3DTotal: Now I know it’s been postponed this year, but let’s talk Dominance War for a moment. You’ve been a participant in this truly remarkable competition for a few years now, so what do you think is it about DW that draws so many artists to join in and endure countless sleepless nights? Gavin: Dominance War gets bigger and bigger every year and I think there are a few reasons why. I would like to think that it is not because of the prizes offered because as great as they might be, the competition should be done for pure enjoyment and as a learning experience. It is a great opportunity for game artists all over the world, of all skill levels, to push their limits and really walk away with a great piece of work. Not only does an artist get to produce a high quality character but they also get to learn many new tips and tricks. Professionals from the industry compete and check in on teammates’ threads offering great advice and feedback. I think every artist would rather work on their own project and Dominance War gives a great opportunity for that to happen.
3DTotal: So not to get you into too much trouble, but what’s an average day like during a Dominance War? Gavin: [Laughs] Well… it can be pretty hectic. Last year I still worked my normal hours at my day job and as soon as I got home and on the weekends it was pretty much all about DW. Luckily, I have a pretty understanding wife!
I find it fairly easy to stay motivated for a Dominance War, even with juggling a regular job, as I see it as more of a fun exercise than a second job. Basically,
I get to go home and do whatever I want… even at three in the morning, it’s still pretty relaxing. I’ve taken part in three Dominance Wars now – I had to miss out on Dominance War III because of my work at the time. But in the end I became a first round judge for the 3D competition, so that was an entirely different experience.
3DTotal: Not content with being an amazing modeler, you’re a dab hand at texturing too. But which area do you find the most challenging out of them and why? Gavin: Though I do enjoy both, I think texturing is the more difficult of the two. To me, at the end of the day, modeling is really just brute force. If you know the basic principles of “how” to model, it’s just a matter of hammering away at the model until it looks the way you imagined. Texturing, on the other hand, has many different elements involved that need to be taken care of. Proper UVs for maintaining texture resolution, the various different maps involved (normal, spec, diffuse, glow, etc.), having the material seem believable (wood and concrete have totally different properties, for example, and need to be created as such), etc. Not that modeling is easy, by any means, but a bad texture can kill a great model. So many good character models become flat because of poor texturing.
3DTotal: Has this come naturally to you or has it been something you’ve worked on over the years to nail down? Gavin: It definitely hasn’t come naturally to me. I think a lot of other 3D artists would echo the sentiment that the main “trick” to becoming a better artist is just to practice. Push your limits every time. It takes
years to perfect your trade – I’m still learning every day – and eventually things will begin to click in your mind. I actually think that this is one of the main things holding a lot of artists back; this hesitation to just “do it.” Dive into ZBrush and just start sculpting. It may not look great at first, but you’ll learn something
and that will make every model after that better. Lots of trial and error, that’s for sure! 3DTotal: Well it has been a really pleasure chatting with you and I wish you all the best for Dominance
War 5 when it finally does role around! One last question before we call it a day: if you were given a brief
to create a low poly character of yourself (having full rein to exaggerate anything to fit your personality), which would then be imported into a quake or unreal game, what would it be like? Gavin: [Laughs]. Well, the legs and arms would need to have unique textures for each limb. I have lots of tattoos on my arm and leg, so the non tattooed limbs would need their own texture space as well. This would affect my texture resolution, as I would have to devote more UV space to something that is frequently overlapped on other characters. Had I known I’d be making myself for a game, I might have
held off on the tattoos for a few years!
What a superb artist! All of those artworks are amazing, flawless attention to details, gorgeous lighting and incredible texturework resulting in truelly awesome final renders and compositions. A really good read this.