Fueling Artistic Creativity: Insights from 3D Artists

Sep 19th 2023

Creativity is, at its essence, a type of problem-solving. It is fundamental to our work as 3D artists and needs to be cultivated over time.

Not everyone goes about that the same way. The CG Cookie Blender instructors Wayne, Kent, and I recently talked about our journeys in creativity on an episode of the Denoise podcast. Listen below or continue reading to discover where our inspiration comes from and how we deal with creative blocks when they inevitably arise.

This post is from episode 6 of the Denoise podcast. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, GoogleAmazon, and wherever else you find your podcasts.

Finding Inspiration

Much of our inspiration comes from outside the world of computer graphics.

For Jonathan, being immersed in nature or music is a good source of mental fuel for artistic projects. For Kent, people and everyday objects are a constant source of inspiration.

Things don’t have to be extreme or unusual in order to be interesting, especially when seeing the world through the lens of curiosity.

Part of becoming creative is learning how to see the unique details in everything around us. It’s less of a “Neo seeing the Matrix” or “Superman first visits Earth” type of vision that overpowers everything else and more of a fun habit to practice when there’s space between whatever we’re already doing.

The people, places, and objects in our lives are infinitely full of mystery and complexity, and we need to remember to look closely to be inspired.

One sign that you’ve caught the bug for 3D is if you start seeing life in Blender terms. Trying to guess the subsurface scattering depth, particle distribution, or topology of random objects throughout the day can become addicting and is a great way to practice looking carefully. It’s also fun to notice when something in real life is too perfect to be “realistic”! There’s more to that boring object you’ve seen a million times than you might think.


Of course, looking at other artists' work can also be an important source of inspiration as well. One way to do that more intentionally than just looking is to note what you would change if you were to create it yourself or what you would not have thought to try on your own and would like to attempt to replicate.

Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube are all great places to follow and collect other people's work to look at later. Wayne even has a folder on his computer where he saves images and videos that he finds inspiring, so that he doesn’t need an internet connection to sift through them.

Tips for Becoming More Creative

Jonathan and Kent don’t have any set habits specifically designed for creativity, but for a long time Wayne had a practice of meditation, swimming, and learning a new language that he says helped him more easily get into a good flow state while working.

Getting outside your comfort zone and tackling challenges just slightly bigger than what you think you can accomplish is also fantastic for creativity.

Another part of that is learning more about the tools you're using. Only when you’re not struggling with every step along the way can you focus more on the big picture questions of what to create and why rather than how to technically accomplish it.


Is creating a full hard surface character just outside your comfort zone? I'll walk you through it in the Pothead course

One thing that hinders creativity is becoming too attached to your work. Once you get stuck on an idea, new ones won’t come as easily. Showing your work to other people, some with 3D knowledge and some without any at all, can help you get new ideas when you're in a rut.

For Kent and Wayne, having kids has changed their approach to creativity. They no longer have time for as many personal projects, but seeing the world through their kids’ eyes gives them a newfound appreciation for the shapes, colors, motions, and characters that first inspired them to create when they were kids.


Kent’s course Sessions is about creating a variety of low time investment projects for you to explore what you're interested in, so that something can hopefully spark your creativity.

Consuming creative content is another easy and fun way to absorb interesting ideas. Even as couch potatoes, we inevitably end up finding something we want to create ourselves.

If we've been only focusing on creative output, it's good to remember that we also need creative input. 

The last tip for creativity is not waiting for an idea to strike before starting a project. Opening up Blender and making anything can make the wheels start turning.

Inspiration seems to prefer to strike those who are already moving. 


Jonathan Lampel
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