UK-based artist, James Suret, discusses the development of his ZBrush skills with the aim of becoming a successful concept artist...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is James Suret and I live in Yorkshire, UK. I currently work as a web developer for a university. Recently, in my spare time, I've been concentrating on improving my sculpting skills and building a portfolio of finished work. My aim is to work as a concept artist in the videogame and entertainment industry.
This alien cyborg character was my second attempt at hard-surface sculpting in ZBrush
3dt: Tell us the story behind your recent gallery entry, Corrupted Angel: What inspired you to create it?
My most recent entry in to the gallery is a 3D sculpture created in ZBrush entitled Corrupted Angel
. This sculpture was heavily inspired by John Carpenter's The Thing
and also the monsters in the game Dead Space
. The idea was initially to create a somewhat disturbing zombie bust sculpture simply for practice. However, after I spent some time on the project, I realized I could make a full character out of it.
3dt: What software did you use and do you have any tips for using this software, or any other software that you use to create your art in general?
In the last year or so I have taken to working solely in ZBrush
. I usually start a character off by using ZSpheres to create the basic form, especially if I'm making a creature with unique anatomy. However, I do sometimes start from a human base mesh and then change the anatomy as required. With the Corrupted Angel
character I started with just the upper body of a human base mesh and created the rest from ZSpheres and mesh inserts. My advice to anyone just starting to use ZBrush would be to make use of DynaMesh and ZSpheres. With these features you have complete freedom to put together a 3D model in a purely creative way rather than having to worry about any technical restrictions.
This character was inspired by the movie The Thing and the game Dead Space
3dt: Would you consider yourself to have a particular signature style, or techniques that you use often?
I think I'm still discovering my own style; however, I have been influenced by H.R. Giger ever since I was young. I remember drawing biomech doodles on my school books 15 years ago. With my 3D characters I try to achieve a realistic look but with a fantasy or sci-fi theme. I've never been inclined to create a cartoon style character or even a photorealistic one; these are areas that perhaps I should explore. In the past I've always felt more comfortable creating dark/disturbing characters and creatures.
3dt: What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?
I really need to spend some time learning more about Marvelous Designer
as I think this would help me to create more realistic characters. It really lets you be creative when making clothes for your 3D models. I would probably still finish off the clothing details in ZBrush
, but starting them off in Marvelous Designer would save a lot of time. Another skill I need to practice more is Polypainting in ZBrush; currently it's very tempting for me to finish off painting a concept in Photoshop
– I rarely try 3D painting.
This was my first attempt at a full-body female character in ZBrush
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
I look at a lot of other artists' work on a daily basis, as well as play fantasy and sci-fi games to get inspiration. Sometimes I see another artist's artwork and think "I want to create something just like that!” So I start off by using it as reference and work my own twists and changes into it and end up with my own concept. I sometimes work from scratch without references with the aim of creating something unique but that process can be tough, I wouldn't recommend it.
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
H.R Giger would be my favorite; his dark nightmare-fueled biomechanical style has been an inspiration to me for a long time. Recently I've been inspired by the work of Kurt Papstein
, I love his unique creatures. I've also spent a lot of time staring at the creatures created by Nuttavut Baiphowongse
This scene was inspired by the movie Clash of the Titans
3dt: How do you like to unwind after a hard day's (or night's) work?
Usually by playing fantasy MMORPG's which is really not conducive to creating artwork as it takes up time that I should be spending sculpting. I think it's the more creative aspects of these games I enjoy such as crafting and exploration; that's how I try to justify it anyway. I also watch a lot of paranormal and horror movies – these are great inspiration when trying to create artwork that needs to have an emotional impact.
This image went through many changes – originally it focused only on the monster but then I changed it into a full scene
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
I'm currently working on some horror-themed characters and illustrations so expect more demons and creatures. At some point though, I really need to get back to creating some hard-surface designs such as mechs and robots. If you would like to see some of my work in progress renders you can check here
3dt: If you could choose any superhero power, what would you take?
I think it would be flight – I spend way too much time and money on trains.
This was my first attempt at a complete character, posed and with accessories created in ZBrush
was in the fantasy category for July's gallery competition
Visit James Suret's CG Society page
Inspired but need a helping hand? Try our ZBrush Character Sculpting book