Interview with Can Erduman

I started freelancing in 2006, two years before I began to study media design at the University in Mainz, Germany. My great passion are the character arts. Sculpting, Rigging and Animating Characters is what I love and what I do for a living.

Favorite software packages

I bought the book „introduction to 3ds max R3.5“, in 1999. I needed to learn Max to do the character and weapon animations for a multiplayer first person shooter called „operation red falcon“. It s a total modification of the game Half-Life 1. There I did my first steps with character animation. I learned alot there by myself. I have a strong foundation and an understanding in the physics of motion. Action and reaction triggering movement, secondary actions and follow through animation.

In 2011, I used 3ds Max and Maya alot during my time at Pixomondo in Frankfurt.

And it was Maya again for my iAnimate online course to.

But during my time at the University, most team projects were done with cinema 4D and I quickly had to pick it up and by accident started earning money with it.

I really liked the user experience, because cinema was much more artist friendly than the other applications back in the days.
So I tried it out and was surprised that I could manually rig and animate a character without reading one single line of the manual.

Later I was honored to be invited by Maxon to join the cinema 4d beta team and since then, I do my best to give feedback, spawn ideas and find bugs to improving the application.

But that being said, I try not to stick to just one software and do everything there. There are also specialized tools like Substance Painter, Zbrush, Marvelous Designer, Houdini etc..
You will never stop learning a software while you also have to hone your artistic skills. It s a blessing and a curse, but you should open to it, I guess.

That’s why I don’t think that it’s important what application an artist uses to create art. If your are Independent and art is good, it doesn’t matter. -No one knows which hammer or brush Michelangelo used….right? -Probably the one, he could handle the best.

And that’s my advice:
Use what’s best for you and what makes sense to earn money with. The final product counts. Not what helped produce it.

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

Like most artists I already knew that I want to do something artistic, when I was young. Like most of the stories found in the other interviews on CGLounge. As a kid I picked up a video camera and started doing Stopmotion with my toys. My problem was, that I was born a bit too early for the German industry and too late to start when feature film effects began in Hollywood. 

In Germany was no real 3D industry established in 1995. I had to earn my money in another job and learn 3D by myself back in countless sleepless nights, while doing my daytime job as a mechatronic technician. It was very frustrating and demanding time. I also worked at a production line for six month and at some point, I quit my job and started to be a freelance 3D artist. Thinking back to the time, this was a bold move. One I could only do while being young and independent.

In 2008, I started studying in Mainz, Germany. Suddenly, I met all those interesting people, that were also interested in Art and design. They loved to discuss film and had the urge to create something. That was very inspirational back then. Before that, I hardly knew some creative minds. People’s opinion was that the job wasn’t supposed to be fun. It was to earn money to go out to party, start a family or buy stuff.

In 2008, I started studying in Mainz, Germany. Suddenly, I met all those interesting people, that were also interested in Art and design. They loved to discuss film and had the urge to create something. That was very inspirational back then. Before that, I hardly knew some creative minds. People’s opinion was that the job wasn’t supposed to be fun. It was to earn money to go out to party, start a family or buy stuff.

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

There are too many sources to get inspired online. Artstation, 10.000 hours group on Facebook, Zbrush central. Movies, books, games and especially the old masters in the museums show insane quality in art. What you get presented on the screen however, is probably the best art in the world. The tip of the iceberg. Very inspiring and a definitely a goal to work towards. -But comparing ones skill level to the things found online can be daunting and frustrating first.

Real life is more influential and driving to me.
The people at my shared office space for example. They inspire me most. Especially the discussion on how to improve the skills, nerdy software talks and of course movies games and classic art.

We‘ve some great talent there. You can find some of them in the interview section, too.

How does a typical working day look like?

I try to mix carpe diem with dolce vita: I try to get up between 8 and 8:30 and enjoy a good start into the day: it starts with a good breakfast, while I listening to music. If it’s sunny, I drive to work via bike. That way, I have a bit of fitness every day. This routine ensures that I am in a good mood, when I enter the office and can immediately start to work with a good concentration level. I listen to music. I usually mix the genres depending on my mood. Jazz, iron maiden, 80ies rock, game soundtracks, everything is in the playlist. -Even totally nonsense stuff that makes me smile. I once listened through some of the modern talking albums. -What picks up my mood is good for me.

Then, I mostly do some concentrated work until lunchtime. After the break, I try to do some organizational stuff and some sports before getting into the second shift. At the end of the working day, I try to learn new 3D related things or hone my 3D Skills with private projects. I also try to jump into the gym from time to time to keep in shape.

What does your workplace look like?

As mentioned above, I joined a shared office space that makes everything easier. We take proper breaks, go out after work and from time to time cook our meals together. It’s a perfect mix between work and free time.

On the hardware side, I built my own PC and use two monitors. One of them is a Huion tablet monitor mounted to a flexible ergotron arm. it’s a cheaper cintiq setup I bought when I started with sculpting.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

I have a high level base motivation due to my age and how hard it was to actually start to finally work in this weird job. Back in the days, when I was learning all this, it wasn’t easy to find a tutorial or connect to people. And the memories of the hard work at the production line also keep my expectations to life and the job in balance. Compared to that our job is really a blessing…even in the hard times.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

I love scuba diving, go to the gym, play table tennis, riding my bike. I enjoy immersive storytelling in films or games and I really love to travel. I also love photography. But there I stick to a tiny setup with a Fuji x100f with just one lense.

From time to time, I try to cross things over from my job to a real life hobby. For example painting and texturing Mecha robot model kits with airbrush. I would love to learn real life sculpting at some point.
 
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?

I try to keep it as simple as possible. It’s the only thing that works for me. I love all those details and I really would love to implement detailed making ofs. But that way, updates never gonna happen.

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

I try to keep it as simple as possible. It’s the only thing that works for me. I love all those details and I really would love to implement detailed making ofs. But that way, updates never gonna happen.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

I bought the book „Introduction to 3Ds max R3.5“, in 1999. I needed to learn Max to do the character and weapon animations for a multiplayer first person shooter called „Operation Red Falcon“. It s a total modification of the game Half-Life 1. There I did my first steps with character animation. I learned alot there by myself. I have a strong foundation and an understanding in the physics of motion. Action and reaction triggering movement, secondary actions and follow through animation.

In 2011, I used 3Ds Max and Maya a lot during my time at Pixomondo in Frankfurt. 

And it was Maya again for my iAnimate online course to.

But during my time at the University, most team projects were done with Cinema 4D and I quickly had to pick it up and by accident started earning money with it.

I really liked the user experience, because cinema was much more artist friendly than the other applications back in the days.
So I tried it out and was surprised that I could manually rig and animate a character without reading one single line of the manual.

Later I was honored to be invited by Maxon to join the Cinema 4D beta team and since then, I do my best to give feedback, spawn ideas and find bugs to improving the application.

But that being said, I try not to stick to just one software and do everything there. There are also specialized tools like Substance Painter, Zbrush, Marvelous Designer, Houdini etc..
You will never stop learning a software while you also have to hone your artistic skills. It s a blessing and a curse, but you should open to it, I guess.

That’s why I don’t think that it’s important what application an artist uses to create art. If your are Independent and art is good, it doesn’t matter. -No one knows which hammer or brush Michelangelo used….right? -Probably the one, he could handle the best.

And that’s my advice:
Use what’s best for you and what makes sense to earn money with. The final product counts. Not what helped produce it.

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

I am very interested in the character part of Houdini. I don’t see it as a traditional 3D tool. It’s a visual interface for three dimensional programming. You can build your own tools.

What books would you recommend to the read?

That’s something explicit, one has to find out for himself. I love scifi and fantasy. But even that field of storytelling is so huge that the taste differs so much. I like the books of the author John Scalzi for example. But they are very special.

What music do you listen to while working?

Everything that is fun. Jazz, Electro, 80’s, Metal, Amiga game soundtracks, Breakbeat, Retro Synthie

I really like Mitch Murder, Carpenter Brut, Future Funk Squad, Chris Hülsbeck (turrican2), Stanton Warriors, Daft Punk, 

Any advice for new Artists?

Do a proper internship and learn the studio pipeline. Even if you freelance on your own, you have learned how to work as a team.

Don’t be cheap. Don’t be lazy. Take breaks. Don’t loose focus on the real life. When it’s up to hard and Software or courses: Invest into your own future. Pay someone to teach you. I had the best experience possible with Shane Olsons 3D Character Workshop sculpting course. He got me from Zbrush newbie to earning money with it!

Go to exibitions like FMX, OFFF, Us by night. Get in touch with others.
…and finally, don’t take yourself too serious.