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Designing quirky characters

By 3dtotal staff

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Date Added: 10th February 2016

Frederick Storm speaks to us about his career so far and the process behind his entertaining work



Frederik Storm started out as a kid who loved Star Wars and dinosaurs, and is now a grown-up who loves Star Wars and dinosaurs. He's Danish and has lived in Denmark all his life, where he graduated from The Animation Workshop. His graduation movie, Interview, which he worked on with nine friends, has been going around the world at various festivals since. Frederik worked briefly for Double Fine and a few other places while freelancing, and now, after one year on his own, has started Monkey Tennis Animation Studio with two of his best friends.

3dtotal: Who or what are your biggest inspirations as an artist?

Frederik Storm: There are too many to name, and too many for me to keep track of, so I started gathering them all on Pinterest, so feel free to look me up there. But these days I think especially David O'Reilly is a big inspiration. I've been discovering all these amazing animators and illustrators on Vimeo and Tumblr who make some super groovy stuff that really stands out. And of course Scott C., whose work I just absolutely adore.

Another character from Frederik's 2013 showreel, named after a song by the Flaming Lips

3dt: You work in both 2D and 3D, but which came first? How did you discover 3D?

FS: Obviously 2D came first, as I've been drawing since forever; I did however start with 3D at the age of 11, but it was very crude in the beginning as English is my second language. I never learned about this "extrude” thing, so modeling was hard! I think it was when I saw a behind the scenes on Ice Age that I decided to check out 3D. And then it stuck.

A little elephant who can change her color / The concept for my colorphant

3dt: Which software packages do you prefer to use, and why?

FS: It varies a lot. I love Maya, and I think it's great for a lot of things, and for renderers I've used V-Ray the most – both mostly because that's the programs I used while I was at The Animation Workshop. Obviously I've used ZBrush a ton as well. But lately I've been going back to Blender a lot, just because I have a compositor, renderer (Blender's render and shading tools are amazing), modeling and whatnot all in the same program, and it's kinda insanely fast and stable. I switch around all the time, but I really think Blender has come an incredibly long way since I used to use it back in the day.

One of the characters Frederik made for his showreel

3dt: Could you describe your general work process for us?

FS: I almost always start with a doodle on paper or in Photoshop; sometimes I paint it up, but usually I'm too impatient to wait for that and just jump straight to 3D instead. Then depending on the look I want, I start in either Maya, Blender, or ZBrush. Lately I've been going more and more for poly-modeling first, as I've been exploring a more low-poly look lately, but ZBrush maquettes still happen. I want to get my hands on everything in the pipeline if possible: modeling, shading, rigging, whatever – I love it all.

Another character from Frederik's 2013 showreel

3dt: Your images are so colorful and entertaining! What advice would you give to an artist who wants to have more fun with their work?

FS: Do what you feel like doing, and do it quick. Don't get too caught up in the details. First and foremost, make sure that you think it's something you would like to see. I've always tried to make everything as quickly as possible: I want to get it done quickly, so I'm still pumped about it and have that energy that I had when I came up with the original idea. Working fast also means I have time to do more projects.

Another character from Frederik's showreel back in 2013

3dt: What are some of your favorite aspects of character design? What do you think makes a good character?

FS: It's very hard to say. It varies a lot from character to character, but I think having just finished a sketch of a character must be the best part. I always fall in love with my own creations, which is a blessing and curse, because if I do a sketch after the one I'm in love with, I'm most likely going to love that one even more. Anyway, I think what makes a good character is that it makes you feel something. It doesn't matter if the texture is a bit weird or whatever, as long as it evokes the right feeling in people. I just make what I would like to see made, that I don't think is out there yet.

Inspired by Ultraman, Frederik made his own silly kaiju

The concept for Frederik's Sea Kaiju character

3dt: Self-improvement is important for any artist. What techniques, tools, or skills are you hoping to work on?

FS: I really want to learn how to animate actually, so I can cover the entire pipeline. I love seeing characters in motion, and I just really want to be able to do that myself. I'm not very good at the moment. I would like to get better at 2D concepting and painting in general.

While Frederik was in San Francisco, he discovered Ultraman,
fell in love with it, and made his own ultra hero

The concept for Flame Blade

3dt: And what are you working on right now? Any projects we should look out for in the near future?

FS: I just started Monkey Tennis Animation Studio with two friends, so that's a very big project for me. There are a lot of new things to think about, things that are not necessarily art related. We do have some of our own projects up in the air, but they aren't up on our site yet. But I'm constantly making smaller projects on the side, so they'll pop up on my site or blog all the time.

Frederik's homage to his love for 3D. He's super pumped about it!

3dt: Finally, if you could be any animal or creature, what would you be?

FS: Dinosaur – any dinosaur, I don't care.

A dinosaur Frederick made a while ago

Related links

To see more of Frederik's work go to his website
Head to the 3dtotal shop to grab your copy of ZBrush Characters and Creatures
Check out our latest Kickstarter project

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