Hernan Zuniga: 3D artist interview

Hernan Zuniga

3D Artist

Peruvian 3D artist Hernan Zuniga showcases some of his amazing character artwork and outlines his career path so far that has lead to working for Techno Image. Find out more…

Visit Hernan's website


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


Hi! My name is Hernan and I'm a 37 year old 3D artist from Lima, Peru. It all started 7 years ago when I left my family and country behind and moved to Brazil in search of my dreams. On this path of so many stories I got to meet incredible people. Thank God! They helped me along with my family during the beginning of my career. Tiago Hoisel, for example, trusted in my potential and desire to improve and grow in the 3D industry. He gave me a great opportunity to work with him in an advertising studio called Techno Image, where I also met incredible artists that I can call friends today. I will always be grateful for it. I currently work at TFG, a mobile gaming company in Sao Paulo, as a 3D artist with the cinematics team.


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


The idea arrived when I went to McDonald's and saw their Teen Titans Go! promotion. I ordered a Happy Meal and got inspired by the illustrations printed on the box. I've always been inspired by the DC Comics universe, and I'm a big fan of Batman and Superman.

The shapes and poses of Beast Boy were very interesting and he's such a funny and charismatic character! So when I got back home, I decided to start blocking his pose in ZBrush while trying to design a harmonic body expression. After that, I moved to Maya so I could work with Xgen, Substance Painter, and V-Ray. When I was finished with him, I realized that he could also have an environment within his universe, so I modeled it with the idea that it would help the character stand out. Finally, I used Photoshop to add some effects.

Beast Boy DC Comics 3d cartoon art

Beast Boy © Hernan Zuniga

The Punisher DC Comics 3d cartoon art

The Punisher © Hernan Zuniga

Hellboy DC Comics 3d cartoon art

Hellboy © Hernan Zuniga

Frank Detective gun 3d cartoon art

Frank Detective Special © Hernan Zuniga


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


Aside from trying to create and render an aesthetically pleasing model, I like to tell a story through all the characters I create. Applying what I've learned in recent years, and doing so in the shortest amount of time possible, was a good challenge. I developed a new workflow with ZBrush and XGen in Maya in order to create a stylized hair for a cartoon character. And I really liked the result, it's fantastic!

When it comes to inspiration, I always try to use things that fascinate me, like superheroes, comics and movies, and also music, especially movie’s soundtracks.


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


Yes, at work we generally use Unity to develop games and Marmoset to present models. In some freelance work I use 3ds Max, which was my first program when I started my journey in the 3D world. It's one of the most important tools for me, and it has helped me a lot since the beginning of my career. Previously, I used Ornatrix for hair creation, Mudbox and Bodypaint 3D for texturing, and UV Layout and, occasionally, After Effects.


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


It’s important to me that I create a lot and I am currently fortunate enough to work on very interesting and fun things in my job, that I can use for my portfolio as well. I always have ideas and stories in my head and I try to develop them with sketches in ZBrush. When it comes to inspiration, I always try to use things that fascinate me, like superheroes, comics and movies, and also music, especially movie’s soundtracks. All of this motivates me to keep working, even if the routine is exhausting, it’s something that makes me happy. If I had to give a tip it would be to keep practicing and work on things that entertain you so you can be happy with what you do, and try to study different things to improve the work that you do.


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


Yes, I’m a member of some digital art groups on Facebook, like Nimbo CG and others. On Instagram I follow some hashtags like #pixologic, #zbrush, #cgjunkies, #zbrushtuts and #3dtotal. The truth is, you can find great artists that inspire you everywhere and that’s great.


What are your artistic ambitions?


I would love to work on big projects for both games and cinema. My childhood dream has always been to work on superhero and science-fiction movies. I imagine that must be an incredible experience and I am working hard to get there. I also want to constantly keep improving myself as an artist, to be faster and have better techniques.


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


Dylan Ekren inspires me a lot with the way he uses shapes and design in general in the projects that he does. I am a big fan of his. I have been following Alesandro Baldasseroni since the beginning of my career and I was lucky enough to meet him, he is great. His work is very detailed and his characters are magnificent.

Tiago Hoisel is an artist who I had the pleasure of working with and is someone who I admire a lot too. He has amazing skills in lighting characters and scenes, creating color keys, and working with a cartoon style and developing the characters’ story through his work.

Pedro Conti and Victor Hugo are two great artists who I admire for the way they develop and present their 3D cartoon characters. They are both very complete artists and it’s very interesting to study how they work with their modeling, texturing, rendering skills, and how they use that to present their characters. I’m very grateful to have been able to work with both of them and learn a lot at the beginning of my career, and I consider them a huge example of dedication.

And there’s plenty of other artist that I admire a lot too, like Carter Goodrich, Wouter Tulp, Lucas Leibholz, Marco Furtado, Felipe Kimio, Marcelo Braga, Sergey Kolesov, Bruce Timm, Chris Battle, Rafael Grassetti, and many more.STC

Sledgehammer soldier 3d cartoon art

The Sledgehammer © Hernan Zuniga

Dummy Tank soldier 3d cartoon art

Dummy Tank © Hernan Zuniga

Dack Team 3d cartoon art

Dack Team © Hernan Zuniga

Standard Bearer Castle Crush mobile game 3d cartoon art

Standard Bearer © Hernan Zuniga

Fire Elemental Castle Crush mobile game 3d cartoon art

Fire Elemental © Hernan Zuniga


What can we expect to see from you next?


You can always expect more personal projects and evolution of my work as the days go by. And also, several projects for cinematics and games that are coming in the future that I hope you like. Thank you so much for this opportunity, I am very grateful for it!

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