Last week, December 3, was a day dedicated to 3D artists and graphic designers. In honor of the occasion, we interviewed Artyom Yakovlev, a talented 3D artist, CG generalist, and computer graphics specialist.
Artyom told us about his journey to becoming a CG generalist and what drew him to the field. The interview holds plenty of insights for everyone interested in learning the basics of computer graphics and 3D modeling.
Tell us about yourself.
Aloha, my name is Artyom. I come from a cold place called Verkhoyansky ulus, from the small town of Batagay: a place where the sun never sets in the summer and where you better wrap your face in a scarf in winter to keep from freezing your nose off. It's a wonderful place to spend your childhood.
How did you get into 3D animation? Why did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
I'm 32 years old, and for half my life, I've done computer graphics. It just so happened that I became a CG generalist, someone who knows many graphics-related fields, just like a neurosurgeon in medicine.
It all started when I was in the 9th grade. That's when e-sports were becoming popular. My friends and I enjoyed playing Counter-Strike versions 1.5 and 1.6. I got first place in different competitions. Then, one day, I decided to make a video of my best gaming moments. I downloaded the Vegas Video 3 video editor using a dial-up modem. That was really something! I studied it, made my first video, and it became popular in my city. So I began to receive requests from other players and was happy to create videos for them. One day, my classmate rushed to me to say he had a cool video with special effects and a 3D bullet, just like in the movie The Matrix.
He said I wouldn't be able to do that. I was amazed that his video was dynamic, with cool effects, different transitions, and a 3D scene with models and custom animation. Later on, I learned that a team from another country created this clip.
That day, I borrowed a CD from my friend with a software collection and installed 3D Studio Max 6. And so I studied tutorials, searched for info, and practiced. After three years, as a freshman in Yakutsk, I released my first professional video about a Yakutsk professional e-athlete.
It received positive feedback, including from the video's subject.
That's when I started studying 3D and its different fields. I worked in different places, from small print offices to large IT companies such as Mytona and inDriver.
How did you develop and improve your skills? Did you take any courses?
When I was a student, I didn't have any money, so I worked in the IT lab for free and taught an introductory 3D course to students, but there was free unlimited Internet!
I downloaded bits and pieces 24/7, any courses, including traditional drawing and technical drawing. I was the furious pirate of Yakutia, accumulating 3.5 TB of courses on 5 hard drives. I even gave them to everyone for free. I studied those courses instead of watching TV and used around 10% of it. My friends and neighbors called me a geek. Just recently, I finished some professional VFX courses, and I don't regret it a bit.
What inspires you?
I'm 32, and I'm too old for youthful exuberance. The older I get, the more I like and focus on authentic visual effects works like explosions, destruction, etc. I'm inspired by movies that are packed with FX: The Avengers, Transformers, 2012, Avatar, etc. I'm inspired by these movies' visual effects, not their plots.
What tool or feature do you use the most and why?
I like the procedural approach to work. For example, an island with vegetation, sand, volcano, etc. Click a button, and you get another island with the same correct object location. Most of it revolves around a node system (a sequence of cards with changes). I believe everything will soon become node-based.
What do you like the most about working with animation?
I like the first-attempt result. Usually, it's a camera animation. It can make incredible moves in 3D, better than in real life.
What's been the most difficult part of working with animation?
Character animation is a very complicated process because every character is an individual with its animation, mimic, skeleton, etc.
Are there 3D artists that you admire?
There are many of them. Well, probably Hossein Dibba is the coolest. However, I don't consider myself a character artist.
When you see the objects you've created in a game, what feelings do you have? Pride? The desire to remake everything?
First, it's pride, then the desire to remake it all. Years later, it's pride again. It depends on the type of work. For example, working on television, I made a 500-GB video ad, and I'm ashamed to show it, although all of Yakutia watched it. I understand why Gogol burned his book.
Have you experienced a creative crisis, or is it a myth?
It happens, and sometimes it happens to me when I work for years on the same project. You strive for something new, and that's OK.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to finish my current projects that have dragged on. And I want to work with a pro on a cool project, like at Hideo Kojima's studio, even for free.
What advice would you give 3D artists who are starting out?
The sooner you start learning something, the sooner you'll get results. Study an area with few specialists, such as simulations (visual effects), rigging, compositing or procedural modeling.
You don't have to spend half your life studying to become a pro. You have to choose one thing and perfect it. As Bruce Lee said, ""I am not afraid of someone who studies 10,000 different hits. I am afraid of someone who studies a single hit 10,000 times.
Thanks for this interview, Artyom. We wish you inspiration and hope your dreams come true!
CG - Computer Graphics.
VFX - Visual Effects. It's a combination of video shot on camera (Live Action Footage) with objects created in programs (CGI) using a computer to create a movie or a video clip.
A dial-up modem is dial-up remote access used to connect to the Internet through the city telephone line.
A node system is a way to create a program by manipulating graphic objects. In other words, writing code with graphical objects instead of text.
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