Armando Sepulveda is a veteran of the digital art industry and currently works as a special effects artist for US video game company Harmonix. This article gives a fascinating insight into his artistic journey and is a must-read if you're looking for advice from someone who's had a successful career in the industry.
What were your childhood inspirations and earliest artistic memory?
As a child I always had an interest in painting and crafts, I guess that's typical for kids. I was actually quite good with clay, which was my favorite toy, and I began my training in this purely at home, playing with my brothers. For several years in a row, I was picked as my school's clay representative in an arts and sciences skills competition that ran between local schools, and I became good enough to beat the other kids in every competition. After that I never had the chance to study sculpting or something similar properly, and it stayed only as a hobby; I never did any professional work.
More into high school, I was more interested in design, interiors and architecture. I started my architectural studies, but because I moved between countries, I wasn't able to finish. Later I discovered computer graphics at their beginnings in architectural and interior visualization, and I used my knowledge together with this to set up my own interior design business.
What training have you had (if any)?
The only training I have is a strong background in interior design, and a non-finished architecture course. When I started working with computers, Windows didn't exist yet and CG schools were very rare to find. I taught myself on AutoCAD and applied this knowledge to my own interior design business. During these years people were shocked when they saw the designs of the interior of their homes rendered in lines with AutoCAD.
When people starting getting PCs in their homes I got into them right away, learning 3D Studios as soon as it came out, along with some Alias. Once the first high-tech movies started to come out and the software started to get stronger, I was already following any new updates and technologies. I had a brother in the industry already, working for Disney, DreamWorks and others, on CG movies like Dinosaurs. I was so interested in moving into this industry that I was always working on my character modeling and getting feedback from him and guys working with him. So I could say that indirectly I was learning or getting advice from the first CG artists in the industry. I was lucky enough to meet them in person, and have lunch with them back at DreamWorks. I never imagined I was going to be working there myself in the future.
Are there any particular schools or courses that you'd recommend?
Today I use a lot of Digital Tutors. I work in very different fields and it's hard to remember all the tools, settings, etc. On the top of this the software and resources change so often that when I get back to a tool, it has already changed. So Digital Tutors is perfect for a quick look into any tool or workflow. The yearly subscription for the information and updates you get is a good deal, and I consider this an essential tool for any professional in the industry.
Other than this, I taught at the Animation Workshop, in Denmark. Their methods, freedom and system are so efficient that I've seen very talented guys coming from there. Maybe not the most impressive Hollywood reels, or monster or effects, but very beautiful and well-oriented teaching. Indeed the teachers are all professionals from the best companies, paid to teach the workshops. It's really efficient and I totally recommend it.
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