Interview: Andy Dominique Rak

Hi everyone!


This time Andy Dominque Rak (first place winner of challenge 132) from Antananrivo will answer some questions and give us a look behind the scenes of his winning entry.

Andy Dominique Rak
from Antananrivo, Madagascar


Follow him on:


Winning entry of Weekly CG Challenge 132 “Artificial Intelligence” by Andy Dominique Rak



1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you

Hey, my name is Andy, I’m a 21 y.o self-taught Motion Designer & Visual Effect Artist freelancer based in Antananrivo – Madagascar. In my free times, I’m also producing and sharing some creative assets such as 3D models packs, textures, and all other derivatives like my recent product: Cosmobox Bundle; I produce some free video tutorials about Motion Design & Visual Effects too.

2. What was your main motivation for participating in the challenge?

I started participating from the topic N°112: Portal just for fun. But as the topics go, I saw the huge amount of high level entries. So I decided to add more work into my entries. I used to do some Daily Render stuffs before, for keeping my skills fresh, but I stopped because it became more and more boring and repetitive. And what’s cool with this kind of contest is that it gives the same result in term of skills, but it is more exciting and “spicy” thanks to the competitive side, which gives motivation through an objective to reach.

3. Where did you find the inspiration for your latest entry, or in general?

My visual registry is generally turning around Abstract, Sci-fi and Neo-Retro Futurism. So it was not that hard to get inspired for this Artificial Intelligence topic because I was in my element, if I might say. But in general, some random ideas are hitting my mind, and I note them immediately on paper. Sometimes, I’m getting inspirations by visiting some “visual candies” Facebook pages, Pinterest, Behance, or by watching movies/TV shows.


4. Are there any particular techniques that you use often?

There is this technic called: Mind Mapping. It helps a lot during the whole creation process. Basically, it’s the fact of organizing and selecting all your references: ideas / videos / images, for avoiding to get off track.

For that, I use a free program called: PureRef, in which you can display on an infinite canvas, all your references. It is really comfortable to work with, especially if you have 2 monitors or more. It is really easy to use too. You just look for your reference image on Google or other websites, you copy them, and paste them in PureRef. You can freely pan on the canvas, double click on a specific image to focus on it, etc… For me, it’s a must have program for artist who are working with references.

Besides that, I also like using multipass rendering technic. I think there is no need to explain this one. Must of CGI artists know what it is already. But in element 3D especially, I can tell that it reduces efficiently the render time.

fig. 0 Mind mapping illustration

5. Can you give us a short breakdown of your entry?


Step 01: For the fingerprint electron sequence, I started by designing all the 2D HUD stuffs, by sketching roughly some ideas, and then recreating them in Adobe Illustrator. What’s cool with using Illustrator is that you can work closely with Adobe After Effects by importing the vectors you created, for animating. I learned that technique thanks to the incredible Ash Thorp course: UI and Data Design for Film.

Once done, I displayed everything inside of AE in the 3D space, without thinking about animation. But once satisfied with the general display, I started to animate everything with the traditional keyframing methods. (I did all the Motion Graphics
animations and 3D camera animations by myself)

fig. 2 Display and animation in After Effects

fig. 1 2D HUD design in Illustrator

Step 02: For the 2 hangar-like scenes with the huge red and white billboards, I simply used primitive boxes inside of E3D, scaled them out, and combined them for building a part of a hangar.
Everything has been made credible at the end, thanks to lighting and texturing, that I’ve done directly in Ae (with E3D).
Just one cool tip in E3D V2 and above: Always enable the Reflect Mode and choose your desired reflecting option:

  • Based on HDRI Environment only
  • Catching reflections from the scene in spherical way
  • Mirror surfacing way

To give the reflections some surface imperfections and dirty look, just add a grunge B&W texture image on the Glossiness Slot, and play with the Levels option until you have your desired effect.

fig. 3 Scene display in E3D

fig. 5 Fingerprint scan 02

fig. 4 Fingerprint scan 01

For the Fingerprint scan sequence, I modeled an irregular box in 3d’s Max that I imported into E3D. Then, I displayed and texturized it in the Scene Setup, by setting up a really simple black glossy texture with the E3D Physical Based shading method:
Choosing a black diffuse color, adding a value in reflection, and reducing slightly the glossiness amount. After hitting ok, I used Replicator option to duplicate them in planar mode. Next, I created a 3d camera, looked for a great shot angle, and animated the camera. Finally, I composed the fingerprints directly over the E3D layer, as a 2D-to-3D flat layer, and added/animated some HUD again.

Step 03: In the middle of the video, there is a female cyborg showing up. I created it in Zbrush and imported it into E3D for the render, then applied the same workflow as mentioned above.

fig. 6 Cyborg creation

I also had a really great render of that cyborg that I wanted to put in the video but render time has been so long so I decided not to use it.

fig. 7 Unused cyborg render

fig. 8 Fake computer interface

Step 04: Unbelievably, I created the old/futuristic computer stuff interface at the end of the end. Nothing complicated. Just wrote some texts randomly split and positioned to give the moving pixel block animation. Same thing for all the little loading illuminated squares.

6. What was the hardest part?

It was obviously to finish and manage all of those steps in two weeks with my low performance machine (haha).
I had to fake many effects, simplify as much as I could my scenes for reducing render times, and compensated the gaps in post-production. Somewhere in the middle of the week 2, I completely lost inspiration because of all the small
technical issues that I had to fix. The video was done on the edge of the deadline, and the editing + sound design didn’t
satisfy me. I’ll work back on the sequence one day, making it richer visually too.

7. Any advice for people who want to learn 2d or 3d art?

Of course.
What I’ve learned ‘till here, as a self-taught guy, is:
You just have the love what you do. Because it’s not only about tools and softwares. It’s about how passionate and motivated you are to create and to learn new stuffs. Those points are strongly noticeable through your artworks. Also, train yourself to think outside the box. It helps a lot for progressing and leveling up. And don’t be shy to ask for advice and feedback from professionals.
Concerning the learning side, I’ll quote Andrew Kramer: “It’s one thing to watch a 30 minutes tutorial. But it’s the next 10 hours you spend playing around with the idea. And so, anybody who is that dedicated and willing to take the information, and put it into action, that’s the greatest feeling because that person has taken that information and done the best
possible thing with it.”

8. Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

  • Ash Thorp
  • David Arriew
  • Somei Sun
  • Zaoeyo
  • Rimble Lin
  • Taehoon Park
  • Mehdi Hadi
  • Andrew Kramer
  • And recently Mattew Encina.

There are more but what they are doing is just mind-blowing, aspiring, and visually impressive.


Thanks for the interview Andy!