Fabrizio Bortolussi discusses breathing life into your worst nightmares as a creature designer for videogames and movies.
3dtotal: You have a rather impressive background in fine art and sculpture, studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. How do you feel this training has benefited you as a digital artist?
I studied traditional sculpting and painting when I was at the Academy of Venezia and I remember seeing the early sculpts of Martin Krol
, Dave Cardwell and Taron
(one of my best friends and a huge source of inspiration). They bewitched me and I thought how amazing it would be if I could create my traditional monster sculpts using digital software and started using ZBrush.
Personally, my experience at the Academy was not really great since the teachers and students only did classical sculptures and criticized my work as I made monsters – the teachers were rather conservative. I'd say I learned more (as far as anatomy and designs are concerned) when I was a little boy and during high school since I spent my days and nights sculpting and drawing.
The Academy was not a bad experience but it didn't really excite me at all to be honest.
3dt: Why and how did you first make the jump into digital art from traditional mediums?
Years passed and I started to build a digital portfolio and a website. I kept doing traditional sculpts but I wanted to break into the industry. I then started to post a lot of my work on websites like ZBrushcentral
. Thanks to my friend Timur 'Taron' Baysal and Oliver Hotz
, I got my first film job working as a freelancer on District 9
, when the film was still at its early stages of development. I worked directly with Wingnut Films and director, Neill Blomkamp using concept art provided by Weta.
This was my first experience in the film industry and it was amazing!
3dt: Creature design seems like an awesome career. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists who would like to specialize in the area?
Yes indeed – creature design is wonderful. My advice for artists who want to start a career as a creature designer is to watch billions of films (films with creatures of course!) practice daily (with ZBrush
for example), constantly compare your work with the masters and look to illustrated books or the works of famous artists for inspiration (my personal favorite is Zdzislaw Beksinski
It's not an easy world to work in and there's a lot of competition, but if you practice daily you'll build a strong sense of design and have some chances to work on films or videogames. My key tip is: practice, practice, practice. The only downside of being a full-time freelancer is that stress can get really annoying, so take care of yourself and try to get a daily rhythm even if you're a freelancer. Therefore my advice is to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. You don't want to end up like me!
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