Hi Victor, could you start by telling us about yourself and how you developed artistically from a child to the present day?
When I was at school the teachers always complained to my mother that I was not a focused ("He's always drawing in his exercise book, and never pays attention to the classes... but strangely he always gets a regular grade on his tests.”) This is how my parents discovered my "self-taught” skill.
When I was 13 my dad gave me a trial version of 3ds Max R1 and said, "Remember all those awesome games that you play? They are made with this! Give it a try!” I spent half an hour playing with it and thought to myself, "I'm never gonna make money with this! It's so boring!” and forgot all about 3D. In addition to drawing I'd always liked history, so I decided I would study it at university, but in Brazil you need to pass a test if you want to go to university and I was unsuccessful!
After my unsuccessful attempt I spent my summer vacation searching the internet for something to do with my future (I was without a job and had failed to get into a university, so this was a bad time). In my last week of vacation I found www.3dtotal.com and its awesome Joan of Arc tutorial, which was a big blessing! I made the first half of the tutorial and applied for a job vacancy as a modeler at Digital Light (a famous ArchViz studio here in Brazil). I don't know what I was thinking at that point.
During the interview the interviewer asked me, "Do you know how to work with poly modeling?” and I answered, "Nope, only with 3ds Max”. I still don't know why he gave me that job.
So I got a job without any concrete knowledge of modeling, and with two days left until my first day at work it was time to learn 3D for real! I spent those two days reading every starter tutorial on www.3dtotal.com and used them to get some knowledge of 3ds Max. I started digging a little deeper into the software – I enjoyed that! (Laughs). When someone taught me a technique, the first thing that came into my mind was, "Ok, this technique is good, but can I improve it? Where else can I use it? And what happens if I mix it with that other one...”. This way of thinking helped me improve what I had learned, and also helped me to learn things by myself and develop new techniques. This step was very important in my career because I
was able to improve the workflow in the studio that (miraculously) hired me, and it also helped me as a light/shader artist in there. I fell in love with 3D on that day!
Since then I've started to not only learn new techniques and improve them, but also observe object surfaces, lighting and paintings. I've also started to observe the lighting used in movies. So much drama can be achieved with well placed lighting.
After three years working with ArchViz I felt that it was time to learn something different and moved from ArchViz to advertising. In 2008 I got a job at Z-Axis 3D studio (a studio focused on hyper-realism 3D here in Brazil). There I improved my software skills and also learned a lot of things about the advertising industry! At the same time I started trying some character illustration, which is something that I've always admired in CG art (I'm a Pixar fan!).
More than three years have passed, and now I'm working at TechnoImage, a famous CG studio here in Brazil and freelancing for We Are Royale, an awesome CG and motion graphics studio in California!
What marked the beginning of your involvement in 3D and from where did you get your first piece of inspiration and motivation?
As I said before my original motivation was my need for a job, but my passion started with video games. I still remember the first time I saw a cinematic from Final Fantasy VII. The death of Aerith... man, that was such a sad and beautiful scene. Game cinematics always caught my attention (I hated it when someone came and pressed start in the middle of a cinematic!). When I was a kid I used to draw on every piece of paper that I found. I never developed my 2D skills, but I got a lot of inspiration from drawing.
Tell us about your work process. How do you start your project once you have an idea?
The original idea usually comes from a theme that I like (usually nerdy stuff and games). If I'm going to spend some time looking at something, it's better if it's something that I enjoy. I'm not that good at drawing, so I don't spend much time with 2D concepts. I start by blocking in some primitives to achieve a good composition. Meanwhile I gather some references from the web that will help me a lot with a ZBrush sketch. Most of my ideas appear during the project. For example, on I Am Captain America, I saw that Skottie Young had placed a dropped milk box on the grass. The first thing that came to my mind was Milky, from Blur's "Coffee and TV” music video (the band, not the studio), and straight away I felt the need to put that Easter egg in there! I love looking at the details and seeing work filled with references for the nerd crowd! The same goes for Magneto. When I was decorating his room I saw a great opportunity to fill it with references to Easter eggs!
I usually start working with the lights and shaders in the middle of the project. It's my favorite part, so I am usually in a bit of a hurry to start it soon as I can! This also helps me to develop some ideas and do some tweaks on my models (some models don't work properly with some light setups). Also, with this early preview I can start to do some post-production tests. With these I can forecast what I need to improve in my scene and what I can achieve with color corrections and post-production, or what I must do in the render with the lights, color bleeding etc. In my opinion it's a good (and maybe a little confusing) way to develop your work, because you can forecast issues in all steps of your pipeline and make them flow together!
Right now I'm working on a new – and huge - project: it's a short movie based on one of my images called Here Comes a New Challenger and it's gonna be a fight between Ryu and Hugo! I'm chatting with a friend who is co-producing it with me and also remodeling and improving the shaders. I've learned some new tricks since January, and I'm hoping to do some ground-breaking stuff!