3DTotal: I have been nosing through your portfolio and blog on CGSociety and it seems you decided to take a break from the 9-5 grin. Can you tell us where you were working before, what your current set-up is like and why the change-over? Andrew: I was previously at a Birmingham-based (UK) 3D animation studio called The Character Shop. I was working as the lead character modeler for various TV series, pitches, adverts and illustrations. Most of the work I did for them was for Children’s TV. I decided to leave after nearly 4 years, because I wanted to take a break from the 9-5 routine as I felt my creativity was waning a bit. I wanted to take time to re-inspire myself and re-discover my love for the job. I am currently freelancing. I occasionally get contacted by clients after seeing my work online, then I pick and choose from the jobs that interest me most. Overall, it’s a pretty good situation to be in as I get to do what I enjoy about 3D work most of the time, and I have more creative control.
3DTotal: Sounds great, can you tell us about some of the most interesting or most enjoyable jobs you have picked up since being a freelancer? Andrew: I modeled five characters for a Coca Cola TV advert. It was really cool to work on, as it was probably the most high profile job I’ve ever had. More of that kind of thing please! I’ve also worked on a worldwide Olympic promo advert and made a stylized Shakira for a SEAT car advert. I’ve made low-poly characters for an online 3D chat room, advertisements and packaging illustrations for three board games. I have been freelancing for about two years now, but considering I haven’t been actively seeking ideal /desired clients (yet), I have had some interesting jobs thrown my way, just through people seeing my work online.
3DTotal: Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way: can you tell everyone about your preferred choice of software and creation techniques? Andrew: I prefer 3ds Max, mainly as I have been using it for so long. I have used Maya, XSI and LightWave at other studios in the past, but prefer 3ds Max due to its simplicity and familiarity. I tend to hate getting bogged down in the technical aspects of software, so I usually stick to what I know best, which is predominantly good old fashioned subD poly modeling, biped for rigging, and the default Max renderer, though I intend to learn mental ray to improve my lighting.
3DTotal: I think it’s really great that you still use a technique that’s been around for years, and produce some of the most popular renders that can be seen today. Out of the entire character process from start to finish which part do you think you enjoy the most? Andrew: Modeling. I enjoy the whole modeling process, from the initial blocking out and designing, to the detailing and tidy-up. I like the challenge of trying to extrapolate the shapes in your head or on paper into 3D. I quite enjoy the very end of the process too – presentation – because then you get to see your model come to life. That part is quite satisfying.
3DTotal: There are so many awesome characters in your gallery; you can instantly see you love the bright ‘toon style, not to mention the cute chicks. I’m sensing a bit of a Tokyo influence coming in there too, but can you tell us what it is that draws you to make the characters and styles you do so well? Andrew: Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a cartoonist. My drawing skills have not had much use over the last 15 or so years, so to make up for my shortcomings, I try to incorporate the “essence” of 2D in my character designs. I prefer 2D artwork a lot more than 3D these days. I can really appreciate the traditional talent and raw skill to design and draw something from nothingness in a myriad of styles. It may also come from the fact that I believe the 3D market is over-saturated - especially with the numerous “talking animal” family movies being released. It’s almost like 2D animation is a dying art. As for predominantly modeling cute pinup girls? Well - they’re easier on the eye and are more interesting to create than Orcs!
3DTotal: The latest character I can see in your gallery is Trixie. Is this a sign that your work could be taking a turn to the dark side? Andrew: [Laughs] Trixie was indeed my attempt to do something a little darker, as people have sometimes said that I should try something less cheerful and bubbly. I wanted to make a character in a similar style to Shane Glines’, my current favorite artist, and to do a modern style pinup with stylized shiny PVC clothing.