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Kieran McKay: freelance 3D character artist interview

Freelance 3D character artist Kieran McKay shares some of his cool characters and talks about his experience of working on different projects with different teams...

Freelance 3D character artist Kieran McKay shares some of his cool characters and talks about his experience of working on different projects with different teams...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Kieran McKay: Hello, Im Kieran McKay and I am a 3D Character Artist from (and currently living in) South Wales, UK. So for the last two years I have been working as a freelancer in which I have worked on many cool projects. It has been an amazing journey so far! I love getting to work on different projects, all within various sectors of the industry from games to 3D printing and product design.

My passion for art started when I was a small child and has grown from drawing cartoon characters, wrestlers and dinosaurs into what it is now. A big turning point for me was when I first played God of War and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles as a teenager. Two very contrasting games but they really opened my eyes and really got my head into gear about where I wanted to take my career as I grew up. I always wanted to be a character artist/designer of some sort but I just felt like games and animation were perfect for me.

Frankenstein Pinup

Frankenstein Pinup

3dt: What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
KM: So my last gallery image is titled Sharky, which is based on a concept by Patri Balanovsky.
I saw his work online and thought it would be a super fun piece to bring to life in 3D and then produce some renders that look like real photographs of 3D prints using KeyShot. This is always challenging to do but great to learn some new skills along the way.

I actually chose to work on this one because its a big change from all of the professional work I have been doing. It just had that certain charm to it and felt really fresh! I love those kind of works!
Also through all of my works both professional and personal, I like to work in as many styles as possible as I want to become a very versatile artist. Next time I plan on trying something different again!

Frankenstein Pinup 3DPrint

Frankenstein Pinup 3DPrint

3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
KM: I usually have a similar process for all my works regarding software. Mainly I think my projects differentiate in a stylistic aesthetic as opposed to using different software to create them. I would say ZBrush is my most powerful tool, it is where I can fully utilize my skills to communicate a characters shape/silhouette and then I can start the next process from there (depending on the needs of the project) whether it be retopology, texturing, rendering, and so on.

I do find myself constantly learning new methods and new approaches in the software I already use, which I think will benefit me from one project to the next and in the long run. The most exciting thing for me is where a project takes me. It is the difference between them that I especially find most interesting.

Atomic Delivery Bro  Fury Beats

Atomic Delivery Bro Fury Beats

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
KM: Generally I try to squeeze in as much personal work as I can when time permits. I would say a very large percentage of all my work cannot be shown yet due to copyright reasons. Hopefully I can show some stuff soon, I have done some really cool work that I am very proud of!

Undertaking personal work is very exciting because you can always work on whatever you want, try new things, work in different styles and grind away at your own pace. Now that I am freelancing I find it does become increasingly harder and harder to find the time to do personal art because of the precedence of other projects. Nevertheless I always get super excited to start a new project for myself, and I always have something in the works! It just takes me much longer to finish these days.

Atomic Delivery Bro  Fury Beats

Atomic Delivery Bro Fury Beats

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
KM: I suppose Im connected to all of them, but use some more than others and then in different ways. I generally only use social media to keep up to date with the community, find new and cool artwork then finally share my own work. I find it energizing to browse through ArtStation, Behance, 3dtotal, Polycount and so on, every morning before I get into my routine. Its great to see what people are producing and it gets me all fired up and get the juices flowing!

Sharky

Sharky

3dt: How important is the recognition of your peers?
KM: For any artist it is always great to have recognition from peers, the community and especially potential employers. So I would say it is very important. When I post my work I dont expect anything, but its always amazing when someone reaches out to you personally and says that you have inspired them. You just cant beat that!

Demon Sculpt

Demon Sculpt

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
KM: Mainly I want to keep growing, developing and continue learning new things. I really thrive off art through creating and observing it! Right now I am working on Kingdom Death and its a very special project to me and Im happy here! I have been able to open up a whole new level and really create some wicked works!

I think my long term goal would be to go into art direction. Opening up my own outsource studio or something would be very neat! Its something I have to think about a lot more but for now I am in a really good place.

Game of Thrones Doors

Game of Thrones Doors

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
KM: I have a very very long list here ha! It keeps growing all the time so would be impossible to mention them all! Recently I have been mostly inspired by the guys that I work with on specific projects, especially on Kingdom Death! I work with some extremely talented guys and they have mind blowing skills.

Even though I am working freelance, you still get that sense on comradery. I just get so much motivation when I log onto my PC in the morning and see all of the amazing work that my teammates have been creating! It really gets me pumped for the project and that feeling is immeasurable.

Game of Thrones Doors

Game of Thrones Doors

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
KM: Im working on some cool personal projects right now, so expect some new stuff soon!
There will be new characters coming soon from a line-up of Halloween themed pinups which I am really excited about!

I am also re-visiting one of my old pieces which I originally designed as a sculpt. I have gone back to it and started retopology and baking maps. It really deserves some nice textures to bring it to life some more! Ill be using Substance Painter and Marmoset to finish it up. This project is going slowly but Im squeezing it in whenever I can. I have a lot of love for this one so hoping that I will get some awesome results in the end!

Game of Thrones Doors

Game of Thrones Doors

Whats with the Game of Thrones doors?
KM: Back last year in 2016 I had the chance to work on a series of doors for the 6th series of Game of Thrones. Overall I made 6 out of 10 doors. One door was sequentially revealed with each episode of series 6 for Northern Ireland's Game of Thrones Territory Campaign. The final door was unveiled at an event in Belfast where we had an event for everyone that contributed to the series... I met some great people there ranging from actors, designers, other artists, producers to camera crew and so on... and for me one of the most rewarding parts was to actually see one of the doors that I made in person! I worked with some great people on the project and it was an honor to have worked on it, I have to say thanks to everyone involved!

The doors were all sculpted in ZBrush where I was able to get that certain level of intricacy, then they were finally exported to a CNC machine where all of the details were carved out. Each door was actually made using wood of the 'Dark Hedges' which were destroyed in a storm. You may remember the 'Dark Hedges' as being a famous part of GOT so the doors give a nice tribute to them!

Related links

Kieran on ArtStation
Follow Kierans Instagram
Kieran on Behance

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