Interview: Wilalbert Gómez Enríquez
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where
are you located?
I’m Wilalbert Gómez alias “Wil”, all the people that I know call me like that. I’m a Venezuelan-Spanish architect with a strong passion for the CG world in general. Right now I work as Creative and Animation Director in the architectural visualization firm ArX Solutions – Madrid.
2. What was your main motivation for participating in the challenge?
I’ve discovered this contest a little while ago because some friends of mine have been participating in one of the challenges, and facebook just informed me (hehe). I loved the pulse and the changing spirit of it.
So from that time it spun around my head until I had a full weekend to participate on it, the first trial was with the #107 challenge in which my entry ended up as honorable mention. I’ve wanted to win the contest at all cost but that time I didn’t have enough time to develop something that could completely satisfy the jury.
Later on this theme appeared just around halloween. I always wanted to do something cartoony and with an obscure and mysterious feel, so the theme matched perfect despite the fact that I had a tight agenda at work with one full animation to be completed almost at the same time as the contest deadline. So I had to create a plan to be able to participate and complete the challenge without dying in the trial, hehe.
But my main motivation was to demonstrate that I could achieve something really nice from scratch far from my (archViz) comfort zone.
3. Where did you find the inspiration for your latest entry, or in general?
At the beginning I was a bit confused, I had a lot of ideas and paths to follow but I knew by first hand that the one rule was to “stick to the theme”, so I started to do a small brainstorming using the “pureref” software to collect and classify a bunch of
images that guided me to “something”.
Then when I had collected (mainly from Google search): Architecture, forms, lighting conditions, terrain conditions, color schemes, and some other elements that give a global view of the theme, I started to think on artist and media inspirations.
The main media inspiration, I think, that gave me the clearest path was the videogame The Day of the Tentacle and maybe Monkey Island. Both of them had a strong exaggerated art line/perspective created by the artist Peter Chang. I know that
even for a 3D entry, I wanted the image to have a little bit of that spice. It also gave me the idea for the color palette and camera angles, location or conditions.
I don’t have any particular source of inspiration, I try to extract the scent from every source that I found.
4. What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image?
I’ve used 3ds max and V-ray as the core production softwares.
I know that one of the most valuable resources for me to develop this was the “time” and the scarcity of it. So I’ve decided to use a parametric tools like the railClone and Forest Pack plugins which helped me to develop some of the scene assets quickly and in a non destructive / easy to modify way.
Photoshop was the postproduction weapon of choice.
5. Are there any particular techniques that you use often?
Maybe not techniques. I love to use parametric tools that help me to quickly change the properties of the elements on my scenes, I’ve used a lot transforms randomization tools for position, rotation and scale of individual/instances/group/crowd
More than a technique I believe that to know how to make my own scripts has become a priority when it has to be for production, because all the process sometimes consists of the repetition and the need for automation.
6. Can you give us a short breakdown of your entry?
Never before was I asked for a breakdown of my work, so I hope this makes sense:
The first thing that I regularly do is to gather references and create a simple plan about how the image will, at least from a starting point of view, should end up looking. So I quickly started to gather a lot of images that make sense and help me to think about the “whole”. Also there is a couple of video games that inspired me a lot: Monkey Island
and The Day of the Tentacle.
fig 1. – Reference images
Then, when I had gathered the references and done some sketchy lines on paper, I had a more or less clear idea. I started with box modeling to give myself a proper sense of the framing and composition using just the major shapes to evaluate the importance of the elements and their relationship. I started to think from the beginning over the near, middle to the far planes of my image and how they will interact with each other. Also selecting the shapes and assets and grouping/locating them in a proper way.
fig 3. – Blockout
With all the major forms of the elements on the set, it was the time to produce the “final” assets. In order of priority: the house and its immediate surroundings was created, then the garden, stairs, front fence/walls, street elements, foreground frame elements, and the sky which was the last thing to produce, and op’s the scary owl…
fig 5. – Asset Modeling
The last step was to prepare all the render elements to facilitate the postproduction process, so I rendered a lot of channels to help me up like: Ambient occlusion, Reflection, Refraction, Self Illumination, Wireframe, RGB masks (a lot of them!), Normal, Bump, Alpha, RGB, Lighting, GI, Shadows and Z-depth.
fig 8. – Render passes
I also like to think a lot about the details and take pictures of the topics that I think are the most relevant for the image. Sometimes the best moment is when I take a walk with my dog.
fig 2. – Reference photographs
Then was the time to think about the color palette and the light affection/conditions, for the piece, I knew that it had to be a backlighting to give a mysterious shade, the strong nautical blue of a cold night, the warm orange in contrast and some green goo and purple had to tint the scene, which I prefered to be set at night time. Also I had some issues because of the absence of light in the whole image, so some of the elements needed special treatment to regain volume and to get them lighted in a proper way.
fig 4. – Lighting
I tried to do a lot of automation and parametric modeling on this project because of the lack of time, so I used two plugins (Forest Pack and RailClone) that gave me the flexibility to achieve more in less time. For example the roof, the fence, the grass field and even the street were modeled or populated using theses plugins.
fig 6. – Procedural Modeling (bricks)
fig 7. – Procedural Modeling (roof)
Then in the final step I just go to Photoshop and do the post production. Because I have tweaked the raw render a lot in production, I haven’t had the need of making an exhausting post. Some 2d overpainted elements, environment fog, color correction and glows were the main post things that I’ve done for this.
fig 9. – Final image
7. What was the hardest part?
Maybe the style combination, trying to match some realistic and naive cartoony elements in the same artboard was a difficult task. Also it was hard to stick to cartoony references, I had to do a lot of cheating on the model to give it the look that I wanted…
8. Have you learned something new from participating in this challenge and if yes,
To be really focused, one of my best friends for this challenge was the checklist which I use a lot at work, but for this it was almost primal. I learned some new tricks implementing parametric tools for tasks that maybe with a lot more time I could probably have modeled in a more traditional way.
9. Any advice for people who want to learn 3d art?
To keep things simple, some of the most beautiful pieces are also the simplest ones, try to analyze and understand what makes a simple piece that beautiful and you will learn a lot. Knowledge only comes with time and complexity will follow. Also it’s the same as learning the fundamentals like applied perspective for example; there are a lot of people who believe that they are a waste of time, or they won’t know the importance of them. All the good artists had acquired them and use them in their work day after day!. I encourage you to learn from the beginning and do your homework! You won’t regret it!
Maybe a third advice is to learn a programming language like c++ or python, it will open a new world of possibilities for you.
10. Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
OK this is something tricky for me, I have a lot of favorite artist as I love “almost” every kind of music genre, I think that knowledge, especially in art is summative and complementary.
Some of the digital artists that I like most:
Marek Denko, Vitaly Bulgarov, Maciej Kuciara, Nicolas Bouvier “sparth”, Ash Thorp, Nacho Yague, Jama Jurabaev, Mike Winkelmann “beeple”, Peter Chang, John Kricfalusi, Genndy Tartakovsky, Feng Zhu, Scott Robertson, Syd Mead, Craig Mullins.
These are just some of the artists that I follow on the net, all of them have something special that I love, like Vitaly’s robots and modeling mastery, Denko’s insane amount of modeling details, Kuciara’s matte expertise (love the babes that he makes from body parts, hehe), Sparth is like a god with Photoshop, two strokes and there is a mind blowing art! From all of them I believe I’ve learned something, at least a small tip or trick! They are my north!
Some of the traditional ones:
Domenikos “El Greco”, Gustav Klimt, John Singer Sargent, Fernando Botero, just to name a few.
All of them have a strong and complex artistic hand. Love the absence of color and the almost depriment art from “El Greco”, Klimt’s colors and impossible body shapes, the mastery of Sargent’s human figures and use of color leave me breathless, Botero and the funny fatty people remind me that art is all about thinking out of the box.
Thanks for the interview Wilalbert!