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Sketchbook: Vanessa Cunha

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Hello! My name is Vanessa Cunha, aka @vannycoo. I'm only just beginning to learn about 3D modeling so I wanted to begin showcasing my progress with the good, the bad, and the ugly with this sketchbook topic. I'm currently a first-year Game Design and Production major at Drexel University. I'll mainly post about school projects and any personal projects/experiments I may attempt, along with the challenges I faced during the process. This thread is mainly to showcase my progress, but any critiques or tips are greatly appreciated! Thanks for checking out my work :)


  • vannycoo
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    Modeling a Sony WF-SP800N Earbud for my Computer Graphics Imagery I Class

    This was my first time ever 3D modeling, so a lot of my initial trials consisted of me learning how to use Maya and understanding the basic concepts of 3D modeling. The end result is by no means perfect, but I certainly learned a lot throughout this process and thought it would be nice to share. I modeled the earbud with a collection of reference photos offered by my professor for the assignment.

    I create this post as a sort of postmortem, but going forward I will most likely make my posts as I am presently involved in the modeling process.


    The model itself consisted of three main parts: the driver, the wingtip, and the earbud. The wingtip and earbud are made of the same materials but the driver is made up of a shiny plastic. The driver also has two logos. There were various other reference photos included for different angles of each individual part, but I think these photos help show the overall reference well. As mentioned in the title, this is a Sony WF-SP800N Earbud.

    First Block-In

    For this being my first ever attempt at using Maya, I think the results were not the worst! I definitely can look back on this attempt and feel pride for the rapid growth I've had though.

    The actual earbud portion has a decent shape, but I hadn't made the actual hole for the model, nor did I create the inside of the earbud (mainly because I didn't understand how to do that yet).

    The wingtip is very unproportionable to the model, and the middle section which connects to the driver and earbud is inaccurate. I wasn't really sure how to handle creating curvilinear shapes at this point, so I settled on a flat circle until I could gain more assistance via critiques in class.

    The driver is generally sized correctly, but the actual shape of it is nothing like the model. My biggest flaw during this block-in stage was not nearly looking at my references enough. I'm sure there's an n-gon or two in this as well, but again, this was the first attempt!

    Various Model Refinements

    This screenshot shows the model gaining some details and structure, but there are still many flaws. The proportions are still inaccurate, and I hadn't connected the circular part of the driver to the base (mainly because I didn't really know how to do that yet). Although it's covered by the earbud piece, the wingtip still has a lot of the same errors as before. At this point, I had completely restarted the driver model, but I still kept the wingtip the same for the time being. The earbud still doesn't have the hole in it either, but the overall placement of each piece is slightly better than in the last block-in. Steady progress!

    More progress! The driver is now more proportionally accurate, though some of the shaping is uneven (especially at the top) and the circular part of the driver is still not attached to the base. The earbud also has a hole in it now! Unfortunately, from that hole, you can see the wingtip and driver are still not very accurate in the center. I did rework the angle of the wingtip to match the model more, and even though the proportions of it are still incorrect, the overall shape is starting to resemble the model more.

    Much more progress later... the model looked like this! The wingtip still was giving me some issues, but the details of the circular part of the driver were finished. The overall shape of the base of the driver is much more accurate (and finally connected to the circular bit!). It also has more edge loops for definition and the ridge around the base as well. I once again reworked some of the placement of each piece, and although it still wasn't a perfect fit yet, it was much closer!

    Here are the different pieces of the final model (with some smoothing applied)! These final changes came down to refining details (like the inner mechanism of the driver and the exact angle of the wingtip). Overall I think the central mechanic of the driver came out really accurate. I believe I also restarted the wingtip because it was simply easier to restart than to try and fix what I initially made. That became a common practice with this project, but it definitely helped me get much quicker at modeling. I think back to when I made my first block-in, making the basic shape of the half-sphere to look somewhat like the earbud took me over four hours... now I could probably do that in under a minute! Once I started getting more comfortable with Maya, it was crazy to me to see how quickly I was able to do things that previously left me stumped for hours. By the time I had gotten to modeling these more intricate details, I was much more used to the modeling process, so it came much easier to me than I was anticipating.

    UVs and Texturing

    My first attempt at UVs. I knew the general goal but had no sense of organization or strategy, which is pretty obvious from how this looks at a glance... Some edges had unnecessary cuts, and I split a lot of circular aspects into fours which would lead to messy textures. Luckily I got some critiques and was able to refine this a bit.

    These were my final UVs. At this point, I didn't really know how the texturing process worked, so I made no attempt to organize each part by the type of material, and I didn't take the logos into consideration. Although this caused slightly more of a headache when it came to texture, the overall neatness of this UV (in comparison to my first attempt) did make my life much easier when it came to textures. I also learned that I could keep larger aspects as long as there wasn't any major distortion, so I think that helped out a lot as well, especially for the driver.

    Here's the collection of my texture maps. Overall, this process just included a lot of trial and error on Photoshop, but nothing too crazy was required, so it was a good learning experience. The color map got difficult in terms of logo placement, especially the logo which unfortunately got cut in half by my armature UV tactics. Photoshop also does not like it when you try to use its 3D mode. (I know it's being discontinued, but it permanently glitches my Photoshop project when I try to use it, even after I leave the menu. It made the already tedious process of textures even more tedious, somehow.) I did make a normal map via baking through Maya as well, but the shape of the earbud is already so basic (besides the inside, which is covered by the rest of the earbud anyways) that it didn't change much, so I just made a separate one to create bumps instead.

    The final product!

    I added in some basic 3-point lighting along with an HDRI found on https://polyhaven.com/ (the specific HDRI: https://polyhaven.com/a/monte_scherbelino) I also fixed up proportions and placement, as you could probably tell. Overall, I am very proud of this project. It was a LOT of trial and error and learning, but it made me realize how much fun learning can be. (Surprising, right?) This assignment started my interest in 3D modeling, and as much stress as it caused me, I will always take pride in it. Again, I am nowhere near perfect, and I still have PLENTY to learn, but I am proud of what I have accomplished already. Any tips or critiques about this model or my process (or using Polycount, because I am also incredibly new to this...) would be highly appreciated. Again, I cannot stress enough that I am always looking to learn. Thanks for reading! :)

  • vannycoo
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    Modeling a Nintendo Switch Wireless GameCube Controller for my Computer Graphics Imagery I Final Project

    Now that I had more experience, we had more creative freedom in how we created our final project for the class. I personally decided to go with a GameCube controller (specifically a wireless version for the switch which I had a physical reference of). I also had photo references, but I found it very helpful to have the actual object with me as well. With this final project, we were still offered assistance from our professor, but it was mainly up to us to decide how we wanted to model and texture our object. I knew my object would be challenging, but I also had learned so much from the previous earbud assignment that I felt confident going into the project. Most of this project was already finished as I was going to create this post, so I decided to make it another postmortem.

    (Polycount was glitching and didn't let me size down any of my images, apologies for that in advance! I'll continue to return to this post and try to fix it!)


    Here's a front view reference photo for the model. I took plenty of different photos at various angles along with having the object beside me as I modeled. This helped me with many modeling choices since I could directly take a closer look at my model, unlike with the earbud assignment where I didn't own the object I was modeling.

    First Block-In

    For my first block-in, I was very thorough and wanted to have as little to fix as possible. Even though it did take me a while to do, I was and still am very proud of the results of this first attempt. When I compare it to my first block-in for the earbud assignment, it's hard to believe they were done by the same person! This was only my second time 3D modeling, but at this point, I had found an interest in modeling and really enjoyed getting to challenge myself with this controller. The biggest issues at this point were some of the button holes and shapes, along with the shape of the handles for the controller. Overall though, these changes were relatively minor. I spent a lot less time reworking my model than I did with the earbud assignment, which allowed me to get more creative and take more time with the texturing process.


    After fixing up some of the issues I mentioned previously, these models were essentially the same as the final product. The only changes I made past this point were adding in things I initially thought I could use a bump map for, and also I played around with the controller handles some more throughout the project because I struggled to perfectly match their shape. The modeling process was a lot of fun with this project, and I used a lot of new skills like the mirror tool, which very quickly became my best friend when making the base of the controller! I also duplicated objects and had a lot of trial and error with edge loops for the control stick slots. The controller has a very polygonal shape for these slots, and when smoothed they easily lost their shape, so I had to rework the edge loops a lot until I finally settled on what worked best and looked the most accurate. The camera angles along with the lighting later got changed as well to ensure I was showing more of the object rather than the turntable or background.


    When making my UVs, I planned each one to face in the proper direction and to be grouped by pieces of similar material. This helped immensely when I got into texturing, so it was definitely worth the extra work. I used the arrange tool to ensure the size of each piece was proportional, but then I manually moved and rotated each piece to fit more correctly and efficiently. There was no need for revisions on my UVs at any point, which also saved me some time (and psychological pain).

    First Texture Attempt

    Below is my first attempt with texturing. The biggest issue was with my roughness textures. Some parts of the controller were far too shiny while others were not shiny enough. Besides that though the colors and logo/symbol placements were all fairly accurate. I was still using the older camera angle though, so even with better lighting, my model wasn't being shown in the full-frame.

    First Textures Versus Last

    Here's some progress between my first and last of my color, normal/bump, and roughness maps. These textures took a lot of trial and error, especially the logo placements for the color map and the symbol placements on the normal map. I also decided to add some smudges on the controller for a more realistic interpretation of the controller, and I removed some parts of the normal map and instead modeled them. Luckily they were minor changes so there was no need to redo my UVs or any other texture.

    Final Results

    Overall, I am very pleased with my final results. I honestly didn't know what to expect from myself, but I definitely didn't give myself enough credit. I learned a lot throughout this class, and this project truly allowed me to showcase those skills. For only my second ever 3D modeled object, I am beyond proud of myself. 3D modeling is still a new medium for me, but I have found myself enjoying it a lot more than I would have expected. This project allowed me to take full control in how I wanted to do things, which ended up helping me out a lot. I think the earbud assignment and this final project show how I handle strict directions versus personal problem-solving, respectively.

    I still have a lot to learn, and in hindsight, there were modeling and texturing things that I did that I may have done differently if I completely remade this project. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I can always find ways to improve my own work though, so I'm happy to throw in the towel on this project and truly appreciate the hard work and dedication I put into making this model the best of my current ability. I'm always learning, and it's nice to keep track of my progress through this journal, too! Who knows, maybe in the future I'll recreate this project and see how much more I've improved!

    Until then, thank you for reading! As always, critiques, comments, suggestions, etc. are greatly appreciated! :)

  • vannycoo
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    *End of Postmortems*

  • vannycoo
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    Modeling My Rendition of Charlie Spring's Bedroom from the Graphic Novel "Heartstopper" / Personal Project WIP

    (Polycount was glitching and didn't let me size down any of my images, apologies for that in advance! I'll continue to return to this post and try to fix it!)

    About "Heartstopper"

    "Heartstopper" is a relatively cheerful graphic novel created by Alice Oseman about an openly-gay boy named Charlie Spring who falls for seemingly-straight rugby player Nick Nelson, but as their friendship blossoms, Nick learns more about his identity as they fall in love and survive high school with their friends. "Heartstopper" is easily one of my all-time favorite pieces of media. It has great representation and tells a wholesome story while also addressing important topics like homophobia, transphobia, sexual assault, and mental illness. I wanted to create something to express my love for this story (which will be premiering on Netflix on April 22nd!) and also wanted to practice more 3D modeling, so why not do both!?

    You can read "Heartstopper" for free while supporting Alice on Tapas: https://tapas.io/series/Heartstopper/info


    For my references, I decided to use a combination of graphic novel pages, a piece of official art made by Alice, and a still from the upcoming Netflix series. Each of these references has similar construction, but each has their own charm as well. I've decided to use these references together for general references for major objects, but in terms of minor decorations, I'll pick and choose things from each reference, along with incorporating my own ideas as I see fit.

    First Block-In

    I am still currently in the process of making my first block-ins of each object in his room. This is a major project, and as a college student, I don't have all the free time in the world to work on it. It started as a spring break project, but now that I'm back in class, I'll try to work on it whenever I find some spare time!

    Here is a screenshot of the wireframe of my initial block-in for the floor and walls. This was just basic planning of the room's dimensions. Since there are no actual measurements anywhere, I eyeballed the proportions. Luckily with a project like this, I can have a lot of creative freedom, so something like the room dimensions isn't a major issue.

    In these photos, I added some basic blocks to try and figure out the general spacing of some of the major objects like his bed, dressers, closet, and more. I didn't account for every major object yet, like his drum set, but used the rug underneath it to figure out its general location. In the bird's eye view, you can see the fire frame

    Here is my current progress! I've been working on each individual object including basic furniture like the drawers, nightstand, desk, etc. along with wall directions like posters and this music sign! The music sign took a long time, but I'm hoping to make it an accurate light source by having each "circle" be a bulb. I used Maya's text feature to create the initial letters, but then I went in and reworked the topology along with adding each individual bulb by using the circularize tool and remaking the front topology. I am not a professional, so hopefully what I did is logical in the way that I think/hope it will be!

    I'm still planning to work on this project whenever I get the chance, but I have no strict deadline or requirements for it. It's mainly for me to get more practice, but I am hoping to finish it one day so that I can share it with Alice and the rest of the Heartstopper community! Any suggestions/critiques/comments for this project would be greatly appreciated, like always! I'll try and update this page whenever I add more to this project. Thanks for reading! :)

  • vannycoo
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