Work / Animation

Zero to 60 in six months: designer Eva Cremers on learning 3D animation

Eva Cremers’ Inflatables project is a testament to just what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. Beginning the project with “hardly any 3D skills”, Eva worked with illustrator Dan Whitehouse to create a series of adorable – and sometimes a little creepy – 3D animations based around inflatable versions of children’s toys, foodstuffs (including a kebab) and lava lamps.

The collaborative project was part of a four-month “3D sabbatical” the Dutch designer embarked on after graduating in graphic design. “After university I was very surprised to be asked by 3D gods ManvsMachine to do an internship with them. Obviously I said yes but it felt quite weird to hardly have any 3D skills.” In the run up to the internship, every day for four months, Eva tried to teach herself 3D animation and, after posting several experiments on Instagram, got in touch with Dan to see whether he was interested in collaborating. “It was very low key, we just chatted via instagram and never even met,” says Eva. “First we talked about each others work and I started making a 3D version of one of his illustrations and he sketched out some fun 2D illustrations that he was curious to see in 3D. We both got really excited about our combination of illustration style in 3D and decided to make a series.”

The concept grew organically through online chats between the pair. “We wanted to combine our illustration styles and both agreed on having the shiny plastic effect as the constant of each animation,” says Eva. “The title Inflatables came at the end, when we looked at the series we made, this seemed like an appropriate name. For us the inspiration came from childhood objects and general things that make us happy.” 

For Eva, the three-week project was a great opportunity to play and learn at the same time, while also growing her online audience. She learnt through the age-old combo of trial and error and binge-watching “boring tutorials with questionable voiceovers”, gradually building up her skills. “The challenging part was that sometimes I wasn’t able to create right away what was in my mind,” says Eva. “It’s annoying when a technique is holding you back but at the same time that’s the best and productive way of learning a new program.”

Some animations took Eva several days to build, which was especially frustrating given she now knows super-fast ways to create the same effect post-internship. “It’s the best feeling to look back on a (even a recent) project and see the progress I’ve made since. I still have so much to learn within the 3D world, but to be able to do this while working on commissioned dream projects (such as one for the New York Times) is something I would have never imagined possible within six months.”