Amaru Zeas’ Hum3D award-winning project "Golden Trophy" powerfully captures human emotion and storytelling elements within a still image – a hallmark of his work. Inspired by the effect of a toddler’s ability to bring joy to parents after even the worst of days, Zeas spent nearly 350 hours completing the digital masterpiece over three months of production.
As a young boy in Ecuador, Amaru Zeas had already developed a lifelong passion for creating and the arts. He moved to the United States 11 years ago to study computer graphics at the Art Institute of Seattle, eager to learn the creative tools, design techniques, and skills required to pursue a career as a digital artist. To improve his prospects, Zeas spent countless hours working on personal passion projects to expand his portfolio, which eventually led him to positions at Microsoft and Amazon Game Studios. He has worked professionally as a digital artist for the past eight years and was awarded first prize in the 2018 Hum3D Challenge, which honors excellence in automotive design and rendering. He was also awarded the Autodesk Team Choice Award and the Redshift Award for Best Lighting.
"I love finding innovative opportunities to express myself through art, and every day I’m thinking of crazy new ideas and ways to improve my skills," says Zeas. "Beginning a project from scratch is like being a kid with new toys to play with."
"Beginning a project from scratch is like being a kid with new toys to play with."
A fan of Formula 1®, Zeas chose to model the Ferrari F1-90, one of his favorite cars driven by renowned French racing champion Alain Prost during the nineties. He used Autodesk Maya for modeling. "I’ve worked in Maya for almost 15 years, and though the tool has always excelled at animation, the modeling capabilities have really improved over the past few years. It’s helped speed up my modeling process."
Zeas used Marvelous Designer for cloth simulations to design the outfits worn by the toddler and driver, and Substance Painter to speed up the iteration process for more than 500 textures found within the project. All rendering was completed within Arnold. "Arnold provides realtime feedback so I can immediately see how tweaking my lighting will affect the materials and textures," notes Zeas.
One of the biggest challenges Zeas encountered throughout production was creating a composition that conveyed emotion, movement, and storytelling within a still image. "I kept staring at all of the small details and repositioning the driver and toddler within the model designer," he said, "I spent nearly a week studying composition, from balancing the image, to lighting from left to right, to perfect the final frame."
"Getting the toddler’s hair right was also tricky. I used Maya’s XGen tool which helped me get to the results I was satisfied with," Zeas adds.
"I spent nearly a week studying composition, from balancing the image, to lighting from left to right, to perfect the final frame."
For budding 3D artists looking to jumpstart their career, Zeas offers, this: "I encourage all artists to create the things they love. When you’re paid to do what you’d be willing to do for free, you find fulfillment and purpose in your career. It might take longer than you think to catch your big break, so be willing to put yourself out there and never give up."
To view more art by Amaru, visit ArtStation and Behance, and check out his official website.
Learn more about the Hum3D Challenge.