Seaside Sculpt Jam gathered digital artists from Romania and Bulgaria for an intensive educational experience

Five days of intensive 3D sculpting training in a quiet Bulgarian village by the seaside. With a bunch of brave students from Romania and Bulgaria That was the premise of our Seaside Sculpt Jam bootcamp. It was the first time we organized something like this, so really we were going into uncharted territory. We left on Sunday morning, picked up the students and by Sunday night, almost all of us were enjoying a nice meal and a glass of rakia/wine/you name it. And getting to know each other.

Edi, 17 years old, 2nd place winner of our Forever Heroes Challenge – Photo by ARC Academy

We Shape Communities. In 3D. 😄

We planned this bootcamp as a way to offer guidance to aspiring 3D artists who wanted to join the gamedev industry. But, after we officially met our participants, we realized what a diverse and varied adventurous group we had actually gathered.

And the stars were our students!

All of them were there to learn 3D sculpting, but for distinct reasons. And we also discovered the very different backgrounds some of the students came from. We had concept artists, a VJ, illustrators, CG artists, a DJ and a foreign language specialist…the list goes on.

Trainer Claudiu Tanasie during a feedback sesh

On Monday, we got up early to set up the working space for the next 5 days. We gave the laptops to the participants, who started slowly and (some of them) shyly pouring in. When everyone took their seats, Sofia Christov, anatomy teacher at ARC Academy, began her first lecture of the week. So tablets and laptops were temporarily forgotten in favor of pencils and sketchbooks.

“I’m a little rusty with traditional art” “Oh, I have not drawn in a LONG time” were the initial reactions to skull-drawing basics. But, despite those doubts, the students drew and they kept drawing. Because anatomy’s important, kids, regardless of whether you’re a digital or traditional character artist.

Andreea, 3rd place winner of our Forever Heroes Challenge, during an anatomy class

The importance of hands-on feedback and f2f interaction

To mix our cultures, we decided that the theme would be “Sculpt your Roommate.” The participants were already paired in rooms for the “Romanians and Bulgarians, unite!” rule. So we asked our cool cameraman, Cristi, to whip out his 200 mm lens and photograph each participant, for references. Then, off to work. All days started with Sofia’s anatomy classes, followed by a lecture from one of the trainers and then practice, practice, practice. With hands-on feedback sessions and emotional connection. And, honestly, this was one of the highlights of the Seaside Sculpt Jam.

Anatomy Teacher Sofia Christov during her class – Photo by ARC Academy

Because many of the students explained to us how valuable this experience was. To have an industry professional sit down next to you and guide you. Actually, scratch that. Not just one, but five! Five trainers who walked around and sat down next to whoever needed their feedback. “Honestly, this is the best way to learn” and “No online tutorial will ever come close to this kind of experience.” Those were two of the real-time feedbacks we got, while having lunch at the hotel’s restaurant. And the ones that truly sum up the importance of having someone with more experience by your side when you’re learning.

3D guidance from AMC Character artists, Daniel Merticariu and Marius Petre

Which made us realize how vital it is for us to organize more training camps & other edu events, and to continuously improve our edu processes. Especially because, in Romania, there aren’t a lot of edu opportunities for hands-on 3D art learning.  We currently have active collaborations with universities in order to educate the new generation of 3D artists in a professional way, but we have a long road ahead. So we wanted to take an extra step in this direction and started with a Sea Side Scuplt Jam. Because an event like this is like a live tutorial with the opportunity of getting live feedback.

Trainer Nikolay Naydenov making sure the students are on the right track

The power of friendship

And the second highlight were the friendships and bonds that formed. Getting a bunch of international (and mostly introverted – including the person writing this) strangers together in a remote area and asking them to sit, eat, work and play together is … not an easy task. But, honestly? We didn’t really have to do anything, because everyone just naturally got along. Sure, the first day had some awkward interactions, but the next day? We were all sitting at the long table we reserved for lunch and dinner and just talking and getting along.

If you squint a bit, you can see Marius Petre drawing Daniel Merticariu

One afternoon, we all went to the beach. Students, trainers, organizers, all of us. And we stayed till after midnight, because we were all just having a lot of fun. We had beach towels to sit on, music, hoodies, food from a nearby takeaway. And an absolutely gorgeous starry sky, unobscured by the city lights we’re all used to.

At the beach. Yay! – Photo by ARC Academy

But most importantly, we had each other. We came to this camp as strangers, but 3 days in and we were already laughing over wine and (overpriced) pizza. Sharing stuff about our lives, our hobbies, our projects. And happy to be with awesome people who want to learn and pass on what they already know.

The students’ works will be displayed at RADAR, the new media art festival in Bucharest. See you there?

Trainer Marius Petre explaining 3D scans – Photo by ARC Academy

Kudos to our Trainers!

The learning experience would not have been the same without our dedicated & passionate trainers who just love sharing their expertise. So, a round of virtual applause and many thank you’s to:

  • Daniel Merticariu, Lead Character Artist at AMC. Kudos to him for also reminding us all of the philosophy of art. And for linking 3D art with chicken sexing (long story).
  • Marius Petre, Character Artist at AMC. Who also showed our students his path to becoming a 3D artist, explained how to work smart and inspired them to never give up.
  • Claudiu Tănasie, Freelance Character Artist. In his introductory presentation, he presented the milestones, good and bad, from his career, and encouraged everyone to always keep learning.
  • Nikolay Naydenov, Character Artist & Teacher at ARC Academy. He gave the students live sessions of speed-sculpting and always shared his expertise, whether during classes, or over some rakia.
  • Sofia Christov, Anatomy Teacher at ARC Academy. She taught the participants that it’s okay to make mistakes, because it’s the only way to truly learn.
AMC Junior Artist Kaloyan Kalamov helping his Bulgarian brethren – Photo by ARC Academy

Thanks to our Partners!

A big thank you to our partners ARC Academy & FAR for their contribution to the Seaside Sculpt Jam.

ARC Academy – ARC is a place for people with creative talent who want to develop it into a successful career. The Academy was established in 2019, and our goal is to be an arch between young talents and creative industries. We are proud of the fact that over 85% of our graduates find a job in this field. This gives us the confidence to continue working in the same direction. We have 5 programs: Concept Art, 3D Art, Game Design, Computer Science and VFX & Animation.

FAR – Future Artistic Requirements is a multidisciplinary platform, with the goal of initiating a new media community, creating a dialogue between key players and educating the future generations that want to be a part of this industry.

And let’s give it up for Ardes.bg as well, for providing us with hardware for the students.

For us, it was a journey of growing, connecting, honesty, of vulnerability, of courage. An adventure set to take us out of our comfort zones. A journey which drove us to new horizons, new possibilities, further actions. Let’s hope for new and more adventurous ones! 💫

See you soon!