3D Artist Highlight: Playing Games and Rendering with Levi Krippner

Levi Krippner headshot at desk

All Fun and Games

It was a cold and rainy night in Minnesota. Lightning would illuminate the room and thunder would shake the furniture inside. It was the perfect storm for a teenage boy to curl up on the couch, grab a fresh can of Mountain Dew from the refrigerator, and play video games for countless hours. He had truly found his first love. 

This is where it all started for Levi Krippner. His relationship with 3D animation surfaced from playing his favorite video games at age 14. From falling in love with his first game, Spyro on PlayStation, to playing Halo on PC, he knew it was love at first sight.

But what really sparked his interest was when Halo released their developer tools and source codes to the public to create content of their own. Krippner used this as a learning experience since he admittedly had little to no idea how 3D animation or development worked at the time. He saw an opportunity and was excited at the endless possibilities ahead. Pandora’s Box had officially been opened.

From Architecture to Airplanes

After downloading a program called 3ds Max, Krippner had access to computer software where he could begin to create his own 3D universe. By trying his hand at video game rendering, he found himself exploring other types of rendering and gravitating toward 3D aspects outside of video games, with a more broad approach to areas where he could create an environment and make it entirely his own.  

Inspired by artists who focus on 3D architecture and 2D concept work, Krippner started his professional career as a 3D artist before working at FUSE by creating architectural renderings. It was the perfect way to introduce himself to the world of 3D, as well as build a better understanding of environmental renderings. Ultimately, it led him to become more self-sufficient and independent in his work today.

“A few years back, I would start taking over projects by doing lighting, visuals, and then having other artists do bigger picture work,” Krippner said. “Now, I usually get put on projects by myself. I can work faster and turn things out a little better when I’m on my own. I also like being able to do a little digging in new tech and incorporate my own research and development into new workflows.”

At FUSE, Krippner was tasked with creating four original backyards to showcase NRG’s Solar Haven patio canopy complete with solar panels on the top. FUSE works with a wide range of architectural clients and has been showing off both interior and exterior environments for years. Being assigned to a project like this, Krippner found himself enjoying the full environmental aspect of it, along with being able to customize different scenery.

NRG Solar Haven outdoor patio with palm trees

Expanding from architecture but bringing the skills he learned with him, Krippner found his 15 seconds of fame with Sleep Number’s new storefront on national television.

“I enjoyed this product for so many reasons, but mostly because it allowed me to revisit architectural visualization techniques I developed early on in my career,” Krippner said. “I created the entire storefront building based on mockups from the client. From there, I developed a dramatic morning lighting for the scene. I was so excited the day I saw the finished piece on TV.”

Currently, at FUSE, Krippner is working on creating aviation renderings for an aerospace client. Krippner has worked on a wide variety of 3D animation projects from products for exercise equipment, to beer cans, and even lawn tools.

Don't Let Work Define You

It may seem like fun and games, and it should be. But finding something you truly enjoy in animation is where work becomes meaningful for Krippner. For artists looking to take a step into the 3D universe, Krippner has a little bit of advice.

“When I was in school, a lot of my classmates were burning out and getting sick of it,” Krippner said. “There definitely was this pressure to always be as marketable as possible as an artist. I want to tell new students to just do you and let your work speak for itself. Everybody likes something, whether it’s sci-fi, spaceships, video games, whatever. If you do what you like, you’ll keep getting better, and you’ll want to see your work get better too.”

Krippner loves projects that can bring out his passion, like the work he did for Wahoo Fitness. These cycling tools may seem like simple “product on white” renders, he said, but he has a passion for cycling and it felt meaningful to be able to create an image for users to view on product packaging.

Wahoo Fitness Cycling Product
Wahoo Fitness Cycling Product 2

Wanna see more FUSE work? Take a look!