Designer Natalie Ho, Whose Final Year Project Stand Out in the Domble Symetri Student Awards Competition
Natalie Ho, a designer based in Hong Kong and Vancouver, took part in the Domble Symetri Student Awards and won both the Gold and Silver Awards in the “Best 3D Animation (Non-Automative)” category. Congratulations to Natalie on this outstanding achievement! Fox Renderfarm as the industry's top cloud rendering service provider and render farm, was honored to sponsor this contest and interview Natalie.
This interview will focus on Natalie’s silver award entry “Comfy Spaces”. Let’s dive into the creation process behind this therapeutic animation work.
Fox Renderfarm: Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you please introduce yourself and your school to our readers? (If you are willing, please attach a selfie to the questionnaire! It can be a CG-animated version too. No pressure! you can choose not to as well)
Natalie: Hi! My name is Natalie Ho, and I am a designer based in Hong Kong and Vancouver. I'm a 2023 fresh graduate from Central Saint Martins (UAL) in London and just got my BA in Graphic Communication Design!
Natalie Ho’s CG character
Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning both the Gold and Silver Awards in the “Best 3D Animation (Non-Automative)” category of the Domble Symetri Student Awards! How do you feel about it?
Natalie: It feels pretty surreal. I entered this competition without much expectation of winning, but I did so anyway because I thought if I got that slight chance of winning, wouldn't it be nice to share the work I've done for my final year? What a great way to complete my degree ahaha!
Fox Renderfarm: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your work "Comfy Spaces"? How did you come up with this idea?
Natalie: Surprisingly, my inspiration for combining therapy with environments came from Yayoi Kusama! Her creation of spaces full of patterns and art was her process of healing the mind, and seeing it in an exhibition in Hong Kong made me question what a modernized version would look like. How would you combine modern tech and spaces to create more art therapy solutions?
© Yayoi Kusama
"Comfy Spaces" was a concept I had for one of my final year projects. The idea is an AR comfort room, a supportive therapeutic environment where users can customize their space based on their needs to destress. It aims to be a convenient and accessible way to provide comfort and be in a safe environment at any time. In hopes of contributing to users' mental health wellness, this private comfort room's purpose is to cope with anxiety and break away from the hectic lifestyle. The outcome is more like a prototype of what "Comfy Spaces" would look like if this idea became a reality.
"Comfy Spaces" of Natalie:
Fox Renderfarm: Why did you choose to create an interior design work? Have you encountered a space like this in real life before?
Natalie: Comfort rooms can take place in an indoor or outdoor environment. It all depends on personal preference with what type of space you'd feel more at peace. That's why I created an indoor and outdoor space to show an example of the atmosphere for both options.
I have encountered a space like the indoor room. It's pretty similar to my home since many design choices have modern Asian design influence.
Isometric view of the indoor room (not fully furnished) © Natalie Ho
Fox Renderfarm: There is a use of cute Japanese plushies in your work such as Gudetama, Kirby, and Pompompurin. What is the meaning behind this choice and why did you choose these particular characters?
Natalie: The interior and exterior design for both environments were based on survey responses I collected for the project as a substitute for not creating a functional personalized room generator! It was like a BuzzFeed quiz where I had people create their ideal comfort rooms, and I picked out responses for each environment to make it more personalized. It just so happened that the responder for the indoor room loves Sanrio characters and games, so I thought that including the little plushies would be a cute surprise for her!
Fox Renderfarm: How did you achieve a soothing and relaxed atmosphere through the use of colors, materials, and lighting setup in your work?
Natalie: All the models are low-poly, but I wanted to capture the cute, simple aesthetic in low-poly games, so most proportions are scaled to be rounded and stubby-like. As for the colors, I chose light pastel colors since they are more soothing to the eyes than highly saturated tones.
There were many options with what lighting I should go for, and many would have different preferences with what time of day they'd like to set their environment. But in this outcome, I settled for a sunset daytime feel so it wouldn't alter the original colors too much, and using orange and pink lights gives the environment a very comforting, warm glow.
With that said, what brought everything together was the sound. Sound is powerful, especially in creating immersive atmospheres. So, using various combinations of natural sounds and instruments elevated the experience.
Lighting experimentation © Natalie Ho
Lighting experimentation © Natalie Ho
Fox Renderfarm: Could you please tell us about your pipeline for this work? And how long did it take you?
Natalie: I had approximately five weeks for the project as a whole. But with all the concept creation, drafting, planning, and feedback, I was left with one week to start and complete the 3D work. It sounds ridiculous, and it was ahaha.
Initial sketch of the outdoor environment model © Natalie Ho
Fox Renderfarm: Are there any challenges that you encountered during the process of creation? If so, how did you overcome them?
Natalie: I'm not a pro with 3D design since I'm pretty new, and I am primarily self-taught with Blender, all thanks to YouTube. It was a challenge to create a variety of props for the scene, but I always enjoyed adding detail and the modeling process (even though it is a pain a lot of the time). It's all about practice and patience. Once you get used to the workflow, you can make anything!
Work process © Natalie Ho
Work process © Natalie Ho
Fox Renderfarm: Are there any moments you enjoyed during the creation process? And what was the most memorable?
Natalie: Creating the tea set in the indoor room was a joy and made me reminisce about my home. The most satisfying feeling is setting up the lighting. You get to see how your outcome looks under any lighting and how it affects the mood.
Little tea set model © Natalie Ho
Fox Renderfarm: As a student, how much time do you spend in a week to practice your CG skills?
Natalie: Even now, I'm still practicing as much as possible! During my final year, I forced myself to work with Blender as much as possible by incorporating them into my projects. Currently, I've been working with Maya very often every week, mainly because I'm taking short courses to strengthen my modeling skills further.
Fox Renderfarm: Any artworks or artists that inspire you the most?
Natalie: Yes, and it's my cousin! His work shocks me every time. He goes by nocluse (Nick Wong) and mostly does mecha models using Blender, and he's hella good at it. Before doing any 3D work, I'm sure many others have felt intimidated and reluctant even to touch 3D design. I gained a lot of motivation thanks to him, an architecture student who loves Gundam.
Flamingo © Nicholas Wong
Fox Renderfarm: Have you tried Fox Renderfarm’s services before? If so, how do you feel about Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services?
Natalie: I have not, but I will use it for my upcoming projects! My PC will be pleased.
Fox Renderfarm: Any future plans in mind? Do you plan to pursue a career in the CG industry after you graduate?
Natalie: I will continue to improve to pursue a career in the CG industry! I'm taking 3D game environment courses with CGMA to strengthen my portfolio as a designer and artist.
Natalie’s Social Media:
Deviant Art: https://www.deviantart.com/911natalie
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