Zeth's WIP stuff

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polycounter lvl 4
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zetheros polycounter lvl 4
Something I'm working on to improve my character art... I think I should start over though. I stumbled across this website and am inspired...

https://grassetti.wordpress.com/

Anyone else know of portfolios that could look at for inspiration? It really helps to see a master's work.

Capture59jpg

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  • folex77
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Just what I was looking for! Thanks folex :D

    Ever get that feeling where you thought you were pretty good at what you do, and then instantly feel obsolete? Yeah, it's good...
  • Earthyn
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    Earthyn polycounter lvl 2
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    After looking at other people's portfolios, this is what I came up with.

    I think I'll start over though with a different concept though... I feel this one kind of got out of hand. :\

    Capture64.jpg
    Capture65.jpg
  • Syrtax
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    Syrtax vertex
    Woah, the helmet looks amazing, and everytime I look at it again there is new stuff to discover
    feels not that demonic though, but maybe thats just me
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4




    Thanks Syrtax!
    I changed the thread name from "demon concept" to "progression to AAA". Here's a medieval jetpack man. Trying to make my 3d modeling more clean and efficient :)
  • Boozebeard
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    Boozebeard polycounter lvl 4
    Hey man, first of all this stuff looks incredible, really clean, great details and design. However, if getting better in a professional sense is your goal then may I suggest trying some stuff outside of your comfort zone? Everything on your website is a character covered in ornate armour. Don't get to see much in the way of organic anatomy or any faces at all.

    I'd love to know your workflow for doing this kind of armour though. Do you start by making base meshes in traditional 3d modelling programs and then sculpting on it or is it all ZBrush? 
  • RobeOmega
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    RobeOmega polycounter lvl 5
    Some really amazing stuff here!

    One comment however is that you should be wary of putting details so small that the normal map will not pick it up.
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Yes! Definitely :D
    I'm planning on doing organic stuff really soon; actually probably right after this project, and have a lot of great ideas. I was getting into some organic stuff awhile ago, but I agree, it's not enough. My workflow for making armour is to first get inspiration; I take a lot from Filippo Negroli, and video games I've played. For instance, this jetpack guy is the product of listening to the Fallout: New Vegas soundtrack a few times on loop.

    I make the basic silhouette and form in zbrush, and then for intricate pieces or IMM I use modo. However, the acanthus leaf IM was done in zbrush. There are a lot of great hardsurface tuts out there; you can get a lot done with extractions, edge loops, slice/clip/trim curves, smoothing, and subdivision.  I don't really use the dynamic/adaptive/hPolish trim brushes much though, except for initial sculpting; I feel that it doesn't give a smooth enough result; I do the 'mask by feature', grow mask, and default smooth brush.

    To align the roped edges along the edges of the helmet, I used the 'frame mesh' function, with a roped edge IMM I made in modo.
    The repousse are alphas; photos altered in photoshop, taken from contemporary medieval illustrations online.
    The armour I make is fairly intricate, and it would take longer to make a base mesh in another program, such as modo or maya, I think.
    Edit: Actually, now that I think about it, there's no harm in making an organic character as I'm making this character. I think I'll go work on one now! haha
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    @Robeomega aye, I'm a little worried about that too. I'm planning on having this character be 40-50k tris, made of multiple 2k/4k texture maps in UE4 though, so hopefully it works out...  ¯ _(ツ)_/¯


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    "A dragon! I saw a dragon! It was big as the mountain, and black as night. It flew right over the barrow!"
    super rough blockout... mostly focusing on major muscle groups at the moment.





  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I think I'll make a brush for webbed spines... this is becoming a pretty fun project!

  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Wing dimensions...

  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Adding a lot of subtools and just trying to get the silhouette of the head just right...



  • Kid.in.the.Dark
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    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 3
    I really have to say... your eye for detail and the way you place your meshes together really shows the confidence behind your designs... I agree Boozebeard about stepping out of your comfort zone... but having that eye for detail you've already trained up I'm sure you'll breeze through the process... keep up the good work!

    Also in regards to your demonic helmet guy... It's not coming off demonic because the shapes you're using are looking more fish like than demonic.
    Also the amount of horns and extruding pieces off your models seem like quite the task when you get to the point of low poly baking.

    Any chance of sharing your pipeline to putting these details together? like the setups for alphas/brushes you used for the details etc

    other than that nice work (Y)
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Yeah, I have a lot to learn. The response and feedback I've been getting is amazing!

    I'm still learning, so I don't have a definitive pipeline; but this is what I usually do:

    1. Take time to decide on a topic; this is pretty important; oftentimes grandiose things like elaborate suits of armour, or dragons, are more flashy and look cool, simply because the subject itself is flashy and cool. However, this doesn't mean you can't make something not as grandiose look amazing, either; it's just easier to do so, imo.

    2. Look at references. For armour, I spent 5 years researching and building plate armour IRL, so that's why there's so much 3d armour ( and some real armour) on my website; I work to my strengths. For the dragon, I just went on google and looked at anatomy photos of birds, bats, pterodactyls, dogs, horses, dinosaurs, other artist's dragon anatomy, and combined that with my knowledge of skeletal and muscular human anatomy.

    3. Learn from the masters of your field. This is soooo important. Seeing the current limits of what the best and brightest can do, and learning how to break artwork down to it's base constituents to recreate it, is a key to success that anyone can do with practice to become a master in their own right, and this is as simple as a few google searches. Don't start from scratch. Learn from others! I stumbled across this website while searching "zbrush dragons". The artwork there (particularly the centaur) sets a milestone of how much I need to improve.

    4. Work on the silhouette as much as possible; this applies to everything in art; it's why thumbnails are made in concept art, why level designers 'block out' a level using primitives, and why I spent a lot of time doing my best to make the character's silhouette look interesting, and also appear functional before going into detail.

    5. Imagine what the life of the character is like. For this dragon, this included questions like, "what does it eat?" "how does it fly?" "how does it run?" "does this body shape make sense?" "what are those chin tentacles for?" "Is it fast and agile, or strong and bulky?" "Where does it live?"

    6. Think modular, and watch tutorials. One of the first things I did when I decided to truly dedicate my time to improving my 3d art was to look for free IMM brushes, alphas, and tutorials online, and made some of my own when the situation required it. Learning more about the software you use, and learning to know how (and when) to use modular assets are two of the greatest time savers I've come across.
    Some resources are here:
    http://www.badking.com.au/
    http://pixologic.com/zbrush/downloadcenter/library/
    http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?170167-Insert-Multi-Mesh-Repository

    7. Explore Zbrush features, learn how to make brushes, and customize your UI. You can make incredible things with just the default zbrush brushes. It comes preloaded with a ton of goodies already; the trick is just being creative and knowing how to use them. Do you know what every single brush does? I didn't, until I drew up a basic sphere and spent an hour or two just sampling the brushes (including the ones in the lightbox folders).

    As for customizing your UI, it's another good time saver. This is my setup, but it's good to use zbrush until you figure out what buttons and features you use most, and then customize your UI then. I think there are also "UI showcases" around on the zbrush forums somewhere.

    Making brushes? It's super easy, and is really helpful in developing your own 'style'. There are dozens of tuts out on youtube.


    8. Learn how to present your work, and market yourself. An artist spends so much time on art, but the presentation is what makes your work stand out from the rest. Millions of people can make a cool dragon. My 12 year old self drew cool dragons. Not everyone knows how to add polish. I'm still learning how to do this; it's what graduates you from your highschool self that drew in class all the time; not paying the least attention to schoolwork, to a professional artist. For zbrush, this especially includes knowing how to BPR render. Here's a quick tutorial that I used:

    9. Learn how to use another 3d application. Zbrush, as amazing as it is, can't do everything. It's inaccurate, and can't make mathematically perfect models, to-scale using concrete measuring systems (at least, I don't know how to). This is often essential for certain IMM brushes, such as curve brushes with vertex welding. I use modo for that. Also, the retopology tools in modo are beastly.

    I think that's pretty much all I do in my current pipeline... What really helps (in my case) is just taking the time to do good work, and not being lazy, hahaha. That's what I learned from looking at the portfolios of the people who make characters for feature films, and AAA games.

    Anyway, hope that helps!





  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I came across something frustrating today, but I solved it, and it might help others, so here it is!

    I've been working on scale and webbed spines IMM. Somehow, the points weren't welding, even though 'weld curve points' was toggled. Apparently, this was because my scales were 1-faced. I try to keep my IMM as lightweight as possible to keep the polycount down. Zbrush didn't like it, so I tested it by making simpler IMMs, and discovered that you needed meshes with front, back, and sides for the 'weld curve points' feature to work. If you only have a plane, it's not going to work. You'll need a mesh that's similar to a cylinder, or box with two open ends.

    Below: My old scales mesh. They were 1-sided (because I'm a cheap bastard when it comes to spending polygons). The left side is what it's supposed to look like, the right side has holes after smoothing, due to unwelded vertices.


    Below: Testing with simply 3 square polygons. These verts didn't weld either; I used the move tool with topological enabled, and they separated easily.

    Below: The final scales; they have the front, back, and sides. No more holes after smoothing!

    Hope this helps anyone who's making IMMs, or were stuck on this part before.
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,
    Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!
    Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan,
    Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!



  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Time to work on the female face. Yes, that thing again. Something I desperately need to practice. Amazing armour? Cake. Dragon? Cake. Cake? Yes please. Girl? Smouldering heap of ash.

    Working on the female form is like posting cat pics for 3d modelers; they're everywhere, plentiful in abundance, however I as a 3d modeler have no cats.

    ...Oh wait - yes, I do. Damn.



    Regardless, You guys ready for a cringe-fest as Itrytomakesomethinglookexceedinglybeautifulbutfailmiserably?? :#

    Lets do this!
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Here's a WIP shot of Haydée Tebelin from "Gankutsuou", the anime adaption of "The Count of Monte Cristo".


    I tried my best, but if anyone notices anything off, do let me know! It'll be really helpful. Sometimes when you work on a face for awhile, you just don't notice things (especially proportions), no matter how obvious they might be.




  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Man, there's just so much to do. I have a fairly good understanding of how to do pretty much everything, but the problem is getting stuff done, to prove that I can do these things. It just takes so much time to build up a good portfolio...

    Some things I've seen here, and on other CGI forums that I want to do;
    -make a hardsurface gun!
    -make a environment, and render it in UE4!
    -sculpt some badass rocks!
    -sculpt an old guy!
    -sculpt a monster!
    -sculpt an undead creature!
    -make a robot!
    -make small, nifty doodads!

    Then again, I feel like it'd be more prudent to specialize. Jack-of-all-trades is a pretty difficult status to achieve...

    And Fallout 4 is already out?? I need to start making some mods for that...










  • jovcem
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    jovcem polycounter lvl 4
    ZETHEROS also don't forget to make a barrel :)
    btw amazing work you have here

  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks @jovcem ;! Actually, that does sound like a fun, fast side project. Characters are a lot of work, and one can become burnt out by working on one thing for so long.

    Starting to play around with detail and colors. I'm going for somewhat of a more realistic feel; While the color scheme of Haydee works in the anime, I am uncertain that they would look very good realistically.







  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I've been learning more zbrush techniques; mainly nanomesh and Pablander's amazing skin tutorial! I'm not done with the tut yet, but after I am, and after a few youtube tuts on painting human skin, I think I'll be ready to continue the Haydee sculpt.

    Head sculpt/tutorial by Pablander:



    Nanomesh experimentation:



  • slosh
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    slosh polycounter
    I would say you should practice your anatomy first and foremost.  Nailing human anatomy for both male and female characters is essential.  Judging from your human characters, you need a lot of work in this area.  I would focus on that first before anything else.
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Hi @slosh ! Thanks a lot for the feedback. Could you point out areas that I need to work on? A lot of my stuff is WIP, granted...

    Here's my mental to-do list for the Haydee character:

    -nose is a little too strong.
    -adjust clavicle / sternocleidomastoid muscles / neck area.
    -detail ears.
    -make toes smaller and longer.
    -man hands.
  • Tectonic
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    Tectonic polycounter lvl 5
    I actually think her hands are fine at the moment :)
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    @Tectonic ehh, still could use some work but good to know I'm headed in the right direction, haha xD

    So I know this is 2d... but since I rarely do 2d, I hope it's okay if I just post this one image here, instead of creating an entirely new thread in the 2d crits forum.

    I'm practice human anatomy some more, so I figured 2d is a good place to refine my 3d skills.

    This is a self portrait, and also a D&D avatar, of Lord "Arctian Grey" the noble and slightly arrogant party wizard. AKA "Mr. Moneybags" by our Russian Svirfneblin rogue

    It's 2k x 2k, so if you want to see the details, I recommend just going here: http://zetheros.com/wp-content/uploads/Capture103.jpg or RMB 'view image'.



    It's still a WIP, but I'd like to keep working on this until it looks at least somewhat as good as a Steven Lawler masterpiece.


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I've gone back to my very first post, and separated the demon into multiple parts, since it's so detailed. Once I'm done, I'll stitch together the pieces, and do what's necessary to make it a playable character in UE4, complete with spells and attack animations.

    Tried to finish the head of the demon today, but had allergies =/







  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I DEMAND MORE DETAIL, PUNY MORTAL! BAHAHAHAHAHA



  • Tectonic
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    Tectonic polycounter lvl 5
    your demons actually make me think of the traditional descriptions of angels; having multiple faces of different animals/monsters, multiple eyes "like flaming fires", and a voice like the roar of a crowd, etc. just generally pretty terrifying.
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    @Tectonic Hey thanks dude :)

    Not enough detail, foolish human! I demand MORE or it's your head I have NEXT! BWaAAAahahahaha!


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Hey folks, thought my custom brass material looked pretty interesting on this sculpt. Also I'm moving onto polypaint and final details for the helmet! (Hands, horns, neck, feathered collar, succubus, mouth, etc).




    Yeah, the anatomy still needs a lot of work.
    The goal is to have the tail and wings physically interact with objects, characters, and the environment in UE4 through animation and UE4 inverse kinetics. Tail-swiping trash mobs will be a thing, and of course raining death from above. Xathanoc will be a fast, terrifying, and an utterly powerful playable God character, that I'll eventually upload as a mini game / character demo in UE4.
    The current plan is, after polypaint, I think I'll just go ahead and retopo the helmet, bake maps, and just get it into UE4. Then I'll work on the anatomy, and the rest of the armour.

  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Starting to see imaginary cockroaches skitter on the edges of my laptop. Time to sleep I think. That, or eat the cockroaches. Hahahahahaha /kneeslap






  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    All polypaint on a basic white material. About 85% done!


  • Mr Flopsie
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    Mr Flopsie polycounter lvl 4
    Amazing work on the demon mask man!
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks @Mr Flopsie !

    More polypaint progress, still have the neck area to do, and some minor adjustments. I think the highlights might be too strong, but I can adjust that in photoshop later. It does give an interesting stylized look, though.






  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Done with the hi-poly sculpt of Xathanoc’s head! Might adjust a few things, but most, if not all of the remaining polishing will be done to the texture map in photoshop. Time to move onto the low-poly!






  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Retopo!


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Done! I'm going to use more automated retopo in the future though. This is going to be a 150k-200k poly character model, so pushing ~45k verts by hand over two 21 hour days was not fun. By the time I was halfway through, I thought I might as well finish it by hand.
    The sketchfab embedder doesn't seem to be working for me. Here's the direct link: https://skfb.ly/JqtB
    While this was a good refresher on retopology, I think I might just scrap this version, and do a better retopo; this IS "progression to AAA" after all. However, I'm going to see what the normal map bake looks like first.


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Did a high-poly sculpt of Xathanoc’s feathers, and baked some maps for the low poly.


  • Scoot_da_Poot
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    Scoot_da_Poot polycounter lvl 7
    Hey Zeth, this stuff looks fantastic. I defiantly see a big improvement on your 3d since this time last year (chiv helmet). You work your ass off man. Keep it up!
  • dzibarik
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    dzibarik polycounter lvl 4
    Zetheros, I remember your sculpts from Chivalry contest, they immediately stood out for me. And this demon looks very, very good. I like where your imagination goes, can't wait to see more. 
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Hi again you two, and thanks! It means a lot to me to hear that I've made progress. Since last post, I was experimenting with a combination of automatic retopo and hand-retopo using dynamesh, decimation master, modo retopo tools, and came up with this low-poly. Still needs a bit of work, but I'll do a final polish phase. Currently, I've been blocking out the torso; researching Asian (Himalayan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc) traditional death rites for inspiration. I think it'll kinda look like an undead Ragnaros / Diablo in the end.



  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Happy Holidays, polycounters!



  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Just working my way down, adding detail.


  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    I was recommended this video, which I think is just incredible. It's basically a goldmine for aspiring character artists.

  • Boozebeard
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    Boozebeard polycounter lvl 4
    Damn, that helmet looks so good, especially painted. Your designs are really amazing (I suck at design). Also I really appreciate the time you've taken in writing up some of the processes you have discovered. Something that really helped me with facial anatomy was trying to do an accurate likeness, studying a specific face so thoroughly really taught me a lot about the smaller nuances of the anatomy. I also watched Frank Tzeng's likeness sculpting video (though be warned it is the entire 16h process. I watched a lot of it at 1.5 speed.)
  • zetheros
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    zetheros polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks @Boozebeard! Yeah, I know what it's like to search for answers when I was just starting out, so I just describe processes when I post WIP, just so more free info is out there.
    Don't say you suck at design, it's pretty easy to improve! All it is is a cocktail of observation + ambition + discipline. Just stalk a lot of really good artists on artstation, and frankenstein their creations together until you get something that looks interesting. Like, find one really amazing artist, and then see who they're following. Oftentimes it's a collection of uber god-tier artists that the average layperson knows nothing about. It does take some practice though.
    Frank Tzeng is a huge inspiration to me :)
    I watched an interview where he described how he basically sacrificed everything for two years, and just focused on getting better. That's pretty much what I'm trying to do. I also heard that there aren't very many junior positions out there for 3d artists... so instead of adding my portfolio to the hundreds that get submitted to studios around the world, I'm just making my own (unpaid) junior position, lol.
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