Sketching creative 3D visualizations

“I had been looking for ways to get more use out of my iPad Pro and this looked ideal. Once I started, I just kept adding parts...I might have been testing to see if I could break it. It turned out to be far more powerful and robust than I expected.”

Gareth Jensen is a Texture Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, a visual effects company in San Francisco. He has no experience in CAD, but when he saw how easily he could create 3D designs he was fascinated. He quickly integrated 3D modeling into his workflow. Here’s what that looks like.

Gareth has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 19 years. Officially trained as a film and TV makeup artist, he worked in that field for a few years before teaching himself a new set of chops and learning a few more on the job. 


Working with Weta Workshop in New Zealand, he broadened his skillset while working with prop building, miniatures, prosthetics, the paint department, and creatures and props. He got to work with industry pro hard surface designers like Greg Broadmore and Aaron Beck on District 9 and Avatar. Eventually, he switched over to working digitally and moved into the VFX industry, joining Industrial Light and Magic and learning from the best.

Diving into CAD

Gareth had had basically no CAD experience before he downloaded Shapr3D. He had spent a few days dabbling in other CAD software, but never designed anything substantial. When he started using the app, he asked a friend about the difference between file formats like IGES and STEP. His modeling and sculpting background was much stronger, as he had worked with polygonal modeling software like Maya, Modo, and Zbrush in the VFX and gaming industry.

Creating otherworldly props


Gareth set out to make props, characters, and vehicles that felt like they existed in an alternate reality or a completely different world. With hard surface and sci-fi, that meant he had to make sure the asset felt manufactured, designed, and built with a purpose. 


“Using an industrial design application like Shapr3D is a huge advantage for prop design, because it is made for product design and feels like the right tool for the job.”

Starting out with Shapr3D


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

Prop design with Shapr3D


Gareth has a few kitbash projects with different part styles. He’ll duplicate or import those into a new workspace to get started. Then he gets some main shape and silhouette ideas and goes in, cutting up shapes, extruding, and eventually getting to the fun part -- detailing, filleting and chamfering to his heart’s content.

He groups items to the center and left side, mirroring as he goes. When he’s satisfied with the model, he renders using Keyshot and paints it over in Photoshop. He’s slowly been switching over to Procreate to keep his workflow more mobile.


Design inspiration


Gareth’s friend posted a video of the robotic arm that Shapr3D’s in-house CAD modeler designed - they both thought it would be a lot of fun to recreate. He gave it a shot and began testing the software, adding more and more parts to see how many items the app could handle. He was surprised by how powerful and robust Shapr3D turned out to be.


Like the article? Spread the word by sharing

More Digital designer success stories

All stories ›

Try the leading mobile 3D design app for free

Get Shapr3D for iPad
Need a compatible iPad with Pencil?