Top tips with Toni Bratincevic

Blizzard Entertainment senior environment artist Toni Bratincevic offers some top tips for improving your performance and saving time in your workflow...

Blizzard Entertainment senior environment artist Toni Bratincevic offers some top tips for improving your performance and saving time in your workflow...

Track your time

In order to achieve maximum efficiency at artist level, every individual in the team needs to have some self-organizational skills. When workload is not that bad I usually don't do anything special, but when deadlines are close and there is a lot of work, some preparation for that day is desirable. In my case, what I tend to do is write things that I want to finish in one day, for example 4 tasks. Then I roughly allocate some time for every task and try to reach those goals. Sometimes I tend to overestimate my speed and make an ideal plan, but even if that happens a lot it is always nice to track my time spent on tasks; it gives me a better idea how realistic my personal schedules are.

Improve your rendering performance to save time

Hardware upgrades for sure are the easiest and most simple way to cut time, but it has its limits after which it doesn't make sense to upgrade. Sculpting for example would be as efficient on a machine that costs $5,000 as it would be on a $20,000 machine. However, rendering is one area where more power always means faster results. With GPU engines becoming more popular, it is great to invest some more money in a graphics card because some scenes that can utilize the power of GPU rendering can get a performance boost of up to 10 times. A perfect example would be a short that I am working on as an environment modeler where we are exclusively using VRay-RT for rendering:

The software choice of the environment modeler

For my personal use I rely on a combination of 3ds Max, V-Ray and ZBrush. I think using these 3 tools artists can achieve some amazing results. Professionally I am also using Maya which is a more common tool in the VFX industry than 3ds Max. As for the reasons, after being a user of Maya for more than 12 years, and 3ds Max for 7, I prefer using 3ds Max for environmental modeling work and scene assembly since it tends to be faster and more efficient for those tasks. Flexibility of the modifier stack in 3ds Max is something that hasn't been replicated in any other software.

V-Ray is one of the best rendering tools today; it is fast, simple to use but at the same time it has a rich set of features. Its GI engines are one of the best in the industry, and even today no other render came even close to the quality it produces. ZBrush is probably the most innovative software today, it is very affordable with a set of features that no other sculpting software can match. It is fast, it can handle millions of polys without any problem, and I find its UI extremely efficient once you get used to it.

UV Layout and World Machine

There are a few smaller apps that I use in my workflow that I can't live without. UV Layout is probably the most important app for creating UVs: it is simple and very logical to use, it has great unwrap algorithms for organic surfaces and its layout tools are also great. World Machine is another great tool which I use for terrain generation. It uses a node-based approach and produces some amazing results. Users can even generate tons of additional maps, like erosion maps, which then can be used for texturing the same terrain in Maya or 3ds Max.

Look around for resources

There are a ton of resources today for learning. Starting with Gnomon DVDs for some more advanced techniques, Digital Tutors for beginners, and a massive amount of free tutorials that you can find on websites like 3dtotal. Books are also a great learning material; my favorite is Digital Art Masters where artists present their work with a set of smaller tutorials. It is a great resource to get a general idea how more senior artists utilize their pipelines and skills. Forums, like CGTalk, are another great place to get your questions answered by professionals. I tend to visit these forums on a daily basis, searching for inspiring artwork or checking some interesting discussions. The only way to stay afloat in this industry is to be involved in community and to understand that doing 3D means you constantly need to learn and adapt to changes in technology.

Related links

Check out more of Toni's personal work
Take a look at Construct, a project Toni worked on
Grab a copy of 3ds Max Projects
Check out Toni's Facebook page
To see more by Toni Bratincevic, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 8
Digital Art Masters: Volume 9
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection

Fetching comments...

Post a comment