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Emerson ëCello: character artist interview

Emerson ëCello

Character Artist

3D character artist Emerson ëCello has experience working as an art director for the advertising industry, and now creates characters full-time as a freelancer. Find out more…

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3dtotal

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

Emerson

I graduated in design and I’ve been working as an art director for advertising for the last 12 years. Illustration, concept art, photography, and everything that is needed to create a campaign, I used to do. Meantime, I was always studying 3D modeling, texturing, and everything I needed to drop my job and be ready for the CGI industry. Happily, for the past 6 months, I’m a full-time character artist freelancer located in Porto Alegre (Brazil).

3dtotal

What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?

Emerson

Ayrton Senna was (and still is) a big reference since I was a child. I think his determination was his biggest quality and with that in mind I kind of saw myself. To do whatever I needed to achieve what I want. The idea behind this project was “How can I showcase what I’m capable of and be ready to work with film/animation?” So I researched what were the most popular tool used in the studios that I admired and to my surprise, I only knew two of them (Maya and ZBrush). All the others I learned on the go.

3dtotal

What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?

Emerson

In advertising I was always working with 3D modeling but stylized and cartoon work, nothing like realism. I studied likeness and anatomy a lot (and I really mean a lot).

Besides that, I wanted to create everything hand-made. I mean, today we have high detail maps, textures, and even basemeshes from 3D Scans but I wanted to create everything from scratch; simulate skin details without any texture/photo or alphas, paint believable maps. I’m not saying that my work is a copy of a digital human, it’s more like an artistic interpretation of it, the way I found to make things look alike.

3dtotal

Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?

Emerson

After The Legend Lives project, my workflow for professional and personal is: ZBrush and Maya for modeling and sculpting, Mari (especially if I have multiple UDIMs) to create Albedo, Specular, and SSS maps. For hard surfaces or objects with only one UV map, I use Substance Painter (that has a huge material library and helps a lot). For the cloths and fabrics I use Marvelous Designer. Back in Maya, I use xGen for Hair and Fur and Arnold to render.

3dtotal

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

Emerson

Since I wanted to work in the film industry, I’ve always followed what those companies are developing and using to take CGI to the next level. Even with my humble computer at home, I try to create projects, not only to show the technique and the evolution of my studies but the artistic view; what moves me forward to make a beautiful project.

3dtotal

Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?

Emerson

Instagram, Artstation, and LinkedIn are the ones that I use the most. With Instagram it is easier to keep following what the artists are creating day by day, it is more casual to approach and talk to them. Artstation and LinkedIn are more professionals, to keep in touch with companies and have some feedback on my projects as well. The hashtags that I check everyday are #3D and #cgi.

3dtotal

What are your artistic ambitions?

Emerson

To work with films and animation full-time, for sure. It was a big step for me – I left my career in advertising to work with something that is my passion and unfortunately, in Brazil, you won’t go so far. Hopefully, some company will find me and help me to live doing what I love to do.

stylized cartoon character sculpture

Stylized cartoon © Emerson ëCello

fantasy character sculpture

Character from Dungeons & Dragons animation series Venger. © Emerson ëCello

progress development

The progression since I started to study likeness and look development. © Emerson ëCello

3dtotal

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

Emerson

Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis: Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park… do I have to tell more? Those guys are unique for me. Likewise, Kris Costa and Rafael Grassetti for sure. Great friends and well-known in the industry, but especially for Brazilians and being kind people.

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Emerson

I’m already happy with the quality in my projects, especially when I compare the evolution (I posted in my social media) from the last 6 months, BUT, I know I can go far. Hardware is essential, and the tools nowadays demands a lot so, I have to upgrade my computer (it’s an old one and almost died rendering Ayrton Senna) but I soon as I can, I’ll have more power to create stunning projects.

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