Meet the Artist: Steven Stahlberg

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  04 April 2005
Meet the Artist: Steven Stahlberg

Steven Stahlberg is one of the best known CG artists in the world today, with his work featured in almost every 3D/CG webzine and magazine in existence. One of Steven’s most prominent 3D works “One Last Time” (AKA “Fairy and Snake”) was the cover image for the landmark EXPOSÉ 1 book, where Steven’s work was also awarded. He is an active Forum Leader here on CGTalk.

Steven Stahlberg is a co-founder of Optidigit, now partnered with VisualXtreme to form Androidblues, The Virtual Talent Studio. Steven is the head of 3D animation and art director of Androidblues in addition to being an artist, illustrator and animator. After completing his art studies in Sweden and Australia, Steven worked ten years as a freelance illustrator for leading advertising agencies and publications in Europe and Asia. Steven is internationally acknowledged as a world class digital artist and was the first artist in the world to have a virtual character sponsored by a major modeling agency (Elite) back in 1999.

Related Links
Steven Stahlberg Homepage

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The "Meet the Artists" forum provides a conducive environment where CGTalk members can have the opportunity to speak to some of the finest digital art talents in the world! CGTalk members can post questions and artwork, and have them answered or critiqued by these master artists. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight from seasoned industry veterans!

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Last edited by Leonard : 04 April 2005 at 07:50 AM.
  04 April 2005
Hi Steven,

Just wondering if theres any differences between the way peoples doing things in Malaysia and Europe? How do u find it in Malaysia (peoples, cultures etc.)? Can Malaysian compete with other countries? And why you chose Malaysia?

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."-Calvin & Hobbes
  04 April 2005
Steven, firstly I'd just like to say you will go down in history as one of the classic artists of our time. I'm not being flattering here, I honestly think that. Anyhoo... on to the questions:
  1. Your style is very unique and consistantly tight. How long did it take to evolve into your visual style? All visual styles evolve, naturally, but at some point you must have progressed from varying styles to your own.
  2. Do you have any drawings you did as a teenager or your younger years?
  3. How do you block out your pieces? Do you just start modelling/painting or do you sketch out ideas first? Do you have examples of this you could show us from your past work?
  4. Obviously women are your forte. What women inspire you to model such exquisite artwork?
  5. What's your workspace like? How does it contribute to your focus and inspiration?
"There Really is No Secret"
Martin Brennand - mocha Product Manager - Imagineer Systems
  04 April 2005
wow...Steven Stahlberg on "meet the artists"...that's really great...can`t believe it

hm well first the usuall things... :
think I might mention that I love your work , Steven!
You're the one which showed me the love of 3d Characters when I was ... think ... 14 years old.since then I tried to do my own digital human characters and improve them till today!
you're my personal hero ... so my questions are :

-why did you get into 3d!?what was your personal dicision to make your art 3d?!
-who is/was your "personal hero"?!
-did you ever believe that you would be as popular as you are now?!

THX so much!!

  04 April 2005

hi steven,glad to see this forum .i`m from malaysia actually,i know u are one of the kind to help 3d master here .i`m very admire your artwork but unfortunely i`m not a maya user,anyway,just glad to meet u here...
Can`t survive without 3D
  04 April 2005
My god! Stahlberg!!
you're the best artist ever for me
was so inspired by this pic with the fairy and the snake
ha your photo^^ you're nice man , great package for your ladie

LOL okok I stop now....

questions :

1) I see you've done great 3D cg arts , but you've also done some amazing pieces of 2D painting ...
have the 3D helped you to enhence your skills in 2D drawing (you know perspective , texturing render desired) ?
Only for French people :

My Journey Begins Challenge Thread:
  04 April 2005
Hi Steven!

I had a sneaking suspicion you'd be here and, well, here you are!

Here are my questions:

* When starting off, what were your primary focuses in learning?

* How did you get SO GOOD in both modelling AND painting? Do you work evenly in both of them, or do you apply the principles of one to the other? Which principles cross over to each?

* Which mistakes do you most often see younger artists doing?

* What were your influences starting out and what are they today?

I hope you're a fast typer, you'll have to be in order to keep up with all the questions!! By the way, I love the essays on your website, thanks for sharing the love!
  04 April 2005
Hi Steve
  • Do you think going/getting a degree in CG is great idea?
  • Do you also think that getting in the Games industry (Art section) is hard or similar to other CG such as 3D?
  • What is your 2 favourite 3D Packages?
Your work is beyond good, very, very inspiring

This message DOES reflect the opinions of the extraterrestrials
  04 April 2005
Hi there Steven,

first off, love your work, very cool, technically and creatively.

Just got 3 Questions,

1, Ive seen in most of your renders, your characters hair, seems geometry based, with maybe a texutre mapped as hair. I know you use Maya so why not the option to go for paint FX?

2, If there was a feature in Maya you would love to see what would it be.

and final one,

3, I remember hearing about a training facility you were setting up in Malaysia, just wanted to know, is that still going ahead?

Thanks for taking the time to do this, everyone here really appreciates it.

Last edited by Phrenzy84 : 04 April 2005 at 09:20 AM.
  04 April 2005
Hi Steven Almighty

I have question about your bio. I read that you changed places a lot. I guess it was really hard to leave everything and move to other part of world. How did you do it? I mean did you already have place to stay and send your hardware there first or something. What about family and so.I'm sorry if it's to personal question I understand you won't answer.I'm courious because I also had to move from Poland to Cyprus and who knows what will happen in future where I will be.
:: cgi
  04 April 2005

when are they gonna let you make the great psycho-erotic rendered movie? Something as elegant and powerful as the sword-fighting scene in Animatrix....

Keep up the great work.
Mike Philbin
novels Bukkakeworld and Planet of the Owls available from Silverthought Press, NY.
  04 April 2005
hi steven,
first of i'd like to say your work ROCKS.
one day i'll be as good as you :P
"There is no way in this godforgiven world, that I am going into that hole"
  04 April 2005
Hi guys!
de_tomato - well Europe and Malaysia are very different in so many ways, especially when you compare it to Sweden (where I grew up). If I made a list of it this post would be too long, suffice to say I'm addicted to the food here, the people are friendler (on average), there's much more sunlight, I feel my family is safer here, and we have a huge pool in our condo, even though our rent is very cheap. Personally I prefer Malaysia to almost any other country I've lived in.
Can Malaysia compete with other countries, I assume you mean in content creation? Of course they can, and one day they will, but the day is perhaps not yet, and I don't really know how far off it might be. There are some hurdles to overcome.

erilaz, thanks! 1. I never really consciously worked on my visual style in 3d, it's always been more along the lines of 'hm I don't like that, have to fix it' kind of thing. How long? It's probably been with me from the start. Now in 2d things are different, I've tried almost every style under the sun and could never really find anything really distinctively mine. I guess it just means I was always meant to be a 3d artist, and not a 2d one.
2. Earlier work, sorry couldn't find any from my teens, this is the oldest I could find online, I was 25 and attending art school:
Silly thing, just another style exercise, as I mentioned I used to do a lot, especially in school... I do remember that my work from before I went to art school really sucked though, I'll try to scan something tomorrow.
3. Almost always sketch first. Here's 2:
4. I'm inspired by beautiful, intelligent, strong yet sensual women, maybe conflicted, perhaps a great sadness hidden away...
5. My workspace right now is isolated and quiet, relatively gloomy, and cool (good aircon a necessity here). I sit in a small room by myself, I like it that way. Sometimes I play music, but it's not always good, it can get in the way of my thoughts too.

tinitus, too kind! 1. I always wanted to get into 3d. That sounds strange, considering how old I am, but still. It's true. As soon as I found some hardware that could do what I wanted, and could afford it, I jumped on the opportunity like a starving man on food!
2. In my teens I was most inspired by Frank Frazetta, and I believe to this day that no one in history ever came close to his mastery of working with little or no reference. At least before his illness.
3. No, never.

xiao_x, thanks, glad to meet you too!

Neozoom, thanks! Great package for the ladies? I wish
1. Yes, the 3d has helped me develop my 2d skills, and vice versa. Just one example: I never really figured out how to paint skin properly, until I'd worked for years trying to replicate it in 3d.

paperclip, 1. You mean 2d or 3d? When I started out in 2d, my primary focus was drawing, anatomy and perspective and such... later I became obsessed with copying different styles. In 3d, my focus was, and still is, basically fighting the limitations of the software. I always wanted to do stuff that I found out it couldn't be done.
2. thanks... I think it's just a result of having 2d skills. I think the common denominator is seeing the proportions, outlines, forms, relationships. Which is what we practise when we practise either sculpting or drawing/painting... If I had to pick one, I think drawing is the best way to practise that.
3. Most common beginner's mistakes? Using geometry that is too simple and smooth, which is how it's created by default in the computer, unless we actively work against it. Lips that look like tapering cylinders tacked onto a face, face too flat, hands too thin, eyelids not creating an S-curve in the topview... They usually need to look closer at their subject, to see the subtleties there. (As do we all, me too.)
4. Influences: Frank Frazetta as mentioned, Roger Dean (way back), japanese manga and anime artists, some classical artists like Vermeer, Craig Mullins and many others, I can't remember... most recently, of course, Linda Bergkvist.

MWarsame, thanks, 1. Degree may be the only way to go sometimes, but they are usually expensive and there are alternatives. Think it through carefully before you make your decision. If you can, ask the people who may be hiring you later what they think (that's what I did when I decided which art school to go to - I called the company I wanted to work at, and asked the owner what degree he'd prefer a potential employee to have).
2. Sorry, I did work a while in a games company, but today I know very little about the American games industry, and about the 3d industry in general, except what I read on CGTalk. (edit: I see you're in the UK, well I guess I know even less about that)
3. I'd obviously say Maya, since I've been unusually monogamous as to what 3d software I use (I don't know any of the others very well), but for the second one I'd have to say Zbrush, it's definitely looking better and better.
  04 April 2005
Hello Steven!

I recently started to practice again CG, with photoshop, I try to put something in the Daily Sketch forum when I have time. (I liked very much this sketch of Pippi Longstrom you did).

And of course, as I searched for inspiration and beautiful work, I immediately found your work. I like very much your way of painting, your palette, your subjects. Great source of inspiration, I have the cloud-lady as desktop background.

Could you please give us some info about your favorite way of painting 2D? (for example do you use line sketch or directly paint color masses with large brushes and refine more and more, do you use many different layers or not, do you use many custom brushes or more simpler ones, what canvas size in pixels do you prefer, do you like to make a color study before starting)

Sorry...too many questions I just see your post now, and the step by step Jealousy tutorial answer most of my questions. Do you always use this technique, black and white for shadows and highlights, and a color layer applied later?

Last edited by Dranger : 04 April 2005 at 11:17 AM.
  04 April 2005
Phrenzy84, thank you. 1. I got used to geometry hair long before paintFX existed... after, it's partly habit perhaps, but also a feeling that I don't like the way the paintFX hair looks. It's ok for certain styles, but others it just can't do. I can control the geometry hair more precisely. Now Hair, is much better than PaintFX... but, it can't render in MR yet. Converting to polys seems to not work, produces too many... and that commercial plugin? I don't know, I have this feeling I shouldn't have to pay again to be able to use Hair.
2. A feature? Maya Hair renderable in Mental Ray.
3. The training facility has taken a big setback, we'll see, hopefully it can still be a reality one day, I just don't know right now. A tv series we were working on went belly-up due to the European owner ending up in jail for fraud(!), so we had to stop working on that. It's still too early to say exactly what is going to happen, I should know more in a few months.

lukx, it's not that hard to move. Just use a reputable international moving company, they can come in and do all your packing for you, and take it from door to door. COmputers, I sent them with Fedex last time, so they arrived shortly after me. Family, you just make sure you write "FAMILY" with big letters on the crate they're in, so you can find them... Seriously, the family is no problem. In fact, my wife helps me so much with the organizing of the move, it's amazing. We home-school the kids, which is tough on my wife, but no problem for the kids. (In fact it's overall better for them than normal school, imo.)

hertzchim, yeah, wouldn't I love to do something like that...

TheGreenMachine, thanks!

Guys I'm going for dinner with my family now, back in a couple hours!
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