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Stefanie Zirkus: 3D character modeler interview

Stefanie Zirkus

Character 3D Modeler

3D character modeler Stefanie Zirkus from Brazil outlines her workflow, the challenges she overcomes with creating visuals, and talks about her career so far…

Stefanie's ArtStation

3dtotal

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

Stefanie

Hello! I am Stefanie Zirkus and I am a 3D Character Modeler and Lookdev Artist located in São Paulo, Brazil.

I initially started studying 3D in 2012. My passion for the world of CGI and the desire to learn the subject began when I watched the movie Avatar by James Cameron; it was fascinating to see the possibility to create wonderful characters and worlds with just a computer and imagination. After studying for a few years on my own, I finally went to college to study audiovisual production, and there I learned the vital knowledge of the area thus giving the boost I need to improve my skills. My love for 3D grew more and more, and after much effort and dedication, today I am finally venturing into the CGI industry.

illustration kraken octopus cereal creative design
Illustration made for my friend art book Cereal Surreal

3dtotal

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

Stefanie

My latest work was based on one of my favorite films, Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino. I developed a version of the character Django, based on an iconic scene from the film and mixing elements of the character with my own artistic cartoon style. It was a personal work for my portfolio, but above all it was done so that I could train and learn more and more about 3D, always trying to get out of my comfort zone and trying to improve my techniques and workflow. I was very pleased with him because it is always a challenge for me to make fanart and honor the character in question. I plan to make more fanart in the future and always try to improve.

3dtotal

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

Stefanie

My biggest challenge with fanart is to honor the character behind them; in this case it was his clothes. I wanted to make the clothes neither too realistic nor too cartoon, so my focus was on trying to find a middle ground. My solution was to style the body proportions and details, such as folds, shape of the clothes, and the elongated body.

After that, I mixed more realistic textures and shaders, imitating the original costumes of the film. One thing that I learned was UDIMs. Being necessary to use high resolution in texture maps, I ended up having to seek knowledge and learn more about UDIMS and how the pipeline works within softwares such as Maya, ZBrush, and Substance Painter, this ended up being a very valuable knowledge.

3dtotal

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

Stefanie

The softwares I usually use for personal projects and for work are ZBrush, Maya, Photoshop, Substance Painter, and V-Ray. ZBrush and Maya are the base of my projects, and they will always complement each other. I still intend to learn many others software to keep me updated and improve my pipeline and workflow.

female character stylised design blue water fishes
Personal work based on Patry Balanovsky concept art (original design by Kamila Trzeciak)

3dtotal

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

Stefanie

Keeping an updated portfolio is a huge challenge and requires a lot of willpower and dedication. My biggest enemy has always been procrastination and the fear of failing, but recently I realized that the need to progress and improve is far greater than fear. My motivation is to always try my best and to see my work progressing with each attempt. It is a wonderful feeling to see progress happen from one piece to another. My tip is to study a lot, avoid procrastination at all costs, and have fun making your projects!

3dtotal

What are your artistic ambitions?

Stefanie

My artistic ambition is to learn and improve my style more and more. It's also to have an opportunity to work on big movie projects, bring wonderful characters to life with incredible stories and have recognition. I would also like to have the opportunity to work with great industry professionals and learn a lot from them.

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Stefanie

Right now I am working on the production of a short film, unfortunately I prefer not to divulge information about it in respect to my clients. But I am simultaneously producing a fanart of a character from the Hobbit movie trilogy. Like in my last piece I am mixing elements of my own stylized cartoon style with the original character. I am very satisfied with its progress so far, I will definitely post here in 3dtotal as soon as I finish it.

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