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Mastering Monster design

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 20th August 2015

Senior Character Artist at Hi-Rez Studios' Bryan Wynia reveals the processes behind his creature creations.



Creature design extraordinaire, Bryan Wynia's fascination with monsters began at a young age before leading onto his professional journey into the world of monsters in 2004 when he began working as a make-up effects artist. After graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2008 Bryan moved into the world of 3D when he was hired by Gentle Giant Studios as a digital sculptor.

During his time at Gentle Giant, Bryan had the opportunity to work on SEGA's remake of Golden Axe, which he enjoyed so much that he decided to focus on working in the game industry.

In 2009, Bryan landed the role of Character artist at Naughty Dog and since then he has racked up an impressive résumé, working for studios including Sony Santa Monica and Hi-Rez Studios, where he is now a senior character artist. On top of all this, Bryan also has extensive experience as a freelance character and creature designer with clients such as Legacy Effects and Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

3dtotal: You are one of our favorite creature artists here at 3dt, but how did you end up specializing in creatures and characters?

Bryan Wynia: Well that is very flattering and shocking, hahahahaha! Simply put, I've been a monster fan since I was a kid. I grew up watching Ray Harryhausen films, late night creature features, TNT's Monster Vision, and Are of You Afraid of the Dark. My little mind was blown away by these never-before-seen aliens, ghouls, and unknown nightmares.

I ended up working at a haunted house called NetherWorld in high school. This gave me a platform to start professionally designing and developing characters and creatures. It was one of the most exciting times in my path as an artist. I still work with them to this day. This is a very competitive industry and I found that specializing and focusing your skills can be very rewarding.

Bryan created Beelzebub as a class demo on creature design for CG Workshops

This is a page from Bryan's sketchbook, exploring various bug-like creatures © Bryan Wynia

3dt: You've worked some huge studios over the course of your career, such as Sony and Naughty Dog, how do all these compare, both in terms of work and atmosphere?

BW: Many of the studios I have worked with are very similar from an artist's point of view. For example, the character creation process never changed much between each project. When it came to what I was creating, is where things were very different. For example, at Naughty Dog I could be creating various enemies or clothing parts. At Sony, I could have been creating Harpies, or withered old men covered in tattoos. One of the things I enjoy most about Hi-Rez is I have been given the opportunity to also concept various character I have helped create.

This is a photo of a model kit Bryan created based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft. It was sculpted in ZBrush and then rapid prototyped

These thumbnails were created for a possible creature © Bryan Wynia

3dt: We noticed you have an abundance of workshops and video tutorials on top of your experience as an effects artist and creature creator – how do you find time to fit it all in?!

BW: I have the world's most understanding family, hahaha! I try and maximize my time as best I can. After work I will have dinner with my family and hangout with them. When everyone goes to bed I will play some games, work on class, or create personal art. The most important thing to me is to be a good father and husband - that is why I try and do my personal art, classes, or extra work after hours. This allows me to not only be the father I want to be, but become the artist I inspire to be.

Bryan undertook this study to learn new shapes and anatomy © Bryan Wynia

Bryan created this for his chapter on creature development in Essence: Creatures

3dt: Out of all your projects so far, do you have any favorites, or any that have been particularly challenging?

BW: I have been incredibly fortunate to work on some really exciting projects. Being able to work on a God of War game was a big highlight. I had always been a fan of the franchise. Also, being a creature and mythology fan it was also very rewarding.

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