Osmar Rivera Mejia: 3D illustrator interview

Osmar Rivera

3D artist

3D illustrator Osmar Rivera Mejia shares his artistic story so far, and talks about how he uses lighting to help tell a story. Find out more…

Osmar's Artstation


Hi Osmar – thanks for agreeing to an interview following your 3dtotal Staff Pick! Please let us know more about you!


Thanks to you for the opportunity to have a space in the 3dtotal Staff Pick, I feel really honored for the time you dedicated to see my work. About me, I'm a Mexican 3D artist since 3 years ago, I remember to I was taking my second semester of university when I discovered the 3D world. Before that, I wanted to be 2D concept artist, and before a 2D concept artist I wanted to be musician, but life is funny and I'm here now.

I really enjoy making art that's inspired by cute things and amazing compositions, with a lot of narrative – those types of images that have a deep sense if you view it for a long time, but my favorite process in all my images is the lighting. Thanks to the work of amazing artists like Grand Chamaco, Paul Chambers, Puffy Puff Puff, and Minakoto Shinkai, I discovered my actual style, but I'm sure it will change in the future.

gas mask 3d modeling rendering creature atmospheric


Your gallery image was a Studio Ghibli-inspired 3D illustration, but in your distinctive style. Was it difficult to combine the two styles? What was the process & software used?


In reality it was not so hard, because I have time to mix this type of art and explore these styles, especially when I need to do a cute character. Maybe the hardest of all, was to create the best environment for the scene, because I couldn't find a better place than a traditional Japanese house, and since this fact I started to work on the rest of the composition, knowing my central elements (the characters) will be inside the house. It was a quick decision because I only had two days to do this, because the date of publishing.

The process is part of the common process to create this type of image. Firstly, I need to create a blocking of my composition, where only are the base of my environment and basic objects instead of the characters. When I love the basic composition, I start with the details, all the details I can compile, creating a list with lots of objects I imagine likely to be there, like types of plants, environmental objects like paints, photos, tables, or chairs. With all the preparation of these assets, I start with the details that give me the feeling of being exactly in the location I want. For example, in this case that object was lotus flowers or water lilies, because you can find them normally in this type of place.

If I love the composition I begin with the lighting. To start with the lighting I create the shadow color with the HDRI environment, and after I create the contrast light of my shadows. For example if my shadow is purple, my contrast can be yellow or orange. The important light is the contrast light because normally this is the focal point of my composition.

The last steps are the easiest, because I only create the characters in a cute style, based on heads or big bodies and arms or small legs, a pretty face, and a clumsy pose. To finish I add lights to create a type of guide, inside my composition, to focus on my characters. I do all the process in Blender, only if I have more complex objects do I go to Maya and create it there.

ghost halloween 3d model character design rendering modeling sculpt


Your recent personal work has a soft but warm tone, with shadows a distinctive feature, even in your brighter images. How do you go about thinking about the lighting for a scene?


It is really easy to think about the lighting setting, because I take inspiration from some movies or videogames scenes, but my favorites are the photos of real life, and even sunlight entering from my window while I'm working is an amazing inspiration. The lighting is conceptual and only helps to make my characters more distinguishable, but I love to experiment all the time with the color palette of the light.

Now, speaking of the lighting creation, normally I start creating the environmental color, and the shadows. My shadow color helps me know the color of my main light, because I use the color theory to determine this. If my shadow is purple, the most common contrast can be orange, but if you put a main light in a green tone, the scene can be more like a Halloween Illustration.

It is important to put a light behind the characters to create the shape lighting, a really subtle light can help separate my character from my background, which helps so much to give my illustration a feeling of depth.

To finish I put some additional lights to help guide the direction of my characters, many times these lights in reality don't have incidence in other places of my illustration, only to simulate a secondary lighting, like lamps, candles, or other things, and animals emissives, like fireflies.


You mention the importance of contrast light. For beginner artists: why is this so important, and what should they remember when playing with different lighting setups?


The lighting is one of the most important steps; good lighting can make the difference in an image, and can give mood to an image, making the happiest illustrations and the saddest illustrations. This step isn’t random; we need think about the importance and hierarchy of our lights, like in all the areas, we have main lights, some secondary, even some third. We can give a good hierarchy using the position, the intensity, but the color too. A good image is a clear image, where you can identify the characters and the background, we can have that with contrast.

Dia De Muertos 3d character design model rendering


From musician, to 2D artist, to 3D artist, shows that you have always been very creative! What instrument(s) did you play? (Do you still play?) And why did you switch from 2D to 3D?


It was a long career as a musician, close to 11 years playing music in a lot of bands, from rock bands to mariachi, and it was a really good time. In all that time I learned many instruments, like guitar, bass, drum, and in mariachi some like trumpet, guitarron, and vihuela. In the last group where I was, I learned congas. In reality not because I wanted to, it was because we lost members commonly and sometimes we needed to play more than one instrument. Actually I’m still playing but far from the old scenarios, normally I touch bass and guitar, my two favorite instruments.

The history of my switch is short, because when I entered university my first purpose was to be an animator, a Disney animator, but in 30s style like Cuphead. After I changed it because my career is Graphic Design, that's the reason I changed my area again but now to Illustrator, especially a type of illustration of two Mexican artists, one called Elmer Sosa and another called Mr Kone. When I took the 3D animation class, I fell in love instantly with the type of illustrations people could make! Since that moment one of my big inspirations is Grand Chamaco. I think to one of the reason was because I had a excellent teacher too!

cityscape 3d model nightlife environment design illustration


Do you have a supportive local community in Mexico? Where would you like to see your career take you?


Fortunately, yes! I have my university friends and some friends I know from studios or casual works. But recently I have a group of fantastic friends called Viernes de Ilustración (Illustration’s Friday) or VDI. They are a fantastic group of friends who support you in each moment you need, not only in the professional area, but in the personal area too, they are really amazing and talented people. Each one of them are excellent illustrators and will never stop supporting you.

And about my work, it's really hard to explain it, because maybe right now I have a purpose but in some years I’ll have another. The most important is to create this type of art for all my life, in many places of the world, like China, Canada, and USA. I don’t care so much what type of area I’ll be in the future, but I really want to participate in an animated movie, this is one of my dreams since childhood.

chibi barn 3d model sculpt character creature design


What can we expect to see from you next?


I'm sure I'll keep experimenting with more amazing cameras and lighting, mixing it with new render engines and more elaborated backgrounds. But it isn't the unique area where I want to improve my skills, you'll see new cute characters and of course, personal storytelling. Why? Because our feelings are our real engine to do things. Thank you for the space, for the time the people take to do that interview and for the time the readers will take in knowing about me. I'll see everyone in the future!

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