Pedro Conti talks to us about his route into the CG industry, his favorite projects and gives advice to people trying to break into the industry.
3dtotal: Hi Pedro, thanks for talking to us today. Firstly, could you tell our readers a bit about your background and how you found your way into the CG industry?
Thank you so much for the opportunity. Well, I think the most important step in my journey into the CG industry was in high school, back in 2003. During this time I met two friends who were really good illustrators. I was so fascinated by their work that I started to discover myself as an artist. I was really bad, but I was really motivated to practice more and more; I was much more motivated by drawing than the classes at the school!
This first push allowed me to discover digital art. In 2005 my brother was studying industrial design and he showed me some of the software he was using. It drove me crazy and I decided to join the same university as him.
I kept my focus on art and in 2006 I started to study 3ds Max. I heard it was the same software that people used to create movies, and so it was that moment that I decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
3dtotal: You've worked for some of the biggest companies in Brazil, including Techno Image and Seagulls Fly – how did you manage to get hired?
I think my first job at Seagulls Fly was a mix of luck and a lot of effort. I spent 2006 studying 3D like crazy and everything I did was rubbish. It didn't look different, as I was in the very first stages of developing my own style and techniques. However, it was good in some ways because I learned a lot about software and technical stuff.
In January 2007, after visiting my family in a small and nostalgic city in Brazil called Itobi, I decided to recreate a scene based in that city. This image, The Wonder Years, had great exposure in CG forums and it gave me my first opportunity in the industry. My portfolio was basically that one image! I was lucky to be hired by Seagulls Fly, which was one of the biggest companies in Brazil; I consider them my school of CG. They've taught me everything about modeling, texturing, shading, lighting, post work and lots more, and having their name in my portfolio brought me many opportunities in the market. I was invited to work at Techno Image basically because I was a Seagulls Fly employee.
3dtotal: In your opinion, what are these companies looking for in portfolios? Do you have any advice for anyone wishing to get into the industry and work for companies like these?
Nowadays, with new schools and tons of tutorials on the internet, the number of CG artists has increased exponentially. With that, the competition for opportunities has increased as well. Software programs are much more artistic than they were a few years ago, so companies are now looking for who you are as an artist and not so much your technical ability.
For example, if you are a modeler, I believe if you present your models with artistic lighting, it will help a lot in selling your modeling skills. My tip would be to focus on the following areas: improving your technical abilities, developing your artistic sense to show your point of view (by studying as much as you can), and perfecting how you present your work.
Artists often forget about the creation process and just care about the final result, but working in a team means each step has to be done well. Improve your pipeline and speed will allow you to adapt to the market.
Lastly, but no less importantly; be professional, responsible and friendly. That's what will make you move forward!
3dtotal: How would you define your style? And what is your typical workflow when creating an image?
In fact, I don't have a defined style. I'm still developing and searching for it, but it's basically everything that I like, combined. I have been hugely influenced by Disney Pixar, DreamWorks, Meindbender, Tiago Hoisel and photography in general. Actually, it's a hard question to answer because it changes every day. To be honest, I can't say that I have a unique style yet because my references are often recognizable in my work; maybe in a few years I will be able to answer this question better!
For personal projects, my pipeline is non-linear. As I'm not a great concept artist, I used to make some quick sketches in 2D, then move to 3D and do some paintovers in Photoshop to figure out the layout or the character. From the very first steps, I try to visualize how the final image will look, even just using placeholder models. I add some lights to test the mood, while working on other steps at the same time.
For professional projects, my workflow is linear. I usually receive a briefing and layout, and with that in hand, I start to work normally with modeling (3ds Max, ZBrush), texturing (ZBrush and Photoshop), shading/lighting (3ds Max and V-Ray) and composition (Photoshop/After Effects).
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