My name is Ben Colclough (pronounced “coke-lee”) and I’m a 3D artist from the United States. I’ve been making 3D models for over ten years – first as a hobbyist, then as a professional. I generally focus on creating realistic game-ready weapons, props, vehicles, and environments. I use 3ds Max for modeling and Substance Painter for texturing.
My initial interest in 3D came from a captivation with first person shooters, especially classics such as GoldenEye 64, Perfect Dark, and Doom. This led me to learn how to make maps for GoldenEye: Source, then join that mod’s team, then actually become lead artist for that mod.
I’m entirely self-taught and have no formal education in game art. My degree is actually in history, but after college I decided to focus on selling stock models because the 3D model market is burgeoning and is going to grow yet further! I taught myself using YouTube tutorials, inspecting the work of other artists, getting feedback from game developers, and occasionally buying online training courses.
The stock 3D industry is so attractive because you have total autonomy over what you create and how you create it. My personal rule is that I don’t sell anything I wouldn’t use in my own video games. If you create quality assets, customers will be eager to return and purchase more of your work. My models have been used in games such as Day of Infamy, Arizona Sunshine, and Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades (the latter two being VR games). If you’ve played any of those games, there’s a decent chance you’ve used my weapon models!
It can be difficult to settle on a price. I want to be affordable to small developers who may not have the money to hire a full-time 3D artist. If prices are too low, however, one can’t make a living off the sales. Experience has taught me to sell firearms for $40-$100, depending on the complexity of the weapon. Environment props tend to sell for $10-$40. I’ll often search an online store for models of similar quality to what I make and sell at around those prices.
Deciding What to Model
There are two main ways I decide what to model: what I need for my own games, and what game developers ask me to make. A relationship with other developers, especially those who cannot or do not make their own art, is extremely valuable. They will let you know exactly what the market is lacking. There have been many occasions when developers approached me and asked, “I can’t find a good model of [x] anywhere, could you please make one?” Such a request led to me making the MG42 model.
I really don’t promote myself very much because I don’t enjoy self-advertising. I’d rather just upload models to stores, let the customers come across them organically, and let my work speak for itself. If you do like promoting yourself, though, go for it!
The Sketchfab Store is so welcome because it solves one of the biggest problems with existing online stores: the inability of the customers to inspect a model before buying. Pre-renders can be deceiving. A model might look nice in a render captured from a distance, but have disappointingly blurry textures up close.
Another advantage of Sketchfab is that it saves me, the artist, from having to set up and capture renders. Making renders can be a time-consuming process, especially if I realize I have to alter the model and do the renders all over again! With Sketchfab I merely have to re-upload the fixed model and textures.
I like to set up a little scene in 3ds Max specifically for Sketchfab in which I pose my model. Then I export the model in .fbx format and upload to Sketchfab. The textures are created in Substance Painter, so I simply export PBR Metalness/Roughness textures from Painter and import those into Sketchfab. I don’t go crazy on the post-processing filters because I want people to be able to easily inspect the model. Usually I use the default sharpen filter, a little vignette, a tiny amount of bloom, and SSAO.
My goal is to consistently expand my model collection on Sketchfab and other stores, improve texture creation, and learn character modeling. My game development project for the foreseeable future is GoldenEye 25, a remake of GoldenEye 64 in the Unreal Engine, scheduled for release on GE64’s 25th anniversary in 2022.