Sketch 3D visualizations intuitively

Gareth Jensen is Texture Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic visual effects company in San Francisco. Having no experience in CAD but being fascinated by the freedom to create 3D designs with ease, he implemented 3D modeling into his workflow. Read on to see how visualizers use Shapr3D in their projects.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’ve been lucky enough to have been employed in the entertainment industries for the past 19 years. Mostly I have been self taught or had opportunities to learn on the job. My only real official training was actually as a film and TV makeup artist, a field I worked in for a few years. While working at Weta Workshop in New Zealand I was happy to widen my skills working in everything from prop building, miniatures, prosthetics but mostly working in the paint department or creatures and props. There I got to work with such great hard surface designers as Greg Broadmore and Aaron Beck on projects like District 9 and Avatar. Eventually I switch over to working digitally and moved into the VFX industry. My current role is Texture Supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco where I continue to learn from the best.

How experienced are you in CAD or any related field?

I have basically no CAD experience before I opened Shapr3D. I have spent a couple of days dabbling in other CAD packages, but never designed anything even slightly  substantial. When I started using the app I actually had to ask a friend and colleague who has an automotive background the difference between file formats like .iges and .step. I do have experience in modeling and sculpting packages like Maya, Modo and Zbrush as we use polygonal modeling in the VFX and games industries.

When you first started using Shapr3D, what problem were you trying to solve?

My goal is to make props, characters and vehicles that feel like they exist in this or some other world. When it comes to hard surface and sci-fi that often means making sure the asset feels manufactured, like this object was designed and built with a purpose. Using an industrial design application like Shapr3D is a huge advantage for this, because it is made for product design it feels like the right tool for the job.


How did you learn using Shapr3D? How long did it take?

Honestly I was making basic parts in the first couple of hours, the in app videos were very helpful. I started a project of kitbash parts and just added to it whenever I had a few minutes spare, before meetings or with my morning coffee. Basically replacing my habit of flicking through my phone with something more productive.

It’s a great way to fill a long distance flight. I started with nuts and bolts, then onto latches and clips, progressively getting more complicated.

I did end up in a situation where I was stuck in New Zealand not knowing when I could return to the US, so I spent a couple of weeks working pretty constantly on it. When life gives you lemons :)

What is your workflow with Shapr3D?

I have a few projects of kitbash different styles of parts, so I’ll duplicate or import those. Then I get some main shape and silhouette ideas and just go for it, cutting up shapes, extruding. Eventually getting to the fun part of detailing, filleting and chamfering to my heart’s content.

Grouping the center and left side for mirroring as I go. When I’m happy with it I then render in Keyshot and paint over it in Photoshop, or though I’m going to try switching to Procreate to keep the workflow more mobile.

How (and why) did you start working on your projects?

A friend posted the video of that great robotic arm being designed by your team member and thought it looked like a lot of fun. I have been looking for ways to get more use out of my IPad Pro and it looked ideal. Once I started I just kept adding parts, maybe trying to see if I could break it :) It turned out to be far more powerful and robust than I expected.


Tell us more about your project

This design was me trying to get a distinct character into a robot. He has had a long run so far as someone’s reliable buddy and now he is up for refurbishment and some upgrades, like a trusty laptop with feelings. It’s set in the very near future or maybe an alternative present time.


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