Building Environments with Marek Denko
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Building Environments with Marek Denko
19 September, 2016
Interview

Here’s our little interview with Marek Denko – a talented 3d artist, who makes incredibly interesting environments. He talked a bit about his production, gave some smart advice to artists and talked about the way he uses color.

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Introduction

Hello, my name is Marek Denko, I’m 35 years old. I was born in Slovak republic. I currently live in Czech republic. I spent last 20 years playing around with 3d graphics and that’s basically what I’m doing for a living. In my career I had a chance to contribute to plenty of interesting projects. Few examples would be Resident Evil: Damnation environments, dozens of game cinematics mostly as freelancer for Blur studio, lots of TV commercials etc. Most of my professional work can be found on my studio page.

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When approaching environment design, what do you believe are the most important things to remember?

I wouldn’t call it thinking about the design of the environment. I’d like to think that I’m focusing on the final composition. I’m trying to create believable scenery with some interesting/unique objects.

What do you usually start with in environments?

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I’d like to say I’m creating image rather then environment even though it usually ends up in environment category. Most of the time I start with simple boxy geometry to define the key elements of the scene. I play around with composition and lighting and sometime move to Photoshop for a quick paintovers. After that I go on with creating specific models, textures, details etc.

Best way to show how I work on my personal projects is to take a look at these making of videos I made: 

In your Autumn At Relay Outpost 17 environment the hero asset – futuristic building – takes the center stage. How did you approach the production of this particular asset?

As you can see by looking at this video there are a lot of design changes on the building throughout the process of creation. Building itself is a pretty complicated model. I like complicated detailed stuff where I can easily add or remove anything I like or don’t like. One of the reason might be that it’s easy to return to it and work on it in free time few times a week. Basic concept of working on such a asset is modeling, texturing, painting/drawing in Photoshop what could work better and then applying it to 3d model. As for the details and their purpose. I care if they look good but I don’t want to do completely irrelevant things so I’d like to believe they serve some purpose.

Could you talk about the way you’re saturating the scene with additional objects? 

Birch trees are big part of the final result. I spent lot of time to tweak the bark, leaves look, shape of the trunks. Positions of solitary trees are composition driven. Medium distance trees are there to fill up the areas of the image. Also I used lot of trees which are outside of the camera view just to cast shadows.

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What about the lighting?

I used one HDRs from Noemotionhdrs free HDR collection and one Directional light (as sun source) I play around with intensities. Pure exterior lighting is pretty much straight forward thing. There is not much elaborate about it. I knew what I was going for from the very beginning . Sunset usually means low light with some warm tint (orange/pink/red). Lower the sun is softer the shadows usually are. V-ray is a great help. It’s reliable, doesn’t crash and I can count on it 100%. 

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Any advice to aspiring 3d artists?

Very wide question to answer within the short interview. Shortest one would be: Study and work hard and be honest to your own work. Hard to give advice on topics and inspirations… do what you want to do. Inspiration comes to each of us. There are plenty of well established and well-known software to use.

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Marek Denko, 3d artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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