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Capturing Eternal Memories: The Creative Inspirations of Digital Artist Liad

Capturing Eternal Memories: The Creative Inspirations of Digital Artist Liad

In the world of CG art, there are individuals who not only create stunning visuals but also weave compelling narratives through their work. Liad Damhuis, a 28-year-old digital artist from The Netherlands, is one such individual. Liad's artistic journey began at a young age, her love for movies and games, and the way they conveyed stories through various artistic mediums, ignited a spark within her. Recently, Liad's talent and hard work were recognized as she clinched 3rd place in Bad Normals' Worlds Inside Glass Challenge.

In an exclusive interview with Fox Renderfarm, the industry's top cloud rendering and leading render farm service provider, Liad shares her insights, experiences, and the driving force behind her creative endeavors. Join us as we delve into the mind of this remarkable artist, unraveling the stories and inspirations that fuel her imaginative creations.

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Liad! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Liad: My name is Liad Damhuis, I am a 28-year-old digital artist from The Netherlands. I’ve been drawing forever, and my teachers and peers always describe me as the "artist kid". Growing up I loved movies and games. I loved how they could tell stories through cinematography, music, and world-building. This inspired me to go and draw digitally to become a concept artist, however, after I graduated I ended up pursuing a career as a 3D artist, and 3 years later I am also looking into graphic design jobs. In general, I love being creative, it's my passion.

Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 3rd place in Bad Normals's Worlds Inside Glass Challenge! How do you feel about it?

Liad: Thank you! Honestly, it was quite a surprise because there were some really good artworks and it was my first time participating in a challenge by Bad Normals so I had no idea what to expect. I totally forgot the top 5 could even win prizes because I was more focused on whether I could make an image that could convey the story I came up with, and if others could see it too. But winning the plugin and credits for render farm definitely motivated me to create more projects. 

Fox Renderfarm: How did you capture and recreate the spirit and memories of loved ones in designing the 3D visuals for Memorby?

Liad: Once I came up with this idea of a deceased loved one I wrote down everything that I could think of in such a scenario. How do people grieve, what do they keep from this person, and what memories are their favorites. Specifically, the last thing that inspired me to make a personalized heaven orb. I thought of what type of person or people we see and what's their relationship. I picked a hobby or personality that was easy to show visually in both the background and inside the orb. Someone who loves painting might leave behind artwork to show in the background... but I wouldn't necessarily know what his or her forever home would be within that interest. So I picked hiking, the outdoors. I could reflect it in the orb with a bit of nature and the typical a-frame house, the books in the background, the pictures, and the hiking boots. I broke it apart just a little by adding in a baby Yoda too.

Background Objects © Liad

Background Objects © Liad

Fox Renderfarm: In this artwork, the scene in the light ball looks very vivid, does a real memory of yours inspire it?

Liad: It wasn't necessarily inspired by something I've experienced myself. The idea came to be after brainstorming about many different ideas and I got hyped about this one once I asked myself questions about how it'll work, what we see, and what can I do with it. But I do believe it reflects the way I personally think about memories and death. I do not believe in an afterlife or a place you'd go to, which is kind of a scary thought. What is nothingness then? People like to think that this person is in a better place, people spread ashes in places that remind them of that person. So I do find it a nice thought that your loved one could be somewhere where they'll be happy forever. I know that my dad would like a little house by the lake in Sweden, reading books and tinkering in his car. I know that I'd love to have an endless flower field with a small beach, feeling the soft sand between my toes and when the sun is a little too hot I can get in to cool down, or below a big tree and hear the leaves in the wind. I sometimes wish I could make the memories of my grandparents into a video so I won't forget their likes and dislikes, their quirks, and the sound of their voices. So I can imagine that a Memorby can be something extra to remember your loved one and feel as if they're truly in their forever happiness.

Fox Renderfarm: Could you please tell us about your pipeline for this work? And how long did it take you?

Liad: Certainly! It started with a mind map to generate as many ideas as possible. At first, I was skeptical about joining because I wasn't too excited about the first ideas like a season change portal or global warming inside an orb. I felt that I couldn't do much with storytelling in the details. I almost did a Black Mirror type of Tamagotchi idea where some rich kid doesn't realize, or maybe does, that the person living inside the orb house is a real person stuck in there. But because it wasn't an animation project, I struggled with showing this idea.

Mind Map © Liad

Mind Map © Liad

Shifting gears, I considered a narrative where a less privileged child glimpses a life of luxury or experiences the harsh reality of war. I thought of him seeing his killed parents but felt it was too much and maybe becoming political. So it turned into a woman losing her fiance due to a war. I started making the scene, knowing I wanted a dresser with candles in the back, a picture, and maybe a TV on a news channel. Then I added in some details to really make it feel like home and all. Let's say this woman sends memories to this company to make the orb 2 weeks after he passed away... it might take another 2 or maybe a month to make and ship it, "why would a news channel still cover the incident?" I almost ended up putting bandaids on that plot hole when I thought... "why does it matter how he died? Why not focus on the memory?" That's when I changed his interest to the outdoors and also picked the right house inside the orb and made a whole package design for the object. 

Framing © Liad

Framing © Liad

I made a quick house to put inside the orb 3 times. The first one was too sci-fi, it would take away the attention, and people would question the reason why it looked like that inside this story... when I made the second one it still felt sci-fi which was ok because the orb itself was a sci-fi idea.. yet the house felt more realistic. But when I got the idea for an outdoor personality I knew an A-frame would fit the narrative more. I couldn't tell you the exact hours because I was working on it on and off. Let's say an average of 5 hours per day for 2 weeks.

House Design © Liad

House Design © Liad_

House Design © Liad__

House Design © Liad

Fox Renderfarm: There are many details in this scene, how did you decide which elements were important and needed to be highlighted?

Liad: To really narrow down again after all those ideas and details, it's about a woman who bought a Memorby of her deceased lover. Ok, and this Memorby shows what about this person? He loved the outdoors, so anything else could be distracting. As I said before, I first wanted to explain the cause of death and then decided to focus instead on this memory. You know he's dead because of the pictures in the back, the candles, the flowers, the cards, the woman crying and her kissing the orb. Her relationship with his personality, his memory, is more important than what killed him. I added a baby Yoda in his hiking boot too just to kind of break up all the elements talking about his love for the outdoors. He has more interests than that obviously. I gave the woman a ring too so it's more believable that they were in a relationship than it is some random guy or perhaps a friend or brother. A ring, a kiss, those memories, pictures together, those are the storytelling ingredients you need to explain their relationship.

Memorby Product © Liad

Memorby Product © Liad

Background Details © Liad

Background Details © Liad

Fox Renderfarm: The female character in the image conveys strong emotions, how did you capture and render these expressions?

Liad: The company I've worked for used Character Creator 4, and just before I got laid off in December I downloaded their default character in case I need a character or a base very quickly when I don't have time to make something from scratch. These characters come with blend shapes and they were perfect to use with motion capture. Unfortunately, I don't have a suit myself, so I had to manually set the values of the blend shapes. Plus I added some red on the base color texture around the eyes, nose, maybe cheeks a bit, and the eyeballs. And I've also lowered the roughness there to give the impression of crying.

Character Creation © Liad

Character Creation © Liad_

Character Creation © Liad__

Character Creation © Liad

Fox Renderfarm: What were the biggest technical challenges you faced while working on this project, and how did you overcome them?

Liad: The biggest technical challenges... I actually didn't struggle a lot with this. It took me some time to get the woman in the right pose and also make her sit as the horizon wouldn't work if she was standing, but overall I didn't struggle technically. I think because my idea didn't come across things I've never done before, or because it wasn't an animation.

Fox Renderfarm: Are there any moments you enjoyed during the creation process? And what was the most memorable?

Liad: Actually it was the moment I went from "meh, not sure if I'm excited to spend 2 weeks on this challenge for just a season change" to "...o my god, someone's dead, you give them an eternal home, and I'm going present it like an actual product from a company with package design and all, that's a pretty cool idea?!" It was the hype I got from ideas that popped up, and as I tried to plot hole-proof them I only got more excited if I knew a way to dodge it.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you envision the role of art in providing comfort to individuals, as demonstrated by Memorby's slogan "Their Spark In Your Darkness"?

Liad: That's an interesting question, I got inspired by this Facebook graveyard thing and AI. I wouldn't be surprised if this would ever be a thing though. If you think about it... you can give AI a prompt and pretend to be a certain person. How to behave, what they like, to their little quirks. It can create real-life pictures of humans even when they don't exist, and this time you'd have an entire album of your person. If you want them to talk, send in a voice memo and you'll hear them talk or sing whatever. Next time AI could learn their movements from videos, make a 3D avatar... and voila, the environment is just 3D. Maybe there are a few interactive points, and you can have this very product in real life. Maybe even very comforting, the idea that this person didn't just disappear but is eternally home.

In general, I think lots of people would like to keep a visual memory of someone, whether it is a picture, something they owned, or even ashes made into an art piece. It sounds weird but I do get it. My mom is getting a tattoo for my late grandmother even though I never expected her to, it just changed things. I personally love looking at old pictures of family members that even go back generations who were lucky to be wealthy enough to have them made. Wondering what their lives were around my age, and how they expected their futures to be. When looking at my childhood pictures I see all the people that cared for me when I was just existing and not knowing anything. So to me, visuals are very important.

Fox Renderfarm: Have you tried or heard about Fox Renderfarm’s services before? What is your impression of our cloud rendering services?

Liad: I've heard of render farms before, just not specifically the one from Fox Renderfarm. I think it could be very useful to render faster if you don't have the specs or to keep working on your PC while the render farm is in the process of rendering. I've actually bought a new laptop recently which can do quite some rendering, but I'll definitely use my coupon for upcoming projects. I want to challenge myself by doing lots more in 3D and then utilize a render farm for it.

Fox Renderfarm: What did you learn from this project and how will it impact your future 3D art creations?

Liad: I've learned to really prioritize. Give yourself time to come up with an idea and work it out in a block or in a sketch, write down what you need at a minimum to get this done. Only when the bigger elements are done, you can dive into details. Just in case you run out of time to do these details... At least the bigger picture is there. 

Liad’s Social Media:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bulletproof_eggs/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@BulletproofEggs28

Blender Library credits:
Rug: "Persian Carpet by BlenderKit Community"
Table lamp: "Table Lamp by MNDV"
One of the flowers: "Flower Jug-02 by Jhon Maycon" but changed the color and vase
Product box: "Paper box template by Vilém Duha" but own made Memorby texture

Sketchfab assets:
Yoda plush: "Baby Yoda Plush by Nom"
Hiking boot: "Hiking Boots LOWPOLY by EFX"

Other assets were self-made, either from scratch or from older projects. 
Exception for 2 or 3 landscaping assets of which unfortunately I don’t have the credits as they’ve been made/downloaded by ex-colleagues in the past and I’ve saved them for future purposes. So I can’t verify the original artist.

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