Abraham Valdez: Gnomon instructor interview

Gnomon School of Visual Effects instructor and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain character artist, Abraham Valdez, shares his insight into art and his latest piece, Athena...

Gnomon School of Visual Effects instructor and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain character artist, Abraham Valdez, shares his insight into art and his latest piece, Athena...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Abraham Valdez: Hello Adam, thank you for giving me the opportunity of having this interview. My name is Abraham Valdez and I'm an artist, which is something I dreamed of as a kid. It's a hard journey and is a great accomplishment in itself. I'm currently living in Los Angeles, California.

3dt: Where did you find the inspiration for your latest gallery entry? What's the story behind its creation?

AV: There were many different characters that inspired me in the creation of this character, but the top would be Lara Croft and various Celtic female warriors.

I always wanted to make a strong female character, and found that for professional reasons my portfolio was dominated by male characters. So creating a strong heroine character that maintains very feminine features was on the top of my list.

Her creation was fun and loose, since I didn't have a concept that I was completely satisfied with, and I would sketch on the base body image in Photoshop. Her pose on the other hand was a solid vision from the very beginning of the project and carried her to the end.

3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?

AV: I used ZBrush, 3ds Max, Photoshop, xNormal and KeyShot for rendering. If there were any difficulties it would be at the rendering and iteration stage. The project was set up in V-Ray and I was happy with the results, but when adjusting the textures the iterative process was taking too long. In KeyShot the iteration process of your textures is very fast, so in the end I went down that route.

3dt: Do you normally use this software in your workflow? What other software and plug-ins do you favor?

AV: No, I never used KeyShot before this project, and have to thank my colleagues. I've followed KeyShot's improvements and I believe it may have been over a year-and-a-half ago the first time I heard about a KeyShot to ZBrush bridge, but I just never got around to using the software.

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?

AV: My ambitions for the future are to continue to grow as an artist and give back to the artist community through teaching. Teaching is very rewarding and I'm glad to have been given the opportunity. I'm an instructor at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, teaching character art for games class.

3dt: What emerging software/hardware would you like to learn in the future to expand your portfolio and skillset, and why?

AV: Virtual Reality offers an enormous amount of opportunity and I would like to be involved in a project that uses this new technology. The reason why is because the Industry is constantly evolving and we must choose what new avenues interest us most, follow that path and see where it takes us. The upcoming years will be very interesting times for the games industry.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?

AV: I believe just as important as keeping your portfolio up to date is to continue to grow as an artist. Professionally we're given tasks of art to create, and it can stunt the growth of an artist if it's repetitive, unless you learn to approach it differently and in that way, find another way of challenging yourself. That is for individuals that find themselves in the same genre of art.

Another way of keeping your portfolio up to date is using the many different styles of art to your advantage, studying a different art style and creating a piece in another art style also helps you continue to challenge yourself artistically, and will also make you a more valuable asset to your team.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

AV: I have many favorite artists and most of them have a specific thing in which I regard them the best. Leonardo Da Vinci for his technical and artistic mastery, Michelangelo for his sculptures and paintings, but the versatility was his strength in my eyes.

In the digital world there are countless artists that inspire me and I follow, I'm naming only a few and not in any order Rafael Grassetti, Vitally Bulgarov, Zack Petroc, Ryan Kingslien, Krista Costa, Aaron Sims, Alessandro Baldasseroni, Kevin Lanning, Scott Eaton, Francisco Cortina, Steven Stahlberg and Rick Baker!

3dt: Do you like to experiment with your personal works, or do you prefer to stick to tried-and-tested methods?

AV: I always experiment; personal work is the time to experiment with new techniques, new software and different styles. When I don't experiment, that art is more just pieces for polishing a technique, and aren't completed because they've fulfilled their purpose.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?

AV: I'm very spontaneous when creating art at home; I'll work on an anatomy piece one night and a bust the next time I have a few hours. All of our artistic needs are usually not met at work, so I believe it's important to just create art sometimes. The next post may be more creatures related, but I really can't predict what will inspire me most. Again, I'd like to thank you for this opportunity of sharing my opinion and art with the 3dtotal viewers! Take care!

Related links

Head over to Abraham Valdez's personal website
Check out Athena in the 3dtotal gallery
Start creating your own characters with ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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