Interview with senior character artist Dávid Jankes

Mafia II and Silent Hill: Downpour character artist, Dávid Jankes chats to us about finding time for his personal projects between creating videogames

Mafia II and Silent Hill: Downpour character artist, Dávid Jankes chats to us about finding time for his personal projects between creating videogames

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

Dávid Jankes: My name is Dávid Jankes. I was born in Slovakia, in a town called Martin in 1988. I attended the School of Applied Art with a focus on the design of photography. At that time, I was starting to grow as an artist and shaping the field of my interest.

I am now a senior character artist in a company that has undergone many changes. It began as Vatra, then Exient, and now it is Gamajun Games. I currently live in Brno in the Czech Republic.

3dt: Tell us the story behind your artwork: What brought you into the digital art world and what software do you use?

DJ: It all started when I was 9 years old, in the time of 3D Studio DOS. I saw my father working and trying this program out. It was very interesting, and later on there was a video with moving characters in Character Studio. That was the moment when I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living.

What I now usually use is a combination of 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop.

3dt: What projects have you worked on that we might know about, and what roles did you play? Any favourite projects?

DJ: I was working as a freelancer during my studies for game and advertising companies. The games from that period were, for instance; Air Conflicts: Secret Wars and Motorstorm: Pacific Rift.

My first real job, though, was at 2K Czech, where I worked as a character artist on projects such as Mafia II, DLCs and Top Spin 4. While modeling, I also lit most of the cut scenes in Mafia II.

My next move was to Vatra Games. I had an opportunity to work on the game Silent Hill: Downpour in its last months. I worked on another game as well, but that one will never see the light of day.

The company changed into Exient and I worked on Diggs Nightcrawler and Angry Birds Go. In this period I felt that my picture of the perfect job retreated, since we could see that the tablet and mobile market had surrounded the game scene. I hope that one day I can return to my beloved triple-A games!

And what have I enjoyed the most so far? Definitely working on Mafia II.

3dt: How did you first learn 3D and how have you continued to keep on top of your game since?

DJ: As a young boy, I tried to look for books on the topic, but unfortunately there weren`t many. All was more or less a case of trial and error. Later on, I started to see different tutorials and YouTube videos, which have now increased.

You always have keep trying and improving, working ever harder. Never be satisfied and try the best you can to move on.

3dt: Do you have a personal tip or technique that you can share with us?

DJ: Like many artists, I tried to model famous people, but I started to realize that this wasn't the right path. It is good for learning, but it's better to add something more to it a story, an idea which remains after you are gone. And that is the path I would like to follow.

When you're an employee and your employer dictates what you can do and what not to do, there is not much freedom. But in your personal work you can use fantasy and imagination to fly in any direction you wish.

I also personally think that a drawing itself can help in the process of 3D graphics. You realize many things which you do not notice while modeling. This helped me and I strongly recommend it!

3dt: Do you have a favorite quote that you can share with us be it from yourself, a friend or someone famous?

DJ: I don't use quotes or mottos, but what I believe many people said was that anything is doable and reachable. When you try hard, you can achieve the impossible. And I know this is true from my own experience.

If I have to choose a quote that I really like, it would have to be one by Pablo Picasso: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

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

DJ: I am always trying to follow new trends in art not only in 3D but also in traditional techniques such as sculpture, painting and drawing.

It is important to never be satisfied with your work and to try to work the best you can push yourself to the extremes!

During my free time I work on my own creations and though sometimes it isn't easy, I believe that the effort will pay off.

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

DJ: I have many favorite artists, including traditional renaissance artists such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello and Bandinelli.

From contemporary artists, sculptors Simon Lee and Carlos Huante. Among digital artists it would be Rafael Grassetti, who is my huge inspiration, and my former colleagues Jiri Svjetinsky and Gio Nakpil, as well as many, many others.

All of these people inspire me because every time I look at their works, it motivates me and pushes me forward in my own art.

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

DJ: Probably, I would like to move from 3ds Max into Maya. I have tried the basics and it seems better in terms of modeling attributes, skinning and rigging.

3dt: What future projects to you hope to be a part of, and can you explain your reasons? What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years?

DJ: I have many dreams, but whether they can be fulfilled? Well, we will see...

My biggest dream is to work side-by-side with the artists at Naughty Dog. I also truly admire the works by Digic Pictures, Blizzard and Weta Workshop.

I have no idea where I will be in the next 10 years, but I hope I will be still working in 3D graphics, which I enjoy the most. I am open to any possibilities that come to me!

Related links

Dávid Jankes personal website
Find out more about Gamajun Games
Discover our free tutorials
See more interviews by top 3D artists

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