Meet our AREA May 2020 Artist of the Month, Darko Mitev! We've long been fans of Darko's beautifully-rendered, sci-fi and fantasy-inspired characters. Read on to get to know him and his work a little better.
Hi. My name is Darko Mitev and I’m 29 years old. I’m a CG Generalist from Macedonia, currently living and working In Dublin, Ireland. I work as a Lead Character Artist at Brown Bag Films.
How did you get started in the 3D industry?
I started in the industry 13 years ago when I saw Final Fantasy Advent Children - the animated movie. I remember being so fascinated that I kept talking to everyone about it.
My computer science teacher heard me and gave me a copy of Maya 5, the Personal Learning Edition, and told me that FF7 was made in this very program. So I opened it up and that was it.
What was your first job in the world of 3D?
My first job was at a VFX company in Macedonia called Fx3X. At the time, they were expanding their team to work on animated TV shows and I got my lucky break to work on some of them. When I got hired by Fx3X, they were starting production on an animated TV show called Holly and Hal Moose, and later, a 90-minute Christmas special for the toy manufacturing giant of the time, Build-A-Bear.
What inspires your work?
What inspires me the most is a great story. I draw inspiration from movies, games, books, songs... Any medium that tells a compelling story. I try to put a lot of thought into the message and the story behind my artworks. So, almost every piece I do starts with a written story of sorts. After that, I try to visualize how that would look and what would be the most appropriate style to showcase it in.
What do you love about your job?
Honestly, I love just doing my job. I love when I get a good concept or script breakdown for a project that I'm working on, and I blast music in my ears, zone out from the world, and just create.
What's something you love less about your job?
Doing management. The more I progress as an artist and get to higher positions like lead and supervision roles, the more I have to deal with the management of tasks, people, a ton of meetings, keeping track of every asset on the show, schedules... It's an important step of every pipeline and needs to be done for a project to ever see the light of day but, it also means less time for making art, which can be a little bit frustrating.
What are some of your favorite films/TV?
Ooh, that would be a long list! If I have to keep it short, I'm in love with the fantasy and sci-fi genres, so for films I would say: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, all of Star Wars, Ghost in the Shell- the animated version, all of Appleseed, Matrix 1, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As for TV shows I would say, The Witcher, Altered Carbon S1 and 2, Carnival Row and Fringe.
What are some of your favorite games?
Another tough one! If I have to select just a few, I would say The Witcher 3, Detroit Become Human, Fallout 3 and Final Fantasy 7 (the remake).
What project have you worked on that you're most proud of?
Hmm. There are many projects I’ve worked on that are at the top of the list, but the most enjoyable ones have to be the Elvenar cinematic projects, episodes 1 and 2 that I did for Sehsucht from Germany. They contacted me after I published my Revival project and told me that they were doing a cinematic for the game in that style. Loving the fantasy genre, and the cinematic-yet-stylized aesthetic, I instantly fell in love with the project.
How do you use Autodesk software?
Maya is my primary software, I use it for pretty much anything in my pipeline, from blocking out characters to modeling props and environments, UVs... I also use Arnold as my main renderer, so all my lighting, and shading is done with Arnold. Mudbox, I mainly use for texture painting. I feel like Mudbox is still one of the simplest and easiest texture packages out there that will get the texturing job done quickly and efficiently.
What's the most valuable advice you've received in your career?
Many years ago, when I was just a junior modeler, I was watching intricate and detailed artwork from a senior artist in the industry on my lunch break at work. I kept thinking out loud that one day I would like to create similarly complex artworks that look amazing. My art director actually approached me and said "Why one day? Why not today? Don’t be afraid to attempt complicated projects just because you don’t know how to do something. You'll figure it out along the way. That's how you grow, by pushing yourself out of the comfort zone of what you know."
"That's how you grow, by pushing yourself out of the comfort zone of what you know."
What projects are you working on next?
I'm working on a stylized artwork for a talk that I am giving at the online edition of IFCC Animation Conference, due to the current situation. It's a very happy, energetic, and colourful project and will feature a very cool character in a snowy environment. I can’t wait to share it with everyone when it’s complete.
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