Argentine CGI & VFX artist Gaston Mauricio Muñoz talks about the importance of variety for a freelancer, sharing tips and portfolio images...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Gastón Mauricio Muñoz: Hi, my name is Gastón Mauricio Muñoz. I'm 36 years old, and I'm originally from San Juan, Argentina. I now live in México. I have participated in several studies in various areas of CGI, and with Starge Studios I had the opportunity to participate on international level shows in the VFX area. I have a degree in Industrial Design from the National University of San Juan, Argentina. I currently work as a freelancer in the areas of CGI and VFX.
3dt: What's the story behind your latest gallery entry? Where did the idea come from? What were you trying to achieve with it?
GMM: It all started with the opportunity to participate in a challenge that I could finally win in the CG and VFX Facebook community. The topic was to create a futuristic war vehicle with original features, then represent a true conqueror who is large and intimidating. That is how the conqueror was born. It was an excellent opportunity to develop a full CGI scene.
3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?
GMM: This image was created in a total of about 32 hours, that already represented a challenge due to the proximity of the final delivery. So I took the decision to use the tools I had already mastered, 3ds Max, V-Ray and Photoshop. Most of the time was spent on developing the idea and modeling small pieces that contributed to the overall detail of the model. The texture used a procedural map, since the idea was to have a surface without any particular patterns and quite random. The lighting is of type IBL, and for the mountains a displacement map with a resolution of 8k was used. Finally, I performed a slight color correction and added dust particles in Photoshop.
3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
GMM: Using and experimenting with other tools is one of my favorite hobbies. The tools I use are 3ds Max, Maya, C4D, Blender, SpeedTree, Vue, Fstorm, Corona Render, V-Ray, and Terragen for CGI development. This allows me to be able to participate in CGI or VFX projects that are varied, and I'm able to adapt easily. Also, in the VFX area I use After Effects, Mocha Pro and Pf Track. In my personal opinion I always say that it is important to at least know the workflow of most tools, you never know when you will have to resort to them.
3dt: Do you have any tips or techniques that other artists may not be aware of?
GMM: Maybe I can share the way I see or face the projects. All projects are complex: don't underestimate any and keep it simple, avoid complications that are not necessary. Do not abuse resources; always try to be very subtle in the details that give complexity to the projects. Learn from everyone, inside and outside the industry. Sharing knowledge is also a way of learning. The solution is in your head not in the tools, the tools are a way to the solution. The tools are becoming easier to use, so enjoy being more creative and less technical when you can. Enjoy creating your projects even if they are from a client.
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
GMM: To contribute CGI content to a great movie. I have had the opportunity to participate in several shows worldwide such as Fear the Walking Dead or Heroes Reborn. I think the next step is to see my work on the big screen. It is a dream that I work day by day. I am very happy in this profession and to be able to participate in a big production would be a high point professionally. On a personal level the happiness of my family is my greatest ambition day by day. And the greatest happiness that can be achieved.
3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
GMM: Over ten years my source of inspiration has been 3dtotal. Here I met many of my most admired artists, and nowadays they have added apps like Instagram and Pinterest that allow you to follow fabulous artists, I also constantly visit the community on Facebook "CG & VFX / Community" that has the greatest artists from Latin America.
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
GMM: I usually try to update with personal works where I can express my true personality as an artist. Since generally the work done in the studies or projects bare the seal of the company or the client requesting the work. I try to always show work that excites me. When finishing a personal project I usually keep it for a few days, and when I see it again if I continue to produce the same emotion as before, I am sure it should be in my portfolio. I have some demo reels focused on specific areas; it is always important to show what they request when applying for a job, there is always focus.
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
GMM: Good question. They are so many. Nowadays the internet allows us to meet so many artists that it is difficult to name some but we will try. First, I think there are artists that I admire and they taught me not the techniques but the concepts. Juan Garcia (Robot) is a recognized CGI and VFX Lead / Mexican Director who is very talented, and has a high availability to help the growth of the industry in Latin America. Jaime Jasso of ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), I had the opportunity to have a personal chat with him and his advice was invaluable. Besides his great talent. Then artists who are references for me are; Vitaly Bulgarov, Daniel Simon, Daniel Schmid of ILM, Marek Denko, Peter Sanitra, Cesar Saez (Senior Character TD at Animal Logic) – all of them and many more certainly nourish my inspiration when creating. Soren Zaragoza a great exponent of digital sculpture that is in great growth. It's exciting to have so much inspiration.
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
GMM: Honest work, maximum effort, love the photorealism, and try to constantly strive to achieve photorealistic images that convey a feeling. A friend willing to share how little or much he knows about any topic. An admiration of the talent of the colleges. And someone who enjoys this profession. I always try to grow an artist, sometimes little, sometimes a lot, but always on the move. It is really a great emotion to be able to be here on 3dtotal. From my beginnings it has been a source of inspiration, learning and reference for me. I hope soon to be able to share new works that I have in process. Some represent a challenge for me because of its size and complexity, and soon I will be sharing with you.