INTERVIEW: 3D character artist Milad Bahari

Milad Bahari

3D Character Artist

It has always been challenging for me to work on personal work after office hours so I always try to find a balance between having fun and working on personal projects, and not to get burned out!” 3D character artist Milad Bahari shares working and workflow tips when discussing his latest Staff Pick gallery entry…

Milad's Artstation

This interview contains NSFW imagery


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


Hey guys! My name is Milad Bahari. I'm currently working in the game industry as a 3D character artist at Streamline Studios, and I'm living in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. My favorite childhood memory is when my mom used to doodle and drawing has been my passion ever since!

Early on I learned Maya, then in 2010 while I was studying animation I had an internship in a local animation studio. After, I started working professionally in the animation and game industry as a 3D artist. In 2019, I moved to Malaysia and in 2020 I shifted into the game industry as a full-time job, and it's been a very challenging and interesting journey for me to work and learn from many awesome projects.

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Sleepy head - Concept by Deema Egorov


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


This is a sculpture based on Deema Egorov's amazing 2D artwork. I usually start with analyzing the concept to understand the challenges I'm going to face later in the process. I also start gathering references in a very handy app called PureRef to get ideas about how to sculpt the form and adding colors and lighting later.

After that I start sketching in ZBrush with very simple shapes like spheres and cylinders to blockout the main shapes,refining the shapes to have the desired silhouette based on the concept; this is a very crucial step to make sure the proportions are accurate.

For the next step I start Dynameshing the subtools and slowly adding details. Once I’m happy with the high-poly, I usually Unwrap the UVs in Maya, use ZBrush and Substance Painter to texture, and right after exporting the textures I start setting up the shaders and lighting to render the final image.


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


I certainly learned a lot by working on this project, the most challenging part of this project was to sculpt the facial expression.The tricky part of matching 3D model with the concept is that you need to make sure the model looks good throughout the different views. Polypainting also helps a lot to enhance the highlights and the shadows on the forms.

I also had a good time setting up the camera, shaders, and the lights to render the final frame.

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Sleepy head - without cloth


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


I mainly use Maya, ZBrush, and Substance Painter on a daily basis but based on the needs of the projects I also use Mari for highly detailed textures or projection paintings. Based on the type of lighting I'm going to do, I either do real-time rendering with Unreal Engine or Marmoset Toolbag, or I use Maya and Redshift which is a GPU-based render engine, and it is known for being very fast and efficient.

I also use Photoshop for still frames and Nuke for composing render sequences to adjust the colors and effects. I try my best to learn new tricks every day while working on projects by watching YouTube videos by many amazing artists out there, and they're mostly free.

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Taylor Swift in African Style


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


For years because of being focused on 3D art I was struggling to design my own characters, so I decided to choose some concepts from well-known artists and this decision made my life simpler!

I always browse social media and bookmark the concepts that I find interesting, then I prioritize them in a list so I know which one I'd like to sculpt first (I have a long list of them). It has always been challenging for me to work on personal work after office hours so I always try to find a balance between having fun and working on personal projects, and not to get burned out!

Some days I struggle with not having enough motivation to start working, so I start doing little and simple tasks for 5 minutes and I usually find myself doing it for an hour or two!


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


I love Artstation and Instagram. I usually check them on a daily basis and browse between 2D and 3D artworks, sometimes I bookmark them so later when I'm working, I can use them as a reference or to study them.

2D artworks help me to discover new designs and to be more creative on the other hand, 3D artworks show me how each person can look at things differently and have different approaches.

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Killer Queen - Making of


What are your artistic ambitions?


Art has always been my happy place and in the long run I'd like to be an art director!

We all have plans for the future but at the end of the day, a lot of unexpected things can happen and they open up a lot of new doors for us, or they change our path completely.

The most important thing for me is to improve and learn every day, and I'm trying to achieve it by pursuing skills like photography, sculpting, painting, and even other forms of art like cooking!


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


There are so many amazing artists out there who have had big influences on me and my career like Max Grecke, he's been very supportive by letting me create art based on his concepts. I also learned a lot about colors and lighting from Jeremy Vickery and Sam Nielson. And in the past few years I learned so much about drawing and anatomy from Stan Prokopenko.

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What can we expect to see from you next?


I'm trying my best to update my portfolio regularly. I post new artworks on 3dtotal and Zbrushcentral and mainly on my personal Instagram page. My focus is on stylized 3D character design and I occasionally post some of my anatomy studies, it's always good to go back to basics!

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