Deep dive with Sebastien Hue & his amazing sci-fi artwork
Sebastien Hue spent several years doing different gigs, going from 2D backgrounds, to concept art for environment but also characters and even product design. His focus was on trying different things. “I have been challenged many times and very often worked totally out of my comfort zone, which was a good thing..." Find out more...
Acclaimed freelance concept artist Sebastien Hue was once in a band in France, playing music late into the night. Going back almost 14 years ago. This small group was also in the process of creating a web page, in MySpace no less, to publicize the tracks they were producing. Things were good. “My best friend Fabrice joined the band. He was the webmaster, and it was thanks to him I started learning Photoshop,” says Sebastien. “This was when I discovered another art path to follow, other than music.”
Sebastien Hue has managed to change his career and become a professional CG artist by doing a lot of hard work and, frankly, being tough on himself. “Getting critiques from other artists and failing, makes you grow even if it hurts sometimes,” he adds. “But it helps you gain more confidence and learn from your experiences.”
Hue has a background in all kinds of other jobs before his art career. He found his way by trying different things. He found his mindset was not really motivated by the lure of profit and pulling more money when you keep to sales objectives and targets. He even worked as a sales person in human resources and it lasted three months. But he had to try.
Now, Sebastien Hue’s area of expertise is concept art, and his work has the most stunning detail and life. But in among some of these images are elements of 3D, with lighting and atmospherics brought onboard using skills he has developed on his own. “I tend to direct the balance of details to where I want the viewer’s eyes,” he says, “but it’s always been something I tried to fight against. I had no real education in art and I only discovered the ‘Less is More’ discipline later in my career. Now I try to give a sense of mystery to my art and push the cinematic feel as far as possible. I worked a lot of my skills on making an efficient lighting and atmospheric feel in an artwork so that viewers can imagine things for themselves.”
Sebastien Hue spent several years doing different gigs, going from 2D backgrounds, to concept art for environment but also characters and even product design. Once again, he was trying everything out. “I have been challenged many times and very often worked totally out of my comfort zone, which was a good thing,” says Hue. “I would quite often say I’m not particularly seeking environment design, I mostly try to read the director’s mind and respond to his/her expectations, visually. What I really watch for in the director’s brief is what kind of final work he/she expects from me. Is it something more around ideation, realistic or painterly, rough or highly details piece of work?”
When I mention the name Dylan Cole to Sebastien Hue, I also ask what images that name conjures up. Sebastien spits them out quickly. “So many! The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars Episode I, Avatar, Maleficent, Alita: Battle Angel,” he rattles off. Hue discovered Dylan Cole’s work 14 years ago and it was a visual shock. “I mention him all the time but he is the one who literally made me want to do this as a career,” he adds. “Cole’s work is done with so much mastery in every aspect, from composition, to shape language, design and light. He makes things look so easy and natural whether dealing with hard surface or organic elements. I hope to meet him some day as we are above all both guitar players and even metal music fans.”
Sebastien has been doing some great work on short films directed by upcoming directors like Casey Crescenzo’s The Indigo Child prologue: Cycle 8. Crescenzo contacted him out of the blue around four years ago for his project. “After I read the script I loved the world and story he built. He already had some visuals to show and I was totally sold,” says Sebastien. “We worked together for more than two or three months to accomplish the short and it’s been released just a couple of weeks ago. I have many artworks in the drawer and sincerely want to push this project further so Casey can get the exposure and finance he deserves to make a proper series of this brilliant story, The Indigo Child. He has so much content to show to a producer to bring the series to the screen.”
Sebastien also enjoyed working on the Zendikar Rising trailer, done with Axis Studios for Magic: The Gathering. He worked with Simeon Schaffner and Mark Molnar on environment design and really appreciated this collaboration and the project itself. “A lot of 3D was at stake due to the complex shape language of this particular Zendikar world,” he says. Jumping into the 3D software earlier on in his career helped him for this project.
As well as presenting at VIEW Conference in Italy, and working at Gnomon School of Visual Effects in California, Sebastien has presented at Playground Eindhoven in 2017. This is where he met Jon Beeston and Axis Studios. “I did not start working straight away for Axis,” Hue explains. “It took some time for the stars to align, but my very first gig was for a pitch movie for them and some environment concept art. Axis Studios is truly dear to my heart, they gave me a chance to show what I’m capable of and challenged me on very different projects. I’m simply proud working for them on every single project they gave me the chance to do my job.”
“Working on the 2D backgrounds for Ruined King and Valorant were very technical tasks as well as artistic in terms of brushwork and color management,” Sebastien says. “The team is really brilliant and the Art Director Almu Redondo is probably the sweetest and most helpful Art Director I ever met in my career. I have learnt a lot on those projects and the final cinematics are incredible.”
Sebastien says working for Electronic Arts was also that ‘dream come true’ gig in his early career. Working on the ‘Titanfall 2’ franchise was something he’d dreamt of doing when he started. “I painted a couple of robots from the game which was to be released a month after,” he clarifies. “This was basically marketing artworks to hype the community. So, it was great to do, the game was already finished and all set to go on sale. Never had the chance to work again for them but maybe one day.”
Sebastien Hue gives some advice to those artists wanting to take advantage of the bloom of work available in Europe at the moment, even during these COVID times. Hue says, “just show what you’ve got, and let them know what you want to do in the industry. It’s great that the industry keeps growing and particularly in Europe where I feel we have been a little bit late with digital work compared to North America. We are living in a world we can work remotely so easily now, so I would say take advantage of wherever opportunities you can find over the world. This is one aspect I really appreciate in what I do, working for different countries and cultures.”