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Interview with Carlos Ortega


By Simon Morse

Web: http://www.zigrafus.com.mx/ (will open in new window)
Email: moc.liamtoh@knat_ggorts

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Date Added: 9th April 2013

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How do you go about planning one of your cartoon character images? Do you start by sketching a few ideas before you begin modeling or do you go straight into 3D?

A little bit of both. With most of those born directly into the 3D viewport, I usually drop a cube or a plane in, and ideas and volumes start to flow. With some personal projects, when I come up with a new idea, sometimes I allow myself to make something on paper, but I prefer to go straight into 3D. But as with everything in this field, good planning and a good workflow helps you to save a lot of time and avoid common errors.

It always amazes me how 3D artists use their 3D software as a way of sketching and generating ideas. What technique do you use to generate ideas in 3D and do you find it easier to do this kind of idea-generating work in Maya or Mudbox?

In my case, I feel more comfortable sketching in 3D directly in Maya, If you get a nice and readable silhouette with a blocky base mesh and a bunch of primitives, I feel more confident it will work when in full detail. But on the other hand, sometimes I sketch directly in Mudbox using the default base meshes or one of the many unfinished ones I have. Once you've learned to work with technical constraints, it feels good to have more freedom and spend more time on the creative process, and that is one of the many advantages, I find, to having a sculpting application near you.

I was taking a look through your favorites on Deviant Art and found a surprising amount of 2D work and digital paintings. Do you ever venture into this kind of work?

Yes, 2D is something I grew up with, and my love for drawing led me to try several traditional techniques, from pencils and charcoals to oils and watercolors. It is a discipline I admire a lot, from classical painting to comic strips. I still use the long render times to sketch and capture ideas on paper.

Regarding digital painting, I have a good amount of unfinished work on my computer. It is not my strongest area, but is a good way to refresh myself from 3D jobs. Some of those paintings start with sketches on paper; others directly inside Photoshop. The bad thing about me is that at some point I decide to make them in 3D and that is the moment they become unfinished work because I

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don't finish them in 2D or in 3D. I guess it's a bad habit I need to get rid of!

I think every artist struggles with the frustration of not always having enough time to see every idea through to a completed image. Do you ever get an opportunity to develop your personal ideas in your day job? If not, do you find that you are working in 3D morning and night?

Well it is a mix of both, really. Sometimes I can develop personal ideas, but even with that freedom, sometimes I prefer to develop someone else's idea; in some cases it makes things go faster. And lately, I do work in 3D almost all day and all night actually, but a very small part of that time feels like an actual job. I've learned to enjoy all the stages of a project, even the frustrating ones, such as long render times and last minute changes (OK, no, I'm still struggling trying to enjoy those last ones!)

One of the things I love about your work is that you use great eye-catching colors that make your images stand out and catch the viewers' attention. How do you choose the color palette?

Hey, thanks! Well, it is hard to explain. There is some kind of synesthesia going on there [Laughs'>, but yes, color and atmosphere is one of the things I always pay special attention to. Sometimes they're based on references, sometimes as pure personal taste and sometimes on previous experiences. Most of the time, I choose the color palette at the same time that I come up with a new idea or when the client gives me a small brief of the desired work, even when I still don't have an idea of how the final elements will look. Of course, sometimes I end up changing things, but I always try to have two or three harmonic colors well distributed in the scene. It helps to keep the image balanced and avoid a noisy look, and most people usually sub-consciously remember movie scenes or images by naming a predominant color. I always recommend having a wide visual culture and at least the basics of color theory; it can be very helpful to define aspects such as the character's attitude and background history, and the mood of the scene.

Is there anything you like to do in your spare time that helps you to generate ideas, and if you weren't a 3D artist, what would you be doing?

Oh yes, whenever I have the chance, I'm a very quiet person with simple pleasures and hobbies. Sharing a beer or a cup of coffee with friends, listening to music, reading, quick trips out of town to enjoy nature... these are some of the things I enjoy most. Along with my daily experiences, they are the perfect source of inspiration and kind of a "reset button" to refresh myself and grab motivation for the next waves of work.

Thanks for giving us time to catch up with you, Carlos.
Thank you Simon, for your huge patience in this interview!




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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 191626, pid: 0) Milad on Wed, 10 April 2013 8:59pm
Hey Carlos,i am one of the fans of your superb work... you are awesome!
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