20 Freelance Tips

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15th, 2011 by sketchbookinc
  1. Booking: Be very wary about booking yourself on a project in advance. I often turn down work in expectation of these projects, yet it seams that the majority don’t pan out for whatever reason. If you do commit to a project, try and get some money upfront.
  2. Downtime: If you are used to working 7 days a week all hours of the day and don’t have much down time, when you get some down time, try your best not to worry about the lack of work. Do yourself a favor and grab a vacation while you can! If you don’t feel like relaxing or vacationing, invest in learning new software. I have a subscription to digital tutors. I can watch it almost anywhere on any device. Lastly, do a small personal project to keep the creative juices flowing.
  3. Portfolio Work: If you find yourself stuck in doing work you don’t enjoy, consider deleting all of that type of work from your portfolio site. You will only get the type of work that you show in your portfolio.
  4. Family: Family and friends will never respect your work hours because to them you don’t have a “real job”. My wife works 1 day a week, and usually it’s on a Sunday. We attend church on Sunday and I get grief from my wife if I have to work, but if she has to work her “real job” she has a free pass ?
  5. Employees: To be avoided. Freelancers are usually freelancers for a reason!
  6. Abuse: Clients will treat you as you let them treat you. If you are fast and turn things around same day, they will usually expect and demand things the same day.
  7. Taxes: You will most likely suck at taxes, paperwork, etc so you are best off finding an accountant. Expect to pay nearly $1000 a year just to get your taxes done. I find using a simple spreadsheet for keeping track of all my projects is the most efficient way to go. You don’t need quickbooks, etc.
  8. Incorporating has some nice advantages for paying a bit less in taxes, but there are fees and lots of paperwork to consider and your taxes have to be done for the corporation and you as an individual. I probably would not incorporate again.
  9. Healthcare: There is no simple solution to healthcare that I know of. I have a Health Savings Account (HSA). You pay about the same each year as you would under a typical health plan, however if you don’t go to the doc much, 70% of that money you can invest tax free. For me, I pay $5000 into an HSA account each year, which I use throughout the year for all medical expenses (for my entire family). You also have to carry a high deductible insurance plan (about $250 a month for my family). whatever is left over of the $5000 at the end of the year is yours to invest. Again, this is only good if you are fairly healthy and can afford dropping 5k a year into an account.
  10. Budgets: Clients will almost never give you a budget on a project.
  11. Freelance vs Studio: Even when I had employees, a studio, and was incorporated I was still considered a freelancer. I blame this on myself.
  12. Account Managers: Consider hiring or utilizing a project manager or an account manager for really large accounts. I was Nike’s #1 vendor for 3d work for 4 years straight, only to allow it to end over a contract negotiation. An account manager will be able to shield you from yourself.
  13. Studio vs Company: Shoot for direct client relationships over working with studios. More profitable (if a good sized company) and will last longer. Studio’s will filter through different people regularly. Studio’s will always find somebody cheaper or hire someone to replace the need for you.
  14. Boring Work: The projects that bring in the most money tend to be the least creative. Realize that even the most amazing studio’s live on a good % of non-creative work. I’ve tried to quit certain types of projects with very little luck.
  15. Accounting: Find yourself a good Bank that has online banking with built in quicken type functionality. I use Onpoint Credit Union which uses an Intuit based interface. I can categorize everything and never have to recreate my books in quicken or quickbooks.
  16. Cashflow: The larger the client you have the longer they will take to pay you.
  17. Paying: Pay your freelancers as soon as you can. I pay immediately and I think people appreciate that.
  18. Twitter: Careful about tweeting something bad about a client, potential client, or freelancer. You would be surprised who is reading your tweets. I’ve learned this the hard way.
  19. Facebook: If possible, don’t befriend your contractors or clients on Facebook. Demanding clients don’t need to know when you take an occasional day off.
  20. The End: Don’t expect a client relationship to last forever. Almost every client relationship you have will end or decrease at some point.


Nike Air Max Lebron VIII

Posted in 3D on October 5th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Finished a high res Nike shoe model for Monster Vs. Robot. If you have followed along on any of the other high res shoe’s we’ve working on (Columbia Boot, Nike Shox), You will see that this is the most complicated one to date. Almost entirely due to the insanely detailed tread!I just about lost it. Modeling done all within c4d.

Cricket Mobile Phones

Posted in 3D on September 14th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Last year we modeled a bunch of mobile phones for Radar Studios. Here’s the final animation. We’ve modeled a lot of phones over the last year. This spot shows about half of them. Will post some meshes soon!

Coke + Emeco

Posted in 3D on April 26th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

In 2008 I was approached by Coke to model and render out some Emeco Navy Chairs in several colors. It’s nice to see that this project became a reality! As you can see here Coke partnered with Emeco to develop a line of chairs that is made from recycled Coke bottles. Here are some photos from the launch: And below if one of my rough original renderings. I need to dig up the finals. Will post soon.


Zbrush Head

Posted in 3D, Illustration on March 31st, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Had a moment to play around in Zbrush for an hour yesterday. Started from a sphere and made this demon head. I don’t know why I tend to make evil looking faces. Probably because I love scouring zbrush forums where all the character designers and modelers hangout. I don’t think there is a market for fluffy cute things. It’s monsters and demons that are all the rage :)

It’s bothers me that I can sculpt pretty well but can’t draw worth a crap.


Barclays Ishares for Euro RSCG

Posted in 3D, Animation on March 18th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Here are a few test  stills from an animation done for Euro RSCG for a Barclays iShares microsite. I think it’s been about a year since working on this project. That’s how behind I am on posting work! The site was comprised of 3 sections, each with a different 3d animation at it’s core.

The first section was a stack of cards, the second a bucket with water, and the third a dartboard & darts. Cards animated with c4d’s mograph module. Realflow and Vray also used heavily.


Music Machine

Posted in 3D on March 17th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Here’s a fun little image that was modeled in Zbrush with Z-Spheres, and then painted with Bodypaint. it was intentionally modeled very low poly, with the hopes of smoothing in Unity 3d for an Iphone game. This was going to be something akin to a music machine. All animated with each part moving and producing music. In the end Unity could not smooth the mesh (doh!), nor can it use much of the rigging that I had built to animate this. So I now would like to go in and sculpt the crap out of this little sucker. Maybe convert it into something totally different…


Seeking 3d artists

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

Sketchbook is looking for some seasoned 3d artists who are highly skilled in Cinema 4d and Vray. Experience with Zbrush, AfterEffects, and Realflow is also a plus. Email joe at sketchbookinc dott com if you are interested.

Projects will start out as freelance offsite with the potential of turning into full time positions at the studio.

Zbrush in Production

Posted in 3D on March 16th, 2010 by sketchbookinc

One of my goals last year was to learn Zbrush. It’s one of the few goals I accomplished! Unfortunately my projects don’t often need Zbrush. So I sneak it in when I am able. Still am fairly beginner at it. I’ve been pushing my clients to adopt Zbrush and displacement as a standard for a lot of 3d product creation, but it’s a slow sell. Only a matter of time. Here are a few images created recently of some Nike on body product. Note the insanely low poly base mesh which renders with displacement at render time like butter! Vray and Zbrush make a great team!

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Columbia Bugathermo boot animation

Posted in 3D, Animation on October 10th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

Another Columbia Sportswear animation done in Cinema 4d, and rendered in Vray. This was a modeling challenge. The sheer number of polygons on this boot is out of control.

See full Resolution Quicktime version here

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Columbia Omni-Tech Animation

Posted in Animation on October 10th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

Here’s an animation we did last year for Columbia Sportswear. Rendered in Cinema 4d using AR. Water simulation done in RealFlow.

Columbia Omni-Tech 3d Fabric Animation from sketchbookinc on Vimeo.

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Columbia “Omni-Grip” Illustrations

Posted in Illustration on July 29th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

Here’s another illustration Jason and I we worked on for Columbia. Jason sketched some initial concepts and I helped realize the idea by building these mini 3d environments which show each tread type that is used on Columbia footwear. Renderings were done in c4d using AR3.


Columbia “Contour Comfort” Illustrations

Posted in Illustration on July 29th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

My office mate Jason just showed me this illustration we worked on last year for Columbia. They’ve started using it in their catalogs. Not online as of yet. Jason produced sketches at inception, and I modeled and rendered this crazy complex insole. Holes, grooves. Insane! Renderings created in c4d using AR3.


Columbia Fabric Technology Illustrations

Posted in Illustration on July 27th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

Above are 3 fabric technology illustrations done for Columbia Sportswear. Omni-Shade, Omni-Tech, and Blood-n-Gutts. Jason Laramie created some preliminary sketches for these and I built the rest in 3d. I later animated these 3 fabrics using realflow for the rain and the stain. These were rendered in c4d’s AR3, with GI, and then composited in Photoshop as well as Aftereffects.


Styleframe for Nike Soccer animation

Posted in Design on May 14th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

frame1_01b_450Here’s a frame I developed for the opening of a Nike soccer animation we have been working on. I like the way it turned out. More later on this animation.


Nike Shox

Posted in 3D, Animation on April 23rd, 2009 by sketchbookinc

We recently modeled a high rez Nike Shox shoe for a Nike spot that was created by Ryan Rothermel (Decoy) and Spilled Karma. Linus Jodwalis textured and animated the shoe in Maya. Great work to all!

Nike Mobius Portal from sketchbookinc on Vimeo.


Nike Packaging render for Big Giant

Posted in 3D on March 20th, 2009 by sketchbookinc

Here’s a rendering of some nike packaging just finished for Big Giant. These boxes are crazy high rez. Built them from scratch with thickness, etc. Renders done in Vray. big_giant_packaging

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New Work

Posted in 3D on March 2nd, 2009 by sketchbookinc


Chicago Marathon for Big Giant

Posted in 3D on March 1st, 2009 by sketchbookinc

This project is still being tweaked – but here are some small renders of the progress. big_giant_chi_01big_giant_chi_11big_giant_chi_21


New Projects

Posted in 3D, Illustration on February 11th, 2009 by sketchbookinc


Busy Busy Busy!

Several new projects.

A couple retail renderings for Big Giant. Almost done with the 2008 chicago marathon space that they built out last year. They didn’t come away with good photos, so I will be rendering the space in 3d. Also need to work on a smaller rendering for BG. This is the second largest retail space I believe I have ever worked on, aside from the Nike Factory store. The amount of product in this scene is pushing my computers to their limits. Vray Proxy objects being used at will!

My goal is to use a lot of this product (which was ported over from c4d renderer), and I will be going back and re-rendering a lot of my old work in Vray.

Also working on a 3d illustration for BSSP in SF. 

On the back burner are a few Nike projects as well, that I probably won’t get to till the end of the month. 

Lastly some wine bottles for Dot Zero.

Will post some images as soon as I have them done.

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