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Gavriil Klimov: Artist Interview


By 3dtotal staff


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Date Added: 15th December 2014

We chat to the incredibly talented 3D concept artist Gavriil Klimov, whose credits include Halo, Call of Duty, and Destiny to name a few. Find out how Gavriil got his
big break!


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If you don't already know Gavriil Klimov by name, you'll certainly known him from his insanely impressive portfolio. This incredible 3D concept artist has been working across the movies, games, and commercials since graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena - the same school that the father of concept design, Syd Mead attended back in the day.

Specializing in hard-surface models - weaponry, robots, props, vehicles and so on - and creating CG environments, Gavriil has made a huge name for himself with a client list that's enough to bring tears to your eyes! Treyarch, Blizzard, Warner Brothers, and Kojima Productions are just a handful of this artist's achievements so far. And there's still a bunch more under NDA to come! We can't wait. We chat to Gavriil today to discover how he got off on the right foot and made his mark in the industry.

"The rest is just perseverance, hard work, and not willing to give up. The latter being the most important feature"


3dtotal: Can you introduce us with a little background information about you, and briefly explain your role as a freelance concept artist in today's CG industry?
Gavriil Klimov: I graduated in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I was always drawing as a kid, and fell in love with computer graphics as soon as I got my first PC - a Pentium I. The rest is just perseverance, hard work, and not willing to give up. The latter being the most important feature that I developed in order to succeed. During my journey I've encountered a lot of obstacles, and people that don't always want to trust in what you want to try to do, but that should never put you down.

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Kangaroo Mech by Gavriil Klimov. 3ds Max, MODO, Marvelous Designer, V-Ray, Photoshop

3dt: What was it that drew you to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles to study Industrial Design? How did that overseas move change your life, and how did you get a foot in the door in the entertainment world?
GK: When I was researching the top concept artists at the time, even before I was a student in Industrial Design, I noticed that a lot of guys - starting from the man himself, Syd Mead, attended the same school in Pasadena. I thought they must have had something very good going on, so I worked very hard to apply there, got a scholarship, and got in. I knew immediately it was the right place from the first week. The department at the time was lead by the amazing Scott Robertson, who even, as of now, is one of the best educators out there. When I was researching the top concept artists at the time, even before I was a student in Industrial Design, I noticed that a lot of guys - starting from the man himself, Syd Mead, attended the same school in Pasadena. I thought they must have had something very good going on, so I worked very hard to apply there, got a scholarship, and got in. I knew immediately it was the right place from the first week. The department at the time was lead by the amazing Scott Robertson, who even, as of now, is one of the best educators out there.

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CAT Chelovek by Gavriil Klimov. Caterpillar, Inc.'s first construction droid; available to public and private construction companies starting Q2 2037

3dt: While a lot of your work is under NDA at the moment, can you tell us about some of the clients you've worked for over the last few years? Are there any stand-out projects that you're particularly proud of, if you're allowed to say what those are?
GK: I have worked on a very wide range of projects in the last few years, ranging from commercials to movies, like the , as well as multiple unannounced triple-A console games. Some of which include: Call of Duty, Destiny, and Halo. Most recently I am working in product design; it can be very refreshing to change subject matter every few months and keeps your skills sharp.

"I love the idea that I get to be creative as a job. I wouldn't trade it for anything"


3dt: Can you tell us more about the role of an Industrial Designer? What kinds of concepts do you get to design and how does it feel to be a part of this industry?
GK: Industrial Design is my backbone when it comes to design. A good friend and amazing designer, John Park, always said this even when I was in school: "If you have strong foundations things will be easier later on." Strong foundations are the key to everything. And I believe that's true: Having a good grasp of the fundamental cores of perspective, form language, composition, and so on, is - and always will be - the base way to come up with good designs.

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Urban Meadows by Gavriil Klimov.

As I mentioned before, I mostly design hard-surface concepts, so anything that relates to mechanical things, such as robots, weapons, vehicles, and interiors. It's a very wide range because the design language of these things can change greatly based on the project, so it's not very repetitive. I enjoy being part of the industry because I love doing something creative. The idea of designing stuff is what gets me up in the morning and out of bed. I love the idea that I get to be creative as a job. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Another great thing about the industry is the people. There are a lot of absolutely awesome artists out there that you bond with, whether it's because you worked in a studio together, or on the same project, and some of these friendships will go on for a whole lifetime.

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Kangaroo Mech by Gavriil Klimov. 3ds Max, MODO, Marvelous Designer, V-Ray, Photoshop

3dt: You use MODO for some of your concept design work. Can you briefly tell us why this tool works particularly well for your hard-surface projects? Are there any other tools you use on a regular basis, and can you tell us why they work well for your personal workflow? How about rendering?
GK: MODO is a tool that I have been using for a while, and also on and off. It's got a very good and intuitive workflow when it comes to hard-surface modeling; I really like the navigation and selection tools - they make for a very fast experience. Some of their recent plug-ins are also looking in the right direction.

The only drawback with MODO, I find, is that it doesn't perform super-well with very resources-intensive scenes with millions and millions of polygons and, because of the nature of my job, more often than not I find myself with very busy mechanical scenes with environment and robots in them that may reach a very high polygon count. For this reason I also use 3ds Max; its viewport is much smoother and performs way better with dense meshes and has got better Boolean tools as well. So usually I kind of go back and forth between MODO and Max, depending on what I am doing. As far as rendering goes, though, I love V-Ray for 3ds Max.

"Like most creative types, I love it when I am given the most freedom - it usually leads to my best designs"


3dt: Speaking of workflows, can you talk a little about your general approach to tackling a new concept? How do you generally get stuck in to a new project when it lands on your desk?
GK: I usually do little sketches to get an idea of what I am going to do - nothing fancy, really, just napkin sketch type stuff. After that I jump straight into 3D and I go from there. Push and pull, move vertices around; go with the flow and intuition that one develops doing this kind of thing over and over.

I usually give the client anywhere from 3 to 6 variations at first, and then we pick one to keep working on and go from there. Sometimes, if they really trust my vision, I might just go straight into it without providing variations and, I guess just like most creative types, I love it when I am given the most freedom - it usually leads to my best designs.

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MARDER ™ by Gavriil Klimov. A preview of an upcoming personal project

3dt: You were recently at the Trojan Horse was a Unicorn festival in Troia, Portugal. Apparently you were the first artist to be confirmed! What was the experience like, and would you recommend future versions of the festival? What did you personally take away from the event?
GK: I didn't realize I was the first speaker to be confirmed! It was the best thing I have ever attended. Ever. By far! Everything was outstanding. My expectations going into it were usual: I thought it was gonna be one of those events where people gather up and talk about their work to a big crowd. I was wrong!

There were speeches and there was a big crowd, but it's so much more - it's really hard to put down into words; it really has to be lived. Everything from the facilities to the location to the staff, speakers and guests was top notch and amazing. I read some article online where the ambassador of the event, Scott Ross, said that it's a "mix of Burning Man meets TED" - and after I attended it I think it's the best description I've heard for it yet. Truly amazing. Andre Luis and the THU staff did an amazing job and I look forward to the 2015 edition!

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MARDER ™ by Gavriil Klimov. A preview of an upcoming personal project

3dt: As a freelancer working from home, how do you manage your time to stay productive and in touch with your clients? Do you tend to juggle several projects at once, and if so how do you manage that with the hours available in the day?
GK: I have a pretty efficient sleeping schedule: I split my day into 2 chunks rather than sleeping only once at night-time. I find this the best way to be productive and get stuff done. I keep in touch with the clients via email and Skype - usually the time difference is not an issue. Sometimes it's happened that I've worked on something full time and something else part time, but most of the time I am working for one client at a time.

When I did multiple jobs I simply worked longer hours and weekends. It sounds cliché but if one keeps a good diet, exercise, and sleep schedule, he is able to perform a lot of work. Think of the body as your car; if you take care of it constantly, it will run smoothly.

"Keep exploring and keep learning; if you stop learning, that's when you're going to lose to the competition"


3dt: What are your thoughts on the types and quantities of projects that are available to freelancers out there? Do you find it a competitive field, and if so how to you keep a cutting edge over the competition?
GK: It's definitely a competitive field and I foresee it being even more competitive into the future. But competition is good because it raises the bar to a higher level and pushes everyone to perform better, and to be smarter about their approaches to art-making. In order to be relevant one has to perform all the duties expected of a freelancer. Always produce personal work outside of client work and always put it out there; it's the best form of marketing.

Try to always explore new software and new techniques, and never stay in your comfort zone for too long. A while ago, if you asked around, it was considered impressive if a concept artist knew a single 3D program, but now it's the norm to know multiple programs that range from modeling to rendering to cloth sim. Keep exploring and keep learning; if you stop learning, that's when you're going to lose to the competition.

The amount of work for a freelancer usually ranges; in my own experience, the months from October to February are always the best - and spring can be alright, too. Sometimes summer can be very slow, though...

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Turtle Mech by Gavriil Klimov. 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop

3dt: Where do you see your future in CG? What are your goals and hopes for the future?
GK: More and more movies are done in CG - I am not gonna enter the merit whether this is good or not for movie-making, but from a concept artist standpoint, it's positive because there needs more art and design to be done. Compared to the past there's a much wider range of movies, commercials, and games, that all make a heavy use of concept art. So as a "hope", then strictly speaking, as a designer working in the field, I hope this will keep being the case because there's a lot of work out there and a large number of clients. I do hope that these very heavily CG productions start to get better plot-wise, and stop being just eye candy; however, I foresee this as a lot harder to become true. The place to watch good plots has become TV series'.

With regards to CG as a whole, it's going to really change soon - things like Oculus VR are pushing it to the next level; it will be absolutely amazing where it goes and I can't wait to witness it firsthand!

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Turtle Mech by Gavriil Klimov. 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop

Related links:

Visit Gavriil's official site
Check out Gavriil's portfolio on ArtStation
Find out more about Trojan Horse was a Unicorn
Discover 3dtotal's Building Droids e-book

 
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