“I make stuff in a really inappropriate way, but it works”: Sébastien Rabaste on his unorthodox 3D design practice
Being entirely self-taught – mainly through YouTube tutorials – the Paris-based designer sees his unorthodox journey as giving him a unique and much more “organic” style.
- Olivia Hingley
- 7 June 2022
“I think that with the tools I have, it’s much more interesting to create fantasy than trying to recreate reality”, begins 3D designer Sébastien Rabaste. “The fact that with 3D you can give life in a super realistic rendering to stuff that doesn’t exist is amazing.” Like a horror-inspired mash up of Tim Burton’sThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Sébastien’s favourite childhood series, Dr Seuss, the creatures and locations in the designer’s 3D land are completely out of this world. Taking inspiration from things as diverse as children’s toys, hardware stores, weird medieval paintings, and awe-inspiring aspects of nature, a gander through Sébastien’s fabricated land is certainly not your average walk in the park.
When beginning a new design, Sébastien explains that he will treat it much like a drawing because “the imperfections of the shapes are what make it personal”. It’s easy to see this approach in the designer’s work; whilst much 3D design today has a very sleek, polished finish, Sébastien’s work is imbued with a unique, organic quality, full of texture and rough shapes. Being passionate about music, and the way “that it doesn’t need any explanation”, Sébastien sees his creative approach as reflecting that of a musician: “it’s very instinctive, I’m not trying to give meaning to stuff, I’m just trying to make interesting images that make you feel something”.
Sébastien sees this free approach as being rooted in the limited tools he had at the start of his 3D journey. Studying for a degree graphic design at la Cambre in Brussels, Sébastien always wanted to dabble in 3D, but it seemed like an “impossible” task. So, following his studies he started making music videos with traditional frame-by-frame animation. But, with the arrival of the pandemic, Sébastien began to watch tutorials before quickly realising that “the best teacher you could find was YouTube”. “Like a lot of newbies, I started with BlenderGuru’s donut tutorial. And I remember, the first day I tried to make something on my own, I understood the field of possibilities was infinite, I had found the tool I had always looked for”. It’s this sense of carving his own path that has given Sébastien’s work such a distinctive edge. “Having technical limitations at the beginning of my 3D journey made me test some stuff that I probably wouldn't have if I had been to a 3D school”, he says candidly, “and I kind of oriented my style around these limitations. I make stuff in a really inappropriate way, but it works.”
Having now made quite a name for himself in the DIY 3D world, Sébastien has completed some pretty impressive projects. The French magazine Mouvement reached out to Sébastien asking him to create a front cover for their issue on the metaverse. In response, Sébastien decided to imagine what his house would look like if it existed in the metaverse. Featuring a neon-orange top-hatted character and a slightly eerie landscape, the piece perfectly represents the unknown mysteries of the field. More recently, for the band PPJ, Sébastien created the EP artwork for their single Cajuina. Explaining Cajuna to be the juice of the Caju fruit, Sébastien characterised a piece of the fruit, giving it arms and a smiling face, even creating a motion aspect to accompany the artwork with the fruit “vibing with the music and wind on his branch”. Endearing and absurd in equal measure, the piece shows the playful potential of Sébastien’s style.
But the real standout for us here at It’s Nice That is a personal project of Sébastien’s – his brilliantly weird dancing dogs. Using cloth simulation and a dynamic camera angle for a realistic effect, Sébastien created a number of dogs strutting their stuff to music. “I had a lot of fun with this one”, he adds, “torturing this poor inflatable dog.” But, if there is one thing the project taught Sébastien it’s how much potential lies in making impressive animations with simple tools. “I have a lot of ideas for future projects, but the understanding of these tools is super important, and I still have a lot to learn,” Sébastien concludes. “I feel like after two years I’m only at one per cent of the possibilities 3D offers.”
Sébastien Rabaste: Metaverse for Mouvement (Copyright © Sébastien Rabaste, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.