We're proud to announce that Duc Phil Nguyen has been voted the 2019 AREA Artist of the Year by our 3D community and panel of judges! Read on to find out more about Duc's incredible work.
Tell us about your winning piece
This piece was a huge challenge. I'm a big fan of the Batman universe and one my favorite comic books is The Killing Joke from Allan Moore and Brian Bolland. My main goal here was to recreate this version of the Joker using Brian Bolland's design, while making it believable in CG. Not fully realistic, but just enough to make him very disturbing, and on the edge of reality. I wanted to bring emotion through his facial expressions, so I spent most of my time working on it. This was the most challenging part. I used a lot of different face references. I actually used a lot of photos of Steve Buscemi, who's facial characteristics are fascinating to me.
Tell us about your start in the industry
I started in the industry in 2012 just after my graduation. I worked at TAT Productions in Toulouse on a TV series named The jungle Bunch. It was a very intensive first job. I was in charge of the sculpting, texturing and lookdev of 52 cartoon characters in just 14 months. My role was to bring details to the characters despite the models being created with only simple shapes. This taught me to be fast, clever and efficient in my production works.
What have you worked on that you are most proud of?
The most exciting project I've worked on was Disney's The Jungle Book at MPC London in 2015 as groom TD. It was very exciting but also very scary because at this point, I had never done grooming before. I went there because I wanted to complete my set of skills for making whole characters instead of continuing to make only bald ones. But the one I am the most proud of, is certainly the TV commercial for God Of War 2017 in which I was in charge of making the CG version of Kratos. I'm proud of it because I was entrusted with enhancing the character originally created by my favourite character artist: Rafael Grassetti.
What inspires your work?
A lot of different things inspire me: art pieces, cinema, cartoons, video games, all types of media and nature. But when it comes to my characters, I am also inspired by people I see everywhere I go. I like to ask myself what makes "normal people" unique and personal. There are a lot answers to that question, a look, an attitude, a dress code, a mood... An infinity of answers inspires me.
What is your biggest challenge when working on a new piece?
My biggest challenge when I work on a new piece is motivation. My pieces are made up of a lot of steps and every step is generally a long process. Creating pieces at the end of my workday is hard. I'm doing my job all day and then, it's like I'm still doing it when I get home. Sometimes, I prefer playing video games or chilling instead.
Any advice for young 3D artists?
My advice for any young 3D artist is to continuously make personal projects, it's a very important part of expressing your art. It's also a good exercise to learn, improve and test artistic and technical knowledge. Recruiters need to see what you're able to do and what inspires your art. For example, my current job at Unit Image was largely secured due to my personal art.
Who has influenced your work/career?
A lot of people have influenced me, like old collegues from previous studios and people I met throughout my career. But if I had to name a few, mainly there is Rafael Grassetti for his character work and design, and Pedro Conti who has an extraordinary sense of accuracy and artistry when making materials and compositions for his characters.
What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most is when I've reached the end of a piece, and I've expressed just what I had in mind. It rarely happens, but I'm always working at it =)
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