A Visual Artist and Art Director Gaku Tada talked about using Blender to create fantastic digital paintings.
My name is Gaku Tada, I am a Visual Artist and Art Director. I was in the VFX industry and worked for several big VFX shows such as Avatar, Hobbit, Planet of Apes, and such. Now I am a freelance artist, working for small shows and also running a tutoring business for 3Dcg students.
I studied computer graphics in Japan and started to work as a 3D artist at Sony Computer Entertainment to do some opening game title movies as my first job. Then I moved to LA to work for Digital Domain for some film shows and then moved to New Zealand for Weta Digital.
Becoming a Digital Painter
I am now taking a little break from the VFX industry and so I have more time to spend on my own than before, so I started to do digital paintings more which I always wanted to do. I do 2D paint too but I am comfortable enough in 3D to make it look 2D.
I think watercolor images are great, there are lots of empty spaces that bring people's imaginations together. When you draw some image with a pen it looks pretty nice but once you paint on top, the whole imagination disappears, I am sure everyone experienced this. I always thought we could just leave that empty space open till the end.
Like everyone else I guess, I look at Pinterest quite often. By listening to slow-tempo music such as Classical, Jazz, LoFi music, I get inspiration from people's artwork and imagine how I could replicate it in 3D space and bring it into a new world. Some sort of cinematic experience I would like to bring with 3D. I want to create 3D illustrations, I think it will be in demand more when VR/AR devices get better in the future. I also wish to create short stories but I'm not there yet, hopefully soon.
I use Blender with a Grease Pencil tool. Blender is a great 3D software, I totally recommend it for beginners. It is open source and free but also really user-friendly, developers are great, and the community is awesome. The most impressive thing about Blender for me is that it is really quick and more interactive than any other 3D packages. Real-time response is one of the most essential factors when you make art, I believe.
After my paintings are complete there is a bit of post-process, simple grading with Vignette effect is what I prefer. I think grading helps to settle the sharpness of CGI artifacts.
It is often a tough way to reach a certain point that you are satisfied with the work, such as modeling objects, which is often quite time-consuming and painful for me. But when I get the groove of making images, I think I can bear with it because for that moment I can reach. Also, learning new things is often painful, but just to give it a go even if it makes you sleepy, the next morning you feel much better about it.