Industry veteran César Sampedro worked for some big studios prior to going freelance to focus more on concept art. Check out his story...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name's César Sampedro. I'm a freelance 3D concept artist / art director for videogames. I'm based in Vigo, which is a city in northern Spain. It's halfway between a city and a forest, so it's a great location. I'm about 600km north of Madrid.
I've been working in the game industry for about 15 years. My career started during the PS2 / XBox era. I started art in an autodidact way, focusing on game mods, basically the Quake
series, so that was 20 years ago. I used to work for studios like Evolution Studios, Sony, and Mercury Steam as a 3D artist, but in my latest years on Sony, the producer and friend Andy Gahan thought I would be a great addition for the concept art team.
My latest alien image, trying to recreate the film's powerful and dense atmosphere
I started to work there with Col Price, Alex Figini (Bioware) and a bunch more talented artists. So my career started going more into a concept art role. After moving back to Spain, I started to develop the game Deadlight
as a personal idea. Tequila Works were the studio behind it. I supervised the Art direction. Right now I'm living in my home town where I work as a concept artist and 3D freelance artist.
3dt: What's the story behind your latest gallery entry? Where did the idea come from? What were you trying to achieve with it?
A good friend, Ruben Garcia, finished writing his book "Lost in other world” and he contacted me to create the cover art. He had tonnes of ideas for elements that he wanted, but not the final picture in his head. After I finished reading the book (a sci-fi one) my path was clear towards the cover. I felt that the cover should create the same feelings that the book gave to me: loneliness, cold, humanity. An igloo sci-fi! I thought it was unusual, but the main idea during the whole cover creating process, after thinking about the composition and adding/removing elements, I think that I captured the book's feeling exactly.
Speed paint for the videogame MotorStorm PR, lots of my images start as speed paints
3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?
It's painted in Photoshop
. A book's cover is, of course, a huge selling point for the book, it must transmit the book's essence so that the reader doesn't feel cheated when they buy the book (...at least that's my way of thinking). Starting with the artistic idea, I wanted it to be as close to the book's tone as possible. Because it's a cover for a digital book, it must be a vertical image, but thought had to be given to the idea that it might be printed on paper someday, so I needed to create a back cover too. I decided to create the image in landscape but knowing that the final cover will be portrait caused some headaches. Slowly I started to adjust the composition to work both ways; it was tricky, but in the end, it was worth it.
I started to paint this image as a test of a creature covered in mucus
3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
For all my work I use Photoshop, but when I'm working with 3D Art, everything turns more technical and I use extra software such as Maya, Mudbox, and 3D-Coat. Since the majority of my work is for games, I deal with numerous game engines too: Unity, Unreal and even in-house ones. I'm a big fan of Linux and the open source culture in general, so I try to use stuff like MyPaint and Krita, at least on my personal projects.
Book's cover, I focus on illustrating the idea of a sci-fi igloo on an "empty” planet
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
I would like to move more and more into concept artwork. When you work as a freelancer, feedback is everything and when you are doing 3D art that feedback is more difficult to manage. Changes due to feedback can be drastic and that's without factoring in working with real time graphics and all the problems that can result. For more than a year, I've been helping the Spanish film director Mauri D.Galiano with his film's idea, and I can't believe how great it is to transmit the director feelings into art, instead of dealing with the typical real-time or technical problems and optimizations associated with 3D game art. Even though I love all these challenges, I would like to focus more on concept art in the future.
Early speed paint for the videogame Deadlight exploring the game atmosphere and illumination
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
A lot of my recent portfolio pieces come from my speed paint practice. Speed painting is my favorite way of creating art and to have fun with art. I tend to do them as a hobby but occasionally, I end up working extra on some of them. These are the ones that go directly into my portfolio. Usually, while I'm work on one image, ideas start to form for the next one. It's an enjoyable, never ending circle. Doing speed paints is the method that makes my skills improve, I get better and faster. It's definitely what I enjoy creating the most.
Speed paint for a videogame I was developing a while ago, creating the game word (cyberpunk)
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
Craig Mullins for his concept style; loose and speedy. H.R. Giger for everything. As for my favorite artist, I have lots of DoP such as Derek Vanlit (Alien) or Darius Khondji (Sev7n) are the ones I study and gain inspiration from. For more ‘traditional' media, my favorite artists are the ones who have mastered light, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer. Over the years, I've been fortunate to work with talented artists such as Alex Figini, Col Price, Steve Hird, and José Luis Vaello, however I cannot pick my favorite between these guys.
Image for a videogame I was developing. Lots of inspiration from Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
At the moment I'm working for a company called Piccolo Studio. For the last year, we've been working on a game idea and I'm very than proud to say that it feels fresh and exquisite, at least from the art point of view, and I hope we show it to the world very soon. There is also the movie from Mauri D. Galiano, which has a powerful idea and a great director behind it.
For my personal work, I'm working up quite a few images from the ‘Alien' film franchise. The last one I created had a great reception, I really enjoyed creating it, so I will draw more of the other ideas that I have floating around in my head. After this I will jump into a different thing part of the Alien universe.
Alien fan-art image trying to explore a different xenomorph Alien queen
Head over to César Sampedro's website
César's images in the gallery
Check out Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop in the 3dtotal shop