How to become a successful 3D artist
Komin Evgeniy, 3D artist, city of Saint Peterrsburg
V: Evgeniy, how did you become familiar with computer graphics?
O: since 13, while going to school, me and my brother were invited to programming classes to the center of Information culture MTSIK of Pushkin town. As we were fond of computer games, we made trials to create our own computer games. Gradually we divided our roles on working with projects, my brother wrote a code for games, and I created the graphics. In the beginning those were simple games, platformers with a two-dimensional graphics, with time we proceeded to 3D graphics. I started to work with 3D Studio Max 1.0.
V: Could you tell me please, if your education is somehow connected with you current profession?
O: No, it is not. According to my education I am an Energy Engineer. I graduated from university and wrote a diploma paper more on inertia as the choice of the future profession has been made, and in parallel I was busy with creation of the portfolio as a 3D artist. I educated for this myself on the home computer. I bought books about computer graphics for the money from scholarship as there was no internet at home. I got the first graphic tablet - Wacom Graphire. I also studied the drawing, tried to make sketches on the paper, then scanned and accomplished them in the computer, prepared the strong background for my profession. Later I found out than in some studios which were interesting for me, they require the knowledge of Maya, I started to learn this program. When finally I was invited as a computer graphics artist in one of studios, I started attending for half a year the courses of drawing and art in the school of painting for adults. I think that my education is not finished yet, in future I plan to achieve the degree in the sphere of computer graphics or in painting.
V: Evgeniy, you made a self-education and in order to achieve such success you had to work a lot. How did you get your first job as a 3D artist? Was it difficult to get this position?
O: Yes, it was difficult. In 2004 I decided firmly that I want to make a career in the sphere of 3D art and started to create works for my first portfolio. Back then I was a 4 course university student and after study I every day devoted 4-6 hours for this work. My study in university gradually came to the second place. As my new works appeared I submitted them to the forum gamedev.ru (which exists today as well), and asked other 3D artists to give their feedback to my works, and I was glad to receive critics and valuable advices from professionals. With time, as soon as I had first valuable developments, I started to send resumes to game studios, there were situations when I made test tasks but they didn’t hire me, and that demotivated me, but I stuck to my decision. Presumably after a year and a half of hard work in creation of the models for the portfolio, my dream became true – I got my first job! It was a position of 3D modeler in the Company «Lesta Studio» in Saint-Petersburg (at the moment it is absorbed my holding Wargaming (by creator of “World of Tanks”).
V: Evgeniy, do you have some specialty in your profession or you are quite a universal artist in computer graphics?
O: Yes, I am a 3D artist with a very wide specter of knowledge, it is difficult to find an area in 3D graphics with which I haven’t worked yet. I started with modelling and gradually developed my skills, in our industry it is very appreciated, when it is more convenient for the customer to hire a specialist who does his work “under key”, and there will be no need to involve additional people. Actually, I am a 3D artist of the “full” cycle, so I can make an animation video “from beginning to the end”: with models, textures, rig, animation, special effects and montage. In gaming industry the specialty is also important, and my main direction is “ Character artist”. Often I took exactly this position, that is why for 10 years I accumulated a huge experience in this area, and I think it is in priority to me and the main one. The modeling of characters in more close to my interest then creation of technic or models for environment, cause the creation of character you need to think a lot of his spirit, need to make him look unique and alive.
V: Egneniy, what is the biggest project in your career you worked with?
O: It was a world-wide project – Star wars: The old republic. Back then I was an employee in outsourcing company Sperasoft Studios (in Saint-Petersburg), and the central office is in the city Santa Clara (California), I was a hard-surface modeler (creator of game techno genic models). My main specialization was creation of models- droids for this project and also, less – creation of character models. For me it was a great experience of working for the project known worldwide. The main program I worked with for that time was a program Softimage | XSI, which, as I think, is more suitable than any else for hard-surface modeling. The deep knowledge of this program, and also a huge experience in the sphere of poly-gonyc (highpoly) modeling allowed me to get an advantage in speed and quality in comparison with other 3D artists. Seeing that, many other colleagues asked me for support and consultation when they needed to make similar tasks. In 2009 I was awarded for high working results with a certificate «Best artist of the year».
V: Evgeniy, you passed all this way, and what position do you now occupy? What are its functions?
O: At this moment I hold a position of a leading 3D artist in well-known company Game Insight (the central office is in Riga, Lithuania) on a gaming project X-Merces. This is a mobile game for iOS platform, genre is a step-by-step strategy with advanced 3D graphics. My responsibilities are the assembly of gaming scenes on a working engine Unity 3D, accepting and correction of other 3D artists’ work, and outsourcers as well, including a new content on the game, creation of character models and special effects, gaming catscenes (animation video created on Unity 3D).
V: What tools do you use in work at the moment? Are there many programs that 3D artist should know?
O: At the moment the core program for me is Autodesk Maya for high-poly hard-surface modelling, low-poly modeling and animation, Zbrush for organic modeling, Photoshop for creation of textures, Unity 3D as a game engine. These are the main programs. Also they use a lot not big, but important utilities, aimed to solve the narrow tasks, for example XNormal for burning cards, Quixel Suite for simplification of the texturing process, Marmoset Toolbag for realtime visualization of their work..
V: What would you advise to young people who want to prove themselves in the profession of 3D artist?
O: I would advise them to make their wish to master this profession number one and go to their goal, and realize that they need to study and work a lot, learn new technologies by themselves. If there is a possibility to start with study – it’s right, but in any case this stage will be the first step for being and remaining successful 3D artist, remember that this profession need constant improvement as it is a leading branch, its technologies change fast. You need to be flexible and adjust to changes. Also, it is preferable to have maximum wide range of skills in the profession, I mean to be able not only to create models but also, let’s say not deeply, but know relevant areas, such as Rigging, animation, rendering, knowledge of gaming engines. It is especially important if you are going to be a freelancer and be free in employment. But also important is the specialty in something specific as they can invite you to work in a studio only for a concrete position, let’s say: character artist, or environment artist, animator, texture artist.
V: What plans do you have for the nearest future in terms of development your professional skills?
O: Yes, of course I have such plans. I want to deepen my knowledge in the sphere of gaming engines, especially now the Unreal Engine becomes very popular. Also I plan to continue to deepen my knowledge in the sphere of modeling characters, anatomy, learning of ZBrush program, in which all the time new functions appear etc.
V: What is the secret of your success?
O: I set clearly a goal and go forward. You need to have a plan of actions to get what you wish in 5, 10 years. You need to have some sense of what will be on need in terms of programs, which technologies will be popular and start mastering them already today, to be flexible, quickly adjust to changes and trends, to be the first among your colleagues.
V: Would you like to have your own business? Do you have enough strength for this?
O: Yes, I have such plans. Possibly I will start to share my experience and with time will find my niche in coaching activity, I have a vision how to organize courses of computer graphics in a right way. As I want to share my experience with beginners in 3D art and with those who decided to master this profession and dreams to show his creativity, as our profession is very creative.
V: Engeniy, what is your main hobby beside work?
O: At this moment I am busy with making of tutorial videos about my profession on my Youtube channel. I am inspired by the fact that other users see my videos and develop their skills, I understand, that the channel lives and develops, new subscribers come. I have a wish to continue this further. Besides, this material will be used in future as a background for my teaching activity.