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Very impressive article Jake! You are very talented.
nice article! i love seeing the breakdowns.
Kirill Chepizhko is an incredible 3d concept artist, who worked for a number of game companies, including Liquid Development, Zindagi Games & Sony Online Entertainment. His most recent project is LawBreakers from Boss Key Productions, founded by Cliff Bleszinski and Arjan Brussee. He does some amazing work with hard-surface materials, so we asked him to share a bit about his production process and the tools that he uses.
My name is Kirill and I come from the land of brown bears roaming empty streets and people drinking vodka for breakfast lunch and dinner. I was born in Russia but I have been living and working in the US for the past 9 years. I work as a 3d concept artist / hard surface designer. Some of the companies I worked for include Boss Key, Adobe, Ubisoft.
Building Hard Surface Objects
The aspects that an artist must pay attention to when designing hard surface is believable engineering and maintaining visual interest ,while following the art direction of the project. The biggest trouble as I see it for many artists is finding the software that will let you easily create the necessary geometry.
To this day some objects are easier to design in certain programs than others and we are yet to see something other than 3d max that will allow to model anything with ease. As to materials – that is a secondary or tertiary problem that can be easily solved in Keyshot or Substance Designer. I don’t see that as a difficult task.
I have never worked on in-game models because my job is to provide 3d concept art that will be retopologized and used in game. So I don’t have to deal with creating shaders inside the engine, but I do use Keyshot to show what kind of materials I would want to use. One thing worth mentioning is that I like the materials to be realistic rather than cartoony so I go through a lot of references when I create them.
The Logic of 3d Mechanisms
Of course it’s nice to put some thought into every design, make sure it looks like it’ works and there is some logic behind how components are arranged. You don’t need a degree in mechanical engineering for that. You just need to be observant and attentive to details !
I rarely sketch before begin in 3d. I like to create the iterations for the design on the go, it’s just a personal preference. Modular approach is great for that as well because you can easily iterate using already existing parts. Kitbash technique is also useful here. It’s is not a perfect solution but it helps a lot. Other than that building complex designs requires a couple of things: references, time and patience. With enough time on your hands you can build anything you want.
Logic is important in anything you do. Something that looks cool will most definitely have logic behind it, these are not mutually exclusive notions by any means!
Tools of Trade
I work in Zbrush, Fusion 360, Keyshot, Photoshop. I recommend trying every software you can get. You never know if the tool is right for you unless you really try and create something in it. As an example, when I was just starting, for a long time I have been avoiding zbrush but after I gave it a try I fell in love with it.