Visual development artist and Photoshop specialist Kian Kiani discusses his career so far, and the inspiration and workflow behind his latest gallery entries...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Hello, I'm Kian. I'm 29 and currently living in Tehran, Iran. As a kid I was always interested in knowing how to make animated films, and I always wanted to make one myself. I started off my career working as a visual development artist, and I've been working on animation features, series, shorts and commercials for 10 years now. I have also worked as a storyboard artist, layout artist, sound designer and editor in various projects. These different experiences helped me become the artist that I am today. I'm working as a freelancer right now, but I would really like to have better opportunities to expand my artistic skills to the next level.
3dt: Where did you find the inspiration for your latest gallery entry? What's the story behind its creation?
I would love to work on characters that are different from my usual projects. I usually start making different sketches and designing different shapes based on the character I am working on, and ask myself "what if?" questions; what if they are silly, what if they are cute or mean and so on. When I'm finally happy with a design, I start painting it and paying attention to the values, color and light. Then I add details, refining the form and overall look of it and add the final touches to my work.
I have various interests and stimuli. Anything from everyday life can inspire me. It can be the type of music I love, different cultures and things I interact with, such as the people that I see in the cafes, the taxi and on the streets every day. Generally anything that grabs my attention can inspire me to create new characters and keep my mind refueled with new ideas.
For these two new entries for the gallery, I had the same process. I love working on different cultures because of the various features each have. Mashowgela is a character from Bakhtiarti tribe in Iran who is sort of similar to Vikings' warriors. For the metal boy, I tried to create a character with contrast between his shape and personality.
3dt: Do you normally use this software in your workflow? What other software and plug-ins do you favor?
I work with Photoshop
from scratch, or sometimes I scan my drawings and then paint them in Photoshop, which is my favorite software as well because of its surface, different tools and brushes. I also use Mudbox
for texturing and I know Maya
on a basic level which can sometimes help me in my process.
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
I would love to work on animation feature projects in big companies, and be part of the creative team to make a dream become reality. It is just an amazing feeling for me, to make memorable characters which will stay in people's minds forever. I love working hard and improving as an artist and a person.
3dt: What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?
I have worked with ZBrush for sculpting but I am really keen on learning more about it.
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
I am really doing my best to keep the balance between the projects I get and my personal work. Although my projects are part of my portfolio, I don't want to be away from the things I love to study and learn – which is my main goal.
I draw every day and I do my best to make the most of my time everywhere by making quick sketches. I believe to stay in shape, drawing every day is so important even if it's just quick sketches.
Studying other artists' work in sense of composition, color and light also helps me to learn new stuff. I try to define a path and projects for myself and stick to it. For example, working on a story I love and design everything from the scratch, from characters to environment and developing them. Practice is the key! Practicing and being consistent is so important to me.
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
That would be a long list! But to make it short, I admire Dominique Louis, Nathan Fawkes, Dice Tsutsumi, Robert Kondo because of the outstanding use of color and light and composition in their works. They've created so many marvelous artworks that provide me with an endless source of inspiration.
Also, character designers Jin Kim, Nicolas Marlet, Robert Valley, are some other amazing artists that I appreciate a lot, and I've learned a lot by studying their works. Also all of these artists are so passionate and hardworking which I admire the most.
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
One of my great friends and mentors has written a story for an animation that I'm working on in my free time, and I'm designing its characters at the moment. Although I try to work on all parts of the production design of this story.
Check out Kian Kiani's blogspot
Kian Kiani on Artstation
Kian's 3dtotal gallery entries
Grab a copy of Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Characters