Daniel Orive: character and concept artist interview

The insanely talented character and concept artist Daniel Orive opens up about life in the entertainment industry, and creating awesome ZBrush sculpts...

The insanely talented character and concept artist Daniel Orive opens up about life in the entertainment industry, and creating awesome ZBrush sculpts...

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

Daniel Orive: My name is Daniel Orive, and I am from Madrid, Spain. I have been working in the videogame industry for around 5 years as a character and concept artist. I am currently living in Cambridge, UK, and I am working as senior character and concept artist for Ninja Theory.

I worked for Mercury Steam while I was living in Spain, and I was part of the developing team for Konami's Castelvania: Lord of Shadows 2. Personally, I can only say that I am very lucky because my job is my passion and its a pleasure for me to do it every day. Actually, I am always searching for a good excuse to spend my time making some art.

High-res for a character I did years ago for a Comicon challenge: 5th place

For as long as I can remember art has been my passion. It didn't take me long to figure out it would play a huge part in my life. Like many of you, my journey began seeking some sort of education which could turn my passion into my craft. My goal is to keep pushing myself both at work and as an individual, keeping myself up to date in this industry which has been influencing me since I could hold a pencil.

3dt: What made you want to become a 3D artist?

DO: I think the beginning of something can normally be a little bit tough. I am from Spain, and to be honest there is not a consolidated videogame industry, despite there being so much talent there. I finished art school and then I worked for 5 years in a graphic design studio, until the day I decided to give up everything, and just try to work in an industry which made me feel really happy.

I did this image for the CGhub Bioware Mass Effect contest 2013: 3rd place

For quite a long time I was learning, and working on my portfolio, focusing on finding a job within the videogame industry. I found a position in a small studio, and then I discovered ZBrush and learned a lot from my other teammates. Back then I was spending so much time at home working by myself, watching art tutorials, and participating in some 3D challenges, until I started making my work public, and then some work as a character artist started to come by.

3dt: What steps did you take to become the artist you are today?

DO: I think I have always been moved by my passion. I have always had high goals, together with a good sense of humour and attitude to achieving them. I have always taken very seriously what I wanted to do and I am very persevering with it. But honestly, I think the people who work within this industry will agree that we are very lucky, because with time, determination and a bit of talent we can make our dreams come true. There are so many possibilities; this industry is constantly evolving.

I did this image during my testing for ZBrush 4r7

I did this image during my testing for ZBrush 4r7

3dt: Do you have a favorite image from your portfolio? What challenges did you face and what software was used?

DO: I dont really have a favorite one; I always find something to improve in them. I have good stories behind images that I have created, and I have images created with new tools that I wanted to use. There is always something behind it that gives more meaning to what I am doing.

Anyway, if I have to choose any of my works, I think it will be the Etsuko Project. Not just because of the technical work behind it, but also for the good learning I gained from it. It was probably one of my works with more impact on social media, and it was shared not just only in the videogame community, but also in many others, and this made me think that sometimes there is more people receiving our message than we expected.

Image done for the art book Behind the Pixel

Also I made this work just after traveling to Japan, and I was very inspired by the technology, the culture, the music and the toys. I used ZBrush for the modeling and KeyShot for the rendering. I also made a video tutorial about how I made the hair with fibermesh. Here is the link, if someone wants to have a look.

3dt: Do you have a favorite piece of software, and any tips our readers could utilize?

DO: Yes, and it is ZBrush. It always used to be Photoshop, but now I am feeling really comfortable working with ZBrush. The best tip I can share about working with ZBrush is to find your own way to use it. Just investigate and try the different tools that come with it. My workflow is more artistic than technical, so I am very creative in my work process, and I like to use different SubTools for everything. I think that gives more volume to each part of the final work, rather than to sculpt all the detail in the same piece.

I did this image for the Blizzcon 2014 art contest: 3rd place

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

DO: I am very lucky, because at my current job I can try all the tools for the NextGen, such as Unreal Engine, Marvelous Designer, or allegorithmic's Substance tools. But definitely I would like to learn more about some render engines like Arnold, or Renderman. I am always fascinated when I see the results of those in some other artists works.

3dt: Would you consider yourself to have a particular signature style, or techniques that you use often?

DO: I think everybody has got their own style, however it is not always easy to recognize it in their art. Like me, for example, I do normally have many different kinds of characters and projects in my portfolio, and such variety makes it more difficult to define what my signature style could be. However I am very influenced by the games I usually play, so I guess this is something you can see reflected in my work.

Personal project just for fun

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

DO: For me the key is to enjoy my work as my passion and to keep my lifestyle. It is unusual if I am not working at home or planning my next project. I think it is very important to find the motivation to start something new. Sometimes the motivation comes from a visual reference that you have seen in a forum, other times it comes from the attitude to experience something new, for example by making a tutorial. There is always something to do, and our time is limited, so we should take advantage of it.

Some of the work I did for the game Castlevania Lord of Shadows 2

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

DO: Nowadays, this kind of questio is more difficult to answer because every day I find tons of new artists I really like, some of them with a longer background, and some others that have recently started in the industry. So, there are so many awesome artists I really admire.

3dt: How do you like to unwind?

DO: If I really need to relax myself, I do normally go on holidays with my wife, and then I can forget everything for a little while But if I just need to disconnect from a long day at work, I do normally play WOW or LOL, heh.

World of Warcraft fan art

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

DO: I am always working on something, but I am not always making it public. However it could be my Etsuko Project, because it is something I dont want to end it up with just a sculpture There will be more, and I hope I can show something new very soon.

3dt: What animal would you choose to be reincarnated into?

DO: Without a doubt whatsoever, it would be a cat, to be lying on the couch all day looking at how my owner works like mad on his 3D characters hehe.

A sci-fi character I did some time ago for my portfolio

Related links

Head over to Daniel Orive's personal site
Daniel is also on ArtStation
Daniel on YouTube
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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