Inside EDU: 3D Design at The Academy of Fine Art and Design

Read on to discover how Žofia Šutá Babčanová, assistant professor at The Academy of Fine Art and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia, was able to quickly pick up and use Gravity Sketch for 3D design in an intuitive and creative way.

Inside EDU: 3D Design at The Academy of Fine Art and Design
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From the outset, Gravity Sketch has worked closely with universities. In fact, the product originated from a university thesis project looking at how multi-disciplinary teams can better collaborate with each other to bring physical products to market more effectively. We see universities and educational institutions as the disrupters and space for true innovation and experimentation reimagining current/traditional tools and processes to deliver a totally new way of working or to achieve new forms and styles. It is for this reason that we support academics with access to the software and support. There is a tremendous amount of learning we receive each time we visit our education partners.

Schools are shaping the future of design workflows; students are defining extremely creative and aggressive fast workflows. We have seen a major shift to more digital 3D design workflows with tools like Blender and Unreal. What’s been particularly exciting for us is the work that initiates in a digital 3D environment and remains 3D throughout the process all the way through to final delivery.


We had the pleasure of visiting The Academy of Fine Art and Design for a student workshop before recent travel restrictions. Within 2 days of training every student introduced to Gravity Sketch for the first time went from sketch in VR to 3D printing their designs. We also had a chance to check out some impressive PhD work pushing the bounds of spatial creation.

PhD student and assistant professor, Žofia Babčanová on making use of Gravity Sketch
Žofia Babčanová

PhD student and assistant professor Žofia Babčanová first started using Gravity Sketch in early 2019 as part of her PhD thesis, where she explored the impact of creation tools on the industrial design process. She quickly took hold of VR sketching as a staple in her design workflow. We’ll take a look at three of the many projects completed this year.


From Sketch to Sketch models

Finished Gravity Sketch model with reference images
Design by Akoz Szaz, 3D model by Žofia Babčanová

Her first use of Gravity Sketch was for her PhD thesis. She compared two different modeling processes, starting from the same side view sketch.

"I remember my first VR experience very well. It was so joyful that it brought me back to my childhood. I was captivated in the moment, enjoying and learning all the various tools. I've also noticed that I can create forms more effortlessly. Gravity Sketch allowed me to create 3D shapes without traditional sketch preparation. I enter the VR space and design something, without overthinking it."

Complete Gravity Sketch sketch model
Finished Gravity Sketch model with reference images
Sketch process in gif format - Gravity Sketch
Sketch process gif

This was not only her first time using Gravity Sketch, but her first time using any VR creation software. In a week she was not only able to onboard herself but found ways to apply the technology to her thesis work. This is something we see often – self onboarding of Gravity Sketch is quite quick and seamless, users spend about a week or even a few hours acquainting themselves with the basics, aided by a few videos. Quickly after they switch from explorative learning to creative exploration, to workflow application.

"The first sketch was a bit clumsy (the yellow VW), but I was able to finish it and learn the essential tools within a week. I didn't sketch what I wanted exactly; however, I enjoyed the process so much that I kept learning without realizing it."

Model Created in Gravity Sketch, rendered in Keyshot, and finished in Adobe Photoshop
Created in Gravity Sketch, rendered in Keyshot, and finished in Adobe Photoshop
Complete Gravity Sketch sketch model
Finished Gravity Sketch sketch model

"In my VW project, I compared two different modeling processes. I was starting from the same side view sketch, but the results were quite different. Since I'm trained with Autodesk Maya I achieved a better result in terms of proportion and stance. Somehow, it lacked the gesture and character of the original sketch. Then I moved into Gravity Sketch, the GS model was frumpy and clumsy; the proportion and stance were not the best. However, it showed more character and more life than the Maya model. It was not a professional model, but it had charm and energy."

Milled Gravity Sketch and Maya side view model
Milled Gravity Sketch and Maya side view model

"Since it was my first sketch in VR, I've decided to mill both GS and Maya side views into Styrofoam. I did this experiment to solidify both tools' significant impact on the final design." "There were plenty of drawing and modeling media in the history of car design, which, in my opinion, affected a final shape. It does matter if you use watercolors, Photoshop, clay, digital modeling, or VR tools during the designing. Every step of the process shapes the output; every technology has its pros and cons."

The effect tools have on the final design is an important consideration, and one we at Gravity Sketch give a lot of focus and sonsereation. We aim to develop tools and features that help the software get out of the way of the craives individual style. This isn’t just another sketching tool, to access the software users must acquire VR hardware and before doing so they must ask themselves: What are the benefits of VR and where does it belong in the process to aid the creative process? Through this one project, Žofia has realised a few of the key benefits of Gravity Sketch perfectly:

  • Inherently 3D – 2D to 3D is hard, and often design intention is lost along the way. Gravity Sketch acts as a direct connection from the idea in your head (which is 3D by nature) to its first representation of that idea in 3D.
  • Joyful – For many designers, the most enjoyable part of the creative process is the sketching phase – the part of the process where you can let your arm and mind run free without constraints. We aim to create a digital 3D design experience that is just as free and expressive as the 2D pen & paper technique.
  • Intuitive – Picking up a new tool can be challenging and annoying! When was the last time you learned new software in a week? Our goal is to develop an onboarding experience that is more of an exploration of the tool as the users create rather than detailed tutorials, the need to read a user guide, and endless YouTube videos.

SubD to 3D printing

Gravity Sketch - Ballpoint sketches
Ballpoint sketches

With this Thesis project, Žofia has used her university’s equipment to dive further into Gravity Sketch, testing different workflows and trying features such as sub dimensional modeling (SubD). The Renault design below is an example of the automotive design process using SubD. As you can see the design is tighter and the surfaces refined. SubD allowed her to 3D print the design this time as it was easier to achieve a watertight model.

SubD geometry with smoothing in Gravity Sketch
SubD geometry with smoothing
Gravity Sketch SubD car model
SubD car model
Gravity Sketch subD model and 3D print comparison
Left hand side: Gravity Sketch SubD model. Right hand side: 3D printed model
Gravity Sketch SubD model 3D print
Gravity Sketch SubD model 3D print

Building a product in a month

ezgif 2 cbbd30e4015a latest
Facemask design progression sketches

In the wake of the global pandemic, many people decided to dust off their sewing machines and get creative making personal protective equipment. Instagram Design pages flooded with designers contributing ideas, and 3D printers were put to the test making parts for face masks. Žofia was no different, snapping into action designing iterations of masks and speaking with local manufactures in Bratislava.

After a few iterations she landed on a decorative cage, designed and built in Gravity Sketch with a single tool (stroke tool). She then 3D printed the structure, pressed molded paper and began assembling. this entire process from idea to functional product was no longer than a month. Using one software tool she was able to design, model and test ergonomics accurately with zero material cost before moving to a physical prototype.

Žofia Babčanová with assembled facemask 3D print designed in Gravity Sketch
Žofia Babčanová with assembled facemask 3D print
Facemask paper prototype, method
Facemask paper prototype
Gravity Sketch - Facemask 3D printed decorative cover
Facemask 3D printed decorative cover

It is always an honor to get an opportunity to engage with students and educators. Being in a place that is fully committed to learning with likeminded people eager to improve their skill helps stimulate great conversations and ideas. We are committed to supporting educational endeavours for years to come. Much of the current development of Gravity Sketch can be traced back to the feedback we have received from students and academics. It is glaringly obvious to us that institutions are leading the way to a better design future and helping define the workflows which will one day become the new norm.

If you’ve enjoyed Zofia’s projects wish to learn more about the creative mind behind them please click here to download a free e-book Žofia has produced related to her thesis project. If you are a student, instructor, or general educator interested in learning more about our EDU program please get in touch here.

Also, if you have a VR setup and are interested in applying Gravity Sketch to your workflow we encourage you to pick up the application on one of the app stores (Quest, Rift, Steam) and try it out. There are a range of tutorials on our YouTube page as well as other great work and workflow examples from our community.

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