Mexican sculptor of collectibles Julio Macias shares the inspirations and workflow behind his creations, and his push for perfection…
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Julio Cesar Benavides Macias:
I am a person who loves the world of 3D, and one day I hope to work for cinema making high quality 3D models. I have only 1 year 7 months in the world of 3D, developing myself as a self-taught artist as a 3D generalist. I am originally from Monterrey, Mexico. I dedicate myself to creating digital sculptures for printing, better known as collectibles. My work consists of basing myself on concepts to copy those 2D concepts and transform them into 3D, or often from a simple image. I modify the concept to improve it or adapt it to the sculpture. Normally all the sculptures I make are 1/4 scale. I also like to create my own characters, and I usually take 2 to 4 weeks for each sculpture to make it according to the type of concept difficulty.
3dt: Tell us about your art: Your style, themes, genre, and some of the favorite projects you have worked on.
My art is a theme that I still do not define, because according to the type of project I try to adapt to what the client seeks, without losing the story they want to show, so I try to do as much as possible. Something I think that defines part of my work are the details; I like to detail even the smallest part of the character. I try to combine the comic style with realistic pieces, because almost 80-percent of my work is based on comics, very little has been anime.
I think the project that has defined me up until now as a personal sculptor was "Rogue” because in this piece I tried to polish even the smallest detail of it, looking to put in my parts without losing the essence of the 2D concept. It was fun and I learned a lot in this project, combining several techniques that I have been learning to achieve this piece, and the idea of my collectibles design style is to set that pattern of trying to achieve the character, but with a lot of detail. This is what I like, to not neglect anything of each sculpture, but little by little I learn and I still have a long way to go to improve day by day.
3dt: Can you describe your typical workflow, and the software/hardware you normally use when creating your artwork?
For each character the first thing I do is to study each part of the character. By this I mean review the anatomy, the boots, heels, male or female details, weapons, and so on. Once done, I create the base of the character in ZBrush, without details or anything already posed, using the guides for clothes, weapons and so on. After, I move to Maya or Fusion 360 and start the base of an accessory, then I move again to ZBrush and zModeler.
I finish this artifact for the character. This is what I do, so where it will be more effective to do it thinking about its quality, the part of the anatomy is already fully in ZBrush, starting with Dynamesh, zRemesher, then divide and detail, part by part, until you get to the accessories to adapt to it, is more or less the process I do for each sculpture. Once you have finished the renders in ZBrush or KeyShot, according to the type of render you require, at the end the editing is done in Photoshop.
3dt: What inspires you?
The truth is many things. Mostly though, it is going to the cinema to see the effects within each film and imagining how they created it. Marvel movies in particular, especially "Ironman” both the movie and the collectibles. It makes for a perfect piece because I'm a robot fan, so seeing it on the big screen is my biggest inspiration from the things I want to achieve some day in my life, talking about my artistic career.
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
I always try to put the newest thing I've done into my portfolio, losing older images every now and then. I think it's better to have a few jobs but try to show all your potential. I'll be uploading some more work soon once I am able to show them.
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
I think that list is very specific because as a self-taught artist I had to learn alone, but also following the advice from great artists like Daniel Bel, who I consider, apart from being a great artist, is also an excellent person. Alejandro Castiblanco was and continues to be my teacher because he manages to initiate pieces of high difficulty in Maya. He is of great influence because he helped me to understand how to achieve pieces with hard surfaces. Another of them was Jesus Fernandez, because apart from being a great person is an artist who manages excellent topology and understanding of how to translate 2D to 3D. Victor Hugo Sousa also inspires me: I admire his work because he is dedicated to the same extent as me, but his level is impressive and everything he produces is of excellent quality.
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
Well, I hope that the next thing you see from me is a piece with a lot of quality – I can only say that it's two characters that I admire a lot; two personal fan art pieces that I'm doing with the idea of studying and re-embracing certain areas that I still have to continue working on. I can only say that they will be a pleasant surprise for people who follow a little of my work, because I think they will be my biggest challenges so far in my career.
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