Christian Schumann: artist interview

Senior web developer Christian Schumann creates sci-fi concepts using Vue and Cinema 4D in his spare time, check out his ambitions and work from his gallery...

Senior web developer Christian Schumann creates sci-fi concepts using Vue and Cinema 4D in his spare time, check out his ambitions and work from his gallery...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Christian Schumann: Hi! My name is Christian and Im 3D artist from Germany. At the moment, unfortunately theres not much to say about me, because in real life Im not a professional artist. To earn my living I work as a software engineer for web development. But my heart always belonged to art.

I was always interested in art. At first in traditional techniques with ink and paint. But, I grew up between the first videogames with 3D acceleration and TV-shows like Babylon 5. And from those days on I knew I wanted to create my own worlds with Photoshop and modeling tools.

3dt: What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
CS: Actually, the Finding a Shelter image is part of a personal sci-fi-project Ive been working on for several years now. The story behind it is a colony on an alien planet which was once covered with enormous oceans. But some cosmic tragedy was wiping out the planetary life by vaporizing the ocean to a thin film.

Usually, I start with some quick thumbnail building up from standard primitives directly in Vue. For me, Vue is perfect to set up the overall mood using the atmosphere editor. And with a bunch of quick renders youll get a good sense of the right perspective and lighting. Often, I come up with a set of eight to ten different light and atmospheric setups. I choose which will fit most and start to refine the lighting until Im satisfied.

When the lighting is done, I export the whole scene as OBJ to Cinema 4D and start the modeling of the final objects. Once all objects are completed, I export them back into Vue and create the materials. With this workflow in mind, I build the whole coral scene with cylinders and export them to Cinema 4D for the real modeling.

For the vehicle and characters, I used a different technique. Because of the large polygon amount and the complex texture, I decided to build, texture and render them in Cinema 4D. The lighting was achieved with a panoramic rendering of the Vue scene as HDR-background, combined with a few additional spot lights.

3dt: What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?
CS: The challenge here was to combine Cinema 4D with Vue. Vue has a great displacement engine. And it would be a shame not to use it. So, the challenge was to create complex models and combine them with a more complex displacement material to get the look of ancient eroded corals. For the final image, I had to find a good balance between details and memory usage.

To ensure that all elements were lit correctly, I had two sets of objects in the scene. One of corals with the displacement and one without the displacement. Finally I rendered the scene in different layers while I switched between the real corals and the dummy objects.

3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
CS: I try to use all the software I can get my hands on. Often its a trial or personal education license. I love to play around a bit with them to get a feeling of how new stuff works and how I can use them in the future. At the moment, I try different sculpting tools to add them to my personal workflow.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
CS: Sometimes, its very difficult for me to keep a good and fresh portfolio. I try to get as much work finished as possible. But often my spare time isnt enough.

I have no real advice for professionals. But for hobbyists, who think about working in the industry, I can say, dont rush. Dont take quantity over quality. I think a lot of hobby artists are out there trying to get a lot of art done to show their diversity. But for me it is more important to pick one or two good ideas and to make them perfect.

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
CS: As a non-professional without daily input from work, its essential to use social media to get feedback from other artists and to improve yourself. I try to share my work on different forums and on some social media like Facebook and Twitter. I dont have hashtags I check for. But usually I start my day with some inspiration from sites like Concept Ships or ArtStation.

3dt: How important is the recognition of your peers?
CS: The recognition is quite important. For example, to keep up your motivation. With each feedback positive or negative I can improve my work or refine parts if necessary. Usually, I try to get feedback from different sides during the whole creation process, so I can check whether I'm heading in the right direction.

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
CS: As mentioned, Im working on a larger sci-fi project which I want to get into a presentable state. And there is still a lot of planning, building and drawing left. Hopefully, I can show it in the near future to invite other artists helping me to bring it finally to life. With luck, we can finish it to show it to a real audience.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
CS: This is a hard question, because there are so many of them. I think Im very influenced by Syd Mead and Chris Voss. I always have some prints of their work in front of my desk. And if I need inspiration I like to look at the art of Philippe Bouchet (Manchu), Geof Darrow, or Ryan Church. Lately I found the work of Ben Mauro and Aaron Beck. I love the concepts they did for Elysium. Im also a big fan of the teams from Bioware who did the concepts for Mass Effect.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
CS: I will finish some similar projects that are located in the same universe as the Finding a Shelter image. After that I will expand and polish my skills in sculpting and hard-surface modeling to get my work done in less time. So I think my future work will include a lot of sculpted creatures, props, and so on.

Related links

Head over to Christian Schumanns website
Christian on Facebook
Christian on Twitter

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