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Dylan Hesselbacher  Student Work

Dylan Hesselbacher Student Work

Dylan Hesselbacher
by dylanhesselbacher on 17 Apr 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

My submission for this years Rookie Awards from my time at Gnomon from 2018 to 2021.

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                                                   Astronomers Gate

"Those who seek knowledge lain in the stars must first seek out this sacred place."

This project is very special to me! It started off as a late night doodle/idea that I had bouncing around my head. At the time (as well as now haha) I was obsessed with huge fantasy doorways, space, and different types of mechanisms and machines. I had also been inspired by a lot of different circular shapes at the time, so this project was the perfect opportunity to play with that. Because I was making this up as I went along, I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible so I could focus on trying to nail down smaller details. I already had many concepts in mind for inspiration, so after blocking out an animation, I went to gathering reference!

This was also the first time I had attempted a long offline render and sound design!


Here's my reference board! Honestly, I probably should've had more reference. I ended up using a lot of different concept art for different reasons here, as well as photos from real life. Any sort of interesting radial pattern I could find I put here, or if I liked a certain material, lighting scheme, or shape. I stumbled upon a lot of nice designs pertaining to space, and I immediately knew what sort of direction I wanted to take the piece in. I found a lot of interesting orrery reference, and tried to let my imagination take over but still keeping it grounded in reference. I wanted to keep the scene simple but still as interesting as it could possibly be.


Here's some screenshots from substance painter, probably my favorite part of the process. I love texturing oxidization on metals, so this was just a ton of fun. I just started out with a base metal material, and i added on some fill layers for the oxidization, dirt, smudges, as well as scratches. I tried to follow my orrery reference as carefully as I could, adding color variation and other wear and tear where it showed up in the reference.

Looking back there are always different aspects I would change at each step, but I suppose that's part of learning anything. As always, this project wouldn't have been possible without my instructors Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma; Their feedback and advice is always pushing these projects further than I could've ever taken them on my own, and I'm immensely grateful for their help.


Hanuman is based off of a concept by Ankush Sharma. This was a really challenging project for me! I loved the scale of the scene and wanted to give it a shot. The statue in particular was a big struggle for me, as sculpting in general is something I want to improve upon. Getting the statue forms to read like a statue just didn't make sense to me so I think that part took the longest. Overall I'm pretty happy with how the statue ended up looking, but of course there is always room for improvement, especially on the hands, face, and the textures. Another difficulty was getting the scale to read properly, especially in the textures of the statue.

This was also the first project I used speed tree for, and it was a fun experience learning how to use it! I'm pretty content with how the vines turned out. This was done for demo reel class at Gnomon, taught by Miguel Ortega. As always, a big thank you to Miguel and Tran for their help on this project.

Everything was done in Maya rendered in Vray, textures are substance painter and a little bit of Mari, foliage was done in Speed Tree, and comped in Nuke!


This time around, I just tried to match a lot of the concept. However, I did try to pull some reference of monkeys and statues. I still think that I struggled to represent the shape language of the statues, and I think that would definitely lend itself to making the piece stronger overall. Some advice I was given by my instructors was that the more architectural you go the easier it would be to fill in the gaps where I wasn't sure what exactly was in the concept. Looking back, I definitely should've had more reference to guide my decisions in certain areas rather than relying too much on the concept, even though I was trying to match it.

Cyberpunk Alleyway

This scene is near and dear to my heart as it's the first big environment I created at Gnomon for Lighting 1! This project went through so many iterations, I can't even keep track of them all. I still feel as though the scene isn't finished, but I suppose the thing with CG projects is that there is always something else that can be done to push the project. There were many iterations of this one and I still feel like it's missing more interesting aspects that give it more story. However I am happy with how many little easter eggs I was able to throw into this scene: little doodles from my friends, names of songs, and pieces of shows I love are also hidden around here.

The models for the buildings were kitbash models and I textured them in substance painter, and did everything else in maya! I ended up porting this project into unreal engine and fine tuned it there!

The Collectors House

The Collector's House is a project based on a concept by Andrej Remprel. This project was done over the course of 2 or 3 weeks for Demo Reel at Gnomon. I was pretty happy with how quick this one went. I loved the mood of the piece and I hope that I captured that from the concept! I think that the walls are a still a bit too grungey but overall I'm content.

This project was made in Maya, rendered in vray, comped in Nuke, and textured in substance painter.

Yeshe ་ཡེ་ཤེས་

Yeshe was done for Tran Ma's texturing 4 class at Gnomon! I had a really hard time with this project...It was a first for many different things, including sculpting something organic. I'm hesitant to even include this project here, but I feel like it was a very important milestone for me as an artist. I hope if people see how rough it was at the start and where it ended up, it could prove (especially to myself) that no matter where a project begins it can always get better. Yeshe is an amalgamation of many different people- I took specific parts of reference and mashed them up to create a new person!

As always, it definitely wouldn't have gotten to this point without Tran and Miguel's help. It looked really rough at the start but I'm happy with how it came out (after a lot of guidance from Tran), especially for my first go at a character! I think in the future a beard would be nice to add.

Rendered in maya Vray, texturing done in Mari, sculpted in zbrush and mudbox, the base robe was done by Evgenia Petrova in Marvelous Designer, and comped in Nuke.

Thank you!

If you've stuck around this far, thank you for taking the time to scroll through my time at Gnomon. Putting this together was a nice experience despite feeling nervous putting my work out there, especially the early work in progress screenshots. I hope that including them can show just how much CG changes during the process, and how its simply just part of the process.

As much as I feel like there's so much to improve upon, I feel proud of the work I've been able to do so far, and I look forward to creating more in the future. As always, a big thank you to Tran and Miguel for their guidance and tons of AMC's, as well as my friends, Liam, Ben, Forest, Foram, and Zhouli for their feedback, support, and inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my stuff, and thank you for your time!

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