Today we’re speaking with 3D Modeler and former Animation Mentor student Rin Jones! While Rin was a student she took both the Maya Workshop and Animation Basics, and credits her mentors with helping her discover her passion for 3D Modeling.
Animation Mentor changed my life with only two classes—two classes that taught me more in 1 year than I learned in 4 years at a university.
Read on for her thoughts on 3D modeling and her advice for new artists.
Animation Mentor: Can you describe your journey as an artist? How did you get to where you are today?
Rin Jones: My journey as an artist can best be described as a journey of self discovery. When I was a child, my mom introduced me to all sorts of art forms; from sewing and crafts to painting and music. She encouraged me to be creative and discover what I enjoyed the most.
Discovering which art forms allowed me to best express myself over time ran alongside the equally difficult journey of discovering where I personally fit into the world. I got to where I am today by trying everything, being persistent, and having the best mom in the world.
AM: While you attended Animation Mentor, you took both the Maya Workshop and Class 1, Animation Basics. How did your time at AM help you discover your passion for 3D modeling?
RJ: My time spent at Animation Mentor was a true turning point for me. I had just graduated from a four year university feeling wholly unprepared for even an entry level position. Seeing Animation Mentor’s amazing student showcases online and reading more about the mentors from major studios led me to enroll.
I initially went into the program focusing only on the animation part of animation. The Maya Workshop introduced me to all of the tool sets within the software, not just the animation tools. I found myself doing extra projects outside of class using the modeling toolset and it was like a lightbulb came on after that. I was spending more and more time working on 3D models and having an absolute blast.
After starting Class 1: Animation Basics, I shared the models with my mentor. He gave me a lot of great feedback and taught me so many things about modeling. He saw that I had a true passion for it and began coaching me through increasingly more complex projects.
By the end of Class 1, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the field and had a much better understanding of computer animation.
By the end of Class 1, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the field and had a much better understanding of computer animation. Animation Mentor has changed my life with only two classes – two classes that taught me more in one year than I learned in four years at a university.
AM: For those who aren’t familiar with this artform, what is 3D modeling? (In your own words, doesn’t need to be a long answer.)
RJ: 3D modeling is the process of building characters, props, and environments in a virtual space. Without models, there would be nothing on-screen to animate. So much character and style can be added to a scene based on the design of the models.
AM: What is it about the modeling process that you enjoy the most?
RJ: I enjoy how challenging it can be. No two projects are alike, so I’m always learning something new. I enjoy having an idea and gradually discovering how to sculpt that idea in polygons. Modeling is full of surprises and never becomes monotonous.
AM: Can you talk about your experience as a professional modeler? What keeps you engaged?
RJ: I’ve been a professional modeler for about six years. I began freelance modeling after my time at Animation Mentor, now having the skills to get started. That gave me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people from around the world and learn about other cultures through the art I was commissioned to produce. I was constantly challenged to model all sorts of characters and props that helped me improve as an artist.
Currently, I create 3D models and animation at Roblox Corporation. My 3D artwork appears on their toy packaging, books, press kits, and other marketing material. Games, toys, and books inspire children to be creative and craft their own stories and characters. Being able to contribute to something children and families enjoy is what keeps me engaged. It’s the most rewarding feeling in the world!
AM: What’s the hardest thing about 3D modeling?
RJ: The hardest thing about 3D modeling hands down is the steep software learning curve. The software was very intimidating initially, and I think this turns a lot of people away. Computer animation technology is also constantly evolving, and everyone in the field is a lifelong student.
AM: Which character model are you most proud of?
RJ: I’m very proud of Octy. Octy is a giant pirate octopus who lives in his treasure chest.
This model is significant to me, because the last model my mentor and I worked on was a version of this character. My mentor gave me so much guidance that I continue to refer to years later. I recently remodeled Octy as a tribute.
AM: Do you still get to animate at your job? If so, what’s that like?
RJ: Yes! And it’s so fun! I create character animation, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without having learned the fundamentals in Class 1. I animate player avatars and I’ve done a bit of motion graphics animation at Roblox as well. This is one of my newer roles, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
AM: If an aspiring artist asked you, “How do I become a 3D Modeler?” what would you tell them?
RJ: I would say the best way to learn 3D modeling is to practice, practice, practice. Create something new everyday, and always challenge yourself to model different subjects. Your most important asset as an aspiring artist is your reel.
I’d also advise against getting into massive student debt like I did. I may have gotten a big red clown nose at university, but I didn’t learn how to model. There are more affordable educational resources available.
A brick and mortar university isn’t the only option, and I wish I knew that when I was a senior in high school.
A brick and mortar university isn’t the only option, and I wish I knew that when I was a senior in high school. A brick and mortar university isn’t the only option, and I wish I knew that when I was a senior in high school.
AM: Are there skills you plan to continue developing within the field of modeling? What’s next for you?
RJ: I definitely want to learn how to use other software packages and work on detailed models outside my comfort zone. The challenge of 3D modeling is what’s most exciting to me, and I’m always eager to try something new.
As for what’s next, I’m currently working on a personal project – The Fairy Circle Friends. They’re a trio of nature sprites and best friends in an enchanted forest. I’m in the process of creating a colorful picture book for young readers with CGI illustrations and accompanying plush dolls. The Fairy Circle Friends were featured by Nickelodeon this year, and I can’t wait to introduce Tolula, Piper, and Sprout to the world in their very first story.
Get to know Rin Jones
Rin Jones is an L.A.-based 3D Modeler and Animator at Roblox Corporation. She is a huge fan of musical theater, and creates props for the stage. A highlight was getting the opportunity to craft for her favorite musical: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Rin also enjoys toy collecting and snail keeping.
Our Introduction to 3D Character Modeling workshop didn’t exist yet when Rin attended Animation Mentor, but we encourage you to check it out! Interested students should have a basic understanding of prop modeling and experience with ZBrush and Photoshop is encouraged, but not required.
Our mentor, Hong Chan Lim, is a Senior Character Artist at Blizzard Entertainment working on Overwatch. Hong specializes in 3D modeling and texture painting, posing, lighting, rendering for games, cinematics, and marketing. To be successful, he believes an artist should always strive to improve their art, be a team player, and learn to take constructive criticism.