3DTotal: Hi Alan! So first up can you tell us a little about yourself and what it was that originally got you started and “hooked” on 3D digital art? Alan: Hi everyone, my name is Alan Camara, I’m an artist from Brazil and I’ll tell you here a little bit about me, my work and skills. First of all, I mustn’t forget to thank the 3DCreative team for this opportunity - thank you guys!
Ever since I was a child I have been involved with arts, in general. My father is a sculptor and painter and I have always observed him working on his characters. But he doesn’t like computers at all - he originally thought they were unable to produce art - and I think he would have loved it if I had become a traditional artist. Despite this, years later I bought my first computer and started having fun with it. Soon after, a friend showed me 3D Studio 4.0 for DOS, and when I dragged the mouse and the “grid” rotated, I thought, “My God, it’s incredible!” It was definitely that “grid” that got me!
Afterwards, I found out about Maya, and I dedicated myself to what my father had taught me: characters and organic things. Beginning 3D work was difficult, because the concept of it was completely different to anything I had seen before. What was a “vertex”? And what did “extrude one face” mean? I was lost! After this terrible first step, I finally succeeded in completing my first works. The next step for me was to become a professional!
So, I started showing my works on the Internet. My first work accepted was “Chico”, which was published in the 3DTotal.com Galleries. With this, I was able to gain recognition as a professional. I’ve worked for some years as a freelancer for the advertisement industry in Brazil, working on TV and printed publicities, as well as on video clips, as a modeller and texture artist.
3DTotal: I’m sure your father is proud of what you have accomplished, Alan! So you say you were lost when you first started 3D. How did you find the right path? Were there any websites in particular that were useful in learning the basics? How did you get through the rough times of the beginner to make it as a professional? Alan: Yes, of course, my father always asks to see my last job!
Finding the path was not easy, and even when I managed it, I couldn’t find good places to learn 3D here in Brazil. So I bought some books to get started, and I remember that one of the biggest challenges was to make a head – I think almost all 3D artists start off like this! I also had many doubts about what the best way to begin was. Was it with NURBS? Polygons? Box modelling? Poly by poly? I didn’t know. But I managed to complete my first work through sites like 3d4all.org here in Brazil, CGTalk and using tutorials on 3DTotal.com. With this I finally found the ideal method that I use today: poly by poly.
After that first stage, I started doing some works involving modelling, texturing and using shaders for video clips of some bands, one of which was the “Sepultura” video, with the clip called “Convicted in Life”, directed by Louis Carone. I then started my
professional portfolio, and eventually started working for Casablanca Animations, one of the major studios here in Brazil, where I have been working for about two years. I also work for a studio called “Seagullsfly Studios”.
3DTotal: There are so many software packages available today for CG artists and we see many artists using a combination of multiple software versions and packages to create the stunning images that grace the forums and CG sites daily. So what is your favourite piece of software, and how did you come to discover that it was the best programme for your artwork? Alan: I think it’s difficult to say what my favourite is because there are so many incredible software choices available! Maya for sure is my first option to finish my jobs, and I have experience with 3ds Max, too. Before ZBrush things were very complicated, and this software has definitely been very important for CG.
Software like ZBrush will always be about 70% of the pipeline of any studio. As I always
say, ZBrush is still a child and has a lot to offer with regards to the modelling, texturing and rendering for sculptors and illustrators. For me, it has been really great to include ZBrush in my workflow, and I have saved many hours of work in doing so. I’m looking forward to and imagining the great things that this software will bring in the future!
Another software choice that I think is great is Topogun. This has amazing possibilities to retopologise high poly models to low poly ones, and to generate maps such as ambient occlusion and normal maps. For sure, this is essential software for a good workflow!
3DTotal:Yes, it seems ZBrush is a popular software choice with many artists today, doesn’t it? It seems to have swept everyone off their feet! Can you tell us about your workflow and how you incorporate the likes of Maya, 3ds Max, ZBrush and Topogun into your art creation? Alan: Yes, many artists use it today; I think everyone is almost unanimous about ZBrush now! Today, when I create an organic model, I always try to start in ZBrush because I think the concept of digital clay is incredible. You don’t need to worry about edge loops and vertexes at the beginning of the piece. To me, the rule is this: first, enjoy yourself; second, adopt the model, and then third, retopologise it! I also use it for textures – it really is “perfect” software!
I’ve been working with Topogun for some time now. It is software that greatly facilitates the process of rebuilding the model, and therefore optimising the process. Topogun can also generate maps such as displacement, normal, ambient occlusion and others. The software speeds up the workflow greatly, to transform the digital clay that comes from ZBrush into a light mesh needed to finish it off in Maya or 3ds Max.