We continue to interview best digital artists and this time we are glad to introduce an expert of 3D modeling, who could be a perfect example, how fantastic high-class 3D models should look like.
Alex Huguet is a professional Spanish digital artist currently living and continuing his career in United Kingdom, London. Mostly he is known for creating characters from sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. However, you can also admire Alex for his incredible realistic characters. He has a great and varied portfolio as well as a unique experience in freelance work, commercials and movie making.
Tell us what drove you into 3D computer graphics and why did you choose organic modeling?
I have always been really into drawing and painting. Since I was kid, I could spend hours drawing superheroes or painting monsters. Also, my dad had a small advertisement company and they started using Photoshop 1.0 (it was released in 1990 for the first time). I went to his office once, my dad showed me the program and it blew me away. That was like blending two 2 things that I loved most – drawing and computers. Since then I discovered more and more options and when I came across software called 3DS for DOS, I realized that and I really got into it! I loved it and I could spend hours trying to do all sorts of things with it. All I did sucked of course, but it was really really fun! Talking about organic modeling, I always liked characters. Actually, I liked modeling everything, but I guess with characters I had more fun, so I didn’t really “chose” it, it was just a natural thing for me to do…
Where and what kind of project you are currently working on?
I work at the Mill London at the moment on commercials. It is a nice break from the film industry, which can really get on your nerves sometimes! Here the projects are shorter and we don’t need to spend months tweaking stuff according to the clients… Also, the pipelines are more open and you get to participate more on the overall thing, so I’m quite satisfied at the moment.
What do you love most about your job? What motivates and inspire you to move forward?
I like the fact that you are surrounded with people who love what they do. That motivates and pushes you. Also, when I see other work of other artists, sometimes my reaction is like “wow, that looks awesome!” and then I have to go and try creating something else. Seeing people doing awesome stuff really motivates me!
In previous interviews you mentioned that your 3D modeling education came from hard work at home by yourself. What differences do you see between such self-sufficient artists like you and those from later generation, who can learn from loads of tutorials, have the most modern equipment and can even study 3D modeling in universities?
Well, when I started learning computer graphics, there was no internet at home (or we had a 54kb modem connection), there was no resources in Spanish and buying tutorials online wasn’t invented yet. Moreover, the hardware from these then was nothing compared to the one available now and the software was really lacking in… everything. Although the learning/improving was very slow, at the same time I kind of kept evolving together with the software. That’s why I kept track of all the new technologies appearing, like GI for example. Now people learn much quicker than I did at the time, because there are so many resources, information and the software has evolved and been improved a lot… However, I guess the bad point is that it might be quite overwhelming to start learning when there are thousands different softwares, sculpting apps, different rendering engines etc. that can make the learning process a bit tricky at first…
One of your latest and probably the most recognized work is Abuelaco. Please tell, why after modeling so many monsters, trolls and other fantastic 3d models, you have chosen to recreate a photo of an old man?
I don’t really know. At that time we were working on a project with many different characters and I was leading the character team. So I was really involved with the faces and one day when I came home I started working on this fellow. Also, I wanted to work on some more finalized personal work and it was really nice to be able to model texture and render that guy.
What things would you advise to focus on when trying to make photorealistic character?
The most important thing for me is working from big to small. I’m talking about working on the main shapes and proportions at first. Once you have those done, then start focusing on broad details and end up finishing the model with the smallest details. That gives the model a sense of structure and it works better. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but so many times I’ve seen when designers jump ahead way too early ending up with a poor looking model although they could have pushed it much more.
You were working as a digital artist in such great projects as Harry Potter. What was your most memorable experience? Do you consider working there as the best thing that can happen to a 3D artist?
I guess with time your priorities change. Years ago my dream job was to work in movies, it seemed something incredible. Now when I have seen it from inside it is just different. Perhaps, I prefer smaller projects where you have more input and you can add more as an artist to the final product. There are designers, who love working on films and those who hate it. Also, there are some who do not really give a crap, they just do what they have to do and go home to create something else. So it really depends on each individual. For me, working on film was a nice experience. There were some awesome things and some other not so much…
While reading your comments below your models on http://www.metamesh.blogspot.com, I got an image that you are kind of a modest artist, who is never fully satisfied with his work. Some time has passed; maybe you have eventually created something that you are really proud of?
I think is just a matter of being down-to-earth. I try to analyze my own work and be as objective as possible with it. Yes, it may be a good model, but still it can be improved… Self-criticism helps you to evolve and the best thing is that you don’t even realize that… And about the second question: yes, I’ve created something unique along with my partner! We have a baby daughter now and we are really proud of her! That means less time for computer graphics at the moment. I still do sketches and things, but nothing too sophisticated!
A lot of digital artists dream about working in such companies as Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox and others. Which company would be the best place to work for you? Or maybe you prefer freelance?
Oh man, there are so many awesome companies around the world that I wouldn’t really know! Of course, ILM and WETA are like top of the list! But again, there are more amazing places that I’d like to work in…The downside, as I mentioned before, I believe that the bigger the company and the project is, the less imput you have and the more of an “ant” you become… But that is just my experience and I don’t know how others find that…
Is there any kind of annoying work in CG you would never do even for a really huge amount of money?
There is a lot of annoying stuff that you may end up doing. I remember, once, I finished working on a film and there was nothing for me to do, so I had to copy old assets, move them to the library and add some sort of tags on the files… I did everything using Linux and a command line system, so it was a real pain in the a** for a few days! But, well, sometimes you do cool stuff and sometimes you do more boring stuff and it is still a cool job so we shouldn’t complain too much.
What is your opinion about online marketplaces where 3D artists buy, sell and share 3D models? Do you consider this as a helpful tool for professional designers?
I’ve never tried that myself, but I guess it has its place in the market. Nowadays every project has shorter and shorter time limits so any resource that can save time and effort is always welcome.
Best 3D movie ever made?
I don’t know, I have a few that are amazing! “Monsters”, “Toy Story”, “The Incredibles”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” are the ones that I’ve seen more than once… They are quite awesome.