Marlon R. Núñez: senior character artist interview

Slightly Mad Studios senior character artist Marlon R. Núñez reveals the workflow behind his latest gallery entry Creature 85-4...

Slightly Mad Studios senior character artist Marlon R. Núñez reveals the workflow behind his latest gallery entry Creature 85-4...

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

Marlon R. Núñez: I started in 3D when I was a kid. My father is an engineer with a great passion towards computers and helped me to develop my passion in CG. By the time I was at the university, I focused daily on studying 3D on my own. By the time I graduated I knew I was going to pursue my dream of becoming a character artist.

I am currenty working for Slightly Mad Studios as a senior character artist, developing AAA games (such as Project Cars or Need for Speed: Shift 2). In my spare time I keep studying and learning from other artists. The great thing about this industry is that has no end, making the whole career a learning experience.

Demo reel

3dt: Where did you find the inspiration for your latest gallery entry? What's the story behind its creation?

MN: For my last work (Creature 85-4) I used a concept from Ben Erdts - he is a great creature artist and I am a big fan of his work. When creating a character I need inspiration which can keep me motivated during the process. From the moment I saw Ben's concept I knew I was going to recreate it in 3D.

I chose this character to practice my hard-surface skills within ZBrush, and to work on creature anatomy, as I felt I lacked that in my portfolio.

Creature 85-4, based on Ben Erdt's concept

3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?

MN: My main software is ZBrush, where I create almost everything. The last version (ZBrush 4R7) was incredibly helpful as it had the ZModeler function, making hard-surface modeling easier. For textures I used MARI and Substance Painter. For clothes I am currently working with Marvelous Designer; it is a great tool to create clothes with UVs. Eventually I rendered out the creature in KeyShot, which allowed me to create different light scenarios using the environments already provided.

ZBrush anatomy study

3dt: Are there any particular techniques that you use often?

MN: For hard-surface I like using the topology tool in ZBrush, mixing it with the ZModeler functions. For organic work, it is about your artistic skills, and how critical you can be with your work, so it is a lot about patience.

Character created for the Comicon Challenge 2015

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?

MN: I would like to do something with Virtual Reality. Not sure if you'd call it "ambition”, but I am incredibly curious about it and would love to learn more in this field. It's still on my 'pending' list.

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

MN: Unreal 4. I just started recently but I want to train myself in how to build a videogame, not only from the artistic point of view but also the implementation. Growing up in a family of software engineers, I always felt that I could learn programming and how to use it to my favor.

Eventually Unreal can be linked to VR too, so is a must for me.

Project Europa. First project I used to practice hard-surface in ZBrush

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

MN: You need to keep yourself inspired and motivated. Most of the time I start a character because I know I lack a specific technique (hard-surface, clothes, etc...), it makes me learn on the go. Hardly ever will I try to do something without trying to learn something new.

Don't be afraid project, based on a concept from Kyoung Hwan Kim

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

MN: All of us need heroes. Recently I am following the work from Frank Tzeng; I like his background and the way he creates characters. Also, from years ago, I'm a big fan of Rafael Grassetti's work, probably one of the best character artists I have ever seen. I am quite impressed with his traditional sculpting techniques especially; not often can you see character artists that can sculpt in clay.

Likeness study. Ruby from Fifth Element

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?

MN: In the short term I want to create a simple videogame based on my 3D project Don't be afraid, I am still learning Unreal and testing, but I hope to have something to show next year. In the long term, it would be virtual reality. I feel the VR field is endless and I definitely want to be involved in this change.

The traveler. Based on a creature box concept

Related links

Check out Marlon R. Núñez's personal site
Marlon can also be found on ArtStation
Follow Marlon on Facebook
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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