Cuteness Overload! Interview With The Champion Of The CG Boost Cute Warrior Challenge
On July 3, 2019, the CG Boost Cute Warrior Challenge, which sponsored by Fox Renderfarm, announced the final list of winners. There were 128 accepted submissions and so many cute, funny and also weird characters for the Cute Warrior Challenge. Congratulations to 11 entries with the most votes by the jury. Fox Renderfarm also had an interview with the Champion, Kenji Aito, a funny and creative CG artist.
First place: Teddy The Halberdier Bear by Kenji Aito
What the jury says:
Chris Plush: Extremely well executed idea in all aspects. Great armor and weapon design, and awesome attention to detail especially on the fur being worn down in some areas.
Aidy Burrows: Nice clear and readable character! Liking the semi-realistic super clean rendering style too. Nice design on the armor – holes for the ears for example and subtle but effective details!
Gregory Smith: This is a great entry; it hits the topic perfectly, and the technical execution is excellent. The presentation is clear and readable, whilst the attention to detail gives it that extra visual interest.
Ebrahim Umar-Khitab: The accuracy of that grim expression has done me in! Great work.
Lukas Walzer: This piece stands out as being technically incredibly well done. Modeling, fur, texturing and posing are top-notch!
Marius Iatan: his little guy checks all the boxes, down to the pin that holds the bandage. Has the right attitude, too. Very nice character!
Julien Kaspar: There clearly has been a lot of focus on polishing the character itself. This is the one I found myself looking at the most, looking at the details as well as the broader decisions of for the character model. Also, really great grooming and materials throughout!
Zacharias Reinhardt: This plushy character has probably the best technical execution I saw in this challenge. From the great looking metal, the perfect looking fur with the worn out spots, down to all the fine details, everything very well executed. A good dynamic pose and a proper lighting shows the character in fully glory. The only thing I wished here, would have been to see this little guy in an environment with a bit more storytelling context.
Here’s the interview between Fox Renderfarm and Kenji Aito.
Fox Renderfarm: Hi Kenji Aito, would you please give a brief introduction about yourself?
Kenji Aito: Hi, I'm Kenji from Japan (but I'm from France originally). I started to study CG seriously one year ago during my spare time with Blender, that I fell in love with. I still have much to learn and I think it is necessary to keep learning forever in CG (because software evolution is FAST! and so much more accessible than 10 years ago!) Now I wish I can work in the CG industry and well. I'm potentially open to opportunities! Meanwhile, I will keep improving both the technical and artistic sides of CG!
Fox Renderfarm: What inspired you to come out the idea of making the work "Teddy The Halberdier Bear"?
Kenji Aito: Well.. all right... First I was re-watching from scratch Game of Thrones... preparing myself for the LAST season. So, I could see all those nice armors, helmets.. pike axes.. halberd... Then the CGBoost challenge "cute warrior" came up and I was not even sure I will try something (I also join the challenge just before this one but ended up 4th). I gave some consideration to it and... I just thought "Halberdier bear"; sounds funny... and that was it! I was on! Honestly, I was not even sure I will have time to finish my artwork!
Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take you to finish the work? And which part took the most time? Why?
Kenji Aito: Approximately half a day to a day... but it's hard to keep count. Since I have a job I can only work on CG at night, and as I said, I was watching Game of Thrones too! So I think I worked 1.5 hours per day on average, for a bunch of days. The part that took the most time is certainly the fur... I was really not sure what kind of fur will look cool. And since I wanted to be sure, I was doing test renders often... Also, I did not optimize the particles systems at first, so my GPU was too short on memory, and I was rendering on the CPU. So the whole tweaking process took time. As the armor it was fast: for example, the weapon was modeled in 15 min, and shading took something like 20 min.
Fox Renderfarm: What software, renderers, plugins did you use in this work?
Kenji Aito: Blender 3D as my main 3D package! The character was modeling with Blender sculpting mode.. retopology with Instant Meshes! Cycles as render. Everything was made without plugins in Blender actually. But for the armor shaders, I used Substance Painter.
Fox Renderfarm: The jury praises your "awesome attention to detail" in this work, how did you deal with the details?
Kenji Aito: With love! Always... I think I'm addicted to details. Maybe it's a good thing, but it could be a bad thing too... because when I focus too many details I might forget the "big picture", such as storytelling, the overall balance of shapes and color, proportions... Though, I always try to start with simple shapes down to smaller ones... My workflow is very iterative, and feels like going through the history of CGs: decades ago everything was made a few polys but people were already trying to make attractive shapes, profiles, and silhouettes. Then, as software and hardware got better, the same base ideas with more details came to life. The only issue is that it's time-consuming, so you'd better find a "smart/lazy" workflow to quickly add all those yummy details. But also, one must be careful not to saturate with extra small details, otherwise, the audience will be lost. And that, I have to work on it... I guess.
Fox Renderfarm: What has satisfied you most about this work?
Kenji Aito: Well, it was my first 3D character! so I was happy with the result. I don't think I have many skills for characters design... because I should learn to sketch/draw properly for that, study anatomy and all that... But anyway, I think I was happy with the workflow because even though it was my first character, I did not have to check online what to do... It was only me, my Blender and my Pureref (to organize my references)
Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?
Kenji Aito: Honestly, not really. And I was happy about that. Everything went smooth and only the tweaking of the fur was time-consuming. I should have probably tweaked all that in a separated scene with less fur and smaller geometry.
Fox Renderfarm: Did you use Fox Renderfarm service previously? If yes, would you share your ideas about us?
Kenji Aito: No! not yet. But I was thinking about turntables renders in the near future. For my next personal project, I want to make very photorealistic stuff... and a turntable with Cycles would be great. I know, everyone will say " why not EEVEE?!" but well, I want to try your services and I do love raytracing!!
Fox Renderfarm: How long have you been in the CG industry? Do you have any recommendable learning methods to improve professional skills？
Kenji Aito: Well, I'm not a professional but I wish to become one! and make my living with it! Learning methods: well, Blender is awesome and the community is top notch. so many resources are free and of quality... I was really surprised. There are some people making real art with Blender and I think it's great to learn from them. Also, it's always good to look at more classic art: I am very interested into painting theory.. lightning... and all those things that bring life to a piece of paper (or screen!). So I recommend to everyone not to just focus on the theory of 3D, but also go out and learn about art in general: "how to make a good composition" "the art of color matching" and so on... It takes time but I think it's worth it. If I can become a CG professional I will definitely find the time to study all that and I hope I can show it makes a real difference.
Fox Renderfarm: Anything else you would like to share with CG enthusiasts?
Kenji Aito: Contact me if you want to work with me :) My motivation is burning! Now that I start to have some tools at my disposal and know how to use them... I have so many ideas I don't know where to start!!!
You can visit Kenji Aito’s Artstation here. (https://www.artstation.com/kenji-art )
To see more entries of Cute Warrior Challenge, please check here. (https://cgboost.com/cute-warrior-challenge-winners/?tdsourcetag=s_pcqq_aiomsg)
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