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Brice Laville Saint Martin: 3D artist interview


By 3dtotal staff


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Date Added: 24th November 2015

Freelance 3D artist Brice Laville Saint Martin discusses his workflow and influences for his recent gallery entry, 'Teapot Tank'...


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3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Brice Laville Saint Martin: My name is Brice Laville Saint Martin; I'm a 3D artist living in Lyon, France for the moment! My 3D passion has been with me for a long time now, and like a lot of people I discovered it with Toy Story when I was a child. 3D has always motivated me to keep pushing my limits and to always be looking for more knowledge, because I really want to give the best of myself for each project I work on.

Being a 3D artist is more than a simple job I think, it's a way to express myself differently, a way to know me and understand who I am through my images, it's a super-power, a passion…! My dream is to have the power to inspire dreams in other people with my work.

I'm currently working as freelance 3D generalist at GFactory. This is an outsourcing studio based in Lyon working on great and exciting projects. Their main activities are concept arts, characters and environments.

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3dt: Where did you find the inspiration for your latest gallery entry? What's the story behind its creation?

BM: For my personal projects, I spend a lot of time on the internet to get a handle on new ideas or cool concept art! The challenge is to find a concept that I like but also a concept that everybody could like. So, my latest gallery entry was based on a Randy Bishop concept for the first, and Tom Robinson concept for the second. I found some concept like those of Randy Bishop for example, more conducive to realize in 3D.

3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?

BM: Right now, for most of my images I use the same workflow. First, I use 3ds Max for the poly-modeling, ZBrush for the sculpt, Maya with Renderman for the render and then NUKE for the compositing. I am not hesitant to start an object in 3ds Max and move on to ZBrush to finish it if I feel that I am comfortable, if it's much faster or more precise and I am not using the ZModeler of ZBrush.

For example, I modeled all parts of the Teapot Tank in 3ds Max, then I added the details like wear with ZBrush, using TrimDynamic and the Orb Cracks brush. Since Renderman 20 is free, I gradually learned It, with Renderman 20 I had a hard time understanding how chromatic aberration and Denoiser worked.

To understand how it works, I have downloaded the Maya scene Still Life Renderman 20 on the Pixar website to study it because I haven't found any answers to my questions at that time on the internet. And the two new tools are awesome! The Denoiser was created by Disney Research for Big Hero 6, saving an enormous amount of time. Now my renders take approximately 15-20 minutes for 1080p for a final image without noise! This tool will be further improved in Renderman 21, especially for Hair and Fur denoising, because Disney are currently working on Zootopia that requires a lot of denoise for the fur of their characters!

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3dt: Do you normally use this software in your workflow? What other software and plug-ins do you favor?

BM: Yes, now Renderman is part of my workflow for all of my new work! I'm a huge fan of ZBrush too… I think that this is the only software that makes us forget about the technical side of the software itself – it's a more fluid process, I feel as if my hands were in the software!

3dt: Are there any particular techniques that you use often?

BM: I don't know if I'm using any particular techniques, but I'm always looking for the fastest or clearest way to realize my stuff! The lighting plays an important role in my project; I always use a base of HDRI and then I add some others lights. I like subtle and gentle light. The setup that I used for my latest 3dtotal gallery entry uses a unique white shader, a dark-blue background, an HDRI and 3 lights.

Why a white shader? First, the white color of the shader helps to strengthen this feeling of cleanness, and at the same time, it serves to reflect more accurately the color of the different lights and bounces of light. And secondly, this white shader combined with this dark background creates high contrast which makes it possible for the sculpt to stand out clearly from its background, and allows us to have a clear understanding of the silhouette, this is why I do not use any Rim light in my scene.

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My Keylight creates warm hues and come from the top like a sun. The sun in the HDRI and the Keylight are oriented in the same direction. Those two lights allow me to have a realistic lighting and brighten the lower part of my background to create a nice blue layered effect.

The two last lights create cool colors, come from the side and allow me to outline volumes and shapes. While these lights are subtle, their location in the Maya scene is very important! For my Teapot Tank I regret the fact that I didn't added some storytelling lights like tank headlights or just a little light coming from the interior of the tank… a-ha!

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?

BM: Throughout my career I would like to accumulate a maximum number of skills and experiences, taking maximum pleasure doing it. I'm young, you know, and if tomorrow a studio calls me to work on a cool project, I will undoubtedly be in the studio before the employment interview ends! I am constantly learning new exciting things, I will see where it takes me but I aim to be a character artist in studios I admire for many years now, like Blur, Naughty Dog, Riot, Disney Interactive and Blizzard for example! I hope to be able to work in VFX and game industry because both of them interest me.

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On a more personal note I hope that my passion will allow me to travel around the world all the while meeting interesting and talented people. I have high artistic ambitions, but I've decided to establish the means to reach them. No pain no gain right?

3dt: What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?

BM: At the moment, I am learning Renderman RIS shader and I expect to shortly learn MARI and Substance for texturing of my realistic personal project

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?

BM: I'm freelance and most of the time during my contract I'm working 12-15 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I can't work on my personal stuff! And between two professional projects, I'm never workless. Most of the time, I'm working on two different projects at the same time. At the end of a project, I spend some time to think about it and to research what I could do better or differently to be as fast as possible, for example.

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3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

BM: Artists who inspire me are numerous:

The 3D artist Victor Hugo Queiroz has lots of knowledge and packaged, he uses it very well…! I admire Rafael Grasseti, Frank Tzeng and Mathieu Aerni for their knowledge of the human anatomy. Tutorials of Rafael and Frank available on Gumroad were for me a fountain of knowledge, I've learned a lot watching their tutorials.

Beside the technical skills, Goro Fujita knows how to create inspiring, poetic, colorful images and with a very good storytelling. And finally, the traditional sculptor Darren Marshal is my favorite traditional artist. His stuff is sharp and clean, I love it! I hope that one day I'll be able to reach their level!

3dt: Do you like to experiment with your personal works, or do you prefer to stick to tried-and-tested methods?

BM: For me, my personal projects are a time of learning and experimentation! And most of the time it's one of the prime motivators. During holidays, in the train, in my bed or during my weekend, I watch livestreams or tutorials, it makes me want to use the techniques I've learned in my new projects. My advice to young 3D artists who would like to learn 3D with tutorials is that it's important to carefully select them, on 3dtotal or Gumroad for example.

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3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?

BM: I hope to be able to communicate as soon as possible about Disney Magic Kingdom – a game I worked on recently! I am currently working on two different projects:

The first is a realistic concept from the great concept artist Mikhail Rakhmatullin named Girl in Exo.

The second is an extremely nice concept from Paul Cohen.

I love characters from the videogame Disney infinity – I haven't missed the Shane Olson and Matt Thorup speeches from Studio Disney Interactive at Gnomon school during the ZBrush Summit 2015. In this video they explain their techniques to keep the sculpt as clean as possible, and I'm going to use it on my own projects!

"We have the power to create things that do not exist, to making them alive and to make people laugh… be creative and enjoy"


3dt: Finally do you have any advices for 3D artist students?

BM: Yeah, I will tell them that the school facilitates your first step into the 3D world but it's just one little step in the learning process because every day in our career we will learn and progress.
Be curious! Regularly visit sites such as 3dtotal, Artstation, and ZBrush Central to discover new artists and stuff they do; I found that very important, personally it motivated and inspired me.

When I was in art school, my goal wasn't to get my graduation or to be better than other students in my class, my objective was to be better than other artists I saw on the internet, I really think it was helpful for me to quickly evolve. And finally, take pleasure in 3D, we have a great job, we have the power to create things that do not exist, to making them alive and to make people laugh… be creative and enjoy!

Related links

Check out Brice Martin's Facebook
Brice Martin is also on ArtStation
Buy a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

 
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