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Rafael Z. Chies: freelance 3D artist interview

Freelance 3D artist Rafael Chies specializes in look dev, lighting, and environments; and is strongly influenced by what he sees on long walks learn more...

Freelance 3D artist Rafael Chies specializes in look dev, lighting, and environments; and is strongly influenced by what he sees on long walks learn more...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Rafael Chies: My name is Rafael Chies, I was born and raised in Brazil but I'm currently living in Florence, Italy. I work as freelance 3D artist, but I'm more focused on look development, lighting, and environment\assets modeling. I started to appreciate art when I was a very young child. It became very clear that my curiosity in this field surpassed any other one. At school, for example, both the purchase of painting and drawing materials and the time dedicated to these activities were the events I looked forward to the most. All that enthusiasm for drawing, painting, modeling with clay, in short, all these ways of creation started to interest me so much that they became the main hobby of my life, and even today it remains this way.

3dt: What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
RC: The "Belle's Cottage" project is based on the classic Disney animation Beauty and the Beast, but I brought in completely different references, including real places, objects, and textures. My transfer to Europe was extremely important to perform this type of work because it was here that I began to have real contact with this type of construction, vegetation, colors, and so on. My workflow for this piece is pretty much the same workflow I always use. I started by gathering references, then I went to Maya to block the overall idea and see what worked and what didnt.

After all the blocking I began to detail everything in ZBrush and to sculpt some elements from scratch, then I went to Substance Painter and Substance Designer to make the textures and the base of materials. I used Redshift Renderer to render my scene and Photoshop for the composition and cc.

My main source of inspiration is, in fact, the world. I strongly believe that an artist sees the world in some other layers compared to other people. Due to the habit of walking a lot, I consider myself a very observant person since while walking, I perceive the space around me in all its scales, from the way it is composed, passing through all the objects that integrate it, and following to the smallest details, textures, finishes, lights, and shadows. This is precisely what makes me love 3D so much; it has a huge capacity not only for reproducing all these elements, but also for creating a kind of "parallel reality."

3dt: What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?
RC: As I wanted to improve my skills as an environment artist and wanted to learn new software, I made almost everything from scratch. The bark and the foreground wooden fence were made in Substance Designer (it was my first time using Substance Designer and I simply loved it!). The vegetation and flowers I made directly inside Maya and for the treetops I used SpeedTree. There were a lot of challenges because I wanted to make a piece that could show everything I can do with my current level of knowledge, so I didn't want to keep the things in the "good enough" level.

3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
RC: I usually work with the same workflow and software I have described above, but I have some experience with other software like 3ds Max, Mudbox, Mari and Nuke. And I have a lot of experience working with V-Ray. I also started to study Unreal Engine, which seems to be pretty powerful.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
RC: I try to keep focused as much as I can, I mean, I really love to play games and watch movies but there's a right time for everything and, in this area that we choose we have to study a lot! I always try to push myself and to turn my latest work into my best work, either professional or personal. This way, I will always have new pieces to show and to strengthen my name in social media. People should always keep in mind that from the moment they treat their art as a profession, it is still art, but also business. So, stay humble and be always professional and responsible.

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
RC: Yes, I try to be present in social media as much as I can because it's really important for the artists to be remembered, especially for the freelancers like me. I use Facebook and Instagram a lot and I'm starting to use LinkedIN. Also, I have Artstation and Behance where I'm always looking for inspiration and for talented artists to help me with some project. I don't use hashtags, I prefer to check the default feed or the picks from every platform.

3dt: How important is the recognition of your peers?
RC: It's crucial! It's important for networking and to keep learning! With the feedback you keep yourself inspired to make new artworks. Besides that, the feedback of experienced people helps you to grow much faster. If you make a good work and keep present on the social media, you'll never be without work. And, of course, always be kind and nice to other people!

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
RC: Sometimes I find myself thinking if I want to keep being a freelancer or if its time to get into the industry... I really don't know the answer. I mean, I love to be an artist and I can see myself really happy either way. So at the end of the day I just want to always be better and to keep learning! What really matters is to keep laying my head on the pillow knowing that I'm doing my best to honor all the people that helped me along the way.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
RC: It is very hard to refer only certain artists, since my references change constantly by several factors, including my professional moment as well as the type of work I am performing. At the moment, the professionals who are inspiring me the most are: Alejandro Burdisio, Jose Manuel Linares, Pedro Conti, Gosia Arska, Tuomas Korpi, and Toni Bratincevic.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
RC: I have a lot of personal projects in mind but there's an image from Alejandro Burdisio that I'm working on and I'm really excited about that. I really don't know when I'll be able to finish it but I have the goal of doing two or three personal projects per year.

Related links

Check ot Rafael Chies ArtStation
Rafael Chies on Behance
Rafael on LinkedIn
Follow Rafael on Facebook

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