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Interview with Frank Tzeng

By 3dtotal staff

Web: http://franktzeng-art.blogspot.co.uk/ (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 3rd October 2013

"Even though working is very important, you need good health to support your body in order to get the work done"

Very wise words! I think a lot of artists in the industry can agree with you here! Now, since Ember Lab, you've moved on up through Sony and have just been offered a job as a character artist at Naughty Dog (Congratulations!) So you've got a pretty diverse range of experience in the industry now. I won't ask to reveal your favorite company, but can you tell us about any aspects of your workplace environments that have really worked for you, and why?

I think the working environment is very important to an artist because of the things we do. Basically all we do is work in front of computers all day, so I think it is very important to have some places you can relax in the studio. For example, at Sony we play pool for fun while we have lunch every day. We have a small basketball court at the back of the studio, so we play basketball around 2-3 times a week too.

Also, almost all the studios will have free food and drinks available for artists, so it is just as important to get up and walk around once a while. Even though working is very important, you need good health to support your body in order to get the work done.

I have noticed you seem drawn to character modeling in particular, I personally like your monster sculpt (the detail is fantastic!) Can you tell our readers how you go about designing and creating your awesome images?

Well, that is not something I can describe in a short paragraph. But to cut a long story short, I create my monsters by researching other people's awesome works and picking elements and putting them together. (Please note that some of my monster sculpts follow concepts I found online).

Man of Steel fan art

So you combine the best aspects of characters to create a new concept; that sounds awesome! So what kinds of images inspire you? Is there a specific style you look for?

I personally like all the art styles, from fantasy to realism. I will get inspired as long as it is good art.

You have also had a lot of different freelance projects: from movie posters to simulation trainers; which has been your favorite project to date, and why?

My favorite project so far would be the cinematic commercial for Coca Cola. I learned a lot during this project, like how to retopo the right way for animation or how to build the model correctly so they can be rigged smoothly; a lot of these are things you can only learn by doing. Also, I love the final result – that was my first time seeing my characters come alive, and that feeling was awesome!

That sounds amazing! You've done more modeling for animation since the Coca Cola commercial too, is animation something you're particularly interested in?

I am afraid the answer to this question is a no, I would never enjoy doing animation myself. The thing is that what we do as a character artist is way more creative than just doing animation, I think in order to do animation well, you have to be a very patient person, and I am just not one of them.


What do you see in the future for yourself: is there any part of 3D art that you would really like to have a go at?

I can see myself doing mainly human 3D characters in the future, and I know I will be one of the best out there because I work hard, learn fast, and I love doing it!

Human sculpting to me is the hardest type to do, but I really enjoy it because it is very challenging. You have to have a full understanding of human anatomy to get it right. People are so used to seeing human form that if you miss one little thing, the whole thing will fall apart. With monsters or aliens you can sometimes get away with it if your anatomy is not right, but with humans, you just have to do it right in order for it to be realistic and believable.

"The important thing is learning and improving from the mistakes you make, and to try your best not to make the same mistakes again"

It sounds like you're really motivated and dedicated to character modeling! If you could give our readers one bit of advice on really ‘making it' in the digital art industry, what would it be?

I would say: Learn as fast as you can, practice as much as you can, do the best as you can, and do not be afraid of making mistakes. You won't make it if you only learn but don't practice, and you won't make it if you only practice but never learn from others (these 2 always go together), and you certainly won't make it if you don't do your best. I always ask myself if I did my best and where could I improve after I turn a project in. This is how I learn, I'm not afraid of making mistakes. The important thing is learning and improving from the mistakes you make, and to try your best not to make the same mistakes again.

The digital art industry will only get harder and harder, so my advice is only from a basic standpoint in the industry. I am still trying my best to learn as much as I can every day and hope one day I can make it to the top. Stay humble and stay hungry my friends, and I hope this will help at least a little bit for the people who want to 'make it' in the digital art industry.

Finally, thanks again for allowing 3DTotal to interview you, Frank!

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Scott on Thu, 03 October 2013 1:26pm
One day make it to the top!! Dood you are already there..
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