Meet the Artist :: Bryan Wynia

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  11 November 2013
Meet the Artist :: Bryan Wynia

Bryan Wynia is a character and creature artist working in the game and film industry. Currently he works as a Senior Character Artist at Hi-Rez Studios. Some of his previous clients include Sony Santa Monica, Naughty Dog, Jim Henson's Creature Shop, Gentle Giant, and Legacy Effects.

Bryan is one of the authors of Ballistic Publishing's Essence Creatures masterclass book which is now available to preOrder. Check out the Ballistic site for details.

"In my spare time," says Bryan, "I'm passionate about teaching and sharing what I have learned in the industry. I have taught classes and workshops with The Concept
Design Academy, Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Concept Design Workshops, and CGWorkshops."

Please welcome Bryan and feel free to ask him about his work in the creative industries. He is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and always willing to give great insights into his techniques. CGSociety is pleased to have him along.

Fmr Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
  11 November 2013
Hi Bryan

Hi Bryan, I've been a fan of your work for a long time now. I wanted to ask you about your experiences getting started in your carreer. How did you start out? Where there any difficulties you had to over come?
  11 November 2013

Thanks for taking the time to ask me a question. I appreciate you following my work as well!

How I first got started in the industry is a good question. I have always had a huge fascination in creatures, film making, and games. I spent more time in high school learning how to make latex masks and fake wounds then I did driving, hahahaha.

I can trace back my first professional "entertainment job" to Netherworld Haunted Attractions( Netherworld is an incredibly special place. Its's considered to be one of the best haunted houses in the US. A majority of the crew works in the film or television industry and every year they are raising the bar. At Netherworld I learned about creating a memorable experience and how much a character can leave an impression on a customer. I also met Bill "Splat" Johnson who would later become my mentor. To this day I still try and make it out to the haunt at least a few nights to become a monster and scary and entertain the crowds.

When I met Bill I was attending the Art Institute of Atlanta and was pursuing a BFA in Media Arts and Animation. My main goal though was to become a special make up effects artist. For those of you who don't know Bill " Splat " Johnson who is an incredibly talented make up artists and has been working in films almost as long as I had been alive at the time. You can see more of his work here... Bill was kind enough to bring me as an intern. I would help him clean up the shop, make molds, do some simple sculpting, and other random tasks. It gave me expose to a real world working studio that I could never experience at school. He also allowed me to work on personal projects at the studio. Any free time I had I would be in the shop studying his work, sculpting and painting my own creations, and just trying to learn as much as possible. I still look back at this time as one of the most enjoyable experiences. I learned so much and everything was so incredibly new and refreshing.

I was Bill's second intern, the first was an artist named Scott Spencer. Scott was also from Atlanta but had moved to Los Angeles and was working at Gentle Giant Studios. Bill introduced us to one another and Scott suggested I learn a program called ZBrush. This was during the days of Zbrush 2 and we did not even have copies or classes for it at Art Institute. So I ended up asking a professor if we could get a license. He pulled some strings and allowed me to learn the program during my animation courses. I spent a few weeks with it and really enjoyed it. I actually felt like I was sculpting. It was really intuitive for me and felt much more natural then most modeling programs. I stayed in contact with Scott and showed him some of my first digital sculptures. He was kind enough to offer me a summer intern position at Gentle Giant. I was incredibly excited and could not wait to get out to California and start this new adventure.

I have worked with many studios over the past few years but I can honestly trace my career back to these few simple beginnings. You also asked if I had any difficulties to overcome.... That is a good questions. I think the honest answer would be, myself. It's very easy to become lazy. As passionate as I am there are days I would rather play a game then sketch or sculpt. I do take time to relax yet it's very important to me to continue to get better and grow as much as possible each day. It may sound cheesy but I feel if you lose that passion or that drive then you could be your own worst enemy.
  11 November 2013
Wow! That's so interesting. I've also been a fan of Scott's work for a while, I had no idea how far you guys went back. Thank you so much for answering my question in such detail Bryan. I'm just starting out in this industry as an artist and if I get half as good as you I'll be a very happy man.

All the best,

Adam O'Donnell
  11 November 2013
Hi Byran,

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us... your sculpts are super inspiring!
As a kind of follow-up to Adamodo's question, what have you found works best in your portfolio? I've got a lot of things that interest me, including creature/concept design, matte painting, and graphic design, but I can't seem to put everything together in a portfolio that gets me work.

Do you find that specialization is more important than the ability to wear multiple hats?
What kind of portfolio do you think makes an artist the most attractive to potential employers?

Thanks very much!
  11 November 2013
Adam- I'm glad you found that interesting. Keep working hard and trying new exercises. This is something that never stops and is half the fun of being an artist. I know I can sound a bit cheesy as I type this but I seriously mean that. It's always exciting to finish a creature or a new design but it is even more exciting to learn a new skill and apply it!

Draco1084-Thanks for taking the time to ask a question! I'm glad my work can inspire you, its always great to hear that. To answer your question I do feel that being specialized can be helpful. This is just my personal experience though. I tried to spend as much time in my career to do the best job possible. There is so much to learn in just the character and creature area that I know this is something I will pursue my entire life. I have been obsessed with characters since I a kid. At this point in my life it's creating characters for game and film but in the future it could be any other form of creating a character. Perhaps puppet creation or voice acting?!

To get back to your question I do think it's important to really try and master your craft. It is helpful though to know the departments around you a bit. For example, being able to speak with a Character/Creature TD about your character properly deforming is always helpful.

I do have some friends though who work at small studios or do large amounts of freelance work and having a range of skills has great assisted them. My biggest advice to this question is do what you LOVE to do and do it every day.

Do know this though, if you are applying for a job as a character artist and you have a portfolio full of vehicles and environments...that is not really representing you properly. When creating a portfolio I think there are 3 basic rules.

1. Less is more, it's more about quality then quantity.
2. Show only your best work.
3. Show what you really want to do, if you want to make game characters, SHOW game characters.

I hope this answers your question and best of luck in the future!

Bryan Wynia

Last edited by CryptCreeper : 11 November 2013 at 03:23 AM.
  11 November 2013
Hey Bryan,

thanks for doing this!

What would you recommend aspiring character artists in regard of pursuing a chareer? What can I do to become a better artist and how can I make the most of that in getting the jobs that I want?

I mean, is it just the mileage that you put in, the amount of anatomy studies etc. or what do you think, thought you the most and got you further?

Thanks again, this is much appreciated!
Thilo Gebhardt
  11 November 2013
avagoyamug- You are very welcome. I recommend any aspiring character or creature artists to constantly purse their knowledge of anatomy and sculpture. This is such a critical aspect of character creation. It's also a skill you will be sharpening your entire career. I know this is something that is repeated time and time again but I think that is for a reason. The book ...

Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure (Dover Art Instruction
to be incredibly helpful. Every time I read it I learn something new. I highly recommend this book!!!

As for getting the most from the job you want to land... I suggest creating a portfolio for the type of position you want. If you want to work on realistic military games, your portfolio should show this.

I do feel part of you building your skill is mileage but I also feel it needs to be the proper mileage. Take the time to make sure the studies you are doing serve a purpose and push you. You don't want to continue to make the same mistakes. I also like to try and learn something new with every character I design or create. I found figure drawing and working with actually clay to be incredibly helpful. So continue to push yourself and you will only see your skill set grow. I hope this answers your questions!
  11 November 2013
Thanks for the advice, Bryan. Sounds like maybe it's time to pare down the portfolio.

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us!
  11 November 2013
Your work is amazing, and I really appreciate you are taking your time to talk with us.

I have few questions regarding working at studios. What is the usual pipeline when creating creatures/characters? You probably go through various stages, but if you can explain briefly. Also, how much time are you given to finish each creature/character? How are iterations alike?

Oh... and, one more... do you find yourself diving right into Zbrush as soon as you're assigned with work or do you sketch on paper first?

Thanks in advance!
  11 November 2013
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