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Life as a 3D generalist

Tomi Väisänen shares his inspiring portfolio and insights into his career

Tomi Väisänen shares his inspiring portfolio and insights into his career

Tomi Väisänen is a 3D generalist based in Finland, where he works at Ubisoft's RedLynx company, with credits including platform racing game Trials Fusion.

3dtotal: Hi Tomi, thanks for talking to 3dcreative! Please introduce yourself to our readers with a bit about who you are, where you're based, and what you do:
Tomi Väisänen: Hi all. I'm Tomi, and I do 3D because I'm bad at drinking alcohol, unlike the rest of the Finns. I live in Finland, land of saunas, polar bears, and mental disorders. It's always dark outside and if we're not depressed, we're drunk! I was able to escape that fate by going deep inside my mind to pretend that I like doing art for living. Eventually my hobby became a job. I used to work in the advertisement industry before I went to the game industry. Currently I work at the Ubisoft RedLynx as a 3D artist.

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Bells & Whistles: Tomi's first-place entry for the Assembly 2014 graphics competition

3dt: What's your creative background? How did you discover 3D?
TV: I was that kid who drew dinosaurs shooting lasers at each other and couldn't care less about much more important things. A career in art was inevitable. Basically I used to draw a lot, edit videos, and did all sorts of motion-graphic things until I discovered that 3D was the correct tool for me. At first I thought that you need to be good at math to be able to produce 3D art, but how wrong I was. I can barely calculate with my fingers but that hasn't stopped me from doing 3D.

Eventually I went to university to study multimedia production, which contained all the things I mentioned early, but the quality of teaching was horrible. Eventually I got a full-time job before graduating. I still haven't graduated yet and don't even have an interest to.

Precious Cargo: A personal piece created with 3ds Max, V-Ray, Fusion, and Photoshop

3dt: Who or what are your biggest artistic inspirations?
TV: It's really hard to say, because there are tons of really, exceptionally talented artists out there. Just looking at the front page of ArtStation makes me hate myself! I'm also really happy that I'm constantly surrounded by really talented people in my career.

Crowd Control Unit: A helmet design that turned into a full bust, modeled with 3ds Max and Mudbox

Crowd Control Unit: A helmet design that turned into a full bust, modeled with 3ds Max and Mudbox

3dt: What software or tools do you usually use?
TV: 3ds Max is the most common workhorse, as well as Photoshop, After Effects, and other common industry-standard tools. I'm constantly trying to learn new softwares and workflows. Currently I'm interested in photoscanning and learning how I could use that in my work.

Freightliner: Personal work made with 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, and Photoshop

Freightliner: Personal work made with 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, and Photoshop

3dt: Could you give us an idea of your typical 3D workflow?
TV: Yes, it's a complete mess. When doing still images, I usually start with really fast and ugly photobashing and doing paintovers, just to get the ideas onto canvas. No one ever sees these fast sketches. After that, I start modeling from whatever seems to be a suitable starting point. Usually it's some minor detail that doesn't even show on the final image.

After the modeling reaches a certain stage I start juggling the image between Photoshop and 3ds Max just to get a grip on what the final image might look like. After that, it's just iteration after iteration until I hate it! The image is done when I've had enough. The final image looks good for about 10-15 minutes and after that it is garbage and I have this huge urge to start doing a new, better one – and that's how you get better, eventually.

Middle East Express: A tank design created with 3ds Max, Fusion, and Photoshop

Middle East Express: A tank design created with 3ds Max, Fusion, and Photoshop

Hazmat Headgear: A personal piece created with 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Photoshop

Hazmat Headgear: A personal piece created with 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Photoshop

3dt: What's one piece of advice you'd give to artists aspiring to work in the industry?
TV: Do more art instead of answering interviews like this! Do what you want, not what the others want. Have a passion for what you do, whatever it is. Post your work on forums and make connections to your fellow artists. And remember to eat broccoli.

Heart of Eden: Personal work for a digital art exhibition in Helsinki, Finland

Heart of Eden: Personal work for a digital art exhibition in Helsinki, Finland

3dt: What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far, in either your personal or professional work?
TV: I have won plenty of graphic competitions and short films in demoscene parties, which is always nice. But the biggest job I had was being responsible for directing the CGI trailer of Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max for E3. It was something completely new, scary, but damn it was fun.

Wasteland Truck: One of a series of post-apocalyptic vehicle designs, made with 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Photoshop

Wasteland Truck: One of a series of post-apocalyptic vehicle designs, made with 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Photoshop

3dt: Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any)?
TV: There are a lot of computer games and movies involved in my spare time, like in every nerd's life. Of course it's not a healthy habit to sit in front of the monitor all the day doing art, so I like to keep myself at least in some sort of fitness. I'm also a really good chef, having mastered the skill of using too much chili in my food.

Marshland Sovereign: Created with 3ds Max, Mudbox, Fusion, and Photoshop

Marshland Sovereign: Created with 3ds Max, Mudbox, Fusion, and Photoshop

3dt: Thank you very much for speaking to 3dcreative!
TV: Thanks! It was a pleasure.

Top Tip 1: Texture archive

Most of us carry some sort of digital camera with us nowadays, at least in our mobile phone. I'm constantly taking really random-looking pictures of different forms and textures, and use those as part of my works, whether it's as a complete texture or just a reference image.

Planetarium: Personal work made with 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, and Photoshop

Planetarium: Personal work made with 3ds Max, Corona Renderer, and Photoshop

Top tip 2: Kitbash library

Doing 3D is really time-consuming and modeling is slow. Make it faster by creating your own pre-made kitbash library and remember to update it now and then. Besides the geometry, save all the materials and textures you use. There's no need to make the same thing twice.

Shells: Trying out a photorealistic style with 3ds Max, and V-Ray

Shells: Trying out a photorealistic style with 3ds Max, and V-Ray

Related links

To see more of Tomi's work check out his website
Looking for something different? Grab a copy of Master the Art of Speed Painting
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