John Bukasa is an Automotive Designer at Sketch Mechanic

John, you’ve been a great fan of the site and have been quoted as saying, ” I discovered your website, I was very much a beginner in Rhino at that time. Since purchasing your videos, “Sketch to Model” and “Surfacing”, my skills have improved quite a bit, thanks to you!” That is so awesome and I love hearing that PolyPlane helped you. But how the heck did you first get into 3D modeling and design?

I got into 3D modeling in my 2nd year at design school, from Massey University School of Art and Design in Auckland New Zealand, where I was pursuing my degree.

At the time, we were modeling in a program called Concepts Unlimited now known as Shark FX.

But let me explain how I got into design; I’ve always been passionate about design for as long as I can remember, sketching cars during class and in my homework books!

Also, as a child, I always got into trouble with my parents, because my toys didn’t last no more than two days! I was very curious about how things were made and for this reason, I would dismantled a majority of my car toys just to see how parts were designed and assembled together. Fast forward, this curiosity led me into discovering the world of car design at the age of sixteen and without a doubt, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

That’s so funny, it seems like a common thread among designers to dismantle everything around them to understand their manufacturing. You recently won the CDN Local Motors Active Lifestyle Vehicle Challenge (congratulations once again, by the way). How has that played a role in your design career? Do you feel like it reinforces your choices to do design that next killer car? 

Thank you! Winning a challenge certainly does reinforces you!  As a matter of fact, this challenge is one of a few where I’ve managed to finish on the podium, but in saying that, it has given me the opportunity of meeting some really talented designers who mean business! And I’ve learned a lot from them as well. Wining a design challenge is not easy. But once you do, your confidence is boosted 10 times… Of course, prior to all of that, you have to be totally focused throughout the entire phase of the project.  However, I really enjoy this kind of atmosphere because it “pushes” and/ or inspires you to be one of the best out there. Every design has a different approach and is a learning experience and an improvement from the previous project.

CDN Winner

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into 3D modeling and doesn’t know where to start?

Here!, where you will discover some great thoroughly documented tutorials about 3D modeling. This is where I started learning about modeling in Rhino 3D as well. There are several CAD software out there to choose from, but I would recommend starting out with Rhino 3D, as it is easy to learn and has some powerful tools within the application that will make your designs stand out.

Well thanks so much for the plug, John! I certainly would agree that this is a great place to start. 🙂 With that, what, if any, critical role does 3D modeling play into the actual design process of your project(s)?

When I sketch something on paper, I also like to visualize how the concept would look like in 3 dimensional views in proper perspectives through to the final photorealistic renderings. And this where 3D modeling comes in. But, the reason why I like to start off on paper is to get an understanding of what I am designing. This way, I would model the design more efficiently rather than guessing or eye-balling proportions, which could take a long time to finalize the model. With sketches ready, I could have the design completed within a couple of days, and about a week (without interruptions) for a more complex design.

BMW Sketch

That sort of pre-planning is exactly what a lot of people miss out on and their designs suffer for it. I think you’ve got a great handle on your ideas. Your modeling skills are really amazing for where you are on your journey as a designer. What motivates you to be great?

Thank you, I appreciate it. I think it’s important for any designer out there to be interesting, having some bold ideas and bringing new viewpoints, and fresh thinking out of the box. And how you can do this is by keeping yourself up to date with the latest trends and whatever is going on in the design world. This is another form of finding inspiration and be inspired. Truth be told, technology is moving forward fast and competing with one another, you don’t want to be left behind!

Speaking of being left in the dust, with all of these sweet cars you’ve come up with, do you have a favorite recent project? 

Well, while I’ve enjoyed designing every project that I have, I really don’t have a favorite per se. This is because I’m always trying to improve from the previous project. But one that I really had fun designing the most, by pushing the detailing a little further has to be what I called the “Reinsman” project. A two-version concepts hyper sports car based on the same platform. A Street version and a stripped-down track car. The stripped down version, is all about reducing unnecessary weight and is created to remind people about pure driving experience.

Reinsman GT-s


Whoa! That thing is beautiful! If you had to start all over again in your education as far as deciding to become a designer and tackle an education of 3D modeling, is there anything you’d do different?

I don’t think that I would change or do anything different thus far, because I really enjoy designing. Every day has been a learning experience as I mentioned earlier, but to be honest, I’m determined to be one of the best out there and I am optimistic that my passion will help me get where I want to be one day.

Constantly learning is a critical part of becoming a better designer. I’m glad you’ve given me the opportunity to interview you while I still have the chance! 🙂 With that, getting your idea out of your head and into the computer, do you draw first or jump right into modeling?

As mentioned above, I like to sketch on paper first. This method is effective for me and helps speed up the modeling phase. Also, speaking as a car designer, I would advise anyone to learn how to sketch first, because believe it or not, this is also a very important step to 3D modeling. I know there are people out there who can jump straight into 3D modeling without the need for sketches, but to work more efficiently and be a well-rounded designer, you need to understand the proportions of your ideas on paper first. Once you feel comfortable with your sketches, then you can begin translating the sketches into 3D models.

Sketch first then model, yes…absolutely. Any interesting side projects you can share?

Oh yes. One interesting project that I can think of right now is the “Terrestrial 200”. An underground mining machine in the year 2214. As matter of fact, this project was part of a design challenge organized by auto®, Zbrush, Boonar, and actually won. Some of the judges on the panel were Scott Robinson and Daniel Simons to name a few.


Daniel Simon is a huge influence on me personally, I love his stuff! This is a really gorgeous piece. Great work! John, it’s so great to know that PolyPlane has helped you become so stellar at modeling and thinking about design. I really can’t wait to see what you do next!

You can see more of John’s work at, where he regularly posts his latest works.


Are you a professional 3D artist or designer? I’d love to talk with you about your work! Reach out to me here and maybe you, too, will be featured in the ProTalk!

One Comment

  • Gavin Stone says:

    Dear John
    WOW !! So amazing reading all this , incredible my friend
    Thinking back to the Classroom days at Campbell High. You really have made us so proud
    I will be reading and watching forever you LEGEND you

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