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How to Make an Appealing Character? Discussion with Pascal Kuhn, Excellent Graduate from PIXL VISN

2022-07-04
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Fox Renderfarm Interview

Fox Renderfarm, the best render farm, is deeply committed to supporting education and wishes to contribute to the development of the CG industry. We are so proud to form cooperation with PIXL VISN Media Arts Academy and offer its students an affordable pricing scheme to support educational purposes.

PIXL VISN IS NEW PARTNER OF FOX RENDERFARM

We continue our discussion journey with Pascal Kuhn, who is interested and specialized in character design. He raised his personal projects as examples to share his learning and working experience in the CG industry. Moreover, he showed his perspective about how to make an appealing character. Check out our interview and let’s learn and grow together!

Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Pascal, thank you so much for accepting our interview! Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Pascal: Hey, thanks for the invitation! I’m an Industrial Designer and VFX Artist currently living in Cologne, Germany and Belgrade, Serbia. I’m 28 and I love Sci-Fi and fantasy stories. Whenever I’m not working, I enjoy taking my dog for a long walk, going for a coffee, and filling my sketchbook.

Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG and get started in the CG industry? And how did you enroll in PIXL VISN media arts academy? Could you share with us your education and working experience in the CG industry?

Pascal: I didn’t plan to become a CG artist when I finished school and started studying. Sure, I liked movies and games but it hadn’t crossed my mind to work on films. Since I was young, I enjoyed coming up with design and ideas, mostly with pen and paper. I decided to study industrial design which greatly influenced my creativity and creative workflows. It was at university, where I had my first encounter with 3D modeling and rendering. For my diploma thesis, I worked on a marine living concept for humans in a future in which today's social and environmental crises have not been solved. That was when I came to realize I wanted to focus on storytelling and visualization.

I joined the PIXL VISN academy a few months later to develop all relevant CG skills. I spent fifteen months with animation, modeling, texturing, lighting, and all other parts of the pipeline. We had great teachers with lots of industry experience. After graduating from PIXL VISN I joined the Rookies Award and was lucky enough to earn an internship at Crater Studio in Belgrade where I am now employed as a generalist with an emphasis on Lookdev. It’s been only about six months now in the industry but I feel I gained a lot of experience and new skills. It was also a great opportunity to work abroad and meet talented and creative people.

The Druid © Pascal Kuhn

The Druid © Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: What are the most important things you’ve learned in PIXL VISN, technically and career-wise? And what’s your most unforgettable experience in PIXL VISN?

Pascal: Of course, I learned all the necessary tools and workflows to start working in the industry. I even learned workflows that I could later introduce at my first job. It was amazing to have teachers at PIXL who were well experienced and up-to-date. Career-wise, for one thing, the program taught me to work with deadlines. Plus, the studies helped me to gain a good understanding of my own skill set and abilities and of ways to constantly improve those.

Male Portrait © Pascal Kuhn, Franziska Niebuhr

Male Portrait © Pascal Kuhn, Franziska Niebuhr

Fox Renderfarm: Could you share with us your usual creative process, from forming the concept to the final rendering (it would be perfect if you can raise an example)

Pascal: When working on personal projects the first thing I do is sketching and gathering references. For the Cyberpunk character I made during my studies, I knew there should be moving tattoos, fancy piercings, and some cyber body parts. I started with a human base model and sculpted the face. I layouted the mechanical arms in ZBrush and then modeled them in Maya. I did a lot of concepts and prototypes to give the arms realistic technical functionality. So, the parts smoothly interlock instead of crashing into each other. The skin texturing was done with Mari mainly and rendered with V-Ray. My colleague Miri built the rigs for everything so I could do some simple animation to make the character feel alive.

Cyborg Character © Miria Kutzner, Pascal Kuhn Cyborg Character © Miria Kutzner, Pascal Kuhn

Cyborg Character © Miria Kutzner, Pascal Kuhn-3

Cyborg Character © Miria Kutzner, Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: According to your online portfolio and info, we know that you are interested in and good at character design. Do you have any unforgettable creations? And did you meet any difficulties in your creative process?

Pascal: I do regularly work on different aspects of characters, but I wouldn’t call myself a character artist. As a character artist, you need a huge range of various skill sets including good knowledge of anatomy, skin shading, grooming (making hair), clothing, and hard surface modeling for assets. Strictly speaking, the only complete character I made is my Zojja fanart. The pipeline of character design can be difficult, as the process is not strictly linear but a constant back and forth between tools like ZBrush, Maya, and Mari. If you start sloppy or messy organization-wise, you’ll face exponentially more problems later. And of course in the end the different materials should look as believable as possible.

Zojja © Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about working at Crater Studio? Have you been involved in any projects that you would like to share with us?

Pascal: Getting my first work experience at Crater was great. They bestowed a range of possibilities upon me from the start, which I am grateful for. This allowed me to quickly gain insight into the work of an international VFX studio. I’m working with talented, open-minded people on interesting projects. I’m glad my education put me in a position where I could contribute as an artist while improving my skills.

Unfortunately, I can’t show any projects yet but I can tell you one of my works includes a huge zombie snake ;)

craterstudio

https://craterstudio.com/

Fox Renderfarm: What’s your next step? And what’s your vision for your career path?

Pascal: I’d love to visit more places and studios around the world. For me, the place to live should be as interesting as the job itself. Thanks to the field we’re not necessarily bound to one location especially with the recent shift to remote work. But one day I want to move back to Germany where my close ones live.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you constantly improve yourself on 3D techniques and artistic sense?

Pascal: One important step to improve your skills is, of course, stepping out of your comfort zone. Try things you never did before and don’t be afraid to mess up. Another important thing to grow as an artist is to get inspired. Open yourself towards all those different styles of art. There’s not only CG and Film but fields like photography, theater, contemporary art, literature, typography, architecture and many more. In my opinion, it’s crucial to constantly refresh your perspective on what creativity is.

Tea Ceremony © Pascal Kuhn

Tea Ceremony © Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: What do you think are the most important qualities that a 3D artist should have in his/her career?

Pascal: Since technology constantly changes over time it’s important to train your fundamental artistic skills. Make sure to practice the theory of light, color, and form, maybe even some traditional art skills like drawing and sculpting. Additionally, you should be adaptive to technology and bring interpersonal communication skills.

Building Concept © Pascal Kuhn

Building Concept © Pascal Kuhn

Fox Renderfarm: Any artworks and artists that inspire you the most?

Pascal: I love the sketches and drawings of Eliza Ivanova and Aaron Limonick. I love the mecha designs of Vitaly Bulgarov and the color themes of Pascal Blanche. And then there is Beeple.

Eliza Ivanova

© Eliza Ivanova

Wild West Joel 6 © Aaron Limonick

Wild West Joel 6 © Aaron Limonick

Alita Battle Angel - Berserker Body design © Vitaly Bulgarov

Alita: Battle Angel - "Berserker" Body design © Vitaly Bulgarov

FANTASTIC PLANET © Pascal Blanche

FANTASTIC PLANET © Pascal Blanche

Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services? If so, how do you feel about it?

Pascal: I got to know Fox Renderfarms while working on my portfolio before starting my job at Crater and signed up planning to render my new projects. I think cloud rendering is the most sensible way to render big projects. It’s great that it is almost completely independent from the location so you don't need to rely on local farms. I ended up rendering my project on the office PC’s but for future projects, I will definitely make use of cloud rendering.

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