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Babak Bina: 3D generalist interview

By 3dtotal staff

Web: http://www.ocularite.com/ (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 2nd December 2016

"Wonder Woman" 3D generalist Babak Bina applies his experience to his workflow, divulging his techniques and inspirations in our latest interview...



3dt: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Babak Bina: Hi, I am a Vancouver based character designer and 3D generalist. I spend the major part of the day drawing, sculpting or working on my computer creating characters. I come from a traditional sculpting background. My professional work has been on films such as the upcoming Wonder Woman, Star Trek Beyond, Batman vs. Superman, Alice Through the Looking Glass. I am also busy making a short film which I am really excited about. The film is a strange story about a seahorse trainer!


3dt: Where did you find the inspiration for your latest gallery entry? What's the story behind its creation?
BB: For this latest character I knew I wanted to make a creature that was a mix of dragon and insect. I started it as a drawing in my sketchbook. I am constantly inspired by how nature creates the most simple yet complex solutions to environmental needs of an animal, and I think to be a good character designer one needs to be well aware of how nature works. Also, about the creation of this image, I have gone a bit off-rail from how I normally work. I usually tend to make finished, rendered images (usually using V-Ray) but since I was trying to make quick designs this time around, I only stayed in ZBrush for this image (including texturing, shading and lighting).


3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties,and how did you overcome them?
BB: For this latest image I used ZBrush, and comped everything in Photoshop. The character started as a Dynamesh sphere and for this one, since I had a design sketched out beforehand, it was only a matter of translating it into 3D. Often I start the design directly in ZBrush, and as much fun as it is, I think it is faster if you start from a sketch or concept. I did not face any major difficulties making this, maybe because I have done it many times and established a workflow, but in the beginning optimizing and working with maximum number of polygons my system allowed, and figuring out how to separate things into SubTools so that down the line I won't end up getting crashes all the time, was one challenge. Also, I have expanded my toolset of brushes which I think automatically makes things easier.


3dt: Do you normally use this software in your workflow? What other software and plug-ins do you favor?
BB: I almost always use ZBrush in my workflow if organic modeling is involved. For hard surface modeling I still feel more comfortable using Maya. I do not use third party plugins usually and the plugins that come with ZBrush can handle everything I need to do. For doing UVs and shading I use Maya. For textures I usually use a mixture of ZBrush and MARI, especially if I want to hand-paint textures I start off with ZBrush and then pass my work on to MARI to continue the textures, and making different maps such as specular or bump from color map. For my personal work I use V-Ray to render.


3dt: Are there any particular techniques that you use often? Or do you like to experiment?
BB: I don't have any particular tricks up my sleeve. The techniques I use are fairly straight forward and used by many fellow artists. The techniques will change as the tools change, I think the key is to make sure you do your research on software updates and make sure you are using the best techniques to achieve your goal, because we tend to establish working habits so much so that sometimes we don't realize that what we used to do with so much effort in the past is now only a click of a button in a newly added feature.


3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
BB: As I mentioned I am working on a short film. My goal is to move further in the direction of creating content based on my own voice, which is why I am trying to always have a personal project beside my busy work schedule. I think computer graphics have a lot to offer as a tool. How that tool is used is the most important thing. My artistic ambition is to make use of the tool to say something unique that hopefully communicates and inspires.


3dt: What software would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?
BB: I would like to dive more into Substance Painter and real-time rendering toolkits such as KeyShot and Marmoset Toolbag – things that help you save processing time with less technical obstacles, making the process of work more intuitive, fun and creative.


3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to- date? Any tips?
BB: When you work in a production the portfolio keeps updating itself, but I would also like to always update my portfolio with personal works because again, I think it is important to have a personal voice as an artist. It is important to constantly look at other artists' works online and keep your knowledge up to date to make sure you have a competitive reel.


3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
BB: There are so many inspiring artists out there in both traditional and digital mediums. My Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest feeds are always filled with inspiration, and it is amazing how much related new artists you discover based on the things you like on social network. To name a few inspiring artists; Ron Mueck, Joel Witkin, Laurie Lipton, Jordu Schell, Beksinski, Giger, Beth Cavener, Kris Kuksi and many more. I think what they all have in common is that they are original in their own way.

Related links

Check out Babak's tutorial for "Metamorphosis"
Head over to Babak's website
Grab a copy of ZBrush Character Sculpting


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