Step inside the mind of a working lead character artist: Riot Games' Alessandro Baldasseroni unveils his experiences of working within the industry...
Riot Games' Alessandro Baldasseroni has worked on prestigious titles such as Thor: The Dark World and Elder Scrolls Online. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and currently enjoys working as a lead character artist. Check out his advice and experiences of working in the industry...
3dtotal: Deadlines are looming and time is of the essence. How do you typically start your day to ensure maximum productivity?
Working as a production artist, especially when I'm lead on a project, I'm grateful to have producers and co-ordinators helping me to keep track of the schedules. I refer to them a lot and vice-versa, usually in the first working hours, but not necessarily, then everything else follows accordingly. In general, gathering references at the beginning and planning ahead potential issues and bottlenecks helps to make things smooth throughout the day.
3dt: When it comes to software, when time is of the essence and demands for quality are high, which programs are the ones that you turn to for solid results, and why?
Not sure it is related to time or efficiency in particular, but we used 3ds Max
as the main production 3D application when I was at Blur, paired with ZBrush. Then when it comes to texturing and 3D painting we used of course Photoshop
. It all comes down to personal preferences.
3dt: Which program shortcuts have you adopted into your workflow to speed things up?
I don't personally use shortcuts other than the very basic ones in each specific application; what's relevant to me is the pipeline which involves 3ds Max as the main application for modeling, and a lot of back and forth between that and ZBrush
, at pretty much any sculpting stage. Blockout is usually done in 3ds Max, while we access ZBrush to quickly re-proportion things around at the early stages, and later on for all the serious hi-res sculpting. Texturing is usually done in 3d painting programs such as MARI or Mudbox, but we always access Photoshop as well for tweaking and generic image management.
3dt: Please share with us at least one software secret that you think everyone should know.
I don't think is a secret but whenever I talk about this 3ds Max modifier we use called Tension
, to extract edge maps, people seem to be interested and many not even aware it exists. Not the only way of course to achieve those maps but it is pretty handy for us in terms of achieving a clean and fast result.
3dt: What efforts do you take to stay on top of your game in the knowledge field – how and where do you learn new skills?
AB: To be fair it's hard for me to keep myself updated with the latest software, tricks, workflows and so on, for the simple fact I spend lot of hours in my day in actual production, using consolidated and familiar pipelines. There's a lot of sharing of course between co-workers in the studio; that's how I learn new skills, but we ourselves feel overwhelmed by the amount of new software out there and new methodologies. I personally try to catch up when possible, following tutorials on the net, mostly on ZBrushCentral
, YouTube and everywhere else I get recommended. You can find great stuff from artists you are connected with on Facebook too...
3dt: What tricks do you use to keep up the pace on a busy day 3D-ing? How do you make sure you're on top form and ready for anything?
I don`t... I have a task to do and I try my best to do it without burning out or spending a lot of hours on it. Tricks and shortcuts come with experience but saying we are 'ready for anything' is definitely an exaggeration. A lot of the time, we fix or adapt to unexpected or non-planned situations, and eventually we just spend more hours than scheduled; it's the nature, unfortunately, of our profession.
3dt: What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given and why?
I remember many years ago someone told me to be proud of what you do, accept critiques but don't let people diminish your work. In other words, a little bit of arrogance serves you well sometimes.
Head over to Alessandro's personal site
Check out Riot Games' website
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures
To see more by Alessandro Baldasseroni, check out Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection
and Digital Art Masters: Volume 7