Senior 3d Character Artist of Russian
1st Main Event 3D Champion of Dominance War IV
He likes drawing and making 3D stuff;
Photography, especially of naked women;
Riding a bike, watching movies, cooking Japanese food, going hunting and fishing;
RC helicopter and digging in forgotten underground tunnels of Moscow subway.
This tutorial is about the whole creation process of a Next-Gen Game Character, which includes drawing of concept art, modeling in Maya, Sculpting in ZBrush, and etc.
HXSD：It’s very glad that you are becoming a columnist of Mars Era video channel (video.hxsd.com). Would you please introduce yourself to us?
Vadim：Hello, my name is Vadim, I’ve been in game industry as artist for almost 10 years. Started working as 3d props artist, shortly after that moved on character concepts for console projects, then started doing low-poly characters and textures. Right now I am a senior 3d character artist of "AstrumNival", working on upcoming free-to-play MMO called "Allods Online".
HXSD：Can you briefly introduce your original ideas on your design and the character’s worldview for Dominance War IV?
Vadim：From all three introduced races: demons, norms and machines, I’ve picked up machines, since I like robotic and sci-fi theme most. First, I was about to start making warmachine – classic huge robot, something similar to Battletech mechs or Warhammer Titans. But at some point I realized that I’d better to do something more humanoid-like, like cyborg, because those kind of characters have more personality into them, makes them more interesting and appealing for people. Making a female character wasn’t my original plan, I had some doubts about that, because strong bulky characters , like ones we see in Gears of War or Unreal Tournament games usually look more impressive than their female counterparts. But I always enjoyed making female character and this time I choose to do another one, and didn’t regret it later.
HXSD：How did your inspiration come to you?
Vadim：Mostly from movies and games – I am a old dedicated gamer, and I play a lot. Amongst many of titles I’ve been playing I can mention a very few that inspired me to became a game artist. This is almost every Blizzard game, especially "Starcraft" and "World of Warcraft", "Crysis", "Metal Gear Solid", "Gears of War", "Killzone" Transformers game and movies. Well, basically every relatively new title that has an awesome visual style and functionality.
And my second biggest inspiration, I mean the force that drived me through Dominance War 4, was the spirit of rival competition. Yes, that is it, nothing inspires me more than seeing someone doing awesome work, and wish to do better than him.
In case of Dominance War 4 competition was insane. I couldn’t even imagine how many good artists will enter this year. I’ve spent a lot of time browsing rival boards and making a notes for myself like “keep an eye on this guy, he’s dangerous opponent”. If someone does damn good job, it’s the best motivation for me – to do better.
HXSD：Among those artists in the world, who has influenced your style?
Vadim：Long time ago when I was making my first steps into CG,, I got very limited access into Internet, and first CG artists, I’ve discovered were:
Craig Mullins, http://goodbrush.com/
Steven Stahlberg, http://www.androidblues.com/
Dhabih Eng. http://www.sijun.com/dhabih/portfolio/
Needless to say I was so deeply impressed by their artworks this made a deep impact on my future art preferences. I should mention a few other artists who were a huge inspiration for me:
Hyung Tae Kim,http://hyung-taekim.org/
HXSD：What’s your plan for the future?
Vadim：I want to work for Blizzard, that’s my old dream.
HXSD：Thank you so much for taking our interview. Would you please say something to Chinese CGer and fans.
Vadim：Thank you too. My words of grand respect to Chinese CG artists would be: guys, you rock. For a really few years you’ve all made a huge progress in CG art industry. Maybe this is something you’ve used to, but believe me, from our position this progress looks incredible. 10 years ago no one could even imagine that top Hollywood studios and game developing companies would start to work with Chinese outsourcing companies. I can only applause to this enthusiasm and professionalism.
HXSD：Tell us about the process of creating this character.
Vadim：Well, the hardest part definitely was draft concept stage. I simply didn’t know what to pick from my thumbnails, that was difficult decision to make. Finally after few fail drafts I’ve got something I liked – a female cyborg, with a knight silhouette, huge lance and wings.
After I’ve detailed that draft and got a final concept, I’ve made a rough basemesh representing overall proportions and shape. At this point I’ve came up with idea of interesting wing mechanic. That should be a small combat utility droid, able to attach on the back of cyborg, and serve as jetpack and deploy airbrakes when needed. In this case I’ve got a more logical and working wing design, not just some generic useless wings. To make it work as I wanted, I had to make few draft animations, you can call it “3D motion concept”, I was trying different stuff until I got working mechanic.
HXSD：Though your work we can see your spectacular CG technique and perfect design concept, what has led you to your present style?
Vadim：I was always huge fan of functional industrial and sci-fi design in games and movies. I like when things are logically designed, when they work like they should, and make you believe it’s real, not a regular fiction. Take a Metal Gear Solid series – Yoji Sinkawa designs always were outstanding examples of such approach. He often takes something that already exists in our world, and put it on new level, making a fictional sci-fi asset that looks so real that you don’t have any questions about its functionality. Many things like that inspired me for a long time and made a big impact over my stylistic preferences. James Cameron movies: Aliens, Terminator, Abyss. “Crysis” game by Crytek. Both “Heavy Gear” PC-games. “Battle Angel Alita” manga by Yukito Kishiro. All those were my biggest sources of inspiration and heavily affected my personal style.
HXSD：Would you please tell us the situation of CG industry and CG education industry in Russia?
Vadim：Right now situation is not very good. There are very few CG-specialized schools and those are really really expensive for a someone who doesn’t have a well-paid job.
After economic crisis many game developing studios collapsed, leaving lots of CGers jobless, now it’s really hard to find a good well-paid job in CG industry unless you’re really good at it. This has a positive effect though – working studios and companies less likely to recruit low-skilled people, forcing them to improve themselves.
HXSD：What’s your opinion about the future of Russian CG industry?
Vadim：It’s all depends on many factors. Most important thing right now is education. For many years best Russian CG artists made it into top by self-educating and self-promotion. This awesome, but not good for industry in general because many potentially skilled artists may not have a time and money to invest in their specialized CG-education.
In the end, I hope everything will be much better in next 3-5 years, I can see situation improves a little each year.
HXSD：How do you think about your current job?
Vadim：Right now “AstrumNival” is a flagship of Russian MMO game development studios. We got a best possible team for our countly, many talented artists and satellite studios. I’m very proud to be a part of this team, working herefor more than a 5 years. Russian MMO market has been rapidly increasing for past few years, and the fact that operators from China, Europe , even US interested in our game makes me think we going right direction.
HXSD：Please tell us something about your current project.
Vadim：Allods Online http://www.allods.ru/ Is a top Russian MMORPG in development. Our most expensive project so far, big amount of people got involved into development of this game. Visual style slightly inspired by World of Warcraft, our approach was to make a good hand-made artwork, without using next-gen shaders and effects, so game could run smoothly even on outdated PCs, and still look fantastic. I think we (art department) managed to do our job well. I really like what we got at the end, it’s a bright epic fantasy world which you can fall in love into from the first minutes of the game.