Interview - Leticia Reinaldo
Tell us a bit about you...When did you start working as a 3D artist? How do you keep up with all the changes in technology?
The first 3d work I had was doing archviz. I was working with 3d buildings but my heart was always towards characters. So, I decided to do some freelance as a character modeler until I got a job in a commercial house as a generalist. A bit after, I was offered to start teaching 3D at SAGA school and I just loved it. A few years after that, I decided to go to LA to improve my skills and start a new life. The changes of technology are inevitable and also great for the industry. I started modeling in Blender, changed to 3Ds Max and today, I use Maya and Zbrush. Who knows tomorrow. Obviously, you get use to some things in each program but the foundation of what we do as a modeler is transferable to any program.
You need to approach new technology as a child to a new toy :) What was the goal for Dragon Babies-SNL and what was the most difficult part?
I loved doing this project. The goal was to create cute dragons. Normally as a modeler you get a concept (sometimes rough or defined) and develop your modeling with that. In this project, I had the chance to design the dragons and fairies from scratch in 3d, which was hard but very fun as a challenge.
Do you use the same techniques from one project to another? What changes?
As a forever student, I try to be aware of new techniques and watch some tutorials of artists that I admire to see how they approach things. For example I was interested in seeing the way other artists handled hair or cloth so I sought out videos about it. When I get to the point of starting a new project, hopefully I have new ideas or ways to approach things in a different way and the new project can also be a moment to experiment with that.
What was the biggest challenge in Roger?
This piece was a big challenge. Translating such a memorable character to 3D is always hard. I tried to get the feeling of the character but attempted giving him a younger look than the movie. Disney designers have always created dynamism in their drawings with so much life even down to a single stroke. Translating this 2D feeling to 3D is very hard, but the more you do it, the more you can learn how to capture these smalls nuances and push your piece to a better place.
Out of all the projects you have done, which one is your favorite and why?
My favorite piece... I think the Funeral. It was a very tight schedule project with a lot of characters for a demo reel class at Gnomon School of Visual Effects. I was dedicating almost all my days for a bit less than 2 weeks. It was intense but it made me get very involved with the characters. This amazing concept by Sergey Ishmaev has an overall story and each character has its own intimate moment as well. Sculpting theses stories and pushing the lighting to help allow the overall narrative to come through was really a blast for me.
You were an instructor at SAGA and you also developed program an architectural visualization program. Between bringing to life characters and environments, which one is closer to you?
As is evident in my personal work, my heart is definitely in modeling characters. I have fun doing environments as well especially when it can be viewed as a character itself. I love images that tell stories. I think that is the most important thing.
How did you start working on Morning Fog? What was the most difficult part?
How long did it take?
For this scene, I started blocking out the characters. With a rough base, I brought it into maya and started modeling the props and environment pieces. I think the most difficult part is trying to stay loyal when translating a concept into 3D. At the same time, you want to choose things to push and give your own subtle interpretation to it. Most of the pieces in my portfolio took me around 2 weeks. One week modeling and creating uvs and another week for texturing, lighting, shading and compositing.
What programs/plugins do you use for a project like Bearrr? How long does it take to model?
For the Bearrr project, I used Maya for modeling and uving the props, Zbrush for the bear sculpt, Mudbox for texturing everything, Vray for the fur and light/ shaders/render and Photoshop for the final composition. The modeling phase took me around 5 days.While modeling, I like to go back and forward around the objects of my scene, refining more and more until it gets into a good place to start texturing.
Which render do you believe was the most difficult to complete? (How did you do it?)
The Skinny chef scene. It was my first piece for demo reel and I was still defining my workflow. Also, it is a closeup and you need to be very alert to small details to enrich your piece. For example, any closeup of skin requires you to pay extra attention to the subtlety that helps it feel real. I think the best way to control your scene is to have objects in separate groups or layers. Try to be organized and if possible, create a list (by hand maybe) of things in your scene to keep track of. In the compositing phase, It is very important to have as many render passes as you can. These will help you a lot when you want to do big or small adjustments to your scene.
What’s the one project that you received the most praise for?
The Roger one was definitely the most praised piece so far. I think because it is a fan art of a very famous film close to many peoples’ hearts. Also, it is a piece with a light mood capturing a sweet story moment of Roger’s life. Seeing this freeze frame from the original evokes a sense of nostalgia within me and I tried to further promote that feeling with my piece.
With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that a 3D designer has in his portfolio or skills? How important is it to have a proper education in this field?
For me education was everything. Learning from amazing teachers that are always pushing you, the healthy competition between your classmates and the network you make with teachers and students is priceless. The competition for jobs is crazy but I believe that if you do what you love you will eventually find a place to work doing just that. There is a lot of dedication and a mentality of never settling in terms of technology, techniques and artistic skills. Make a blog or a portfolio site, put yourself out there. Ask for critiques to artists that you admire. The process of learning is eternal as long as you keep that in mind. Don’t get too comfortable. Challenge your skills. Collect portfolios that you consider successful and analyze it. Pay attention on how they presented, the order of the pieces, how clean the layout presentation is, etc.
If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
Can I pick 3? hehe. I had the amazing opportunity to take a class with Michael Defeo. I learned so much that I am sure one more day with him would be an amazing one. I also admire Danny Williams and Zack Petroc a lot. They are both amazing artists and teachers that I would definitely love to learn from. Beyond being great artists, they seem to be great people and that’s very admirable and important for a healthy and long career.
What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
Right now, I work as a freelance artist. My goal for next year is to find a company to work for and build a career in it. That’s in a long term. For a short one, create more portfolio pieces with cool stories that hopefully will make people connect or relate to it in some level. That’s always fun! :D Thanks CG Advertising for this opportunity to share a bit about myself and of my work.