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Nabeel Ummer: 3D generalist interview

3D generalist for Bangalore-based Red Monster Games, Nabeel Ummer, talks about the philosophy and software he uses in the industry for creating his work...

3D generalist for Bangalore-based Red Monster Games, Nabeel Ummer, talks about the philosophy and software he uses in the industry for creating his work...

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

Nabeel Ummer: I'm a 3D generalist with a special passion for sculpting characters. I'm currently a senior 3D artist at Red Monster Games based in Bangalore, India.

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

NU: The black canary has always been one of my personal favorites from the DC roster, and I wanted to showcase her the way I had always envisioned her in my mind; kinda tough and smart... a very no nonsense type of vigilante. I toyed around with the idea of her in a mask, but decided to do away with it for this image to show her gaze.

A wip of the character I'm currently working on

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

NU: The main software I used for this particular piece were Maya, for the base mesh creation, ZBrush for the sculpting and detailing, Xnormal for the map baking, and V-Ray with Maya for the output render. I find that creating women in 3D is a slightly more challenging task for me as if it isn't done right, they tend to look mannish and there isn't really any way to circumvent this other than spending a lot of time tweaking the face. One more slight issue I faced was the hair detailing... I found that while using Maya hair or any other plug-in did give the hair a more realistic look, it did not seem to sit well with the rest of the character piece, and really increased render times, so I ended up with a single polygon piece for the hair to make it look more like a collectible sculpt instead.

3dt: Do you normally use this software in your workflow? What other software and plug-ins do you favor?

NU: I'm a huge advocate for ZBrush in the modeling workflow. I have found that most of the companies here in Bangalore tend to overlook ZBrush in their workflow, and favor detailing in the texture painting process in Photoshop or similar software. While I'm not against this, I do feel that ZBrush allows a whole new level of freedom to play around in the detailing process that can be utilized to a better degree.

A quick render of an aristrocratic character

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

NU: DynaMesh is my best friend as a sculptor, and I use it very often in every stage of the sculpting process. The ease it offers for a topology independent workflow is just revolutionary!! And for the retopo after, I prefer the new tools in Maya 2015... easy and intuitive.

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?

NU: Although I am still learning anatomy on my own through online forums and such, I'm also interested in dynamics and hope to integrate that in more of my work. Also, I aim to do more likeness studies and improve my knowledge and techniques of facial sculpting.

An older piece of an orc concept

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

NU: Right now I'm heavily into game engines like Unity and Unreal, and I hope to incorporate these in my workflow at a later date as I love real-time models with crazy detailing on them.

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

NU: Honestly, getting the time to work on my own pieces is rare, with work and everything else in life, but for anyone who is in the field, they know that anyone who does not keep themselves updated on the latest techniques is going to fall by the wayside... it's a very competitive industry.

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

NU: There are just so many great artist out there now. I love the artwork of 2D artists like Loish, Ben Caldwell and Dean Yeagle. The dynamic yet simplistic characters these artists create, as well as the colors they employ, are just extremely inspiring. When it comes to 3D, Frank Tzeng is a master of the technical aspects of anatomy and ZBrush, and I love Andrew Hickinbottom's characters, they all have such unique personalities and looks.

A wip of a little sister from Bioshock

3dt: Do you like to experiment with your personal works, or do you prefer to stick to tried-and-tested methods?

NU: Every new piece is a new experiment in techniques for me, although they all rest on a base of tested methods. For instance the base meshes that I create are mostly simplistic and low poly, but I love trying out new things in the detailing, rigging and lighting aspects especially.

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

NU: I'm a huge fan of comic book heroes and heroines. I aim to bring a lot more of my favorite but lesser known characters to the spotlight. And I'd like to take a moment to thank my long-time critic and collaborator Anupama Muralidharan, without whom most of my work would not have seen the light of day.

Related links

Head over to Nabeel's personal site
Check out his Black Canary concept in the gallery
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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