An interview with the winner of our 3D design competition: “Create something new regularly."

We asked Radek Szczepanczyk, the big winner of our and MyMiniFactory’s design competition, what it takes to be a good 3D designer and how his creation drills look like. His winning 3D mech model “Chicken Tank” stood out from the pack showing true skill mastery.

First off, congratulations for taking home the big prize of our design contest. Tell us a few things about yourself and what you do.

I am a 3D technical artist living in the UK. I am currently working for a CG production studio, while previously I have worked on video games. Professionally, I mostly do character rigging, tools programming and other types of technical work. 3D modeling isn’t therefore what I focus on, but it is something I enjoy doing in my spare time.

When and how did you get into 3D design?

I think it is thanks to movies like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Toy Story and games such as Doom and Quake, that I became interested in computer graphics. I was also surrounded by computers from an early age, as it was something that my father was into. So when it came to, it was a pretty natural choice for me to go on and study CG at school.

Have you heard about VECTARY before the contest or was it your first VECTARY experience?

I found out about VECTARY through the contest, as I was browsing the MyMiniFactory website. I did a few models before I started on the Chicken Tank however, in order to learn the tools.

Tell us more about how you came to design the “Chicken Tank”? How did you get this idea?

I was happy to find Sci-Fi as one of the themes of the competition because it is a genre that I really enjoy. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at first, but I figured it would be great if it could have some purpose as a finished product. I used to play war games so I thought that I could make a miniature that players could use in their games. I experimented with different vehicle designs but in the end settled on a mech.The AT-ST from Star Wars probably has to be credited with popularizing the idea of the “chicken walker” war machine, but I decided to do something that was closer in proportions and silhouette to an actual baby chick, as a tongue-in-cheek play on the trope. This informed the roundness of the various shapes. I modeled the turret after that of an M4 Sherman tank and gave it a short cannon for a beak. The tail was inspired by trench crossing tails that World War I tanks would sometimes be equipped with. All this pushed the design in a more retro dieselpunk direction.

Mech-model-winner
“Chicken Tank” by ElDonaldo created in Vectary 1.0

How did you finish the model? Was there any specific technique that you used?

The model was really nicely printed, and barely required any additional work to get it ready for painting. The painting techniques were some that I picked up along the way, doing this sort of thing in the past.

The model was painted with an airbrush first, applying not just the base coat of olive green paint, but also darker tones in recesses and brighter ones in exposed areas. I followed this with artist oil paints, applying washes, filters and dry-brushing. These techniques highlight surface features and create tonal variations. The dusty appearance of the legs and feet was created with pastels and the markings are water-slide decals I had left over from another project.

For the base I purchased a laser-cut acrylic disc, which I finished with some slate chippings and miniature basing materials. The rusty metal bits are actually some waste support material from an older print.

Where did you learn that? Can you recommend a source for beginners?

As a child I enjoyed building model kits, but eventually real life took over and I stopped doing it. Then after some 15 years, I got into 3D printing and discovered a new use for all those skills.There is a wealth of information on the hobby to be found on the internet, as well as in specialized magazines. The war gaming community is also a great source of learning material.

What would you recommend to users who bought a 3D printer and would like to finish their 3D prints as professionally as you do. What’s the most important part?

Like with any skill, it’s a case of practice makes perfect. Create something new regularly and you will see your skills improve with each new model.

Do you already have a favorite feature in VECTARY?

There are quite a few candidates. The way the camera snaps to an orthographic view when close to an axis is a clever bit of UI. The Mirror and Array plugins are great. But I think the Noun Project plugin was probably my favorite, as it allowed me to add details quickly and also work out the design by just kit bashing bits. It’s fun and encourages serendipity.

Mech-model-winner1
Created in Vectary 1.0

What does your creative process usually look like?

I start off with some sketches and try to make a few finished drawings before I start modeling as it can be difficult to change things once they’re 3D. But I try not to get too precious about my work. Nearly every piece of the Chicken Tank had a previous version that got deleted at some point. It’s also nice to try and think of some background story and theme for the design. This helps inform the various details and tells me where to look for reference and inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A healthy diet of games, movies and comics. Plus I like to keep an eye on my Pinterest feed, where I follow various character designs and illustration boards. I’m also interested in the history of military technology, so I have read quite a few books on the topic.

What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?

I find the best way to get unstuck is coming up with ways to narrow down my options and focus on the theme. I like the quote, credited to Orson Welles, which goes: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations”.

What kind of models would you enjoy the most to design in VECTARY and why?

I think the toolset makes it best suited to industrial design — vehicles, machines and other types of hard surface modeling.

You’re quite a master of your craft already, is there anything you think you would need to improve?

There’s always more to learn and improve on. I’ve taken lessons away from the Chicken Tank too, and there are some things I would have done differently now. That learning curve never really straightens out.

Mech-model-winner2
Created in Vectary 1.0

What does your creative process usually look like?

I start off with some sketches and try to make a few finished drawings before I start modeling as it can be difficult to change things once they’re 3D. But I try not to get too precious about my work. Nearly every piece of the Chicken Tank had a previous version that got deleted at some point. It’s also nice to try and think of some background story and theme for the design. This helps inform the various details and tells me where to look for reference and inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A healthy diet of games, movies and comics. Plus I like to keep an eye on my Pinterest feed, where I follow various character designs and illustration boards. I’m also interested in the history of military technology, so I have read quite a few books on the topic.

What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?

I find the best way to get unstuck is coming up with ways to narrow down my options and focus on the theme. I like the quote, credited to Orson Welles, which goes: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations”.

What kind of models would you enjoy the most to design in VECTARY and why?

I think the toolset makes it best suited to industrial design — vehicles, machines and other types of hard surface modeling.

You’re quite a master of your craft already, is there anything you think you would need to improve?

There’s always more to learn and improve on. I’ve taken lessons away from the Chicken Tank too, and there are some things I would have done differently now. That learning curve never really straightens out.