Neil Blevins :: Meet the Artist

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Old 11 November 2011   #16
Originally Posted by MaryamNademi: Modeling: I specifically mean the style you use to do i.e. tech floors in your cg portfolio. I didn't find any other artists to do the similar and i have done quite a lot of research!


Well, that's only part 3d geometry, about half of what you see in those images are painted in photoshop. Here's an image for those who haven't seen them...



So the only part of that really that's 3d are the wires inside the trench. The rest is photoshop. Like for the large paneling, I make a new layer, fill it with grey, then I delete portions of it to make the pattern. Then I apply various layer styles, like the Bevel and Emboss to give it depth, dropshadow to give a directional shadow, and an outer glow set to the color black to give it ambient occlusion. I also used renders of procedural patterns generated in Filterforge and darktree and apply them to the various components.

All of this could be modeled, but it's time consuming, and these were more composition tests rather than something that had to be seen from multiple angles. Glad you enjoyed them, I certainly had fun making them and will probably make more in the future. When it comes to details like that, one of my inspirations is the artist Ansel Hsiao (fractalsponge), you can see some of his spectacular modeling work here:

http://fractalsponge.net/gallery/index.html

Originally Posted by MaryamNademi: 1) What movies are your favorites?
2) which short stories are your favorites?
3) do you write stories as well?
4) what music band is your favorite?
5) which movie directors are your favorite?
6) what do you not like to see in young designers?
7) if you were not having the experience working in Blur or pixar would you be the artist you are now?


1) From an art perspective: The Crow, Transformers The Movie (1985), The Matrix, Robocop, Starship Trooper, Predator, Aliens
2) I don't actually read much scifi, although I have read some of the classics like Dune, Ringworld, etc.
3) Nope, I've had ideas now and again for stories, but I tend to explore those through my art rather than the written word.
4) Music: Devin Townsend (solo work and Strapping Young Lad), Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Dream Theater, and death metal bands like Suffocation and Origin.
5) Darren Aronofski, Fincher, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and I really liked District 9, so while he hasn't done a lot of films, I expect great things from Neill Blomkamp in the future.
6) The thing I like the most is something original, something that has both the wow factor and something that's like nothing I've seen before. I'm the guy who likes the odd designs in the art of books, the designs that are so out there that they never make it to the final design process. So the thing I don't like is a design that just looks like everything I've seen before.
7) Well, I wouldn't be the exact artist I am now, but I'd still be an artist, probably with a similar style, since a lot of my inspiration came long before I worked in California.

Thanks for the extra questions!

Originally Posted by maxspider3000: wow man, it was a long time since I browse your site for the first time you really look older than it back then :P


Yup, I'm now an old fart in my mid 30s

Originally Posted by maxspider3000: a big thank you for you Neil
me and a lot of my friends got a lot of help from your tips & tutorials
and your works were always a great inspiration for me


Glad you've enjoyed my work, it means a lot to me. I'm always happy to help out the community that's helped me so much, glad you and your friends have found my stuff useful!

- Neil
 
Old 11 November 2011   #17
Hello Neil,

Like a lot of 3dsmax users, i first have to thanks you for your scripts and tutorials. I think i have your website link in my favorites for something like...well.. 10 years at least.

So i got a couple more questions for you :

- Your better and worst moment on a cg-production?
- Being an artist and working with short schedules? Possible? Did the time factor modify your process/workflow between personal work and professional work?
__________________
Nico aka Goul
 
Old 11 November 2011   #18
Brilliance and creative, few words that I can put forth.

I have been reading and learning a LOT since when I began 3d and your were working in blur (if am not wrong)

One of the spline renderings inspired a whole lot. Became a path former for me. Thanks for answering a couple of mails (I don't know how long ago that was)

Keep up the good work and keep inspiring !

Girish
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www.3DArchVis.com
3D Architectural Visualization
 
Old 11 November 2011   #19
Originally Posted by Goul: Like a lot of 3dsmax users, i first have to thanks you for your scripts and tutorials. I think i have your website link in my favorites for something like...well.. 10 years at least.


Thanks Goul. glad you've found them useful.

Originally Posted by Goul: - Your better and worst moment on a cg-production?


Hmm, have had plenty of both of those.

I suppose my worst moment was working on this one low budget feature where I had to hand track a synthetic face to an actresses face in the plate. I had no reference photos of the actress, no face scan, no idea what lens was used on the camera, where the camera was in the scene, no facial tracking marks, and no automated tracking software. So it was just me moving and rotating the face frame by frame for 150 frames, playing it, seeing it doesn't match up perfectly, thentweaking it for days on end. The final track in the film is OK, but I cringe everytime I see the shot because of how hard I worked on it and how I never managed to nail it.

Best moment would probably be when one of the directors really liked what I was doing. Like when Brad Bird gave me a compliment on the railyard sequence I was doing for the Incredibles. Getting a compliment from Brad Bird has to be about as good as it gets professionally

Originally Posted by Goul: Being an artist and working with short schedules? Possible? Did the time factor modify your process/workflow between personal work and professional work?


Getting fast and efficient was something that I really learned at Blur, since schedules were always so tight. And there were a lot of really fast people there, so it definately modified my workflows to try and keep up with them. I still wouldn't say I'm the fastest guy out there, but I certainly progressed a lot between my first day at blur and my last.

And that affected my personal work too, since I have way too many ideas for the time I have, and so anything I can do to speed things up really helps me.

Personally I prefer a schedule though that's just somewhat aggressive, one where I still have time to do some research and such, but not so slow that there's no motivation to work hard to get it done.

And thanks Girish for the kind words. Glad my tutorials have helped you out, when I first got into the industry, there were a lot of really helpful people who have me tips and trick on how to do things (I remember one particularly strong critique where someone told me my texturing was too clean and needed more dirt and grunge, man has my style changed since back then <G>), so I'm glad to continue the trend, and hopefully the knowledge you get is something you can pass along as well.

- Neil
 
Old 11 November 2011   #20
Hey Neil!

Thanks for the amazing 3D studio max scripts, its a shame things like these can't go between maya and max easily but that doesn't change how great they are!

They have helped me to no end,

do you have any old work? like from the programming the pixels era?

once again. you da man!


-lloyd


P.s I'm not saying this just coz you worked on it but The Incredibles is amazing, i love the art style. that 50's :O i hope pixar does more! not cars 3

Last edited by ftb : 11 November 2011 at 01:06 AM.
 
Old 11 November 2011   #21
Ansel Hsiao's work is quite interesting! thank you so much for detailed answers.

It was a real pleasure to read your interview and asking the questions I have always wanted to know from my favorite artists. thanks for your time.

All the best to you and to your beloved family.
__________________
RIP: http://maryamnademi.cghub.com/images/
I am a co-founder @ CGRecord.net
 
Old 11 November 2011   #22
Hi Neil!

Hi Neil! Long time, no see (or talk). Glad to see you're doing well and are happy!

I was curious if you specifically applied for the position of TD at Pixar, or did you just go in there as a CG artist, and end up in that role?

Also, was it really difficult for you to decide to leave Blur and move on? I know that sometimes a secure position is very difficult to leave, even if you feel it is time to move onto other things.

Hope to see you at Siggraph again this year!

Cheers,
Darlene Ollerenshaw
 
Old 11 November 2011   #23
Hi Neil,

I just wanted to say thank you for being a huge inspiration and source of knowledge for me in my career. Your efforts to educate the community with all of those tasty tutorials is very much appreciated!

I also have children (3) and I do find it difficult to work on personal stuff without sacrificing family time or working really late hours and making myself too exhausted to be the best dad/hubby I can be. It's always nice to hear that other artists have to find that balance too - do you find it challenging to do that or is it getting easier as your kiddo gets older?

Thanks in advance!
Jesse Sandifer
__________________




CGNUGGETS - character process training
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Old 11 November 2011   #24
Originally Posted by ftb: Thanks for the amazing 3D studio max scripts, its a shame things like these can't go between maya and max easily but that doesn't change how great they are!


Thanks ftb, ya, I wish I had a magic button that would transfer all my Maxscripts to Melscripts as well, unfortunately the amount of time it would take to rewrite them all is pretty daunting, especially since it would have to be done in my spare time. That's why I've gotten used to moving files between max and maya using fbx, to try and take advantage of the tools in both packages.

Originally Posted by ftb: do you have any old work? like from the programming the pixels era?


Haha! I'll get one tonight from home and post it just for fun

Originally Posted by MaryamNademi: Ansel Hsiao's work is quite interesting! thank you so much for detailed answers.


Glad the extra detail helped. Thanks for dropping by!

- Neil
 
Old 11 November 2011   #25
Originally Posted by Pepster3D: Hi Neil! Long time, no see (or talk). Glad to see you're doing well and are happy!


Hey Darlene! Ya, we last spoke Siggraph 2008 was it?

Originally Posted by Pepster3D: I was curious if you specifically applied for the position of TD at Pixar, or did you just go in there as a CG artist, and end up in that role?


Well, at larger companies things tend to specialize more. And also various terms change their definition depending on which company you're at. Like at Blur, everyone was an "animator", even though I did modeling, texturing, FX and light/comp, and my character animation skills suck At Pixar, animators control the movement of the characters, other jobs fall into other categories. So a modeler at Pixar is considered a TD, a shader is a TD, an effects artist is a TD. So the things I'm best at are considered a TD position at Pixar, even if other companies would have different names for these jobs, such as the one you said, "CG Artist".

Originally Posted by Pepster3D: Also, was it really difficult for you to decide to leave Blur and move on? I know that sometimes a secure position is very difficult to leave, even if you feel it is time to move onto other things.


It's always a little scary moving from what you know to what you don't know. Some people are better than others, I know that I'm a little more sedentary and like to grow roots in a place while others are nomads who love traveling to every corner of the globe working on this or that film. I've found that personally, when I make a big decision in my life, I'll be worried about making the change, and then one day I'll just wake up and say "Yup, I'm ready for the change", and then I do it. This same thing has happened a number of times to me in my life, where something isn't working, and then one day I'll just know that it's time to move on. I still miss my Blur days, the quake games were great, I made so many lifelong friends there, despite me not liking LA very much, I do miss the beach and some of my favorite restaurants. But I enjoy my life now in a whole host of different ways, and don't want to give that up, until it's time to make a big change again. Considering I now have a baby, that's enough change for me right now

Originally Posted by Pepster3D: Hope to see you at Siggraph again this year!


I hope to make it down next summer, so hope to see you there as well!

Originally Posted by Sandpiper: I just wanted to say thank you for being a huge inspiration and source of knowledge for me in my career. Your efforts to educate the community with all of those tasty tutorials is very much appreciated!


Thanks Jesse, I'm a fan of your work as well, I love that turtle character, your mudbox skills are indeed strong!

Originally Posted by Sandpiper: I also have children (3) and I do find it difficult to work on personal stuff without sacrificing family time or working really late hours and making myself too exhausted to be the best dad/hubby I can be. It's always nice to hear that other artists have to find that balance too - do you find it challenging to do that or is it getting easier as your kiddo gets older?


Ya, I really don't want to shortchange my kid, she deserves an attentive dad, I don't want her to grow up and say "Ya, my daddy spent all his time on the computer, so we didn't play much." That said, I am an artist and need a personal outlet for that, so finding a good inbetween is vital. Funnily enough, I sort of found it easier to do my own art when she was smaller, because even though I was exhausted, she did tend to sleep a lot. Now she's all about super activity, running around, opening cabinets, finding every dangerous item in the house and trying to eat it. My plan is starting in the new year to try and do at least one speed painting a week, to get back into a personal art schedule, and of course throw some tutorials and script writing in there when appropriate. So we'll see.

Man, with 3 kids, you really do have your hands full. Are any of them artists? Because there's part of my that hopes my kid's into art as well, then mom, dad and baby call all do art projects together.

Anyways, best of luck with that kid/art balance, it's a subject I really don't see discussed a lot of forums, probably because the parents are too busy to participate

- Neil
 
Old 11 November 2011   #26
Hey Neil,
I am a very very big fan of 3D Animation Work and its a pleasure to meet a very good 3D Artist What I everytime want to ask: How long was the most hardest application? So I mean the hardest object you have to create (including textures and so on)? Thanks for being here and answering our questions

Best greetings Oliver Freudrich

Last edited by redflag93 : 11 November 2011 at 08:15 PM.
 
Old 11 November 2011   #27
If there was a fire in your office and you could only save one toy, which one would it be?
- Ben

Are you mostly happy, sad, or angry?
-Freddie
 
Old 11 November 2011   #28
regarding computer graphics

hiya neil,
how did you get that wicked sick drop shadow in your name in that header image? you know, the one with the two suns.

thanks in advance,
-francisco delatorre

 
Old 11 November 2011   #29
Originally Posted by ftb: do you have any old work? like from the programming the pixels era?


As promised, some REALLY OLD WORK.

The first is a weapons inventory for an RPG game I was working on. This was fully programmed pixel by pixel, 16 colors only. The second is from a fighting game, very much inspired by Final Fight, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, etc. This is 256 colors, and I believe this was made with a mouse, but it would only paint a single pixel at a time in the paint software I was using. This is not professional work, it's just stuff I was tinkering with in my bedroom, ages 14-16.

Please be kind

- Neil
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg PGS5.jpg (69.6 KB, 84 views)
 
Old 11 November 2011   #30
Originally Posted by redflag93: How long was the most hardest application? So I mean the hardest object you have to create (including textures and so on)?


That's a tough question, since I work in my sparetime, it's tough to keep accurate hours on things. It was probably this lizard:



The modeling didn't take too long, but the texturing took forever, since photoshop didn't allow you at the time to resize on the fly custom brushes. So I had to manually make multiple sizes of my scale brush, and then paint each scale separately. This took me maybe a month, but again, that's on and off.

Originally Posted by Beechdbum: If there was a fire in your office and you could only save one toy, which one would it be?


Probably my cavetroll. Or the Shadow Guard Armstrong.

Originally Posted by Beechdbum: Are you mostly happy, sad, or angry?


I am mostly happy, my music is mostly angry

Originally Posted by drspam: how did you get that wicked sick drop shadow in your name in that header image? you know, the one with the two suns.


You'll have the ask the cgsociety people, they added the text to the image

- Neil
 
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