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We would like to present to you the young 3D artist Nikolay Marinov. He is a 22 year old designer, studying “Computer Systems and Technologies” at the University of Ruse, Bulgaria. He is currently in Coimbra, Portugal, at the University of Coimbra to work on his dissertation.

Tell us more about yourself. How and when did you become interested in 3D modelling and design?


Ever since I was a child, I have been passionate about the visual effects of the big screen. I started as an amateur as early as a student. After that I was accepted to study Game Design in England. Wich did not happen due to a number of factors. This meant that I had to learn quickly on my own in order to achieve my goals.


I have been working like 3D artist professionally for 3 years now. And currently I am a Junior Environment Artist at V Media and a part-time Texture Artist at KitBash3D.

You have recently won the first place at an international competition at Adobe Substance. Tell us something more about it and about the designers you have competed with?

An interview with the 3D artist Nikolay Marinov - grand winner Mat 2

Substance by Adobe is a leading company in the industry. This is a family of softwares for creating textures and their application on 3D models. The competition Meet Mat 2 is organised for the second time. Its purpose is to use the Substance software to its limits.

The rules are as follows: everyone receives the 3D Mat model to text it in Substance Painter. And is not allowed to modify and change it, as well as to use copyrighted content. These restrictions allow great creativity on the part of the participants.





Substance by Adobe is one of the largest companies in this field and together with their sponsors have attracted the interest of over 1300 participants.

What helped you rank first? What is the key to success?

An interview with the 3D artist Nikolay Marinov
KukerMat – first place at the students category

The competition has two categories: general and for students.

Everyone can participate in the general category, but the competition is huge.

Among the winners were people who are Art Directors / Senior Artists in companies such as EA Games, Ubisoft, Bethesda with over 15 years of experience. On the other hand, in the students category, the quality was in some cases even better than the general category. When I entered the competition, I knew that everyone would focus on sci-fi themes, so I needed a theme that would be original and make me stand out from the competition.

That’s why I focused on something Bulgarian – a mummer. I invested everything I learned over the years and it paid off.


Is this the achievement you are most proud of or is there something else?

So far, this is my greatest achievement, because it ranks me first among participants from all over the world, but I am also proud of my two achievements in the event organised by NASA – Space Apps Challenge. I owe much of my success to my team, because without them I would not have been motivated to achieve my goals.

The winner project that won the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2019

What’s next for you? Is there a big goal you are striving for?

After I finish my studies, I will have enough experience to move to a bigger studio. My big goal is to work, as a Texture Artist for AAA studio, on large-scale projects. I also have a great desire to create my own studio. As well as to open my own academy for Game Design, VFX and CGI, where I can share my knowledge with others.

The 3D artist Nikolay Marinov teaches students 3D modelling and game design at Startup Factory. Sign up here to get the first information about an upcoming course.

What are your observations, are young people interested in gaming technology?

The problem I see with young people is that they don’t have that passion that I have had. And they give up too easily. Many of them are told from an early age that they will not be able to realise themselves professionally with this work so they stop following their ambitions.

What skills do you need to be successful 3d artist?

Practice, practice and again practice.

CGI is a field that changes every day and one must constantly be caught up with new techniques and software. So the iImportant qualities and skills that a person must possess include: communication, perseverance, creativity, logic, mathematical thinking, colour theory, light theory, composition skills, technical understanding of the various work processes and in some cases programming.

In the age of the digital technologies, it is very important to monitor how CG trends will change in the coming years.

An interview with the 3D artist Nikolay Marinov

Can you imagine how the digital world, and 3D design in particular, will evolve in the future?

The future of 3D design is quite bright. I am a huge supporter of the Real-Time rendering and Procedural content. And I think this is a growing trend in the studios. In the near future, software for procedural asset generation, such as SideFx Houdini and real-time game engines, such as Unreal Engine will become standard in the industry due to the accelerated operation and their capabilities. And more and more companies are starting to use Unreal Engine, even in the film industry (Example – The Mandalorian).

An interview with the 3D artist Nikolay Marinov
An example in Houdini for procedural generated objects.

Procedural is everything that is created entirely on the basis of parameters, which allows freedom for an infinite number of variations by changing the given parameters.

Do you think that young people in Bulgaria can develop their potential? What are your tips for them? What can they do to become a professional 3D artist?

In Bulgaria it is still quite difficult to advance in this area. Because it is difficult to find the right sources of information. And anyone who wants to do something like this has to do it on his own. I know how difficult it is for every beginner.

My advice is not to give up and to help each other. We live in 21st century, where the answer to each of our questions is in our pocket.

Take advantage of this opportunity, ask questions, connect with people from all over the world and have an online presence, because in the digital world this is the most important thing.


Below you can read two interviews with Nikolay Marinov in one of the biggest American digital magazines for Game Design, VFX and CGI 80 level:

Post-Apocalyptic Food Truck with Bulgarian Motives in UE4

KukerMat: Interpreting a Bulgarian Costume in Substance Painter.

His portfolio in Artstation.

Nikolay Marinov teaches students 3D modelling and game design at Startup Factory. Sign up here to get the first information about an upcoming course.


After the successful organisation of the first hackathons and free programming courses in North Bulgaria, Startup Factory makes its priority the early development of digital and technical skills of students. Our goal is to make information technology accessible and attractive to children and adolescents by providing them with initial guidance and resources.

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