drawings made as a teen and let me tell you it’s 90% dragons.

However, during high school, when it felt like I had to choose a path for my future career, I switched to an engineering degree for fear that the art world would be no place for me. It was only at the very last month, right before applying to university, that I re-evaluated my life choices and decided that I would rather try than regret not trying. How grateful I am now for this moment of clarity!

My higher education started with a bachelor in Arts and Communication. At the time, I had no idea that 3D would even be a thing for me. That was until my last year, when I registered for a full additional year on 3D Real-time for Games and my eyes opened to a new world of creativity. It was only natural then that I continued my studies to a Master degree in Game Art and Interactive Experiences.

Games and XR applications offer such great depth of experiences! I realized this is what I wanted to do: to create worlds, narrative, unique characters, all living in this alternate reality we call the virtual world.

My work as a polyvalent digital artist

My Sketchfab account dates back to 2015, when I was still in school and learning 3D for the first time. For several years I didn’t upload much of my work, because either I didn’t take the time to or the work was under NDA. Nowadays, though, I try to upload more.

Back in 2018, only a few months after graduating, I got my first job at the ETHZ Game Technology Center in Zürich. Here, we work inside the largest University of Zürich to create games and virtual experiences to promote science. We are a very small team of 8 to 12 people, which means that as one of the two artists in the group, I must be capable of working on many of the steps involved in creating a game. I even write a bit of code from time to time. This type of environment is perfect for me because I can keep my wide range of skills up-to-date instead of focusing on one set of skills specifically. I enjoy the variety quite a lot!

In my free time, though, my favorite thing is character design and creation. I simply am living through the stories and adventure we can weave out of a good character, both in 3D and 2D form.

My process, constantly changing

With each new project I give myself a new challenge, which means that my tools and process have changed quite a lot over the years. I started my career using 3ds Max and a bit of Maya for modeling and animating, paired with Substance Painter or Photoshop for texturing. But in 2020, I decided it was time I give Blender a proper try! It was love at first sight.

Today, be it my work or personal projects, I rely on Blender for nearly all of the steps.

My typical workflow starts with 2D concept art. It is a really important step especially when working with external clients to make sure everyone is on the same page and all options have been considered before spending hours on 3D modeling.

Once the concept has been approved and is detailed enough, I jump to Blender and start modeling. If the piece is more complex, as it typically is for characters, I begin with a sculpt. I try to push the sculpt as far as I can to reflect the style used in the concept. The challenge of bringing to 3D a 2D character is very rewarding. It forces us to see past the image and to project the concept into our mind, make out and understand its underlying structure and find tricks to compensate for the change of dimension while still retaining the charm of 2D.

Recently, I have also started using Blender for texturing. Because most of my work-related projects are aimed at mobile platforms, stylized and hand-painted textures are prioritized over very detailed realistic textures I would create in Substance Painter.

Animating is done in Blender too. Although I find rigging to be meditative sometimes, it is still a bit tedious for me generally. Using plugins and any tool to help the process makes a great difference there—I can only recommend you try any you find that might suit your needs.

Challenges and the struggle to say “good-enough”

It has always been hard for me to identify my style, because I like to do all sorts of things. My comfort zone is realistic human figures and monsters, but lately I’ve been into colorful and stylized models because they pose a challenge to me and are generally bite-sized projects that I can more confidently execute in their entirety before I get bored and leave the project for another, newer idea. I never run out of ideas, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Probably my main issue, however, is that I am very critical with my own work and see each project as a learning opportunity, which also means that I will easily get stuck on an arbitrary step of the process, searching endlessly how to do that step better, faster, properly. I struggle to realize when something is good and done, meaning I end up fiddling around for too long, lose interest and quit the project, frustrated.

If you, too, struggle with having 99 work-in-progress projects only to finish one every 3 months, I am not sure I am the correct person to help you. But, perhaps, from my own experience, I recently found that making fanart or work based on a concept created by another artist can help to stay motivated. A lot of the heavy-lifting of the design process is already done and you can focus on the rest with a sharper focus. Finally ending a project gives me that boost in confidence which helps me to launch myself into the next, longer project with more energy!

Sketchfab

I have been on Sketchfab since 2015 and I don’t see myself leaving, quite the contrary!

I remember when the platform first introduced support for animation and how ecstatic I was. Now, I look forward to the day we could start messing around with stylized shaders, to push the boundaries of style available on the platform and expand our creative realms.

I wish I could finish more of my projects to share them with the rest of the world through Sketchfab more regularly. In the meantime, I will continue roaming the platform for great inspiration and to simply marvel at the creations of others.

About the author

Violaine Fayolle

Polyvalent Digital Artist specializing in Game Art, I live for variety and character design. My head is full of project ideas and my desk full of plants.



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