Today I’m talking to Abraham Brooks aka Black_Stormy, who is a freelance 3D modeler for indie games.
Can you introduce yourself to the community? What’s your background?
Sure! Hi I’m Abraham Brookes a.k.a Black_Stormy. I’m a self taught 3D artist-cum-indie developer. I started by making maps for online indie games and went on to modelling when I found their asset libraries lacking. I also taught myself how to program, starting with web technologies and soon moving to C based languages for games. I’m Australian but I’m currently living in Toronto, Canada after travelling in South America for a year. Toronto has a thriving videogames industry and I’m hoping to break into it while I’m here.
What type of work do you do?
I am predominantly a 3D modeller and I like to focus on environments as opposed to single props. I model, unwrap, bake, texture, rig and animate all my own work as well as making environment textures and lighting and a bunch of other stuff. I have been aiming my freelance towards small indie studios with limited budgets as I can afford to offer my services cheaper than most.
Tell us a story about one of your Sketchfab models.
I often babysit my 6 year old niece, which usually consists of me making games and her giving a running commentary. She was the one who told me to put “pink dancey ladies” and the words “Let’s do it!” on my Dance Arcade Cabinet. She also came up with the name “Cool Dogs” to put on my Hotdog Stall, which was made as an art test for a zombie game. I also left a zombie apocalypse message to my girlfriend on the blackboard on the other side of that model. I like putting personal touches on my work and especially like seeing peoples reactions when they see a 3D shout-out made just for them.
Which tools do you use / what does you workflow look like?
I’ll usually make a highpoly with plenty of control loops in Blender, and then bake it down to a lowpoly mesh. Using control loops on the highpoly mesh means I get a nice normal bake with well defined edging, which gives the final product a more highpoly appearance. I have been using dDo to make a base texture with well defined material values, and then I use overlays or just paint textures on top for surface details. The sketchfab upload plugin for Blender is so awesome. I can upload a fully shadered model straight from Blender and see it on the site within seconds.
Which projects are you most proud of? Can you tell us a bit about them?
A while ago I found some awesome concept art for a Steampunk Portal Turret. I obsessively smashed out the model and it was one of my first models uploaded to Sketchfab. I even collaborated with a fellow indie friend to get it working in Portal, with custom audio in classic english timbre. You can check it out on youtube. My biggest project at the moment is Double Action: Boogaloo, which was Greenlit on Steam in 2014. It’s a ridiculously fun sourcemod all about being an awesome action movie star. I am working on it in my spare time, currently detailing the maps with new assets. I have also been working with Anarchy Arcade, a VR desktop replacement app designed by gamers for gamers. Besides these I have a slew of game prototypes made in Unity from which I plan to make some mobile games.
What’s life as a freelance game artist like these days?
Kinda slow. I’m up against the big boys and I don’t have any formal education so I have to rely entirely on my portfolio for competitiveness in the market. But I have been able to work on some great indie projects with some great indie teams throughout 2014 and I’m looking forward to continuing that in the new year.
How does Sketchfab help you do your work?
Since I work online I am often sending pictures to clients to update them on the progress of the work. With Sketchfab and the Blender plugin I have been able to show them an entire model instantly for much better feedback and faster iteration. It’s also nice to be able to share my stuff with a community of game artists and enthusiasts. Sketchfab is such a great way to demo models I wrote a simple sketchfab gallery viewer for my portfolio.
Thanks Abe! Best of luck with your business!