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Pierre Benjamin: 3D character artist

Pierre Benjamin

3D character artist

Cardiff-based French 3D character artist Pierre Benjamin shares his classical influences, talks of the benefits of growing up without a TV, and offers advice for your portfolio…

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

Pierre

My name is Pierre Benjamin. I currently live in Cardiff in the U.K. and I work freelance as a character artist, and teach online and at university. A little bit about the journey that took me where I’m today: I started doing 3D in 2010, after relocating from Montpellier (in the sunny south France) to UK, although I see that transition as not into the 3D world, but as a continuation of my previous practice with traditional art mediums.

I started to draw at the age of 10, under the influence of my grandfather who's been a successful artist internationally as a painter. Also not having a TV at home was the best thing that happened to me as it meant there was nothing to distract me, and I always had plenty of time to doodle and look at artist’s work to analyze them in museum and books.

I then moved to sculpting with stone when I was 15 under the supervision of a great sculptor. Then I did a year in the school of the Musée du Louvre in Paris in 1999, studying antiquities, which was great for understanding the origins of European Antiquities, and the foundations of artistic trends that followed up until the 1900s.

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

Pierre

I had lots of references from this amazing actor Joe Viterelli who I admire for many reasons. His acting skills and overall great charisma, and I love his facial features which are quite distinct. I'm very fond of the older films from the movie director Scorsese, and this was a way to recreate that old feel, with a character that can be quite intimidating in some ways yet still appealing to us. I love Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro performances and am eager to watch The Irishman coming out soon!

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

Pierre

Oh yes, we always learn new things on every project. At the very start of the modeling, it always looks pretty rough and that stage is the toughest. Then it’s about refining the forms and end up with a nice clean topology and clean unwraps to avoid warping in the textures. I use many different software, amongst which are Substance Painter, Maya, Marvelous Painter, Substance Painter, ZBrush, Photoshop, and more.

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

Pierre

I look at other artists’ work and look at mine to see what I can improve. It always allows me to look at what I did with a fresh pair of eyes and think what direction I could take to experiment further. I feel that I always move to something new and then look back to see how good or bad the last piece was.

I always feel like I don't know anything and I have to prove to myself that I can do something more challenging. The only way to grow is to listen to criticism around you, and be disciplined about the amount of hours you invest into your own personal work every single day. I keep myself inspired by visiting museums and seeing how many unknown artists from the past there are out there that are just waiting to be rediscovered as they may have been forgotten.

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

Pierre

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What are your artistic ambitions?

Pierre

As a character artist, there are so many smaller niche areas I could get into, such as being a hair/groom TD or a shader artist in particular, or entirely focus on 3D printing. There are always ways to grow which is what keeps me going. I'm always learning! I’m torn between wanting to do more cartoony and hyper realistic stlyes (which are both really challenging in their own ways.) So currently I try mixing them up to end up with a caricature/cartoony look, but using some hyper realistic techniques for texturing them.

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

Pierre

There are too many to quote, though from the top of my head I would definitely say mostly the work of Picasso, Van Gogh, and Ingres for the painters. For sculptors, I would say Bernini, Michelangelo, Brancusi, and Duane Hanson as well as Aristide Maillol, César Baldaccini, Arman, Yves Klein, and last but not least, Georges Oudot.

As far as illustrators goes, Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker. All of them carry this very unique and distinct touch that makes them instantly recognizable. You can identify their work easily, which is hard to create. I aim to be able to get to this level one day, although some people have already said I have done so, to my own surprise.

3d model skin
3d model skin
3d graffiti model spray cans

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What can we expect to see from you next?

Pierre

Exhibitions of my work in galleries is the next big milestone for me. My mind is constantly anticipating new endeavors, and most specifically with this new series of artwork which started this year. It’s all based around the idea that, art keeps looking back at itself (hence the huge interest Picasso had for instance to revisit the likes of Goya, Velasquez, Ingres).

My long term objectives are very clear; I aim to be able to exhibit large scale versions of my work in different materials, like wood, stone, and resin, giving my artwork a modern twist (with a sense of humor) through the iconic Greek and Roman gods and character representations. There is so much to explore out there and use in order to express our inner emotions.

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