Zack Petroc has a degree in sculpture and now works as a freelance art director within the film and game industry. He combines his traditional background and design skills to mould the artistic style of a project throughout the production process and has also produced some training DVD’s for the Gnomon Workshop.
3DTotal: Your website tells of your Fine Art background and interest in anatomy and the human form. Do you feel as though your education has been beneficial to the digital strand of your career? Zack: Without question, my education is what laid the foundation for my digital career.
The majority of ideas I use in my day-to-day work came from my foundation classes like “Design 101” and “Ceramic Sculpture” not from anything involving digital software.
3DTotal: Sculptor, character modeller, concept artist. Are these all terms you feel describe part of what you do and what do you think are the main differences? Zack: I don't think I ever set out to be a concept designer, or Art Director, or any other titled position in our industry. For me, it has always been about finding better ways to materialize my ideas (at least to the point that they would convey what I was after to the viewer). After learning new ways to do that, from
picking up a pencil, to sculpting in ZBrush, new project opportunities were presented to me that would allow me to apply those new skills. Maybe that's a backwards way of doing it - like when Kevin Costner built that baseball diamond in his corn field then the mutants on ram-shacked boats came and you found out that he had gills.
I think of all great character modellers as
sculptors: sculptors who really understand form, mass and weight. They have to be to create a great maquette, whether it's digital or practical. Concept artists need to focus more on the overall design and visual impression a character portrays. There can be a great synergy when these two disciplines meet. Each artist can bring a unique perspective to this collaboration and when each is willing to recognize the others contributions, the work will always benefit. I would much rather develop one of my character designs with a great sculptor as opposed to a technician who is just going to directly translate my design from 2D to 3D. EVERY great designer I've ever known has always preferred to work with a great sculptor, not because they think they will most directly translate their design into 3D, but because they know what a great sculptor can add to the work.
3DTotal: Do you see any modern day digital artists breaking into a realm where they may be considered "Fine Artists" and if so do you have any in mind?
Zack: Fine artist is a broad term. There are countless people out there right now creating digital art with no other end goal than the art itself. Voilà, fine art. Whether or not what they are creating is going to change the worlds perspective on anything is a different story. I probably should spend more time
seeking out someone who is doing it, just so I can see what they are really up to. 3DTotal: I notice that you have produced two tutorials for The Gnomon workshop. Can you tell us a little about them and what it was like to create some training products for them? Zack: These tutorials focus on traditional sculpture ideals such as form, gesture, rhythm, and anatomy. These are the foundations of any great work whether it's digital or traditional. With software like ZBrush we can finally focus on the same techniques and understandings that have set master sculptors apart from the rest for centuries.