Interview with Ricardo Viana

I’m about to finish my graduation so I only work as a freelancer at the moment. After I work at TDZ Games (a brazilian indie game studio) as the main 3D artist, I met the character art industry in 2017, so I’m new in this giant industry.

Ricardo Viana is a 3D Character Artist and Animation student from Belo Horizonte, Brazil with 2 years of industry experience.
He likes to work with Blender, Zbrush, Substance Painter, Unreal Engine 4, Marmoset Toolbag, Photoshop and XNormal.

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

When I was 15 I was searching for intresting 3D images (that stereocopics ones) and accidentaly I’ve ended up at some blog that talk about Blender. After this I was immersed into this software world and began to grow into that community. As the time was passing, I was getting more and more into the CG universe and started to learn more about character design, composition, render, and about others softwares as well.
At the University I had the chance to work in an indie game called „Eliosi’s Hunt“ which I was the only 3D artist until the end of the project. Since then I was in love with Unreal Engine 4 and the potential of PBR realtime rendering.

I’m about to finish my graduation so I only work as a freelancer at the moment. After I work at TDZ Games (a brazilian indie game studio) as the main 3D artist, I met the character art industry in 2017, so I’m new in this giant industry.

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

Any quiet place with a good sound playing in my headphones inspires me. I see the environment around me and start to think in plots that matches with that sound I’m listen at the moment. I always think in narratives, and it always involves characters in it. Games, animations and other artists artworks also get me that inspiration boost. Coffee is a plus!

How does a typical working day look like?

I keep my references open all the time I’m working it, even in pauses. I try to keep my mindset always focused in the project so I can see problems and solutions any time. It’s usual that I think in how I want that texture work while I’m walking on the streets, or see a random object at Instagram that look like a good reference. While in work itself, I try to work each step a time, always looking for possibly mistakes and checking references.

What does your workplace look like?

I work at home so it’s kind of my room itself. I try to keep it as clean and organized as possible. I use two monitors and always let a music going on (nothing too heavy). There’s nothing special in my workspace, but as it’s where I live, I try to keep it the most confortable I can.

How do you stay motivated in this tough industry?

Absolutely everything in this industry motivates me. From technologies to artists. I like to think I’m part of this and do my best to be. I think this community makes this motivation, I would be nothing without the support of the people of our community.

What is your passion beside CGI/3D?

I love 3D and CGI, but my first passion is with characters. Most of my time I spend looking for awesome characters projects and artists at artstation and instagram. I really like to watch animations, sakugas scenes, movies and series that involves good characters. From personality to visual, characters is the thing that I like the most when it comes to art.

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

I’m always starting new projects and making notes about it. When I have more time to spend in a project, I choose one of those projects and finish it. This Fizz Fanart is an example of it. I started this model months before I finish, but tasks were showing up and it had to wait until I have some weeks in the holidays and I could finish it.

What Software do you use to create your artwork?

I use ZBrush, Blender and Substance Painter mainly. Most of the work is done at ZBrush and Substance Painter. When it comes to polygonal modelling and UV setting, Blender is my savior. I’m about to put Maya in my workflow once the industry asks a lot for it. When it comes to render I always try Marmoset Toolbag and Unreal Engine 4. I’m more confortable with UE4 since I worked a whole game in it (Eliosi’s Hunt), but Marmoset makes a wonderful job.

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

As I’ve said in the previous answer, I really want to learn Maya ASAP. Recently I’m interested in animation and this software is indispensable to animate. Also I want to try Substance Designer, 3D Coat and Marvelous Designer, but unfortunatly I just don’t had the chance yet.

Which books would you recommend to the read?

As an Animation student in graduation, I learned alot of techniques about characters animation. The two books that helped me to think about character creation was „Creating Characters with Personality“ from Tom Bancroft and „The Animator’s Survival Kit“ from Richard Williams. Honestly when it comes to CGI and 3D I’ve never read a book specific to this area. At the start of my studies I spent some time reading physics books to understand more about optics and light propagation, but it’s a very basic knowledge.

What music do you listen to while working?

It depends on the project. I really like to listen to OST when it comes to fantasy content. The OST of Skyrim is my favourite one. To repetitive works such as retopologize or UV setting, I like to liston to some relaxing music like a Chill Hop, Lo Fi, Jazz. I’d recommend Jinsang and Saib. Instrumental stuff most part of the time.

Any advice for new Artists?

The most important advice I would give is: search it! Artists community are impressive and there will always be someone to help you to improve and support you. Anything you need you will find searching and asking. Obviously this just works because people likes to help, so be part of it and help your brothers and sisters. With this support, the rest is with yourself: do not understimate yourself and don’t overstimate yourself. Try to see your limits and always think in projects instead of tasks. You are an artist beyond a student, so don’t think you just have to learn, you do have to work and make things happen.