Martin Helmut Fieber

Weekly 3D challenge, first results

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Image showing three things I created. From left to right: a retro lamp suitable for space travel, yet another sci-fi door, both created via Blender, and a ground mud texture created in Substance Designer.
I had so much fun creating those pieces.

In the beginning, there was light

When I started my journey into learning 3D at the , I began with small studies of light after the usual beginner tutorials. Small creations here, some tutorials there. Eventually, I started, and still work on, a bigger project for me: recreating Ron Cobb's bulkhead door he drew for the movie Alien. Even though I created and learned many aspects of 3D creation, I never developed a habit of creating. A challenge was born.

Developing a habit

The idea was quickly formed: the same way I made writing a habit by publishing at least one article every month, I'll make 3D creation a habit. The time interval I chose was once per week, as I felt this aligned best with my life — I always want to have time for family, I have a full-time job, and I have other projects I'm continuously working on.

When writing, I use the fact that I constantly like to learn new things. I take what I've learned or a topic I think is interesting and make it an article. This way, I never have to think about what to write; there is always something to pick from*.

Utilizing the same synergies for my 3D learning, I want to create objects, environments, textures, and effects that "count towards a goal". As mentioned, I always have other projects I'm working on, and one of those is a world I'm building.

The world-building helps me write more and learn how to craft stories. I'm developing a retro sci-fi world, strongly influenced by movies like Alien and Blade Runner, leaning toward a cassette futurism theme.

Considering this, I use the work I'm already doing as fuel for ideas for my 3D weekly challenge. I want to create what could be found in that world, Alsafi (/ælˈsfi/), as I currently have it named.

Furthermore, I'd also like to learn something new with every weekly challenge. With goals set, and the inspiration pool initialized, a habit can be born.

6 weeks in

Now that I've started the challenge, I've already learned a lot. This new habit was one of the best decisions I made to really boost my 3D learning. I tried different modeling techniques, with and without Blender add-ons, and even started learning Substance 3D Designer to create procedural textures.

Up to this point, I'm really happy with the challenge, even if I'm usually not fully happy with the result. But the constraints are set, and what I have at the end of the week is what I have. Besides, that limit really helps me not fall into "perfectionism", where everything needs to be 100% perfect — looking at you bulkhead door I've remodeled three times.

From the moment I came up with the challenge, I thought I want to do this for one year. Telling others, like my wife, about this, it seems like a rather ambitious goal. I'm not turning back though, I want to do it. I'll see how giddy and excited I am in *.

Show and tell

Alright, let's take a look at the random assortment of things I made in the first 6 weeks.

MyMuse — motivational quote player

The first asset I created is a small, handheld device that will play inspirational and motivational quotes — exclusively. Its advanced software will always produce the right quote for the right situation. The mono headphone helps to not get too distracted.

Image of the MyMuse inspirational quote player, a blue walkman like device with a single headphone earpiece, a black grip, and large letters with the device name.
Weekly Challenge 1

I used a few Blender add-ons for this, mainly HardOps and BoxCutter, Cablerator, Fluent: Materializer for textures, and DECALmachine.

Another sci-fi door

As it took me quite a while to build my first larger asset, a bulkhead door, I challenged myself to do another one — but quicker. To keep an eye on the time, I stuck to basic textures, and am very happy with the result, that took me a fraction of the time I took for my first sci-fi door.

Weekly Challenge 2

I used Blender with MACHIN3tools and DECALmachine.

Zero-G retro lamp

Who does not want a space-compatible, retro-looking lamp with cozy vibes? This lamp can stick to flat surfaces to avoid floating in zero-G. Bringing the cozy vibes of the past to modern spaceships.

A retro desk lamp able to be used in spaceships as it can stick to surfaces. The lamp is off, the lampshade is a dark orange fabric, the body a beige gloss showing the lamp controls in white. A retro desk lamp able to be used in spaceships as it can stick to surfaces. The lamp is on, the lampshade is a dark orange fabric, the body a beige gloss showing the lamp controls in black.
Weekly Challenge 3

I used Blender without add-ons for the lamp, with the goal of getting at the subdivision workflow.

Procedural ground dirt material

Dirt! That's it — though not all of it. I wanted to learn procedural texture creation and delved into my first steps with Substance 3D Designer. I had a lot of fun working on this and definitely want to create more textures this way in the future.

Weekly Challenge 4

Vacuum carry case

This one was harder than imagined. I wanted to create a hard-case for secure storage and transport of small goods. I fiddled way too long with the topology, again diving into "making things perfect". In the end, time ran out, and I was not able to finish it all.

Weekly Challenge 5

Blender with some simple textures. The only add-on used was DECALmachine for the labeling.

Sodium borohydride storage

Inspired by one of Alsafi's colonies, this large sodium borohydride tank will help store its contents securely against the planet's high atmospheric pressure. It is used to safely store hydrogen in a solid state.

Weekly Challenge 6

I always wanted to try a blueprint look, which I accomplished here via Blender's grease pencil tool and the amazing SouthernShotty tutorial on YouTube. With more time, I would have liked to also add measurements to the storage tank — thankfully, there is always next time.


Alright, this is what I have so far. I'm really looking forward to when the year is done and I can look at 52 creations — hoping to see how I got better. Thumbs pressed. I also plan on creating a proper portfolio when I'm done, showcasing every item in high resolution.

Until then 👋🏻

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