April 2nd, 2013
"Mostly I care about the story or thought that I put into the image to make it come to life" Tomas Kral
Tomas Kral was still at school, when he realised that drawing is something he is really good at. It has been four years already since Tomas Kral has started working as a senior team leader for visual effects and post production house "UPP" in Prague, Czech Republic. He had a chance to take care of visual effects for such feature movies as "2012", "Red Tails", "Season of the Witch", "Salt" and "Pandorum".
Tomas Kral is a well-known 3D designer, whose artwork has been published in the top magazines of the 3D industry. Moreover, this artist is the first one to land a 3D modeled man on the moon.
This year you are turning 28. But the world of computer graphics has already embraced you so deeply. Tell us more, where was a start of this acquaintance?
Since I had my age mentioned, it became kind of scary to confess that I came into 3D graphics more than 10 years ago. It feels like it has been ages. When I was going to Vaclav Hollar Art School in Prague, my close friend showed some short animation, created with 3D Studio Max, to me. My interest was captured. Together with another friend we started discovering the possibilities of this software and we were plunging deeper and deeper into it.
What is the main reason that you have found computer graphics so involving?
I have always been fascinated with computer games and movies. Especially at an early age. I still remember me and my brother playing post-apocalyptic game "Fall Out". I was crazy about all game magazines, because they were full of beautiful artworks. Back to these days, magazines were an inspiration for my drawing also. So I guess it was quite natural for me to become a 3D designer and make a living from my hobby.
Your artwork is highly diverse. Its themes vary from environment to characters. But what field interests you the most?
I have never thought about that. But actually it does not matter for me. I like doing both. When you are working on a character, you focus more on anatomical aspect and expression, while setting an environment requires to pay more attention to the appropriate atmosphere and particular lighting.
Look through your artwork. Which piece of it you would call as your personal achievement?
I feel motivated when I see my name and my works among other names, which have a great sound in 3D design industry. It is a respectable appreciation. I really cannot open my portfolio and choose one picture saying "this is the one". But there was a moment in my professional life when I had to create a prehistoric mammal sloth - so I simply started working with a pen and paper and ended up with computer graphics' modeled and detailed hairy creature. I still love it.
Who are the most inspiring figures among 3D artists for you?
There are hundreds of them. Really. It could be anyone, who has the will to work hard. I admire lots of people, who work here, in Czech Republic, I see how they are trying to work on their skills. Talking about world-known visual artists, I would mention Loic Zimmermann, Pascal Blanche - both of them have a great style. Rafael Grassety has amazing modeling skills, while Marek Denko creates astonishing renderings.
A portrait of Marv from Sin City series
Several times you mentioned that in the majority of cases your artwork is an expression of some sort of your mood. Would you name your artwork as autobiographical?
Yes. Actually some of my friends often make fun of me that I even do not need to sign my artwork. According to them, it is obvious that it is my creation. I strongly believe that every piece of art is autobiographical, because it was made by a human. A human can offer only himself, his point of view, his opinion. Some artists may have stronger style or be more noticeable, but every piece of art is extremely personal.
Which part of your working process attracts you the most?
Definitely, the beginning. It is like a fight between the author and the project. If you have some sort of idea at first, you can faster realise whether it is following the right direction. But if there is no idea, you have to invest 70 percent of your potential into it and then finish the 30 remaining percent.
How do you find ideas for your future projects? What is your inspiration?
Daily life. Books. Movies. Games. It sounds like a cliche, but inspiration is everywhere. You must be able to see it. The main source for my inspiration is internet. I have hundreds of bookmarks on various websites, blogs, portfolios and forums. It provides an incredible amount of new great artwork everyday.
Some of your works are extremely photorealistic. Could you briefly describe what is the most important, while creating a photorealistic design?
It is essential to mention that every aspect of your work is important. It is a structure. If a model is bad, you cannot help it with better lighting or other tools. If I had to pick one stage of the whole process and tell that "this is extremely important", I would take textures. For example, I have seen lots of great architectural visualizations, which keep the complexity of a model at a really low level, but at the same time they are incredibly realistic. I believe it can be achieved through good textures and proper shading.
Let's talk abot your artwork a little bit...
A bust of Winston Churchill
Tell us what is a story behind this artwork? Why does this caricature depict exactly Winston Churchill?
This project started all of a sudden. There was a modeling competition on some website and lots of talented artists took a part in it. Me and my colleague Jan Jinda joined them in order to practice our modeling skills. Sir Churchill is a great historical character with extremely strong expression and admirable personality for me. So this project took the second prize in the competition, but more important is that I had this great asset to work on.
What are the main tools to bring realism to this image?
There are no miracles. Just the usual tools which I prefer to use. Zbrush for the modeling, 3D coat for the retopology and Uvs. Photoshop for textures and I think 3Dsmax was used for the rest of the work.
One Small Step in memory of Neil Armstrong
This work astonished even the most professional artists in the CG community. Why did you create a rendering of a man on the Moon?
In the spring of 2012 I was asked by Marek Denko to help him on a new project. He wanted me to create a modern astronaut suit with high level details and real textures. I finished it and for a long time this asset just lied down in my hard disk without any use. It seemed such a loss, so I decided to play a little bit. You can see what happened out of this game.
The first version of this model was Space Waltz: an astronaut being eaten by jelly octopus. What brought you to the idea to remodel it from top to bottom?
To tell you the truth, I was just recycling. If you look carefully you can see that the astronaut is in the same position in both pictures. It is the same asset. The only difference is the light setup.
What were the most challenging points while working on this image?
I was trying my best, while putting as many realistic details as possible. So, indeed, modeling was the most challenging part of it.
So, why is it a model of Frankenstein? There are lots of other monsters and mysterious creatures on the Earth and out of here...
They better hide before I get them! The truth is that I am somehow attracted to this kind of characters. I love all the old horror creatures which are not scary at all nowadays. I think that today even a child would laugh at Boris Karloff costume, when he was dressed like a mummy.
How did you manage to create such a particular atmosphere of this image?
Actually, majority of the work is simply done by using light coming from below. Lots of references link to the old movie posters. The lighting, composition and the whole view is inspired by the posters, representing Boris Karloff or other old but good actors.
It Likes Candy
This rendering is a part of a project About toys. Instead of a sweet interpretation you chose to realise it in different way. Why so?
The original idea was to create at least three images. I wanted to look at the beautiful and sweet childhood from several perspectives. I think that children can be very brutal and selfish and it is up to their parents to limit them or not. If there are no parents, you meet an army of evil little creatures. I guess, the second picture in this series would be a violated doll or something like that. Please do not get me wrong - I truly love children!
You mentioned that this work is the most valuable for you. What makes it such?
At some point it was. But I am not sure if it is still.
Tell us more about the process of implementation.
Well, before starting this one, I decided to do it following the so-called "right way". Insted of taking the leap and fighting with the shapes and geometry as I often do, I took my time drawing concepts on a paper. After I found a shape of a little ugly creature, I began thinking about the environment to put it into. Since then I follow the same rules, I choose a modeling tool, do some sculpting, then texturize it and set the lighting and bring a new idea to life.
What was the most significant comment you have ever heard about your 3D artwork?
I am glad that this exact question is the last one. I have a story for it. Some years ago I was buying hiking stuff at some small Czech eshop. After a few emails the seller sent a letter asking humbly if I am Tomas Kral, a guy who works with pictures he saw on the internet. I got confused, but I responded that he was right. Then he told me that he has a tattoo on his arm, based on my rendering "Marv". Can you imagine, how cool is that?
Thanks for the inspiration!
February 18th, 2013
It is the second floor of a building in the industrial part of Vilnius in Lithuania. There is a bunch of people staring at the computers all day long. In the conference room a dozen of 3D glasses lays on a table. This huge office is the home for a Lithuanian design studio OKTA which was responsible for the special effects of commended Lithuanian movie Vanishing Waves. Its leader Vitalijus Zukas reveals their everyday cares and a life in between 2D and 3D worlds.
Vitalijus Zukas a leader of OKTA-studio
November 29th, 2012
There it goes. The unique and promised interview with the winner codethislab of our Halloween Challenge.
Thanks for finding space in your schedule to let us know what you are up to. When doing some research I found a list of fantastic titles that you have worked on, but I couldn't find out much about you. Tell us about yourself and why you chose to be a 3D artist? Tell us about yourself and why you chose to be a 3D artist?
I started painting on canvas, papers, walls, shirts, everywhere... my life changed in 2008 when I met Code This Lab guys that was searching for a vectorial artist. Despite my lack of experience in digital art, I had a chance, thanks to a Superman painting that they liked very much. After some months I had my first approach with 3d Modeling and it was love at first sight!
What do you love most about your job? What motivates and inspire you to move forward?
In the field of 3D computer graphics, the processing steps are numerous and connected to each other, so is the set of all the workflow that makes this work great. Despite some phases that can be very tedious and frustrating (the rendering phase is perhaps the more stressful), the thing I love most about my job is the finalization of the project: then you can see the real quality of your 3D model.
August 29th, 2012
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.
August 13th, 2012
Our next interview with Dan Roarty, 3D artist who had the fortune of working as Lead Character Artist for LucasArts, Midway and Radical (Activision). His personal work "The Blue Project", a 3D portrait of his wife Nicole, got a lot of attention lately. Not only it gave him a lot of credibility in the CG community, but I believe many flattering moments to Nicole as well :)