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Rafael Mustaine: digital sculptor interview

Rafael Mustaine

Digital Sculptor

Freelance digital sculptor Rafael Mustaine creates characters for the action figure industry, and talks about his latest “Evil Dead”-inspired character sculpt, Ash, and the importance of creating personal projects alongside professional work…

Rafael's Website

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

Rafael

My name is Rafael and I was born in São Paulo, Brazil. I am a freelance digital sculptor for the action figure industry. I am currently developing characters for Chinese franchises. I started in CG 12 years ago at a time when there were no tutorials with ease on the internet, there was no YouTube or social networks to exchange information with students and artists. What led me to continue without these valuable resources of today was curiosity – with that I was able to develop and with time the opportunities arose.

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What was the workflow behind your latest personal project? Where did the idea come from?

Rafael

In parallel to the paid projects, I like to study and develop personal projects to improve and evolve as an artist. My current project is Ash Evil Dead, a character I was very pleased to develop, because I am a fan of the Evil Dead franchise. The process was simple; I searched for a cartoon style concept to serve as a basis for creation, and it was very cool because I was able to experience an opposite style of what I have been doing that is realism. The final result was super nice for me, and I’m thinking of making a 3D print of this character to put on my desk.

Evil Dead Ash
Ash Evil Dead Process

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

Rafael

Yes it was very challenging, because I was able to experiment with a new style that I was not used to, and to test new tools to achieve a good texture, rendering, mapping, and Blend Shapes. With that I was able to improve my techniques for this style. The most important part of this project was to solve all the problems that arose with confidence and tranquility.

in parallel to the professional work, I am always developing personal projects. With this I have the freedom and power to divulge whenever I want on the social networks.

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

Rafael

They are the same for both projects; I have ZBrush licenses, 3ds Max, Photoshop, and Marmoset Toolbag. With these resources I can develop projects for the industry and for myself. It is important to state that digital tools are important in our everyday life, but to achieve good results, a solid artistic background, study, and dedication is much more important.

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

Rafael

The truth is that professional projects are always confidential, it is not always possible to advertise and it requires studio authorization, and it takes a lot of time. Therefore, in parallel to the professional work, I am always developing personal projects. With this I have the freedom and power to divulge whenever I want on the social networks. Today I receive many jobs through my portfolio online that has several personal and professional projects. I think the tip is not to be stuck only to professional work; always study, practice, and keep your online profile updated with well executed projects.

Cyclops

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

Rafael

I'm not part of groups, but I'm always looking for artistic content, action, warriors, medieval, sci-fi, paintings, games, comics, and movies. My artistic base is the Geek universe, it all inspires me. With the power of the internet, new themes and styles come up every day, and somehow inspire us to produce something innovative.

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What are your artistic ambitions?

Rafael

To become a recognized artist; a producer of games or movies, developing incredible characters and beautiful stories for the next generation. The most important thing is to keep having fun, testing ideas, experimenting styles, and giving life to memorable characters.

Thanos
Thanos Armor Toolbag view

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

Rafael

I have artistic training in traditional drawing and sculpture. There have been several artists who have inspired Mr. Vilppu, Frazetta, Andrew Loomis, Jack Kirby, Caravaggio, Bernini, and many others. With this artistic basis, I was able to develop better for the computer graphics industry, worrying about anatomy, construction, proportion, volumes, composition, photography, and so on. It is important to affirm that studying art, seeking great masters, helps a lot in artistic evolution – it makes a lot of difference after years of dedication.

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What can we expect to see from you next?

Rafael

With respect to professional projects unfortunately I can not divulge anything, but I am developing a personal project that I am having a lot of fun with, and will soon be appearing on my social networks!

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