Interview with Ben De Angelis (aka Follygon)

I started working in the CG industry about 5 years ago. I started off freelancing and eventually got hired full time by one of the companies I was doing work for in Cincinnati. I was lucky enough to work with a great team on a number of amazing IP such as Hotel Translvania, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Shrek, Pokemon, Ghostbusters, and a ton more.

What led you into the CGI/3D? Tell us your story.

I didn’t really get into making art until my early twenties. So I’m not the type of kid who popped out with a paint brush in my hand. Although I wish that I was.

I didn’t really get into making art until my early twenties. So I’m not the type of kid who popped out with a paint brush in my hand. Although I wish that I was.

Before being introduced to digital sculpting, I was obsessed with digital painting. I loved watching speed paints and time lapses on YouTube. I have always admired the work of Feng Zhu, the creator of FZD School of Design. I knew nothing about painting, drawing, or really even art in general, but I was always fascinated by his ability to create something so amazing from scratch and in such a short amount of time! It was like he had some type of superpower, or that he had practiced a TON. Probably both.

I originally tried to pick up digital painting but it never really stuck. I was a giant noob who didn’t want to practice to achieve quality results and it definitely showed.

Working in 3D first peaked my interest while I was in college. I was really into animating and playing around with physics simulations. Explosions, shattering objects, and that sort of thing.

It wasn’t until my final year of school that I discovered digital sculpting. Back then, there weren’t any tutorials online or really any easily accessible guidance for learning 3D sculpting. So I had to learn the old fashion way and head down to the book store. I grabbed a couple of Scott Spencer’s books on digital sculpting, read every single page, dog-eared every other, and the rest is history. And I’ve been sculpting every day ever since.

I started working in the CG industry about 5 years ago. I started off freelancing and eventually got hired full time by one of the companies I was doing work for in Cincinnati. I was lucky enough to work with a great team on a number of amazing IP such as Hotel Translvania, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Shrek, Pokemon, Ghostbusters, and a ton more.

Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?

I like to follow a ton of different artists. Not a day goes by that I’m not on Artstation, Instagram, or Twitter finding some new amazing artist. There’s so much amazing stuff out there it’s hard not to always be inspired and have folders saved on your computer stuffed with amazing artwork.

How does a typical working day look like?

I’m not really your typical 9-5 type. I’m more the type that works on something until it’s done or my brain gets fried and I have to sleep. I’m a freelancer, entrepreneur, and educator. Depending on which of those three has the most workload or needs attention the soonest, that gets done first. So each day is quite different for me and often requires me to be very flexible.

Most recently in the entrepreneurship and education category, I have completed my Appeal Academy course. A digital sculpting course and mentorship program that focuses on creating stylized and appealing characters.

You can check it out here for more info: http://appeal.academy

What does your workplace look like?

My office is a 12’x14′ room with each wall covered in sound dampening foam for audio recording. At the wall opposite the door in a bay window where my L shaped desk sits. On top of that I have a my 27″ Cintiq and another 24″ monitor for my work. Behind my desk sits a small table with some toys and figures I have worked on in the past. It’s not much but it’s a nice place to work.

How do you stay motivated in this industry?

Motivation by textbook definition is the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. Simply put, what do you want?

I’ve always been a very motivated person. In other words, if there is something I wanted to do or achieve I take the steps necessary to accomplish that goal. I think there comes a time where you have to really ask yourself if you want the thing you are striving for or do you just want the end result. Because there is a very clear distinction. If you only want the end goal then you will hate every step of the journey to get there. But if you learn to love the process, then you will never lose motivation because you are doing exactly what you want and the end result is just the cherry on top.

At the end of the day, everyone does exactly what they want. Find out what that is for you and go do it.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

I’ve always been a huge video game nerd growing up with a Gameboy perpetually glued to my hands. I also love board games, lawn games, really any kind of game. I’ve developed a couple board games myself but have never even tried to get them published. It’s something I would love to do in the future and sculpt the minis for it myself.

How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?

Focus on quality over quantity. It takes only one great piece to get you hired. If I’m looking at someone’s portfolio, I would rather see one piece with 100 hours poured into it rather than multiple with 10 hours of work.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

If my computer is on, ZBrush and Photoshop are always open. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge ZBrush nerd. I’m one of the official Pixologic ZBrush live streamers and not a day goes by that I am not sculpting in the software. But I also bring in Blender to help with rendering

What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?

I would love to play around with Marvelous Designer and Substance Painter a little more. But really I haven’t had a huge need for either. They are both extremely powerful pieces of software that do things that I can’t do in ZBrush.

Which books would you recommend to the read?

Related: Anatomy for Sculptors by Uldis Zarins
Unrelated: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

What music do you listen to while working?

Typically I listen to podcasts like My Brother, My Brother, and Me, Hello from the Magic Tavern, Hey Riddle Riddle, and many more. If I really need to get work done I will just sit in silence so that I can really concentrate.

Any advice for new Artists?

Focus on quantity over quality. Get your mileage up as fast as you can. Don’t get caught up wasting time on a single piece. Don’t expect good results for a long time. Instead of trying to get better, try to get less bad. Trust me, the shift in mindset does wonders. That’s it! Oh, and check out my YouTube channel. I upload a ton of free tutorials and helpful content there.