Remaking the Iconic Cartoon Characters Into Life in Maya and 3ds Max
Gal Yosef is a 3D artist, CG Director and the owner of Fuzion Studio based in Israel. The studio is focusing on animation and CGI still images. Gal in June was featured as the 3D artist of the month from Autodesk for remaking cartoon characters into his Iconic Series, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny, Taz (Tasmanian Devil). So far, the Iconic Series is Gal’s proudest project among all his artworks.
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Here‘s our exclusive interview with Gal Yosef where he shared the skills for creating excellent artworks as a 3D artist & CG Director and the secret to success as a young entrepreneur.
Gal Yosef © Moshe Nahamovits
Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG and get started in the CG industry?
Gal Yosef: I started 10 years ago, even more than 10 years. I started the whole process of design with illustration first. I started it. I remember that I found on the internet some cool characters that I liked and I wonder how I can do it on the computer. I mean I knew how to draw on paper, but I never realized how I should bring the illustration into the computer. Ten years ago, it was very very hard to find tutorials and guides and stuff like these. So I remember that I did a very deep search to find the right tutorials, the right guides. I remember that I even searched for books to help me. And it was very hard. When I started, I gave up on 3D, because it was too hard for me. I was very young and it was very very hard. I left the 3D for one year and then I came back. I decided that no matter what, I will not give up. I was folded really out. In the end, it was all set.
Fox Renderfarm: You are a 3D artist but also a very good painter and illustrator, do you think 2D art skills help you a lot in 3D art developing?
Gal Yosef: I heard a lot of this question. I mean I think this question is a question that every beginner asks himself if he needs to to learn illustration before 3D. I can say no, you don't have to know illustration to be a good video artist. But, of course, the illustration, I think it's giving you some backup, because you can paint over the characters after the render and stuff like this. But no, you don't have to be 2D artists to make good videos.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s your pipeline of 3D art?
Gal Yosef: All right, the pipeline for 3D art, usually the safe place for a good project is to start with a concept art. When you're starting with a concept art, it’s the most important thing, because when you get the idea from the first beginning, you won't waste time later. And in 3D, because everything takes so much time, you must have a concept art to avoid changes in the production of the 3D. So first of all, I'm usually starting with concept art. After I start with concept art and confirm with the client, I'm moving to modeling. Modeling stage and every stage in 3D must be perfect. I mean a lot of artists make a big mistake, because they make good modeling or they give up on modeling and making good texture. But you have to make each step perfect, because no matter how good the texture is, if the modeling won't be perfect like the texture, the project will never be perfect. So every step must be perfect. After I finish totally modeling, I'm starting a retopology, which is cleaning the model. Usually good retopology is for animation because of all the body movements. So it's better to use a good retopology. After the retopology, I'm doing UVs, UV maps. After the UVs maps, you're starting to texture. Usually, I texture with a Substance Painter. In the past, I used Mari. But those days Substance Painter for me, at least for me, is much better. So after the Substance Painter, there is a look development stage inside that 3D application. I'm working with a few 3D applications with 3ds Max, with Maya, with Cinema 4D. And it depends on the complex of the project and the type of the project. Usually, for 3D animation with characters I'm using Maya with Arnold. For 3D characters and still images, I'm using 3ds Max. For motion graphics, I'm using Cinema 4D with Octane. Every plugin, render plugin like Octane, Arnold, Corona, have something very unique, the speed of the render, the materials and stuff like this. So I think it's better for everyone to learn a few plugins, so they can use it for different projects. As I said for motion graphics I'm using totally different applications Cinema 4D with Octane, because it's working just better and much easier than making motion graphics in Maya. That's pretty much the pipeline, including concept art, modeling, retopology, UVs, texture, look development, including lighting of course. After finishing the render, I'm taking it to post-production. I'm making post-production usually in photoshop. And if it's animation, I'm making the compositing in After Effects. Usually it's After Effects, but sometimes I'm making it in Nuke.
Jazz Coffee © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Metal elements or something crystal are mostly founded in your 3D arts which are very eye-catching, how do you like it?
Gal Yosef: So about all the awesome face modeling and all the statues, I'm doing this because I think it's cool to balance the character because the character got a lot of fur, especially in the Iconic Series. So I'm trying to balance it with some awesome faces. But that's not the main reason. The main reason is that there is a concept and that I want to mix both characters together. For example, like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, I wanted to make Donald Duck very gangster and own the Disney. So I thought about how I can do it. And I was thinking it would be super cool to make Mickey Mouse's statue as a very shiny statue. What makes the statues be so eye-catching is the glooming and the shining on the statue.
Mickey Mouse © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Which project do you feel proudest and why?
Gal Yosef: I think the Iconic Series I did with Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny. I think this is the best one I ever did. I've been working on the Iconic Series for a few months. These days, I'm working on Taz from Looney Tunes. I think it's the best project, because I have no limits. Usually when you're making a project for a client, there are limits and I don't like limits. That's usually what I'm telling my clients. If you will limit my work, I cannot promise it will be perfect. So I think it’s the Iconic Series, because I have no limits and I can do whatever I want. It's the best project. And I'm feeling really proud of those projects. It got featured in many places, many articles about it. So yeah, this is the best one I ever did.
Iconic Series © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the motivation of making the Iconic Series?
Gal Yosef: My motivation, actually it's bringing me back to my childhood. That's the biggest reason that I am making this. But I'm taking my childhood into those days. And I’m showing people what will happen if those characters were alive on those days. That's why they are so funny with cigarettes and stuff like this.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the most enjoyable part while creating the Iconic Series and what’s the most difficult part?
Gal Yosef: The most fun part is to make the modeling. It's the easiest part, because there are existing characters, so I know what to do without problems. The hard part of the Iconic Series is to make the grooming and the fur. Because the fur is made inside Maya with Xgen and getting exported into 3ds Max, so it's two different applications. I'm taking it from Maya into 3ds Max. When you export the fur from Maya to 3ds Max, usually you cannot put it inside 3ds Max perfectly. Always, in all the characters that I did, there is a problem when you load the fur on the character, because you switch between two applications. So this is the biggest problem in the Iconic Series to make the fur. And it's taking a lot of time according to other tasks that I have in the project. This is the hard thing in the project. As I said, the easiest part is the modeling and the most fun part is to make the post-production because it's the last part. You see everything and you enjoy seeing everything. So you adjust the lighting and the colors a little bit, but it's the end. So it's the most fun part.
Donald Duck © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Would you share with us the pipeline of Jazz Coffee and which part do you like the most? Why?
Gal Yosef: Jazz coffee is really good. It's getting twice featured by Adobe, because there is a good storyboard behind it. To make a successful project, it's not about making the character beautiful. It's not that. I mean there are a lot of artists that can make fantastic characters, but it's about to make a good idea behind it, to have a story. So when the client came to me, he wanted to show that the coffee is good and it will make you work better and feel better. I wanted to show what happened with my skills, with my comfortable place I mean characters. What happens when someone drinks the coffee, it will make me dance and it will make him awake. I took the name of the factory of the coffee factory, it's called Jazz Coffee. And I mixed everything together with the Jazz Club that I did, the good music, I even mixed the 2D illustration on the walls. I showed what happened, if you taste the coffee, everything will wake up. All the club will wake up. So the storyboard was so good, that's why the animation is good behind the good quality of the 3D.
Jazz Coffee © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Regarding the mini cooper project, any challenge?
Gal Yosef: The challenge was to make the model. Because the model to make a perfect project from a car company like Mini Cooper, they want to show something else inside the project. And it's not the totally same car as the reality. I mean if I will copy totally in 3D modeling, the car in reality, it won't look perfect inside 3D. So you need to find a unique way to make it look better. I mean, for example, the lighting in front of the car is covered in reality by plastic or glass or something like that. And I had a problem when I covered the lighting with a glass material, it made some weird reflection on the lighting. So I had to remove the cover of the glass on the lighting and paint on it in their post-production. So the cover was pretty hard for me. I think there is a good artist that knows how to make good 3D rendering of cars, but my comfort place is more organic things like characters and food and stuff like this. But it was fun. I learned a lot about the house office project and cars project.
Mini Cooper © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Among all the projects you’ve done, the composition, light and color are fantastic, how do you enhance your good sense?
Gal Yosef: Okay, so about the compositing and the lighting in the scene, usually I love to use very contrasting lighting. Because when you're using contrasting lighting, it's giving more depth to the character. It shows the beauty of the skin, the beauty of the SSS (Subsurface scattering) and stuff like this. So this is why I like to use a more contrasting lighting and not natural lighting. Because when you're using natural lighting, not always but for me usually I'm getting a flat feeling in the face and it's losing the deepness that I want to show. So I'm trying to use contrasting lighting. But as a tip, when artists use contrasting lighting, very fast it can burn the image. What I mean is, sometimes shadows can be too strong and it can make the shadows on the body turn into black colors and it's not good. Same about the highlights, if the highlights will be too strong, it will burn the skin. So it's something that's very important to pay attention to. About the compositing, if we can say camera angle, there is nothing specific that I'm using for compositing over a camera angle. It depends on the project if it's a character or an awesome face or food.
Fox Renderfarm: How do you like Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services?
Gal Yosef: Because I'm working on so many projects, I cannot handle rendering myself or building a self-hosted render farm. It's taking too much time and there is too much of a problem. But with Fox Renderfarm, there is unlimit of things that you can do. It's super fast. When I first started working with Fox Renderfarm, I was so surprised how fast it’s rendered. Because we're connecting a lot of nodes together, and it gave me a super fast render. The first project I rendered with Fox Renderfarm was an animation called Extra Handsome with the zebra. That was the first one I made with Fox Renderfarm. I think it finished rendering after five hours or something like that. And it's crazy, because Arnold is really slow. To render the animation with so many frames in five hours, it's crazy. Besides the fast render, there is really good service at any time in any hour. You don't need to handle problems, there is always someone to help you.
Extra Handsome © Gal Yosef
Fox Renderfarm: Being an entrepreneur, what’s your belief?
Gal Yosef: I believe that if you wanna keep growing and be really good, you need to work very very hard for this. I mean a lot of people that I know, a lot of artists that I know, and it's fine because this is the nature of us as humans. But it's not the right way you need to to work very hard and spend a lot of time to get your targets. This is what I believe the most work out.
Fox Renderfarm: Your company is expanding! Congratulations! Would you like to share with us how you run your company? Any secret behind your growing business？
Gal Yosef: I'm getting these questions a lot, too. The big secret behind growing a company is, first of all, believe in yourself. Today I'm 26 years old. I'm pretty young according to the CEO of a company. And the secret is just believe in yourself and believe in your team and believe in your clients. Doing your best with your clients, I always respect my clients. No matter how big or small they are, I always respect my clients doing my best. Because even if you're working with small clients, this small client can give you another big client. So keep good service and give the perfect project and the perfect product for the client, and believe in yourself and be good to your team. It's very important to be good to your team, because it's a team building the perfect company. Without the team, there is nothing. I mean you can be the best 3D artist, it doesn't matter. But when you are coming to animation projects and you want to make a company, you cannot do it alone. You're doing it with a team, so you need to be good to everyone. It's very important, and just believe in yourself and work out.
Fox Renderfarm: Would you share with us your next step?
Gal Yosef: In those days, first of all, I'm working on a lot of projects for a lot of brands around the world. What surprised me a lot, because in those days with the Corona, a lot of people were going back. So I'm going forward, I'm doing a lot of great stuff, a lot of projects coming in. My next step is actually to start selling my art pieces in one of the biggest galleries in the world. They contacted me about it. It was amazing for me. I was very surprised and the idea is to sell my art pieces as prints and as statues, most of the Iconic Series. This is my big next step. And maybe in the next year, we gonna have a new studio in L.A.. I'm waiting because of the Corona days. But this is also my next plan.
Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with CG enthusiasts?
Gal Yosef: I wanna give a tip, actually. Do not be afraid to use a few softwares, I mean a few applications. Usually everyone wants to be in a small place, the comfortable place I mean. To use Maya or to use ZBrush and do it. It's okay to learn more. It's important to learn more, because there are amazing tools coming out. Every time that I'm learning something new, it's just making my mind work better and better. So keep learning, don't be afraid to learn something new. It's always hard, because the 3D work is hard. So keep learning, use as much application as you can. Because you will have no limits, when you use a few applications. As I said in the start, every application gets the unique skills of the application.
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