Sergey Romanenko: lead character artist interview
Lead character artist Sergey Romanenko works at Plarium, in Ukraine. Check out our interview with him and work from his portfolio…
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Hey. My name is Sergey Romanenko. I work as a lead character artist for Plarium. At the moment I live and work in Ukraine. By the end of the year, I will have been doing 3D and creating content for video games for 10 years, the last 5 of which I devoted to creating characters. I do love my work and I try to set new challenges with each new character, and achieve better results.
What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
I started working on my last character on a speed sculpting challenge, which my colleagues and I occasionally conduct in our free time. It takes one and a half hours to a week for one work, as we agree. This time, the theme of our challenge was Dishonored by the concepts of the great artist Cedric Peyravernay. Since I really liked the result of our speed sculpt, I decided to finish my work, add some details, textures, set the light, and make a beauty shot.
The model is fully done in ZBrush, textures in Substance Painter, and rendering in Marmoset Toolbag. Furthermore, I applied the workflow by Maria Panfilova in this work. I made the UV from a decimated model, laid out udims in 3ds Max, and baked the decimated model on itself in Marmoset Toolbag. I used the same model for rendering. This gave me the opportunity to maintain a high level of detail without using displacement maps.
What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?
I had two main challenges in this work. The first was not to be disgraced and make the model no worse than my colleagues would do. The second is the stylization. I don’t have much experience in it, so this character was especially interesting for me. Although I tried to follow the Dishonored style, I wanted to bring in more details, make the character really brutal with bristle and wrinkles, portraying the same sight full of contempt that I liked so much on the concept. I hope that I have at least partially succeeded.
In the process of working on the character, I mastered a new pipeline. Working with a decimated model is quite difficult, but it saves a lot of time in the end. There is no need to make the right topology, carefully layout and pack the UV. ZBrush does all these for you. It remains only to make the texture and set the light beautifully. I think I will use a similar pipeline in my personal works more than once.
What are your artistic ambitions?
It seems to me that the only way for an artist to develop creatively is through personal works. Indeed, there are always quite monotonous tasks for the main work, first, you make a high-poly model, then low-poly, UV, baking, texturing, and so on and on, that in the end, it turns into a routine. And only personal works give you the opportunity to leave your comfort zone, to focus on what you are interested in at the moment without limiting yourself with the number of polygons or texture resolution, to set new challenges and avoid a routine. In personal works, I always try to solve new problems, it can be the study of anatomy, a stylized bust, work on the likeness, or just a speed sculpt with colleagues for fun. As a result, every new work slightly increases your skill and reminds you that the profession you have chosen is really cool!
Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
There is one artist who at one time inspired me to create video games. His name is Andrew Maximov. Andrew has recorded a large number of lectures and training materials on Beauty in Art, Technical Art Culture, and Future of Art Production. Currently, Andrew is a founder and CEO of Promethean AI.
After watching one of his lectures on the prospects in the video game industry, and seeing his works, I realized that I wanted the same. That week, I quit my job and began to study game art, and then frantically made a portfolio. After 4 months of rushing and working for 14-16 hours a day on the portfolio, having completed a number of test tasks for various studios, I finally got my first job in the gaming industry.
I still remember how I rendered my first lightmap on my mother’s laptop, while simultaneously making textures on my computer in order to finish the test task until the deadline. I really like the thought that Andrew has expressed in one of his interviews. ”Work until your strength runs out completely, and then continue to work on. The only difference between you and the person you want to be is that he will not give up when he has the opportunity.”
A character from the cinematic "RAID: Shadow Legends | Choose Your Champion | Boss Beginnings" from Plarium. I have made a high-poly model and textures for this project.