Sketchfab Overview: The Future of Art Education Online… in 3D!

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In Sketchfab Overviews, our users tell us how Sketchfab has influenced their workflow, development process, and helped their art and/or business as opposed to one specific Sketchfab scene. 

Hi, I’m Stan Prokopenko! I studied drawing and painting in a traditional atelier, and eventually started teaching there myself. Everything changed in 2009 when a couple tutorials I posted on my blog went viral. My focus has shifted toward teaching drawing online and on my YouTube channel – Proko. Today I work with an amazing team of artists to produce weekly drawing lessons. We try to keep the videos fun and light-hearted. Proko now has over 150 lessons, complete Head Drawing and Figure Drawing courses, and an ongoing Anatomy course. We have free lesson on our website, so anyone can learn! We also offer Premium versions of the courses, which include longer lessons, assignment demonstrations, and access to 3D models, which I’ll be talking about in this post.

Building the Models

Our lessons have 3D anatomical models to help visualize the inner workings of the human figure. But building anatomically correct bones and muscles is not an easy thing to do.

My team and I start with heavy research. We use the best books on not only artistic anatomy but also medical anatomy. By using lots of sources we can guarantee accurate up-to-date information. Then our 3D modeler constructs the basic forms of the bones and muscles. I review their work and give them feedback to make it more anatomically correct or more aesthetically pleasing.

There’s a surprising amount of variety possible in the human body, so there’s not always one specific way to do something. For example, Pectoralis major (the chest muscle) has three separate sections attaching to the clavicle, sternum, and rib cage. But the exact location and size of these sections varies between individuals. On many figures, the rib cage section isn’t even visible at all! We try to look at all the evidence and decide what is the most important information to teach our art students, and what model would be most helpful for them.

So we go back and forth editing the model until we’re proud of the geometry. Once the model is finalized, the modeler adds fine details and creates the displacement maps. Then we paint the color map, and it’s finally done!

We use this model for two things. First, for animated sequences that play during the lesson. I work with a little guy named Skelly and he’s always running around and causing mischief when I’m trying to teach. He shows off the new bone or muscle that the students are learning, and gives them a chance to see it from lots of different angles throughout the video. We also offer the models directly to Premium students as an extra learning aid. Sketchfab is embedded right into the lesson page, so the student can watch the lesson, scroll down, and play with the 3D model. This is really helpful for our students and I’m excited that we can offer it to them.

Although Premium members get the most benefit from our Sketchfab models, we’re also starting to use Sketchfab as a way to draw interest to Proko. We’ve already started using Sketchfab to construct some fun 3D animated models for the people that follow us. Check it out…

Anatomy Models – How does Proko use Sketchfab to Teach:

Right now, we’re in the middle of teaching our art students anatomy. With Sketchfab, we’re able to give our premium students a unique opportunity to learn more about what they’re drawing. When premium users get our course, they’re given access to our high-quality 3D models. These models are put alongside the extended lessons so students can follow along. It’s not enough to just look at 2D images of anatomy charts. Learning artistic anatomy requires a lot of visualization and allowing our students to view muscles at various angles is extremely helpful, especially when they’re trying to complete the assignments.

Students can move a model around to understand it from every angle. This is a great complement to the lessons. They can also move it to match a photo they’ve imagined, and then use the 3D model as drawing reference. So, the models are both a learning tool and a reference tool. Physical ecorche sculptures can cost hundreds of dollars, so being able to see it in web page is a huge benefit for our students. We also offer a mobile Skelly App, that allows students to rotate the joints and pose the skeleton.

The skull model below belongs to the Portrait Drawing course (another course that has 3D models). Students can use the the 3D models to help them learn how to shade and understand light.

Here’s a lesson I did on How to Draw a Skull…

Thanks for viewing our 3D models! I’m excited to be part of the Sketchfab community with you all. Inspiration is just as important as hard facts in art, and being able to see other artist’s incredible work and chatting about it is awesome.

If ever you want some advice for the 2D side of things, come check out Proko.com. We’ve got lots of tutorials about drawing portraits, figures, and of course, anatomy ?

Thank you, Stan! How innovative is this? If you have any questions about the classes or about the Sketchfab process, please leave them in the comment box below!

About the author

Seori Sachs

Community Person!


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  • Simon Kratz says:

    Great to see Sketchfab is growing in educational work, too!
    I only recently discovered that Anatomy Next is using Sketchfab and it’s annotation system to show and explain human anatomy as well. And for me it added greatly to the value of the product, really hope to see more people using Sketchfab for education!

  • Terrific article. Thank you. I’m a big fan of Stan’s work and what he’s doing by democratizing teaching drawing online. Great to see he’s found a way to use Sketchfab!

  • Jay says:

    This is awesome. Thank you.

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