Chris Szetela, Industrial Designer
Chris Szetela is a Detroit based commercial artist of 22 years. As a graduate of Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, he was classically trained and earned a BFA in Illustration in 1985. Specializing in mechanical illustration, Chris’s clients list includes 3M, Nestle, Jolly Rancher, Keebler, Ford, Nickelodeon, Anheuser-Busch and Tropicana Casinos and the Detroit Science Center.
How did you get started in the graphics industry?
After graduating from Center for Creative Studies in 1985, my first job was an illustration apprentice at a major Illustration studio in town. I got to see first hand how seasoned artists worked and solved problems. This was all before computers, when everything was actually painted and airbrushed. Shortly there after, I freelanced for a few years, until I was hired as an industrial illustrator at Ford Motor Company.
What made you pick up Strata 3D? Was there a specific problem/need that caused you to seek out a 3D application?
In 1997, an illustrator friend of mine gave me a CD called Strata Vision 3D. I built the anniversary clock tutorial and was hooked. I absolutely could not believe that you could build a 3D model, choose any camera angle to view it in, and render it without going near a tube of guache or an airbrush.
What other applications were part of your workflow, and how did Strata 3D work with those applications?
Like most artists and graphic professionals, I use the Adobe suite; Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. CX really works well with Illustrator: being able to import technical drawings and creating splines to extrude and edit into polygon cages in the application.
How did you learn Strata 3D, and would you recommend your method to new users?
After exploring Strata Vision 3D, I moved onto the next version of Strata. The key for me learning any application is much reading and practicing. Going online and communicating with other artists with the same goals and interests also helps and accelerates the ability to learn. There really is no shortcut to learning other than doing tutorials and reading until you begin ‘thinking’ in the application.
Has the introduction of 3D into your workflow caused you to branch out and explore opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise?
Yes, especially in the auto industry where I currently work. Working in 3D space now affords me the opportunity to work with engineer’s sketches and transform them into a fully rendered forms. When building a 3D form from a sketch, you almost feel like an engineer because it forces you to think how something is manufactured. Being a 3D illustrator has made me a better artist.
Have you tried other 3D applications? How did Strata 3D compare?
I’ve tried Amapi 3D along with a few others and did not like the user interface. Strata’s user interface is very beautifully designed. It allows you not to ‘think’ about the interface, but to let your mind create.
Do you use any other applications to complement Strata 3D?
I use Modo to model in. It integrates very well with Strata CX.
How has your personal style and workflow changed since learning Strata 3D?
It has definitely changed my workflow, especially in the beginning. Strata pulled me off of the 2D drawing board and onto the x, y, and z grid of 3D space.
Was there anything else regarding your experience with Strata 3D that our readers would find interesting or useful?
Strata now makes it possible to give a client a ‘virtual photograph’ of their concept. This is especially important in the auto industry where clients want to visualize their project as if they are viewing a studio lit photograph.