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Journey Trough 3D

Journey Trough 3D

Sergej Smilkov
by sergejsmilkov on 27 May 2024

Projects I've made during this past year, exploring different 3D Software and roles

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Hi everyone! My name is Sergej Smilkov, and I am a 3D Artist in love with lighting and composition. I am based in Skopje, Macedonia. My journey into the world of 3D art began in 2022 when I saw an ad from M3DS about a game design contest and I signed up straight away. The contest was about Unreal Engine 5 and we were supposed to create a still image in 4 hours using the assets they provided. I fell in love with the process and the freedom of 3D so I enrolled straight away.

From the beginning, I was captivated by the intricate process of creating 3D models and thought that it will be impossible to learn. Fast forward 2 years, I finished as "Student of the Year" and have a deep understanding of the whole pipeline but realized that my passion lies elsewhere and that was the final renders.

In this post, I will go over some of the renders/landscapes I have created with various programs, starting with Maya, Unreal Engine 5, Marmoset Toolbag, and the most resent one, Blender.

The Elderwoods is an in-progress cinematic I'm working on alongside the Instructors at M3DS Academy. The whole project is made with Unreal Engine 5, from modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering. It was the first project where we tried to do everything in-engine with it's built-in tools. I've been amazed by how many things you can do inside of this software, even if they are not still "industry standard". It's going to be a long-time before Unreal is considered an all-in-one tool, but I do see a future where that is the case

Most of the assets were from Quixel's Medieval Game Environment Pack, but I've also done a lot of assets myself. I find it very interesting to try and match someone's style, but I love how my assets fit right into the scene.

For all of the torches I played around with Niagara Fluid to get a realistic fire.  With Unreal Engine 5.4, VDBs are immensely improved and their render times have been almost halved for me

During this project i learned how to utilize BPPs (Level packed actors) to create prefabs that I can easily fit into my scene afterwards

This is also the first time i got to play around with Xsens and animate in-engine. Motion capture is definitely something that I'd like to delve into more, and I'm grateful that we have an Xsens motion capture suit that we can play around with on campus at M3DS

The final cinematic is still in-progress and I can't wait to share it with all of you!

Fallen Dreams

I was astonished by the quality of the work that Oskar Woinski put out 6 years ago named "FALLEN DREAMS" so I tried recreating it. The environment was modeled and textured by me although the Astronaut is from Bigmediumsmall. I realized that you can't be good in every field you touch so I decided to focus on the final result, the lighting and the render itself.

Sunday Morning

"Sunday Morning" is a memory that I have as a child. It was fully rendered in Blender. The model of the PlayStation 1 was done by Lars Maes but the environment itself including the lighting, color correction and sound design was done by me. It was finished in DaVinci Resolve and its a loop.

The Frame

I had an idea that I wanted to create with this one, A simple 10 second story about a portrait of a woman. Rendered in Blender, post production in DaVinci Resolve.

The following renders are a few of my renders that I have done over the past 6 months. I try to push myself and create something every day because that's the way I have found that works for me and is allowing me to improve.

Hope you like them


This environment was my first breakthrough in the Industry. I got noticed by Quixel and Artstation when they posted my work on social media. 

All of the scenes below were created with Unreal Engine 5, utilizing Lumen and assets from Quixel




Past and present.

Chapter 26

Maya render, Arnold



As time went by, I started to try new software to see where i fell most comfortable with. 
Everyone i talked to suggested to try out Blender so i had to give it a shot. Even though the donut was my first project (of course), these scenes were the first I made myself using assets from BigMediumSmall

Wild West




For my realistic portraits i mainly used photoscanned meshes and textures, which i then retouched inside of Zbrush to get the desired expression, as well as some minor tweaks to achieve the look i wanted.

All of these were rendered in Maya with Arnold, and all of the hair was done with Xgen. 

As a final note, I'd like to share some thoughts on the Game Development category. I might be wrong, but I feel like game development is not just Modeling and Texturing, but complete pipeline, where everyone needs to find their role. Even though i started out the same way, I transitioned mostly into Lighting, Composition and Rendering while trying to achieve realistic results.

Thank you for your time, and it was a pleasure to be a part of this amazing competition.

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