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Konstantin Gdalevich: lead character artist interview

Konstantin Gdalevich

Lead character artist

Surfacing artist & lead character artist Konstantin Gdalevich talks about the inspiration that comes about from converting 2D characters to 3D, how workflows are constantly evolving, and how important it is to have manageable goals. Read on to find out more…

Konstantin's Website

3dtotal

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

Konstantin

Hello! My name is Konstantin Gdalevich and I am from sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. At the moment I am working as a surfacing artist at Snowball VFX creating textures, shaders, and grooms for Disney shows. Also, I freelance as a lead character artist on some still unannounced animation projects while teaching a character art course on cgtarian.com.

sci-fi 3d character design

3dtotal

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

Konstantin

The idea came from Jennifer Wuestling. When I saw her splash screen work for League of Legends, I instantly fell in love with this piece. Miss Fortune is one of the best characters (for my taste of course) in the game and I thought I'm ready from the technical point of view to do justice to her, and hope I succeeded! (That I will leave upon you to decide.) The workflow was a heavy mix of Maya and ZBrush for the modeling part.

I love to jump between these two apps, combining the power of precise vertex modeling and fluid ZBrush mesh manipulations. I do use more and more Zmodeler functions but still, think it's a good taste to know when and where you switch to some old school poly modeling. After, I cut my UVs in Maya with the amazing UV toolkit that came from the 2017 update, and take everything to Substance Painter for the texturing part. This image was rendered in real-time in Marmoset Toolbag, so I enjoyed almost identical textures in Substance and Marmoset.

3d character model close up
magical female character 3d model

3dtotal

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

Konstantin

In terms of aesthetics and design, this one was a challenge. I had a masterpiece splash screen that sets the bar to a high standard. I didn't want to "just" convert it to 3D, I wanted to make her like both my work and Jennifer's work exist in the same universe and on the same marketing campaign. I don't know if I succeeded but I did my best and learned a lot. When you work with a reference like this you mostly have one angle of view, which leaves another three to your hands to decide what and how the story will be told.

The second challenge was a more technical one: real-time lighting. In my career, I create models, textures, shaders, and grooms but I don't create lights for a professional environment. In real-time you don't have the out of the box cool retraced shadows that you see in V-Ray and other offline renderers, but I wanted to create a soft look, and it was a real challenge for me that took more time than I thought.

3dtotal

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

Konstantin

I use many software for different tasks. Today's 3D artists need to be pretty technical because every day new software and workflows appear. You can master one program just to realize that the workflow you learned yesterday… officially died this morning. Take for example the amazing ZWrap (shoutout to the team for this masterpiece). After I saw a killer workflow of ZWrap combined with the XYZ maps for creating skin surface details in just 12 minutes, I was shocked.

This video killed the Mari workflow for me in a second. For years modelers used Mari to project XYZ maps but it took time and had some challenges like smudges that you needed to fix. ZWrap eliminated the artistic process from creating pores, now I can give this task to a less seasoned artist and he will do the job just right. Another software I use in my day to day work is V-Ray. Snowball VFX uses V-Ray to render hours of animation for Disney shows, so we create our shading networks in V-Ray for Maya with the massive help of Substance Painter.

3dtotal

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

Konstantin

If you are a junior artist looking to land a foot in the industry you need to constantly make personal work to be visible in the community. The more you make, the better you will be, and your chances to be hired will rise. This is cool on paper but in real life, it can be hard to achieve. We all have our life duties; family, seek days, gym, and sometimes just a simple lack of motivation... You have an enormous industry of "life coaches" built on this topic so I probably won't say any new things, I would just say what worked for me: challenges.

I’m talking about community challenges as well as personal ones. Always challenge yourself, compete with yourself, celebrate a finished work, celebrate each like and follower on 3dtotal, Artstation, Instagram, and so on. All of this will create creative vibes around you and push you further until you will land a job. The key to this journey is to set goals and reach them.

Don't set a goal you won't reach: failure will put you down and create an impression of being a "loser." The problem isn't in what you can and can’t do, the problem is in setting an unrealistic bar for yourself. Everyone can wake up one morning and say I can win a medal in the Olympics if I train enough, only a few succeed in it. If you have never done a full character, start with just a prop, then a face, and after create a full one. So set small, achievable goals, break them, share them with the community and go for the next challenge!

detailed 3d model female magical warrior

3dtotal

What are your artistic ambitions?

Konstantin

The more time I spend creating art the more I shift towards overall design, composition, and appeal. I studied a degree in graphic design for 4 years where we were constantly told to favor story and appeal over technical knowledge. The problem was that our lecturers were 10 years over us and for them, this was an elementary decision. However, for the students, that can't create anything because of the lack of technical knowledge, this sounded strange.

Like how should I create a well-designed character if I still don't know how to model? Well, with time past I joined the "appeal is the main part" club but in most cases, it won't work for the less experienced artists. Based on this my ambitions for the coming years will be to polish the aesthetic part of my creations more and more, and maybe move to London, to be closer to a European culture which I highly admire!

league of legends female character 3d model

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Konstantin

The most interesting for the readers will probably be an "announcement" that I set up my YouTube channel and will start uploading unique content for the community. The first show will be called "Lookdev Garage '' and it is a unique format I created for sharing surfacing knowledge. I am trying to create fresh and fun content for everyone that anyone can relate to.

Besides that, at the moment I am finishing an 80 hours course for cgtarian.ru on character creation for the cinematic pipeline. I am creating my take on Harley Quinn's character so you can expect her to hit social media in the coming weeks. I am also involved in two projects that unfortunately don't have a close deadline but eventually, they will finish someday so I can explain more.

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