Hi I'm James Dowling and I'm an Arch Vis/CG artist living in Brighton & Hove, UK. I graduated from Portsmouth University in 2010 with a degree in Animation.
I have worked in the 3D industry for 8 years in a variety of jobs - from motion graphics for airlines, 3D illustration for children's books and finally moving into Architectural Visualisation. Two months ago I became freelance under the name Atmos Visuals.
While I was working for a studio creating children's book illustrations I remember seeing some Arch Viz images and being amazed at how realistic they looked, which was the polar opposite from the stylised illustrations I was doing. I think that's what made me so determined to one day be able to create a render that people thought was a photo. It's still a bit of a hit or miss but sometimes I get it.
I think that personal projects outside work (or non-client work) are extremely important as they really help develop your style as you can explore your own ideas without a client's inputs or visions. The main reason I have improved and learnt new things is because of my personal projects. When working full-time in a studio it can be quite hard to go home and work more in the evenings and weekends, so I always try to keep the ideas simple. The project "Ambience" came from the idea of just creating a corner of a room and applying different lighting, interior styles and colour palettes. I can still come back to it even now if I feel inspired and add more to the collection!
For my first own Architectural Visualisation project I decided to do a cool building in a snow storm and called the image Serenity (I have dug it out from the archive below). It doesn't look great any more looking back at it after 4 years, but I was super proud of it at the time. A few months ago, I needed a new project, so I decided to go back and re-create that image with all the new skills I had learnt over the years. It was a great exercise because I could see the improvements I have made since starting out. I'm sure I will look back at them in another 4 years and think they look rubbish! The lesson I have learnt is that you'll always improve yourself - don't become complacent and think you've reached the top, there's always room for more.
My dream job
I always wanted to be an animator at Pixar, although I think my character animation skills are not up to scratch these days! Apart from that I always wanted to have my own studio, and I'm on that route now so I am excited to see where it takes me next!
I started using 3ds Max on my course at university and have used it ever since. I like that you can do every aspect of 3D in one package and with the abundance of plug-ins and scripts available you can do pretty much anything you want.
In my third year at university we had some new tutors from the film and games industry, and I think I learnt the most from them in the early days. I always felt it's best to learn from people who are working in the industry and do it successfully as they have such a wealth of knowledge you can tap into.
I like to do painting in my spare time as it's nice to get away from the computer. I have always loved the old artists such as Rembrandt, Turner and Matthijs Maris. I think there's so much you can learn about colour, lighting and depth from looking at the classical painters. I recently went to a photography exhibition by Zanele Muholi which was really impressive.
To see more from James visit his website, Instagram and Behance.