I'm Kat Adair...
Hey there! I’m Kat Adair...your ZBrush Jewelry Instructor
I'm a lifelong computer skills instructor, instructional designer, and jewelry artist. And I love teaching new users how to use ZBrush.
My style of teaching focuses on the “hows and whys” of learning the software. I shy away from “recipe” type tutorials, and instead focus on understanding the program so you can apply the skills to your own projects as quickly as possible.
Going back many years, technology and jewelry have both been a major part of my life, but only recently have they crossed paths. I’ve worked as an instructional designer and technical trainer for CAD and graphic design, teaching on both Mac and Windows platforms.
I started working with ZBrush in 2017 while I was prototyping an interchangeable pendant design, a pendant that should have been created with a parametric CAD program and exact measurements. ZBrush was the most difficult program I’d ever encountered. I simply didn't understand how to make it work with actual size models.
I spent the next couple of years scouring the internet and YouTube for anything I could find to help me understand the program. I took an online class that I never finished, and I watched eight-hour-long character sculpting marathons on Twitch. The techniques I learned brought my computers to a crawl, and the models didn’t take wearability or castability into consideration. Fortunately, I had taken jewelry classes in traditional techniques with excellent instructors such as Kate Wolf and Lexi Erickson, and I was able to translate what I’d learned into ZBrush.
I had plenty of “analog” art growing up, and my parents always encouraged my artistic endeavors—at five, I was melting plastic Mardi Gras beads in my Easy Bake Oven, and at twelve, they bought me a beehive kiln and I started enameling. I started casting at eighteen on a very small scale when they bought me a small Jewelcast Precious Metal Vacuum Casting Set. I also began exploring fused and cast glass and lampworking around 2000.
However, I focused mostly on fabrication of sterling silver pieces, eventually studying with a nationally known jewelry artist and instructor, Lexi Erickson. I worked with a jewelry tools company as an eLearning coordinator, bringing web-based educational jewelry content to life.
My technology background was also an important influence. In the early 1990s, I explored 3D modeling and animation at the University of Texas, later becoming a Systems Engineer at Apple focusing on multimedia, virtual reality, and video and their application in higher education. I left Apple, working as a virtual reality video consultant and CAD trainer, later returning to Apple as a technical trainer. I taught woodworking design at the college level, developing the curriculum for a SketchUp course, and in 2012, I created part of the official SketchUp (CAD) training videos for Google.
My first exposure to 3D printing was back in the 1990s when a friend worked in the 3D model shop at 3M in Austin. The SLA printer was a $500K (USD) piece of equipment, and it was absolutely fascinating. I never dreamed I’d have this technology sitting on my desk. In 2017, I purchased a Formlabs Form 2 3D printer, and started the process of working through the quirks of printing and casting with resin.
Paired with ZBrush, it revolutionized the way I thought about creating jewelry. It seems like every week, I figure out something new and cool to do with the program, and I’m exploring things like making contained hydraulic press dies, glass casting, and interchangeable jewelry. I'm also part of Kim+Kat Glass, another instructional site where we are teaching fused glass techniques
When I'm not playing with CAD, I work with my author husband, Bobby Adair, on his post-apocalyptic and pandemic books (very apropos for this time in history). And lately, I've been teaching him ZBrush so he can develop characters and monsters for his covers. His latest cover, for a book called Slow Burn, was created in ZBrush with Substance Painter. The experience has taught me more about character artists who want to turn their amazing designs into jewelry.
I’m excited to share this amazing program with you.