Neil Blevins interview!


Tonight I interviewed Neil Blevins who’s been doing CG for some time now, he’s worked at a few studios including; “Blur” and “Pixar”. Enjoy the show!

Right click the image and save target as for more :slight_smile:

*as a side note I’ll be gone for a week…



Downloading it right now , looks very interesting , thanks!


50MB? Did he talk to him for 24 hours O_O compress that with ACC man for real. 96kpb AAC


it’s 70mins long…


Hey there, Neil Blevins here.

Please note, this is NOT a Neil Blevins from Pixar interview. I only mention the company for like 2 seconds the whole mp3. This is more an interview where I discuss my personal work, some opinions on working in the industry and on being an artist. So hope you enjoy it, but if your only interest is learning pixar stuff, you’ll be disappointed. Thank you.

  • Neil


I enjoyed it very much , alot of useful info in there , though i was hoping to hear what is being an Autodesk 3Dsmax master (btw, a bit late but ,i congratulate you ). does this title gives you advantages (besides looking for work :wink: ) ? free autodesk Tshirt every year for a life time ? a teapot maybe ? ok,…J/K:D . anyway you and Bobo (and of course the other masters ) deserve this title you’ve done so much for the CG community :thumbsup:.
Thank you Neil and ArcherX for the interview.


Great interview, I like how Neil touches upon issues such as interface design, repetitive injury issues, and fair treatment of artists in the visual effects industry. Definitely worth a listen.


Great interview dude, its nice to hear animators of that level remind people that they werent always that good and it does take time, looking forward to your next interview


It was a good listen, I really like the show because you can listen to it while you work.

Neil Blevins , has some very unique work. It would of been kool to hear more
about what the inspiration is for his images and what is the story or concept/motive behind
some of the images. I always like to hear “what were you thinking at the moment of this piece.”


Thanks everyone for your comments.

BOY1DA, if you have any specific questions about any of my work, including inspiration questions, etc, feel free to ask them here, I’ll do my best to answer.

  • Neil


I find your work very interesting because
it is very close to abstract but at the same time very tangible.
You can clearly make out the forms, at the same time it’s something people
probably never seen before. It intrigues me because in my work I tend
to try to stick to subject matters that are very familiar looking.
And I have to dig deep and really push myself to come up with something
mildly abstract or original. I’m pretty literal with my work .

How does something like “Earth Dweller” or “Alternative Birth”
“Entry Point 2” or “Fallen Angel” just to name a few… come into existence conceptually.

What creates that spark for your ideas and then how does it grow to the point of
compelling you to create a final image.

Does it start with an emotion or something you dream or music ?
Maybe it is something that you experienced that you feel to say it
with a metaphoric image ? or are they literal ?

I guess the short version is, how do you choose your subject matter
and why do you prefer to express them as still images ?



Hi Neil,

I enjoyed listening to your views on the industry. A couple of the topics you touched on were also things which I have been pondering for a long while myself. I created a thread and thought maybe you and others in this thread would be interested in checking it out.

Cheers :smiley:


Well, inspiration comes in many forms, and every image is sort of different, so I’ll go through your list and maybe some generalities will come out from there.

Fallen Angel:
That one came from experimentation, I really had no clear idea before I sat down to work on it (which is rare these days). I was supposed to do an album cover for a band, and was having a hard time of it. For some reason I made these two spheres, and then it occured to me that if I added chains to them, they’d look sort of like maces. So I did that, but then realized they were pointing downwards, and so it seemed more like they were giant weights, pulling something down. I then started thinking of all those horrible stories you hear about people getting tied to cement blocks and being drowned in a river, which led me to the idea of doing something similar. The album was for a death metal band, so the subject matter seemed to work. :slight_smile: I added the light source strong on top, and dark on the bottom, like your underwater and seeing the sun from below the waves, before you fall into the darkness. Added the figure, decided to make him sort of serpentine. The title fallen angel came to me as I way to describe the overall motion of the piece (being dragged down), and the fact the character was being dragged from the light to the darkness, which had some heaven and hell corilations. I added the tiny anemic wings on its back to fortify the concept and the title.

Alternative Birth:
I’d been doing some looking at piercing and body art, and also I’d seen this really cool album cover from a grindcore band called nasum, which to me was the next logical step, hooking up wires to humans as input/output devices. I decided to explore those ideas in a piece, got a bellybutton photo, started the wires. Due to the flow of the wires, the final pieces seemed to deal more with the output side of things rather than the input side of things, and I went with the title Alternative Birth because it felt like the wires were bursting forth from the orafice (birth), like some mechanical creature being born from an organic creature (hence, “alternative”)

Entry Point 2:
The first Entry Point was based on microscope photography I had seen, getting really close to the skin. It was one of my earlier pieces, and just didn’t quite come out the way I wanted. It just felt too simple somehow, the connector to the body was not much more complex than a textured cylinder. So I decided to challenge myself to making the most complex wire piece I had ever done, with hundreds of wires, all bundled together, twisting around, make something very complex, but at the same time, it needed structure in there. This led me to a huge revamping of my wirebundler script, to allow for pathdeforms since I wanted the wires to be more than textured cylinders. I wanted the skin to look really bloody, like a wound, hence the red colors.

Earth Dweller:
This is really just a simple nature piece. Ever pulled up a piece of sod from your lawn and saw all the cool roots underneath? Well, roots did always look like tentacles, and I love tentacles, so I decided I would make a piece as though the grass and roots were actually alive. The colors are all earth tones, to reenforce the concept. This went through several iterations, the original drawing looked a little more like a spore or virus, but I decided to go a little more straight from reference for the final piece. Added the eye to reenforce the “aliveness” of the creature. I also am a big fan of the Faeries book by Alan Lee and Brian Froud, and so some of the “feeling” of the piece comes from that work.

So I guess one piece came as an experiment. One came from looking at images that led me to some philosophical thoughts, one came as a way to improve on a previous concept, and one came from nature. But all of my work really is a mixture of things, I see a painting, I see a cool shape in nature, I see a color combination on my drive to work, and somehow those differen things fit together in my brain, and an idea is born.

In general, I look at a lot of nature, a lot of photographs (both my own and other people’s), and I tend to come up with my scene before I come up with the creature, which may be partly how I keep stuff more abstract. In some respect, the creature doesn’t matter as much in the end as the environment, lighting, mood and overall shapes in the piece. The details of the creature just support the primary feel.

A lot of ideas usually come to me at night, right before I go to sleep. While their initial inspiration come from something I had seen or felt earlier, it takes a few hours to percolate in my head before the actual image comes to me.

I sorta see it like this, I see the world, and then I view that world through my own eyes, subtely changing the shapes and themes to more closely reflect the stuff that interest me. I also combine multiple seperate things, since I feel the strongest ideas are actually a combination of ideas. So I may see an interesting shape in a rock on a hike, and turn it into some strange creature, or a robot or an alien landscape. Or I see some sort of neat color combination, and then use it later on in a piece that suits it. Music is also an inspiration, although I generally don’t get ideas directly from music as much as listening to music helps me shape the ideas, helps me with the details, after the initial idea has already formed.

Anyways, hope something in all that babbling answers your question :slight_smile:

  • Neil


Very kool, that was like a dvd commentary but for still images.

Seeing kool art is great. For me it is as kool to know how the art was conceived.
Almost like hearing a story of how your favorite band got started or how a great song came to be or hearing how someone met their spouse for the first time.
It just adds that bit of sentiment …
Not to forget that the art is just a bi product of the mind that created it .

Some artist don’t like to talk about what the art means to them or what
inspired it,they want the viewer to interpret it , I never really understood that.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

And thanks Archer for CGcast and the effort made to showcase CG artist on a more personal level.



Actually, I’ve come across the opposite too much for my tastes. I think it’s important that an image should be able to stand on its own, and doesn’t need a deep explanation in order to make visual sense of it. Not that explanations are bad. I guess what I’m saying is an explanation should be there to enhance the art, not to replace it :slight_smile:

Hehe, that can also be a big letdown though, I remember an interview with the guitarist for Extreme saying he wrote their big ballad hit “More Than Words” while sitting on the toilet :slight_smile: Weird where inspiration strikes you :slight_smile:

  • Neil


Agree. This is what sepparates artists from artist wannabees. If the message of a work is not clear for most of the people the artist made a terrible job.


[left]Great interview Neil Blevins its honor for me just to write this post knowing that you will going to read it

When I saw 3D max for the first time from Along time ago I liked it lot I had to rely on my self to learn it (there is no CG school tell now in Egypt) and I got to the point that every self learner face that I cant learn something new whatever I tried then thanks to Google I found your web site your CG Education section was mind blowing it show me new doors I didn’t know they were exist . let me put it this way when some one tells you about how it feel to be great musician then you get inspired by him to work hard to be this great musician you owe the one that give you such an inspiration big time
So I owe you debt I cant return
that’s All from along time I wished to tell you that thanks and always in advance[/left]


Thanks Mahmoud, glad you’ve found my stuff useful. The internet is indeed a great thing, so much of my early learnings came from the helpful people on compuserve, and I’m proud to pass along the favor.

  • Neil


Just don’t confuse “inspiration” with “explanation”. I love reading about where the ideas for images come from, from the design or illustration perspective. The Beanstalk image in the current 2d gallery is a great example of this. He painted the image of a futuristic bio-tower disappearing into the clouds, his girlfriend sees it and says “where’s Jack?”, and a great idea is born.

But I hate those long-winded back-stories behind every character or element in the image. “This image symbolizes man’s struggle against…struggling!” Yawn!

Anyway, thanks for posting this stuff, Neil.


Hey guys thanks for listening, I haven’t replied to the thread because I was away all week in some underground bunker on a school assignment.

Thanks again Neil!