For 3D artists looking to display their work online, the web poses one big problem: It’s in 2D.
For most designers, the solution to this problem has been the demo reel, an unsavory but necessary compromise that gets the job done, just not particularly elegantly.
Online 3D model viewer Sketchfab, however, may have a solution: Sketchfab.me, its new online 3D design portfolio service. Essentially an About.me for 3D designers, SketchFab.me lets artists present their work in a way that’s both compelling and interactive (just try dragging this Daft Punk design around; it’s legitimately neat). In fact, the service solves the online 3D model problem so effectively you wonder how it took so long for something like it to come about.
Here’s a hint, though: Pulling this off is really, really tough.
“We’ve been working on this for two years, which explains why there aren’t so many people doing it. This requires pretty heavy tech,” Sketchfab co-founder Alban Denoyel told me. (Sketchfab is built on WebGL, a plug in-free 3D rendering engine natively compatible with all major web browsers except Internet Explorer. Big surprise.)
At the core of Sketchfab.me is fidelity. Denoyel says that what Sketchfab has created finally allows designers to showcase their work as it was meant to be seen. “Video demo reels are too passive. This is really something different, more engaging. We’re putting the models first,” he said.
Early reaction to the feature has been positive, and it’s even attracted the attention of heavyweights like 3D sculpture pioneer Josh Harker. It’s tough to get a more sound endorsement than that.