Another month, another exciting artist feature! We're thrilled to introduce you to our AREA September Artist of the Month, Alexandre Mougenot. A MoPA graduate, Alexandre is a 3D Character Artist at TAT Production. He's based in Toulouse, in the South of France.
What was your first job in the 3D industry?
I did internships throughout my training at Mopa. My first job was at TeamTo in Paris. I worked on three series still in development as a character and environment modeler.
What was your "this is what I want to do as a career" moment?
I realized quite quickly that I wanted to work in the art world. I did my first internship in a computer company, and I thought that I should find a job that links drawing and computers. In high school, I studied applied arts, which introduced me to graphic design - which I didn't like. I then discovered 3D animation - which I loved. So I trained myself on Maya in order to apply to the Mopa School. I followed the 3D training and specialized in character modeling, surfacing, and texturing.
American Gothic by Alexandre Mougenot
What inspires your work?
It's the caring people that inspire my work the most. I've met a lot of people who only saw me as an intern during my internships, while today they see me, despite the fact that I'm out of school, as their equal. These people inspire me and make me want to do even better to prove to them that I can be up to the task.
What do you love about your job?
I love to work in teams and to discuss the shapes that characters could have, but also what the spectators should feel when they see them. I love creating characters that make people dream. Any admiration from spectators is the most beautiful reward.
What project have you worked on that you are most proud of?
I am proud of some of my projects. I worked with some great people. But the project I'm most proud of is the realistic portrayal of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald. I worked on this project with the help of Julie Bijjou, my best friend, who did a fantastic job on the grooming. She helped me a lot with feedback. The workflow between us went very well as we talked a lot. I am very proud of her and would not hesitate to do projects with her again.
Grindelwald by Alexandre Mougenot
What does your workflow look like?
My workflow is based on a lot of back and forth between ZBrush and Maya. For the realistic portraits, I took the time to make basemesh with a clean topology. On ZBrush I sculpt the overall shapes and then switch to maya to constantly check that everything is working when rendering with Arnold. Once I validate the shapes, I go back to ZBrush to sculpt the volumes more precisely and add details (skin, scales ...). I take care to make the UVs on RizomUV and I go back to ZBrush to get the displacement maps. The fbx exports of zbrush are only used to make blendshapes on my initial object in Maya, so I don't touch the scale of the object so that my displacement maps work correctly. Once all this is done, I make my textures on Substance Painter and I constantly check my texture maps on Arnold because I have implemented in my workflow, the ACES color management. It contains many more colors than the basic sRGB.
Pilot by Alexandre Mougenot
What is the most valuable advice you've received in your career?
The best advice I've been given in my career is that there is always someone better than you, so don't take others for granted, because no one is irreplaceable. You have to respect your colleagues and show kindness.
Do you have any advice for artists looking to pursue character modeling?
To become a character artist you have to work a lot on workflow, anatomy but also topology. If these three basics are not acquired, you have to keep going and going. Give yourself time to learn, focus on quality rather than quantity. Many people fall into the trap of doing a lot of projects, but the quality does not necessarily follow. You have to know your tools well and especially master your workflow.
Want to see more from Alexandre?