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Artist Journey: character artist Natalia P. Gutiérrez

“I've never had the thought of 'This is it, I've made it' cross my mind. There are always things to learn and improve, and nobody knows everything.” Character artist Natalia P. Gutiérrez shares her artist journey so far…

Natalia's ArtStation

3dtotal

Thank you for sharing your journey so far with our readers. Let’s begin: please introduce yourself and let us know how long ago your journey started? What drew you to art? Any early influences?

Natalia

Hi everyone! My name is Natalia P. Gutiérrez and I'm a character artist based in sunny Valencia, Spain. I've been doing 3D art for about 10 years. I was first a 2D artist but then discovered ZBrush and quickly became attracted to it, starting to sculpt my favorite characters and creatures, from movies or shows but also from imagination. I then started working on the Dota 2 workshop and became more familiar with 3D art. I've always felt drawn to dark fantasy as a genre, and what I love the most is crafting characters from zero, giving them feeling, and making them express something to the viewer.

3dtotal

Do you still have any early artwork? We’d love to see your early work, be they digital or traditional. How do you feel about these works now?

Natalia

Of course! I have a folder composed of some of my old art. Here are some of the creatures I used to do when I discovered ZBrush. And also, two dragon drawings, one from 2001 and one from 2011. Aside from seeing obvious artistic things I could improve, I'm happy I used to express myself through art so much, painting and sculpting creatures I used to daydream about. The dedication and imagining is what led me to be a better artist today.

dragon 2d illustration reptilian monster digital art

3dtotal

What training or learning did you do in those beginning stages? Could you see your progression?

Natalia

I went to two schools for a year each which taught me the basics of 3D art among other things, but I quickly and visibly started improving after that, when I spent time self-teaching myself at home. I could see a very quick progression then. Now the progression is slower and more focused on certain aspects of art, such as refining anatomy.

3dtotal

Can we see some of your progression artwork? Where did you think you were improving? And where did you need to improve upon?

Natalia

Of course. Here are some of my works from 2013, two-three years after I first discovered ZBrush. I could see an improvement in anatomy, rendering, technical knowledge... But I still needed more technical training in things such as retopology, UVs, or texturing, and art-wise, on anatomy and training my eye to see what's wrong on a character or what could be improved.

3dtotal

Were you always happy with what you produced, or was there a turning point where you thought; “This is it, I’ve made it!”?

Natalia

I was happy at the beginning with my quick progress, sure. I was a novice and loved to see improvements, but I was also blind in a way and couldn't see past that, thinking things were pretty okay when in reality, there were a lot of things to be improved on in my work. I've never had the thought of 'This is it, I've made it' cross my mind. There are always things to learn and improve, and nobody knows everything. I'm way more comfortable with my artistic eye now, as I consider it has much more training, but I'm also aware that its growth is infinite, that the process of refining your abilities is endless, and that you will probably see things to correct from your older works in the future.

3dtotal

Which piece are you most proud of, and why?

Natalia

I would say the Sphinx, because I made it as a way of relaxing and just enjoying creating art, with no expectations. I love the theme, I love fantasy and sphinxes; crafting something unique from imagination is always refreshing and stimulating, so I enjoyed sculpting it a lot, and I know I learned from it because of this. I think that anatomy wise it is my best work, and I like the overall feeling or vibe I managed to portray. Depicting a mood or emotion successfully makes me happy.

sphinx sirens female bird creature design sculpt render 3d
sphinx sirens female bird creature design sculpt render 3d

3dtotal

What are you still working on improving (if anything) - or have you reached a point of high consistency? Do you have any tips for keeping it fresh?

Natalia

It won't work for everyone, but I find that having many projects started simultaneously, not necessarily big ones, keeps things fresh. When you are burned from one project you can jump on another. I would also recommend focusing on small tasks daily. You don't need to make a big advance on a character every time you work on it, you just need to do something. It can be focusing on its hands, making a retopology of one piece or armor, or even researching old metals if your character has any, for example. Don't think about all you need to do, just about your next small step.

Regarding improvement, I don't think I've ever reached the point in which I think I have a strong consistency. Every project is a challenge and you will learn something from each of them. What I think can help an artist's consistency is their attitude, learning how to overcome insecurities, know their true value, and practice working slowly but steadily, focusing on small tasks so that they don't become overwhelmed.

3dtotal

What advice would you give to any of our readers who are just beginning their journey now?

Natalia

The beginning of your journey is one of the best moments, in which there's so much to learn you'll see progress quite often. I would advise the artist to train their eye and their observation abilities, not only software proficiency. The ability to observe how things work, to ask themselves why and how, and bring that into their work. If they're looking to work in the industry, I would also advise to take some time to think about what exactly they want to do. Film, videogames? Any style in particular? Characters, props? And to start producing art focused on that. Also, to not be afraid to express their style and feelings. Work on something you like, and people will seek you for it!

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Natalia

More dark fantasy, probably. Creatures, maybe some stylized things. But things that express something, surely. I would like to keep learning realism, crafting things from imagination and keeping up with the industry quality standards. Hopefully I'll learn some rigging and animation, which will give the characters a personality boost when presented.

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