3DCW Student Challenge MerMay 2019

Uncategorized Jun 27, 2019

Here are the results of the MerMay 3DCW Student Challenge of 2019!

This time the subject was to "Speed-Sculpt anything with a Mermaid theme". 

The idea for this challenge came from traditional Disney Animator, Tom Bancroft, who created this challenge for anyone wanting to increase their drawing skills by drawing Mermaids. Tom came up with a list of prompts to help artists come up with ideas and give them inspiration. Here is that list:


Now that you know what MerMay is, let's talk about Tom Bancroft for a moment. 

Tom Bancroft has over 25 years of experience in the animation industry, much of which was for Walt Disney Feature animation where he was an animator on 4 animated shorts and 8 feature films of which “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin”, “Pocahontas”, “Mulan”, and “Brother Bear” were part of the list. He has been nominated for Annie and Rueben division awards, spoken at the Kennedy Center and awarded an entry into the Chicago Children’s Film Festival.  

Bancroft left Disney in 2000 to follow his heart and help Big Idea Productions, creators of the popular “VeggieTales” animated series, create their first feature film, “Jonah: A Veggietales Movie”.  While there he also Directed/ co-created the popular 2D animated video series “Larryboy Adventures”.  

All total, Bancroft has 8 Episodic Animated TV/DVD shows he has directed for Big Idea and Christian Broadcasting Networks.

His popular character design instruction books, “Creating Characters with Personality” and “Character Mentor” have become the most recognized books on designing characters for animation, video games, comic books, and cartooning and are required textbooks at many art schools around the world.  Because of the popularity of these books, Bancroft has been hired to design hundreds of characters for Film, TV, and video game productions as well as speak at art schools and animation studios around the country as well as in Italy, Canada, and Costa Rica.  

Additionally, Bancroft has illustrated over 50 children’s books, is creator and President of the art instruction website TaughtByAPro.com, co-creator of a daily sketching prompt app (SketchBite), co-host of the most popular Animation podcast on iTunes (“The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast”), and is Artist in Residence for the Animation undergraduate program he developed for Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his family.   

Some of Tom's Work:



The idea behind the 3D Character Workshop's version of the MerMay challenge was to just sculpt something daily. Basically giving the students a reason to sculpt. The idea was to spend no more than three hours on each sculpt (hence the speed-sculpt). What this does is break down any expectations and just lets you have fun without worrying about it being too perfect. 

That being said... since the idea of this challenge was to speed-sculpt, it made the challenge very difficult to judge. Some people had a lot of time to sculpt, while others didn't, which made for an uneven playing field. I also encouraged the students to take a speed-sculpt farther if they were inspired to do so. That is also part of speed-sculpting... to spawn possible ideas to develop further. Lastly, Tom is not a digital sculptor, but he knows good design when he sees it. So keeping all of that in mind I just asked him to pick his top five favorite collages with no particular reasoning behind it.

It takes a TON of effort to sculpt this much every day while trying to avoid burnout. So congrats not only by the collection of amazing speed-sculpts but by the sheer about of effort that went into these!

Here are Tom's choices along with the other entries:

Tom's #1 choice was Alison Taylor's collage.

Alison, I'm super proud of all the hard work you put into this challenge! There are so many of these that turned out phenomenal! I have so many favorites I don't know where to begin. I would have to say that #20 really stands out for me. I love the story behind it, and the models are very well executed. I'm also a huge fan of #24 because I'm drawn to the colors and silhouette. Lastly, I'm a huge fan of the last one that you decided to take to the finish line. She is super impressive and really hit the concept. Congrats! You should be very proud! -ShaneO

The concepts were from various artists. You can see more of Allison's work on Sketchfab HERE.

Tom's #2 pick was by Elphie Whizan

Again, the concepts were from various artists. I LOVE the cuteness factor that Elphie was able to hit! A nice consistency was kept throughout and I like how you challenged yourself. A lot of these could be made into bathtub toys! So appealing! Great work! -ShaneO

Tom's #3 Pick was Corinne Cook

Corinne started with a speed sculpt on this one and decided to spend some time making a finished piece. Since this one was a longer piece, it shouldn't have been considered but I couldn't resist... So we added a Fifth favorite to compensate. Well done, Corinne! I love expression and hair! -ShaneO


Tom's #4 pick was Stefanie Meer

These are all wonderful, Stefanie! I wish I had the room to put them all on here individually so we could see them close up. This is definitely in my top three! Such appealing work, and great presentations! I particularly like the Penguins. They're so dang cute and well done! Thanks for participating! -ShaneO


Tom's #5 pick was Emma Williamson

Another giant collection of work! Congrats on putting in so much effort and leveling up your skills! I'd have to say #3 is my favorite and the rest are very appealing. I like how you weren't afraid too take on different designs and were creative with the prompts. Well done, Emma! -ShaneO

Here are the rest of the other fantastic entries!


Zachary Hixson

Heya Zachary, great work on a lot of these! I love how much you tried to explore and experimented with different styles. Way to push yourself! I would love to see you take one or two of these to finish! You have a lot to choose from! -ShaneO

Stuart Stelzer

This mixture of work is super fun, Stuart! You have everything from block-outs, to tests, to fully realized characters. I hope you had fun and learned a lot! Thanks for all the hard work! Love the Catwoman/Batman crab set! -ShaneO 

Dennis Ng

Great work, Dennis! I'm loving the clownfish mermaid! The Pikachu one made me laugh. Very inventive! The hammer-head mermaid's face is the most successful imo. Thanks for all the hard work! -ShaneO

Markus Haertel

Great work, as usual, Markus! I love the story as well as the graphical nature behind your polypainting! Even the background is well designed. Great stuff! - ShaneO

Adam Maurice

I love the SpongeBob character in this one, and the Mermaid has a very appealing face! Well done! -ShaneO

Shaun Ivie

Really nice work, Shaun! I love the fact that he has a soda. He looks like he's in the middle of telling someone a great story. - SO

Keith Breton

These two are looking really good, Keith. I love the scales on the first one, and the pose in perspective and the hair flow on the second one is working well I think. Nice job! -ShaneO

Joel Pabelico

 Nice work, Joel! Especially for a speed sculpt. I think with a bit more polish, she could get even closer to the original concept. - ShaneO 

Sara P.

These are fun, Sara! The blue guy reminds me of a SeaMonkey! Good stuff! -ShaneO


Thank you all SO much for participating, everyone!
See you in the next challenge!




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