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Pawel “Levus3D” Jaruga: character artist interview

Pawel Jaruga

Character artist, digital sculptor and instructor

Character artist and Creepytables founder discusses creating resin kits for miniatures projects, sculpting characters, and the importance of seeing your projects through. Find out more…

3dtotal

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

Pawel

Hi! My name is Pawel and I’m a professional character artist and digital sculptor based in Poland. I started my career in CG over 10 years ago. I spent about eight years making characters for Hard Reset and Shadow Warrior 1 & 2 as a character artist at Flying Wild Hog, a game development studio located in Warsaw, Poland. I was also doing freelance for commercials and cinematics. I’m also an instructor and from time to time I do public presentations, and teach about 3D character creation for games in a Warsaw-based Game Dev School.

Now I’m working mainly for Creepytables, my own miniatures and collectibles studio founded over a year ago. I’m trying to focus on sculpting mostly, of course, but also my role includes managing miniatures projects that we are working on with other artists.

bust, sculpt, Dryad
bust, sculpt, Dryad, miniture, collectible, 3d printing
Based on concept illustration by Gracjana Zielińska

3dtotal

What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?

Pawel

The idea for my latest work, Dryad from the Deep Woods, was developed in cooperation with (and mostly by) Gracjana Zielińska (Vinegaria) – she is the author of the concept illustration for Dryad. She is fantastic illustrator, and she is very magical in her works, so I asked Gracjana to create some ideas for a new resin kit for Creepytables. After some initial sketches we decided to make a Dryad with a hedgehog. The second, smaller hedgehog, appeared while sculpting, spontaneously, as an extra feature that people would love, and our community really fell in love in those little creatures.

I sculpted the model for Dryad fully in ZBrush, starting from fast blocking and finishing with the smaller details. Renders are made in Octane Render, since I really love to render using GPUs. Here are some progress steps for Dryad modeling and rendering.

sculpt, Larry, weapon dealer, Shadow Warrior 2

3dtotal

What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?

Pawel

There were a few. The first challenge was her face, to make her beautiful, and not so far from the concept. I was using references, some other artists sculpts (I have some favorites that always inspire me). At last I felt satisfied with her face. Another difficult thing was preparing for printing and casting. It is always a challenge, every model is different, you need to cut it for pieces and check that it will be possible to mold and cast, and it needs to fit in our standard package. Some silhouette details need to be flattened and merged with the surface, you need to make sure there will be no undercuts. The digital world is forgiving in this matter, but in the real world you’re dealing with real physics.

3dtotal

Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?

Pawel

In parallel with ZBrush, I use 3D-Coat very often, for retopology, mapping and sometimes for texturing. I use Substance Painter a lot for texturing for games. I love rendering in Octane, and lastly I’m really into Blender, due to new rendering engines, and now I don’t need a huge 3D package, so the free solution of Blender is definitely for me. I use Blender for measurements and scene assembly, and then usually export scenes to Octane for rendering. Oh, and I love rendering real-time in Marmoset; this software is so intuitive and simple to use. I never tried baking in Marmoset, but I will probably try with my next game character.

Shadow Warrior 2, Ninja,

I strongly recommend approaching all your work as projects. For instance, you’ve made a character – that’s a project. You’ve made ten doodles – that’s a project. Always keep your project as complete as possible and finish it in some way

3dtotal

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

Pawel

I strongly recommend approaching all your work as projects. For instance, you’ve made a character – that’s a project. You’ve made ten doodles – that’s a project. Always keep your project as complete as possible and finish it in some way. If you are finished working on a single character, take some beauty renders, some clay renders, and some technical screens if you like and “close it,” make it a “final thing” that you want to show to audiences on social media, your portfolio, CG portals, and so on. Generally up to six-to-ten screens are enough in most cases.

The most important rule for me is to finalize a project; keep things done and well presented to not look like a work in progress. And always create a portfolio pack as soon as possible after finishing the work, no matter if it can’t be published yet or in two years because of disclosure, so there will never be a situation when you need to make 100 renders for a portfolio because the game is just released and you’re allowed to show your work. It is much better to finish something even with imperfections than to keep it in the work in progress stage, in the depths of your HDD for years.

3dtotal

Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?

Pawel

My daily artfeed is mostly Instagram and Artstation, and about once a week or two I’m going through other portals including 3dtotal. You can always check my hashtag #levus3d or #creepytables to find some works of mine. I’m pretty easy to Google or to find on any social media. I love to drop works to Instagram, Facebook, and so on. I keep my main portfolio on Artstation, but I also trying to not forget about 3dtotal and some other CG portals.

Zilla Commando, Shadow Warrior 2, robot, mechanical
Concept art by Pawel Swiezak
concept, Witchfire, Ogre, cannon

3dtotal

What are your artistic ambitions?

Pawel

I really want to design a few, new, bigger and more impressive resin kits, including girl figures, since there are not many girl models in my portfolio. I realize that I can find something interesting in this subject. I’m also trying more analog sculpting than before, in polymer clay, and I’m hoping that I can show something interesting soon.

I’m really into 3D printing and manufacturing and my other ambitions are definitely bigger in form ­– furniture and design elements for interiors – but I can’t say more about this right now. I have some ideas for this area, but those are just ideas and initial concepts. I’m also hoping to find some time for game projects in the future, but in much wider aspects of development than only characters.

alice in wonderland, mad hatter

3dtotal

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

Pawel

Oh, there are many of impressive creators that are inspiring me every day! Starting from the well-known in the digital world; the Keos Masons team with the incredible hard-surface workflow of Marco Plouffe, Kris Costa as a realistic characters guru, Hazardous and Layna Lazar with their fantastic girl statues, and of course sculpting beast James W. Cain.

Tomek Radziewicz is always inspiring with his clay sculptures and monuments. My friend Marcin Klicki is always a hard-working motivator for me. Digital and traditional miniatures sculptors like Raul Garcia Latorre, Brice Savina, Romain van den Bogaert, or Lucas Pina Penichet. Also, Maria Panfilova. I can’t remember all the great artists, their works make me want to drool!

It’s a positive jealousy watching all of those artsits work, so I think “I want to make such cool work too! I need to sculpt, learn, and try more, now!” Strictly, I learn from them; motivation, inspiration, anatomy examples, and modeling solutions. There are many things that we can learn from other artists, especially from the best of them.

Smoking Caterpillar

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Pawel

Right now I’m preparing show-off screens for a sci-fi girl (closing the portfolio project), that I have worked on through winter. And of course the second wonderland resin kit that I’m sure my audience has been waiting a long time for, and that will be Mad Hatter. I will publish this statue very soon.

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