Interview with Kenton Lam, Third Place of 37th CG Boost Science Lab Challenge
As a long-time partner of CG Boost, Fox Renderfarm has been paying attention to the challenges held by CG Boost all the way and has witnessed many amazing entries being created. In the 37th CG Boost 3D Art Challenge with the theme of “Science Lab”, Kenton Lam won third place and was rewarded with the render coupons provided by Fox Renderfarm. As a leading cloud rendering service provider and render farm in the CG industry, Fox Renderfarm is honored to have the opportunity to interview Kenton. Let's take a deeper look at Kenton and his winning entry.
Science Lab © Kenton Lam
Fox Renderfarm: Hi Kenton! We are honored to have you here! Could you please introduce yourself?
Kenton: Hello! I am Kenton, I am a 3D animation student from Singapore. I had been keeping tabs on the CG Boost challenge for quite a while now, and I'm glad I found some time over the December holidays to work on an entry for the challenge.
Fox Renderfarm: Congratulations on winning 3rd Place in the 37th CG Boost 3D Challenge themed with "Science Lab"! How do you feel about it?
Kenton: It was quite a surprise for me that I won, because there were many strong entries for the challenge that I felt were much better. But I am still very thankful that my work was picked up and I received lots of great feedback.
Fox Renderfarm: What is the inspiration for this work? Is there any reference?
Kenton: I have been a big fan of video games like “The Last Of Us” series, and especially the concept art that depicted the emptiness and melancholy of a ruined world. So the concept art I found was a large inspiration and reference for the tone and look for my entry.
Fox Renderfarm: Could you elaborate a bit on your workflow/pipeline of this project? And how long did it take you?
Kenton: I worked entirely in Blender, starting from the character, pose, and lighting, before adding in the environment to flesh out the story I had in mind. Each element added to the scene was textured at the same time as it was modelled so I could determine if it was working for the scene immediately. It took me about two weeks of detailing an hour a day before I was ready to render the scene and submit it.
Character Test © Kenton Lam
Clay Render © Kenton Lam
Final Submission © Kenton Lam
Fox Renderfarm: We'd like to know the story behind this work, can you tell us about it?
Kenton: So the story behind my scene is set in a harsh post-apocalyptic winter, following a lethal virus outbreak. As part of the countermeasures during the outbreak, robotic bodies were constructed in a rush to prevent total human extinction. At the time of the scene, some years had passed since the hypothesized extinction. We follow one of those robots, who tracks down his origins to one of the makeshift labs where the last humans were holed. In spite of the corruption of his prior memories, he comes face to face with the only successfully transferred patient…himself.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you set up the lighting and color to assist the storytelling and create a scene with depth?
Kenton: Considering my resources and time limit, I chose early on to keep the key lighting solely from the outside of the lab, similar to some concept art from The Last of Us. It was an economical way to set the abandoned mood, and meant that I did not have to create overly detailed models, instead focusing on the importance of the broader elements that would be seen through the darkness. The few light sources in the lab are tinted in warm colours, while the light outside is a harsh and cold white, to symbolise the small flickering of human activity within a now hostile environment. I liked that it was the polar opposite of most traditional science labs, where the lab elements were coloured in cooler tones.
Light and Composition Test © Kenton Lam
Fox Renderfarm: Did you do all your 3D creation in Blender? What kind of learning advice do you have for CG beginners?
Kenton: For school purposes, I am trained in using Maya and Zbrush, but for my personal work and experimentation, Blender is my go-to because I can complete the entire workflow seamlessly without switching software. My advice for people just starting out with CG is to keep expanding beyond their comfort zones. Find a new tutorial online and force yourself to use what you’ve learned in your next project. You will slowly understand what you’re learning better as you use it practically, and that’s really important for your growth as an artist.
Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties during this project? How did you tackle them?
Kenton: I would say that the hardest part of the project was deciding on what should be shown and how it should be shown through the composition. I spent half of my time after setting up the camera angle brainstorming over what elements should be in the scene. There were options to go big with the character having a showdown with other robots, or a pile of corpses as the centrepiece. In the end, I decided to keep the scene empty, and the middle of the composition empty, and let the viewer’s eye wander around in search of the story.
Fox Renderfarm: What is your most satisfying part of this work?
Kenton: The most satisfying part of the process for me was the main elements of the scene, like the character and the transfer pods. My workflow after that was adding assets from bits and pieces of tighter projects that would make sense in the scene, and I could see the story coming together in the render view.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG and become a CG artist? Could you share your educational experience with us?
Kenton: I encountered CG when I picked up Blender during my early school days. I had always enjoyed art and drawing, but wasn’t particularly proficient at traditional art, so I dabbled in digital painting and 3D art. My experience learning Blender was more touch and go at the start, only learning and practising the things that I needed to use, starting with modelling. Texturing and the node systems were learned years after I started modelling, and I had only started learning 3D animation before I started my university course in animation.
Fox Renderfarm: Any artworks or artists inspire you the most?
Kenton: I have many many artists that I find inspiration in. Ian Hubert for example, is a very exciting Blender artist to follow. But I also believe that for any artist we can’t just take inspiration from our medium of choice. I refer to my books from Yoshida Seiji whenever I attempt any interior set designs, and follow a myriad of photographers on Instagram when I need references for lighting and shot composition.
Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried the cloud rendering services of Fox Renderfarm? If you do, what do you think of our services?
Kenton: I have not used cloud rendering services before, but winning render coupons was a big motivation for participating in the challenge. I look forward to using my Fox Renderfarm render coupons on my ongoing projects soon.
Fox Renderfarm: As a CG artist, do you have any advice for people who are still new to the CG industry?
Kenton: For those who are still new to the industry, CG comes with many learning curves, and everyone fails more times than they succeed. If you ever get stuck on a personal project or you don’t like decisions that you’ve made, cross the finish line and try again. You get better and faster each time, and you have many more mistakes to make before you get something that is perfect for you.
We really appreciate Kenton for this interview. Feel free to visit Kenton’s Instagram to know more about him and his works. We wish Kenton all the best in learning CG and we look forward to his future performance in the CG industry!
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