Skillshare: 3D Workflow

Ever thought about adding 3D to your design toolbox? Art Director Ben Nichols has some advice.

Last week, the designer, animator, and art director kicked off Trollbäck’s first Skillshare — a new presentation series where we invite in-house and out-of-house experts to the office to share a quick, 30-minute tutorial on something they know.

Over the past few years, Ben has been experimenting with techniques to drive animation without using keyframes, reduced frame rates, and the application of node-based materials and image-based lighting within 3D applications.

“I’m still learning,” he says. “Every day, there’s something new. But it’s about how I can gain the most flexibility and apply these improvements to my design practice.”

Below are some tips he shared during the presentation:


Get Started

First things first: 3D should aid, not define your practice, says Nichols. Other important notes about 3D? It’s time-consuming, there’s a lot to consider (as 75% of the visual is constructed beyond the frame), and there is no magic button to achieving it. While technology is getting faster, and renderers are getting better, you’re still going to have to rely on your skills and your workflow as an animator to achieve a good final product.


Get Organized

Starting simple, focusing on the basics, and working in ways that are easily adjustable is crucial, says Nichols. Visual reference is even more important when it comes to 3D than other styles of animation. There are also tons of additional considerations to keep in mind when starting out in 3D, from modeling to dynamics, to materials, lighting, camera settings, rendering, compositing and more. Always work in a system, and always work in ways that are easily adjustable and changeable as you go.


Get Creative

Creativity is personal, resistance is strong. “After years of deliberation, I finally got a PC,” Nichols admits. Though the change in technology forced him to re-learn applications and hotkeys, Nichols said it made his 3D workflow quicker and inspired him to double down on personal projects outside of work to continue to perfect his practice.

You can find more of his work here, and below are a few videos showing off Nichols’ self-taught work so far. Pretty cool, right?

Interested in joining or presenting at the next Trollbäck skillshare? Send us an email at hello@trollback.com