3DTotal: I can see from your blog (http://alanbrainart.blogspot.com/) that you’re constantly practicing and improving your 3D skills. You seem to have a real passion for capturing a likeness in your artworks, as can be seen from your 3D studies of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, and in contrast, you also have a real skill for creating stylised cartoon-like characters. What is it about these two contrasting styles that motivates you to create 3D artwork, and why? Alan: Yes, for me it’s an obsession to study it and I have to do it every day. I think likeness is a big challenge for any artist, because capturing someone’s face is very difficult in 2D. However, I believe that using 3D is even worse, because many times there are just not enough good references for all of the angles of the character you wish to model. But I have seen incredible and inspirational works on the Internet, like the works from Jacques Defontaine, with amazing likenesses. Some months ago I did some studies of Salvatore, which I finalised, plus three more including 3D studies of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.
I believe that I can’t focus on just the one style though, and I like to do everything: creatures, animals, robots, humans – everything! I also create simple things too, like cartoons, and I have a lot of fun with them as well! When I look at my last work, with the guy holding the teapot, I think it’s really funny and then I ask myself, “What is his intention?”
3DTotal: So you mention Jacques Defontaine as one of your inspirations – are there any others we can check out? Alan: Yes, when I started doing studies on likeness I was inspired by the work of Jacques Defontaine, but I also certainly had in my mind references to some other artists who have all inspired me to improve my work more each day, such as Steven Stahlberg, Krisnamurti Kosta, Fausto de Martini and many others.
3DTotal: You seem to have a really good eye for lighting your images well to achieve the very best from them in order to interpret your artistic concepts. Can you share with us some of the tips and tricks you use when approaching the lighting of a new image? Alan: A good knowledge of software is very important in the first instance. Virtual lights, textures and shaders can succeed in natural results, but observation of the real world is very important in order to understand why things react in different ways to a source of light. Normally I use many references for the type of scene I want. The first step is to the model and texture as well as I possibly can, and the second step is to search for light references and adapt them for my own scene, adjusting each individual light and then mixing them all. And that’s it, really!
3DTotal: When you say that observing the real world is important, do you find photography helpful in order to capture real world situations and to understand how light reacts with the camera lens under different circumstances? Are there any other tips you may have for artists out there who may need some help with their lighting setups? Alan: There is a phrase in Brazil that says,
“One image is better than 1000 words”, but I believe that one beautiful image can be worth so much more!
I like to observe what a beautiful image comprises of. For example, depending on the time of the day, colours are all different, as are the shadows. The material of scenery also changes, so how do we reflect these changes artificially in our 3D programmes?
Some rendering software already offer lighting, such as “physical Sun Sky” “Mib Cie” (Maya) and incredible materials like “Miss Skin Shader” that simulate the effects of “SSS” (Subsurface Scattering). And then there’s Pixar Renderman which has incredible skills and is also speedy! So there are many options that you can choose from in order to achieve a great performance.
To me there are two ways to start to illuminate. I use the first one when I need fast progress, and in this case I would choose Final Gather because with not much light I can get good results. But I try to avoid this method when the scenery is animated. Also the processing of the render is slower this way, and this method can also bring about some surprises that I don’t want, such
as wrong calculations or flickering materials (noise that appears in the scenery during the animation in some points of lights).
The second way is to build the scenery with simple lights. This method is “old school”, but it works pretty well, is fast and is very artistic! We need to understand that when I’m close to a red wall, my white T-shirt will seem to be pink, and so I need to put one red light between the wall and me to achieve this result in 3D. This is just a quick example to illustrate this method, which is my favourite because it offers infinite possibilities!
3DTotal: Okay, so we’ve had a chat about your previous works, now can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects and what you hope to achieve in the future? Alan: Well, I definitely want to spend my time doing models for games. For some time now I’ve been translating my experience in modelling in high poly to modelling in low poly. This is my goal, for now. I hope in the future to be working a lot with games, here in Brazil. That would be great!
3DTotal: Are there any games companies in Brazil, in particular, that you’d like to work for? Also, would you ever like to work abroad? If so, what would be the perfect job to persuade you to take the plunge and move overseas? Alan: Unfortunately there aren’t any games companies in Brazil; the market over here for CG focuses only on publicity. This is the reason why many Brazilian artists have been working out of the country. I would love to be able to work from here, but we always need to find alternative ways, so if a great opportunity shows up which involves me working abroad then I could definitely change my plans.