Stories on becoming a 3D artist

The AMC Art Hunt Challenge has brought together many artists from around the world. Different backgrounds, different dreams, different visions, different styles. Everything 3D.
We talked to some of the participants and asked them a question that is both simple and complex:

What’s your story with 3D art?

Kaloyan Kalamov (BG)

Kaloyan’s Challenge entry

Kaloyan began his art journey in high-school, copying album covers of bands he listened to. What changed? He discovered ZBrush, but was intimidated by this new 3D world. So much so, that just opening ZBrush was a fearful action. But that fog was eventually lifted when he enrolled in university, studying a Game Art course. It was during this time that his love for creating characters was solidified.

“Eventually, I felt the education I received wasn’t of the quality I expected in the beginning, and decided to go on my own and start anew,” he admits. “It took over a year to build up my portfolio by watching tutorials, respecting strict habits to schedule my time for 3D (which was almost half the day) and finding communities to seek feedback.”

Tlaloc (Revisited)

Starting from scratch was quite the grind, he says, and sacrifices had to be made. Was it worth it? Definitely.

“It paid off and now I work as a Junior 3D Artist at Black Sea Games. Can’t be any happier for everything that has happened in such a short period of time and for finally reaching one of my goals in life.”

And the future? “After I feel I’ve achieved my peak in 3D, I want to get back to 2D, back to my roots, and get involved with concept art in games.”

Follow Kaloyan on ArtStation.

Vanessa Celine (NL)

For Vanessa, a student of Game Design and Production in the Netherlands, imagination was the main fuel behind her discovery of the 3D world. She loves stories and fantasy worlds, and admires how one single picture can make someone feel so many things. But the road wasn’t easy.

Constanta Casino Inspired Building

“In high school, I was constantly trying to find something to be passionate about and I researched a lot of career options. I would be hyped for a few days or weeks about something new I found and then the hype would just die out. I knew there weren’t many things that could keep me motivated enough for a 4-year university study, nevermind a lifetime.”

So how did 3D art truly enter Vanessa’s heart? Well, through a university fair. It made her realise that her true passion was recreating all of the wild and fantastical ideas in her head.

“I started researching everything I could about the industry. One thing that really encouraged me was that many successful 3D artists don’t know how to draw, and the fact that drawing is a skill that can be learned with some patience and time, in case you want to pick it up.”

Vanessa’s Challenge entry

So what does Vanessa’s 3D future look like to her? “I am working towards becoming a 3D Environment Artist. This path isn’t set in stone for me yet, since I also like creating props and materials, and someday I hope to create short animation movies. Everyone tells us that we have to specialize and be specific about what we want, but I might just end up doing realistic and stylized assets at the same time, since there’s a lot to like on both sides.”

Any advice? “I am sure a lot of us are or were afraid because we think that talent is this thing that people are born with, when it actually comes with a lot of practice. Some just start practicing earlier.”

Follow Vanessa on ArtStation.

Miruna Ilinca Smărăndoiu (RO)

Art has always been a part of Ilinca’s heart. At 12 years old, her dream was to be an animator – a 3D animator. 

“At the time I was struggling to draw even a stick figure, so the task of learning something like Blender seemed almost impossible, like I was an unequipped diver trying to find the bottom of The Mariana Trench.”

Ilinca’s Challenge entry

The depth of the 3D ocean scared her, and she gave up on 3D art after attempting to learn Blender on her own. She continued to polish her art of 2D and traditional art and, in doing so, realised animation wasn’t truly a passion. At 20 years old, she dusted her diver’s suit and dove back into the ocean that had scared her before.

“During college I started to dip my toes back into 3D art. This time, armed with all the years that I spent developing my traditional art skills and knowledge, I felt prepared to try to learn 3D art again.”

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She began with SketchUp and continued with 3Ds Max, ZBrush and others. And now?

“Now I don’t feel scared of what I don’t know, like I felt when I was 12. I am intrigued and eager to learn more and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Follow Ilinca on ArtStation.

Sorana Elena Corbu (RO)

Sorana’s 3D story began not long ago. Her eyes were always drawn to the art of video games, but she never imagined she would ever reach the path of 3D. Despite her passion, she followed a Computer Science high-school, but rekindled the art spark during university, in a Games Technology course. Although not fully focused on game art, her course mixed it with programming.

Angel of Grief

“In my last year of University, we were focused on 3D art (finally), and that’s how I fell in love with it. It was the first time something clicked with me so fast, and I was finally sure of what I want to do in the future, which is to create 3D worlds which people can explore and have as much fun as they can.”

Even so, her degree focused on character art, rather than her true 3D passion – environment art. She refused to give up and followed that path after university. In the present, she is mostly focuses on foliage, but also stylised assets.

Sorana’s Challenge entry

“It’s an art style dear to me that allows me to be more creative and bring small sketches or concepts I’ve created during the past years to reality.”

The Last of Us was the catalyst that convinced Sorana of her passion. So, what are her dreams now?

“To work as either a Foliage Material Artist or an Environment Artist for Naughty Dog. I would love to be able to work in the place that brought me the joy and happiness that environmental art is currently giving me.”

Follow Sorana on ArtStation.

Hristo Dimitrov (BG)

Hristo’s journey with 3D art is one that takes him across many art realms, but it all began when he saw Toy Story as a child. The 3D medium fascinated him, but it was only after university that he managed to truly follow that passion. He discovered virtual reality development and worked as a 3D generalist on various VR projects for global companies.

Hristo’s Challenge entry

“With every project, I delved deeper and deeper into game development, and then I set myself a lifelong goal to learn everything one should know about the contemporary methods of creating 3D art. While learning and growing, it is essential for me to connect with the community of professional and amateur artists, share artworks, participate in challenges, and gather precious feedback.”

He has also explored the scientific sides of 3D, by creating VR environments and training grounds for companies to test team training and interaction, or customer learning. In addition, these VR environments are also used to monitoring how people behave in such simulated spaces. They measure  f.x. cognitive responses, emotional engagement, brain impulses.

VR Team Building Project

And on the other side lies his passion for history. He believes 3D can also play a crucial role in the preservation of existing artworks and material culture.

“I began exploring how to reproduce and digitize the ancient art. The next step is to move from objects to creating small scenes – glimpses of our mythical past or visions of the distant future.”

Follow Hristo on ArtStation.

Mihnea Georgescu (RO)

The 3D world first opened its doors to Mihnea in 2016, when he took part in a 3Ds Max course, followed by a Maya course in 2017. That same year, he attended an AMC workshop at the Nicolae Tonitza College of Fine Arts. 

The Bunker

“A few months later, with the help of one of my professors and the people at AMC, and after many messages and reglementations, an optional course was held by AMC. Anyone that wanted to work in the industry could attend. I like to think that this 3D graphics course was the first of its kind to be held in a high-school in Romania.”

Mihnea’s Challenge entry

Mihnea is currently enrolled at the Bucharest National University of Arts, where he studies Graphic Design. He is also part of an optional module, Digital Environment Texturing, where he worked with Ubisoft to create a scene called “The Bunker.”

What about Mihnea’s future plans? “Ever since I realised what the field I wanted to work in is, I have been improving myself. At the moment, I am trying to evolve my workflow.”

Follow Mihnea on ArtStation.

Calina Komjatszegi (RO)

As a teen, Calina had two main passions: video games and traditional art. Even so, she was, like most teenagers, unsure about what she wanted to do with her life.

“I tried to find a way to combine these 2 things, to be one of those people who actually enjoy their jobs, not just bear through them to get the next paycheck. I first looked at concept art as a possible career path, but soon realized that in a game company there are far fewer concept artists than any other roles. You have to reach a certain expertise of the subject to even be considered for a position.”

Calina’s Challenge entry

So she focused herself on what seemed for her the next logical step in asset production, 3D art. Its requirements and its many fields of study seemed very approachable, and she realised that was what she wanted to do with her life.

“Because I wanted to get a good understanding of 3D art from the start, I opted for attending a University in the UK, and getting a Bachelor’s in Computer Games Art. Some might disagree, but I believe a good university can help you ‘get things done’, get over that hard part in the beginning when you don’t know what you’re doing by giving you structure through projects and exams.”

But, she says, learning doesn’t stop at university. It is constant, and that is what makes the industry forever exciting for Calina.

“I can only hope more young people will be joining the industry in the future, as I believe there can never be too much art or too many games out there, just too little time to see it all.”

Follow Calina on ArtStation.

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Content has been edited for length or clarity.

Claudia Ursu