Pixars Brave

Character Modeler

Sven Juhlin

Special thanks to Sven Juhlin for taking time out of his
busy schedule to talk about his experience as a Character Modeler.

Tell us about yourself Sven; where are you from and how old were you when you discovered that you wanted to be an Artist?

Hello I come from Sweden and I was born in the city of Linköping which is between Stockholm, our capitol, and Gothenburg. I have always liked drawing but I never thought that I was going to work with it. I was playing a lot of soccer back in the days and reached the second highest division at the age of 16 in Sweden. But at the age of 20 I hade some problems with injuries and had to take the decision if it was worth to continue. I then start studying computer game art in a small town called Skövde, and that’s were it took of I guess.

Are you traditional artists that turned to 3D Character Modeling or did you just jump right into the 3D Software?

Well as I started of as a 2d artist and turned over to 3d. Nowadays I hardly ever paint in 2d.

Are you formally trained as an artist or are you self-taught?

The three years in Skovde was really important for me. I tried 3d for the first time and I really used me spare time to learn more. So I would say that I’m mostly self taught but that the courses I took in Skövde kicked me in the right direction.

Do you think that artists with a formal education in 3D Modeling or illustration have an advantage over self-taught artists?

No, not at all. A lot of the educations are really broad and they don’t give you the in depth knowledge that you need. Then of course there are a lot of really good ones that has a larger focus on a specific part like cg form film or games. But it all comes down to the quality of your portfolio

What is your software of choice?

I use Maya for my base work and Zbrush for the fine details. I render it out in Maya Mental ray.

Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?

I get a lot of inspiration from art books like Broom and Paul Bonner. And there is always the net which is a huge inspiration source. Then a lot of the films out there are a huge inspiration also.

Who's work do you admire?

A just bought Paul Bonner book "out of the forests" and he has a way of making his paintings feel so mystical and dreamy and the details he put in to his work is insane. I grew up with his work even thou I didn’t know who the person behind the drawings where.

When you made the decision to be a Character Modeler what was the first step you took to make that decision on a reality?

Well I started working at EA Dice back in 2005. I started of as a weapon artist for Battlefield 2142 and then got the opportunity to do the characters for Battlefield Bad Company. Then I continued working with characters at Dice till I took the step to go full freelance. 2008/2009

How did you get your first paying job as a 3D Artist and how old were you?

The first paying job was right after school in Skövde in 2004. Be developed a car simulator where you actually sat in a real car surrounded by 360 screens, and you drove around in Skövde. So I basically helped out with building the city part.

You worked for EA, Could you tell us how you got your start in the video game industry?

When doing my finals in school I contacted EA Dice and asked if I could do it at there company. They said yes and I started working on Battlefield: modern combat for Xbox and PS2. It was a lot of fun and I learn so much during the 4 months I was there. After that they actually hired me :)

How hard is it for a self taught artist to break into the video game business?

I don’t think it matters if you are self taught or not. The portfolio you choose to upload shows the skill you have and the part you don’t know you can always learn.

What advice would you give to our readers who want to work for video game companies on what they can expect and What should they not expect?

To work with a big game is very fun and you learn a lot. To know that the things that you make for the game will be seen by millions is a really cool feeling. The game industry is really evolving and you will be able to work with the latest tech which is really inspiring. On the downside there is a lot of overtime in the whole game industry and a lot of the companies really push there employees to the limit.

The Industry is still pretty young and they have a lot to learn from other professions.

What steps should an aspiring Game Artist or Character Modeler take to break into the video game business?

Clean topology that is deformation friendly is always good. Then if you are a fast worker this will definitely help you to get the job. But it all comes down to the artistic quality. A strong portfolio with good anatomy and strong poses will help a lot.

I see from your website www.daybreakcg.com that you are currently doing some work for Marvel, are you allowed to talk to us about this project?

Well I’m not allowed to tell you much, but the work I’m doing has to do with the Avengers movie that is being developed now. Marvel is a great company and the characters of the Marvel universe has always been a real inspiration for me.

How did Marvel find you or did you approach Marvel for this project?

I did a version of Captain America that turned out pretty good. They saw it and contacted me and asked if a wanted to help out with some stuff. Posting stuff on different sites will eventually make someone like what you are doing and it will hopefully lead to some work :)

Your Captain America model is INCREDIBLE! Can you take us through your creative process on this piece?

Well first of all I wanted to make a character that haven’t been made before, Captain America was one of them. Then I wanted to make my version of him instead of doing it in a way that had been done in the past. So I just started doodling in Zbrush till I had a anatomy that I liked and then started rendering :)

From concept to finished model, how long did it take you to complete Captain America?

All of the stuff on my homepage took about a week per character. When I started freelancing I couldn’t use any of the stuff from Dice because of legal issues so I had to make stuff pretty fast to get the site up and running.

What were some of the challenges you faced during the making of Captain America?

Well as always the render part can really make the character pop or not. In this case it popped. But it’s not always easy to get the best out of a character in the render process but at the same time its really fun the tweak the lights and shaders till you get something that you like! I try to get the render really close to the final version so

I don’t need to do to much post work.

Of all your completed Character Models which is your favorite and why?

Well it’s hard to choose a favorite, because you get a bit bored by your own stuff after a while. So I have to say that the latest work that I do tends to be the favorite one. And the Yeti is the latest portfolio work so I guess it’s that one :)

Could you tell us about your Space Marine piece, what was your inspiration for this?

The inspiration for this one was the star craft cinematic. I really like big armored characters with big guns and I will probably make a new attempt in the near future :)

I’m really looking forward to Star craft 2.

Is there anything that you would like to do as a 3d Artist that you haven’t done yet?

Working on films is always fun and to be able to be in the concept stage and help out to form the beginning is really inspiring. Being a freelance artist is really fun because you are able to work on really different and fun stuff all the time.

Any final words of wisdom for all the aspiring Character Modelers out there?

When it comes to all of the aspiring character artists out there a should say that try to find your own style rater that trying to copy stuff that is already made. To do something that has already been done but not as good will not work in the long run. Try to come up with new cool designs that really stick in people’s memory.

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