Megan Chocholek: freelance artist interview

Freelance artist Megan Chocholek shares tips for ZBrush and creating models, and discusses her career and aspirations...

Freelance artist Megan Chocholek shares tips for ZBrush and creating models, and discusses her career and aspirations...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Megan Chocholek: I am currently a freelance artist with a focus on character modeling and I am located in the Orlando, Florida area. Since graduating from college in 2015, I've had some awesome opportunities to work with indie game companies, military simulation, and most recently, I've had the honor to be an instructor at iD Tech for their 3D art and game design courses!

3dt: What's the story behind your latest gallery entry? Where did the idea come from? What were you trying to achieve with it?
MC: I started this project so that I could practice matching 2D concepts and to also teach myself the ins and outs of Renderman. I've wanted to make stylized pieces for a while now, and with the recent release of Renderman 21, I figured now was the perfect time! After some extensive Pinterest research, I ended up picking a concept from Oscar Jimenez. His style really conveys the story and emotions of a character while keeping a simple and clean design, and matched what I am trying to achieve in my own work.

3dt: What software and plug-ins did you use to create this image? Did you face any difficulties, and how did you overcome them?
MC: I used ZBrush for all of the modeling work and then did my final topology in Maya. For the textures I used a combination of ZBrush and Photoshop, and material and scene setup was done in Renderman 21 for Maya. After the initial render, I did the final touches like color correction, chromatic aberration, lens dust, and so on in Photoshop. The biggest hurdles I had to overcome here was with XGEN. My biggest advice in that area would be to check your folder paths and names! Make sure you don't have any spaces in folder names and that your project is set to the correct folder. Once your project is set, set it again; I find Maya can be very mischievous at times.

3dt: Do you have any tips or techniques that other artists may not be aware of?
MC: It's not something that is new, but it is something I wish I had known more about when I started in 3D. Checking your silhouette is vital when modeling. Making sure your pose/sculpt is clear and readable can really make the difference in your work. To check your silhouette in ZBrush, select a non-reflective material and make sure the color palette is set to black on the bottom square. If you press ‘V' on the keyboard it will flip the color palette so that your material is now a flat black, and you can see how your silhouette reads. Pressing ‘V' again will switch your material back to whatever color is on the top square. It is a good idea to do this frequently while modeling to check proportions, readability, appeal, and so on. You can also do this in Maya! If you have no lights in your scene, pressing ‘7' will switch you to lighting mode and make the geometry appear a flat black.

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
MC: There are a couple really awesome groups on Facebook that I visit a lot, be it for critiques or inspiration. The first one is Ten Thousand Hours, where you can post finished works or WIPs to get critiques. There are some really great artists that post to the group and give out great advice! I highly recommend it for artists of all levels. The second is 2D focused, but is great for finding concept art and inspiration. The Character Design Challenge is a group that holds monthly character design contests, so there are always some interesting concepts, and everyone is welcome to submit their work!

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
MC: Set a time frame for your project, and be realistic about what you can do within those deadlines. Don't go overboard with a project, try to do something that lets you work on skills you already know but also allows you to learn a new thing or two. So if you give yourself a week to work on a new character design, and you're confident in your ability to do organic modeling but not so much hard surface, then include some simple hard surface assets that allow you to practice, but still be reasonable enough to finish within the time frame.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
MC: I am currently working on making a tutorial of my process for the Old Man, so keep your eye out for it on 3dtotal! I am also working on new pieces for my personal portfolio, and I have already got a few lined up to finish, so if you want to follow my progress on those follow my ArtStation.

Related links

Check out Megan Chocholek's ArtStation
Vote for Old Man in the gallery
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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