He became a 3D artist by taking a job he still had no skills for

Many people who load a 3D modeling software for the first time get immediately scared, turn the other way and say: “no, thank you!” And by doing so, dreams of making the next Toy Story or landing a job at Dreamworks get destroyed in 10 minutes or less. Fortunately, the brave ones will persist and delight us with cool movies and beautifully crafted video games.

Last year, I talked to one of those 3D art heroes from Russia and decided to interview him to find out how he managed to become a talented 3D artist and what kind of advices he would give to those out there who still want to give it a second try in front of an unfriendly Blender 3D or 3DMax.

Our guy, who’s the creator of the beautiful featured big image (Cosmonaut) above this post is Roman Chumak. We asked him the following questions.

Untextured version of Cosmonaut by Roman Chumak

IndieWatch: Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you? Where are you from? What have you done to become a 3D artist? Which positions have you experienced in this field so far, if any? What are you working on now?

Chumak: I live in a town called Domodedovo, in Moscow Suburbs, Russia. On December 31, 2011, I decided to start learning academic drawing for the next year. On January 2, 2012 , I changed my mind and started learning 3D modeling. I spent a couple of weeks choosing a software to start with and learning some fundamentals. I spent te next couple of weeks rotating the default cube in Blender viewport and thinking: “someday I’ll make something from you..”. In the fourth month, I got a freelance job to make a video as a filmmaker and offered my client to make it in CG instead of filming  it. Then I realized that the fastest way to learn something is to accept the work that you do not know how to perform, and I even got paid part of the money in advance. = )

By September 2012, I started learning CG and VFX at a two-year course offered by the “Scream School”, which is an offline school in Moscow. The first year was very useful, as I learned what to look for in Google when I got home. I also understood which specialties would be the most interesting for me to learn: modeling, shading, rigging, scripting, motion capture, and rendering.

Now I’m 3D Generalist in a small studio in Moscow and also a freelancer. My next goal is to become a concept designer in the movie and game industries.

Blender 3D first interface that still scares beginners who are greeted with a cube in the center surrounded by lots of buttons and panels

IndieWatch: Who are the major influences behind your work?

Chumak: If this question is about persons, I think the answer is my friends. The guys I work with at the studio. If I need an advice about lighting or composition, or some critics, they are always the ones I  look for.

Shrikes by Roman Chumak

IndieWatch: How do  you describe your workflow when you’re modeling something? Do you sketch it on paper first or not? Do you find it useful to research others’ work for inspiration? Or what?

Chumak: First of all I write some words that describe the result of my future work.. Then I sculpt a very raw silhouette just to find some proportions. Sometimes I try not to think much about topology or the purposes of the forms I’m making, and just model as quick as I can. Then refine it in order to come up with a proper wireframe.

I try not to use artworks as references, but photos instead. I always carry a compact camera with me for taking pictures of interesting things for textures or references: heavy machinery, plants, architecture, anything.. As I’m surrounded by artworks of great and very talented artists I take a look at in my free time surfing web, when I work, I try to isolate myself from them, for making something if not very original, but at least mine.

Police Drone Turntable by Roman Chumak

IndieWatch: What do you read or have read and you would now recommend for beginners in 3D modeling?


  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • Design Your Self by Karim Rashid
  • Big Bad World of Concept Art for Video Games: An Insider’s Guide for Students by Eliott J. Lilly

None of these books are about 3D modeling, but about what it means to be an artist.

Machine Unleashed: Gunner Mech by Roman Chumak

IndieWatch: You work Machine Unleashed: Gunner Mech seems to be very detailed. How long did you take to finish it?

Chumak: That’s funny.. It was made within two days.. The first time I tried to turn off my common sense for a while and just make something as an artist and not an engineer.. I think you can not exactly describe the purpose of every detail on it, nor do I.. It was a quick sketch to convey the mood of a client..

IndieWatch: Who are your most common clients? Do you also work in the game industry?

Chumak: For me now is too early to think of any statistic figures about clients, as they are very different from job to job.. 

The only thing about clients I can say by now is that they are divided into two types: clients without good taste but with budget, and clients with good taste but without budget.. Hope this will change in a better way..  = )

As for making games, I’ve just published my first game “FPAH: Foul Play Air Hockey” on the Apple StoreYou can download it here and watch a trailer about it here.

Screenshot of the game FPAH: Foul Play Air Hockey by Roman Chumak now available on the Apple Store.

IndieWatch: What advices would you offer the high school student who wants to pursue a career in 3D art if he/she were to follow a path similar to yours?

Chumak: It is always a matter of choice: freelance or studio, art or technology, movies or games, etc.. Take the best of any of these two worlds..

And I think there is no reason to be a perfectionist. Just finish this project with love and as good and quick as you can. Next time you’ll do it better.

GAV-15 by Roman Chumak

IndieWatch: What would you have done differently in the past in your career if you could? What do you intend to do now to achieve the goals you wish to?

Chumak: I would have started learning 3D earlier, I think.. Because this love and addiction adds more sense to my entire life.. = )

My next step is to become a professional artist not only a technical performer.

You can finde more of Roman Chumak’s artwork on the links below.






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