Vincent Ménier: Character artist interview

French character artist Vincent Ménier has worked on IPs ranging from Frozen to The Simpsons and is now focusing more on personal work find out more...

French character artist Vincent Ménier has worked on IPs ranging from Frozen to The Simpsons and is now focusing more on personal work find out more...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Vincent Ménier: Hi! My name is Vincent Ménier and Im a character artist from France. I currently live in Germany where Im working on an unannounced mobile title. I also do freelance work on the side for the collectibles and VFX industry. Ive worked for numerous IPs including Frozen, Batman, Looney Tunes and The Simpsons. I enjoy being challenged on a daily basis.

3dt: What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
VM: One of the games that struck me the most by its unique art direction was the first Dishonored by Arkane Studios in 2012. At the time, I was pretty much at beginner level and did a bust of my own design in that universe (see here). Four years later, when the second game came out, I decided to dive into this franchise again by doing a bust after a concept by Cédric Peyravernay which wasnt used in the game. The workflow used is a standard ZBrush/Maya/Substance Painter/Photoshop pipeline with the particularity of using XGen for the hair. The final project is presented in Marmoset Toolbag 3.

3dt: What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?
VM: Before this project I had never done a character that was PBR ready. Therefore, the goal was to get up to speed with modern workflows and learn new tools like Substance Painter and Marmoset Toolbag 3. I also switched from 3ds Max to Maya in order to tackle the hair textures with XGen. The hair was the biggest challenge and definitely the biggest time sink. I had to watch a lot of tutorials to pull it off and took a class on game hair with Adam Skutt in order to gain the extra knowledge needed.

3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
VM: My toolset is fairly standard. The cornerstones are now ZBrush and Substance Painter, supported by a variety of other software such as 3ds Max, Maya, Topogun, xNormals, Knald, Marmoset Toolbag, Keyshot and Photoshop.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
VM: I like to make the distinction between portfolio projects and sketches. My personal rule for portfolio projects is that they must satisfy at least one of two criteria: add something new to my current body of work or reach a new level in terms of technique and design. I will usually work several months on a single portfolio piece because I believe it must represent the best of my ability at a given moment in time. Before starting a new portfolio project, I tend to think it through for up to a week in order to be sure I will be passionate enough to bring it to completion.

Sketches on the other hand can be looser and wilder. Theyre a great space to let your mind go on errands and they dont need to be finished or shown. Of course, a project originally intended as a sketch can take some importance and become a portfolio piece that will receive more attention.

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
VM: Im a member of the group Ten Thousand Hours on Facebook. I like this group particularly because its a place where people also post their works in progress. As much as I enjoy being awed by finished artworks, I like seeing pieces as construction sites where things are slowly getting there but not quite yet. Its inspiring and an ever reminder that behind every masterpiece, there once was an ugly face with a misplaced eye and a broken perspective.

3dt: How important is the recognition of your peers?
VM: Recognition is a tricky beast! There is a great pleasure in finishing a piece and enjoying the appreciation of artists from all levels. Its a great boost that makes you tell yourself all this hard work was worth it and that you must now look forward to the next project! However, there is a trap of wanting to do artwork only to get recognized and this is where artists start cannibalizing each other and end up creating art that looks very similar.

Doing IP based work isnt wrong by any means and its a great way to find some popularity. I however think its important to be on a constant quest of finding ones taste and personal expression. It might not be very popular at first but I believe that when an artist finds his voice and uses it with mastery, no one will ignore it!

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
VM: Until now, I was on a simple quest to prove to myself I could do work that would be considered professional. With the Howler bust finished, I feel I can free myself from this and explore a more personal aspect. My next projects will be more of explorations in style and storytelling, trying to find that voice previously mentioned.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
VM: There are many artists I look up to but here are three modern artists that inspire me on a daily basis:
- Vitaly Bulgarov for his humility and his work ethic
- Sergey Kolesov for his looseness and his treatment of the human figure
- Yuri Shwedoff for his image treatment and the peacefulness of his compositions

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
VM: Definitely more personality in my own work and a greater focus on story. On the professional side, Im currently working on an unannounced game that is due to release really soon and features many characters Ive designed and sculpted.

Related links

See more of Vincents work on his website
Vote for Howler Bust in the gallery
Grab a copy of ZBrush Characters & Creatures

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