Interview with Patrick Yeung
Published on 06/17/2019
What led you into the CGI/2D? Tell us your story.
I think my love for the industry started when the VFX industry began gaining momentum in Hollywood movies. I used to buy dvds just for the bonus features. The behind the scenes talked about how they created the amazing visual effects in the film. One of my favorite film was the Mummy, and it was inspiring to get a glimpse of how ILM put it together. Tomb Raider is the game that got me into actually working in 3D. Tomb Raider Chronicles was released with a level editor. It was like a drug for me. I couldn’t wait to get home from school everyday and fire up the editor and construct my own levels and assets. I taught myself Maya in high school by watching Gnomon Workshop dvds.
I stopped for a period of time between the later years of high school and all throughout college. It wasn’t until working a few odds jobs after graduating did I realize I wish to be an artist in the entertainment industry. It is something I want to do everyday, but I didn’t know specifically what yet. To get training that I need, I applied for the Production for Entertainment Program at Gnomon and was accepted in 2015.The school gave me a start in CGI. It helped me find my way and turned my dream into a reality. The wonderful teachers gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to get a job in the industry.
I began working in the CG industry back in May 2017. It was an incredible opportunity that came my way when I was still attending Gnomon School of VFX. I was contacted by Lightstorm Entertainment, and after a few weeks of talking and completing an art test, I was offered a position to work on the Avatar Sequels.
Where do you go to get inspired? What/Who inspires you?
It really depends on what I am working on at the moment. My favorite thing to do is hiking on the weekends. Nature definitely serves as a major inspiration. You’d be amazed by how many different types of plants and trees can coexist in a small area. Aside from getting ideas from outdoors, I, like many fellow artists, have a major problem of collecting art books. It is harmless until you have to move, and the books combined weight more than a blocks of cement…
Art books is an excellent source of inspiration because not only is it fun to flip through and admire the collection of amazing art done by other artists, but it also shows you how other artists solve design problems. There are many situations where I was stuck on working with a design or resolving shapes on a character. Checking out a few artbooks always helped me see things differently. I often feel reinvigorated to continue working on the project.
How does a typical working day look like?
I wake up around 730am and go to the gym at work. Working out in the morning helps me wake up and release stress. I also feel a bit more energized throughout the day.
I’d go home and get ready for work. Since I live quite close to the studio it is pretty easy for me to travel back and forth. A work day starts around 10am and usually ends around 7-8pm. Respawn places importance on game play experience so we have daily play test on various platform from 5-7pm. It is recommended to join but not mandatory, especially if you have urgent or a lot of tasks at hand. We have meetings throughout the week, and can also request meetings whenever we need feedback or critiques. Overall it is a very open and relax environment with a fun loving culture.
What does your workplace look like?
I keep a pretty simple workplace. A monitor and a cintiq on my desk with a salt lamp by the corner of the table. I haven’t really spent the time gathering cool figures or sculpture to decorate yet.
How do you stay motivated in this industry?
Love what you do and love what others are doing. You have to stay curious and eager in an industry that is growing and changing non stop. Feng Zhu said something that stayed with me. He said “We are working in the entertainment industry after all, if what we do doesn’t excite ourselves, then it won’t excite other people.”
What is your passion beside CGI/2D?
I enjoy working out and cooking.
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?
Doing a little everyday helps. Start with small projects, and eventually planning out for bigger projects. Just a couple hours everyday really add up, and you’d be amazed how much you can get done even when you have a full-time job.
What Software do you use to create your artwork?
My favorite software packages are Zbrush, Substance Painter and Designer. Zbrush, because I love sculpting, and the brush system is better than every other software I’ve tried. Substance, because creating textures in Painter and Designer is just so intuitive and easy. You see what you get in the viewport. The ability to work non-destructively is also a huge bonus.
Most of my work is real time so I love using Marmoset Toolbag to render images.
What Software do you want to learn in future? And why?
I’d love to get better at Substance Designer. It is a valuable skill to be able to construct procedural materials without hacking together images. I’d also love to learn Houdini.I think that any method of producing content that is easier and cheaper will always win. It is valuable to know how to create more complex content in an easier way, and Houdini seems to be the solution that is cater to that.
Which books would you recommend to the read?
For character artist: Anatomy for Sculptors.
Just in general: Cloud Atlas, Me Talk Pretty One Day
What music do you listen to while working?
I am a bit of a strange one. I don’t listen to music usually when I am working. Sometimes if I do want something playing I’d put on lofi hiphop on youtube that just kind of relaxes you.
Any advice for new Artists?
Focus on the fundamentals. Familiarize yourself with principles of art and anatomy. I really recommend drawing as a way to practice honing your eye and finding out what your weaknesses are. Most importantly, have fun with whatever you are doing. It shows in the work.