Want to know how to bring your 3D illustrations to life? Meet the Elements Author leading the way for 3D illustration and diversity and representation in design...
What Is 3D Illustration?
Elements author, illustrator and Creative Director Amrit Pal Singh has been turning heads all over the web with his eye-catching 3D illustrations. Best known for his ‘Toy Faces’ series, Amrit has been commended not only for his incredible design skill, but also for the wide range of diversity, individuality and representation in his work.
Previously working with Fueled and Snapchat as a product designer, Amrit went on to found his own interactive game and product company Mister Bumbles in mid 2019. Since then, Amrit has been focusing on developing his unique style, as well as selling and sharing his incredible 3D illustration projects online.
We sat down with the amazing 3D illustrator to learn how he creates his work, what inspires him, and how he’s leading the way for representation and diversity in design…
Your work is so unique! What’s your artistic background and how did you get into 3D illustration?
AMRIT: Growing up, I loved Studio Ghibli, Disney and Hanna-Barbera – so my interest in 3D was meant to be. I got into design and animation when I was 16. I ended up graduating from Vancouver Film School at the age of 22 where I learned most of the tools and techniques.
I was lucky enough to get a full-time job right out of college at Fueled, a technology consultancy based in New York City. I worked with Fueled for two-years as a motion designer and eventually returned to India to start my own design practice. I spent the next few years as a Product Designer working for clients from all over the world and doing a bit of 3D on the side.
From 2017 to 2019, I worked as Head of Design at a fintech startup based in New Delhi. After selling design assets with Envato as a side-hustle for one year, I left my job in 2019 to pursue a solo practice focusing on 3D illustrations and design assets.
What inspires you?
AMRIT: Storytelling and childlike wonder – I love focusing on that. All my art is inspired by stories and a sense of wonder. I love it when something takes me back to my childhood, so most of my work is about making others feel the same.
My mission is to offer designers and companies tools or assets that make their work pop and shine while promoting diversity and representation.
How do you create your 3D illustrations? What’s your creative process?
AMRIT: I spend a lot of time thinking and chalking out my ideas and I keep a detailed notion journal. Then there is a research phase where I make mood boards on Pinterest and see what’s out there and how I can be different. Once I have a sense of what I want I get into the software right away. I use Cinema4D and Adobe Illustrator. I usually first draw things in Illustrator and then take them to Cinema4D to model a 3D version. Then I think about textures and lighting and what kind of look I want. After the final render, I do some touch-ups in Photoshop and then I’m done.
Your work champions diversity. Why do you think it’s important to represent more diversity in design?
AMRIT: The diversity in my work is absolutely intentional. I have a mission to always be more diverse in my work. We need to consciously think about representation at every stage. On my website, I request everyone to give constructive feedback on how I can make my work more diverse and inclusive.
Illustrations and character design over the years have really established wrong standards of beauty and importance. Almond-eyes, fair skin, and particular body types; we have grown up watching cartoons that establish these biases. As creators and artists, it’s our duty to fix that.
What programs, tools or techniques do you use to create your work?
AMRIT: There are a variety of tools I use. I believe digital journals are the best and I journal every decent idea I get. Below are some of the tools and programs I swear by for different stages of the creative process:
How has Envato Elements helped you grow your career as an artist?
AMRIT: Envato Elements introduced me to the world of mockups and passive income. That absolutely changed my mindset and approach to my work. Initially, I uploaded 2 or 3 products just to see if it was something for me. I noticed a certain amount of money consistently coming in every month and that really got my attention.
I started making products weekly and researched a lot about the categories I could contribute to. I had a full-time job as Head of Design for a fin-tech startup, but I still made time because the idea of getting paid passively for my creation was fascinating. I eventually found my niche of making device mockups using my 3D skills, and that enabled me to upload 4 to 5 items monthly.
In 2019, I was tired of the startup ecosystem and didn’t want to be part of it any longer. Sturdy income from Envato Elements gave me the push to leave my job and pursue making assets full-time. It has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my career.
Where else do you sell or promote your work?
AMRIT: I was fortunate enough to spend the quarantine in a highly productive mode and to focus on 3D illustrations. Since then my work has been featured on a lot of platforms like Architectural Digest, VSCO, Behance, Wacom, and Design Taxi. Apart from Envato Elements, I also sell on my website and promote my work on Behance and Instagram.
What are the most exciting things you’ve accomplished in your career so far? What creative projects do you have on the go?
AMRIT: An exciting project I’m working on right now is a personal one called “The Rooms Project“, which is a series of iconic rooms illustrated in quarantine.
Since the launch of Toy Faces Library in June, I have had several job offers from the best of companies and have fortunately been in a position where I can politely decline them and not get major anxiety about it. The current major accomplishment seems like the ability to thrive without a job and turning the global crisis into an opportunity. I’m very glad that I’ve been commissioned by some big companies like Google, NFL Teams, Snapchat, and Ola.
What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from becoming a 3D illustrator? What’s your advice for others?
Play to your strengths and stick to your natural style. If your work is cute and not provocative, focus on being as cute as you can or vice versa. As an illustrator, your unique style will make you stand out. Don’t worry about what’s trending or what other people are doing, just master your style and try to be great at it. This is going to take time, be consistent and things will eventually flow. And turn on auto-save for all your projects!