Tiberiu Popescu: Interview with 3D artist

Hi everyone! We continue a series of short interviews with the best artists from Hum3D competitions.

Tiberiu Popescu, author of the “The shape of water”, will answer six questions and give us a look behind the scenes of his work.

The shape of water

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do and how did you become a 3D artist?

Hello! I am Tiberiu Popescu, a visual artist mainly in the 3d medium.

I started being passionate about traditional arts such as drawing and painting from a young age mainly due to inheriting, the talent and influence from my parents who are both artists (my father is a painter and my mother is a fashion designer).

One day at school I was sketching, when a colleague showed me a picture of a car in a tech magazine, teasing me: “This is 3D, you can’t make something like this with your pencil on paper”. So I took the challenge of learning 3D myself and fell in love with the possibilities it offered. I quickly realized it is the future and continued to learn digital graphics balanced with the traditional arts, eventually getting good enough at it that I started doing freelance projects and turning it into a career.

What was the workflow behind your latest challenge image? Where did the idea come from?

I started from the principle of doing something different. How I would present a car as the protagonist, avoiding all the cliché-s and also having a story behind it, while looking cinematic. After a shuffle of ideas, I liked the one with the car underwater the most. I just had to give it context, so I blocked out some first rough frames with primitives then went into Photoshop and sketched some compositions.

The idea was evolving and I decided to go with a classic 60’s setting and a dark color palette with an emphasis on atmosphere. Even before starting to model the car I worked on the lighting, making sure it’s revealing the points of interest and complimenting the composition and framing (switched from landscape to portrait for ex). Once the structure was in place and the concept clear it was time to populate and detail the scene.

concept and details the scene

What’s the biggest challenge you faced while modeling? Did you learn something new?

The city was a bit of a challenge since the first stage of modeling wasn’t detailed enough and so I’ve learned the value of using kitbash to fill in that big city.

It also added a layer of flexibility to my workflow since it was not necessary to do everything from scratch and gave me time to focus on what the contest was about, the car, and the concept.

How often do you do personal projects and keep your portfolio up-to-date? Which one is your favorite?

As often as I can! I am reserving time to work on personal projects as it’s a good exercise in creativity and time management. A favorite project is the “nuts” – a series of images done for a client that I’ve further developed into a macro photography exercise. Food is fun to make even in 3d, and just as challenging.

3d nuts

3d nuts

3d raspberry

What or who inspires you today? Are you a member of any art communities? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?

Everything inspires me, I either have ideas randomly and write them down or I shake the inspiration tree voluntarily by watching a movie, listening to music, or a comedy show. Or it could be a memory from childhood.

I am browsing Artstation and more recently Behance; I mostly curate content ranging from character art to product design, fashion, and automotive. Here is my portfolio, we can connect there.

Please tell us your five short tips for creating 3D art.

  1. – When searching for inspiration check out some traditional art as well, not just digital, even lean into the abstract, challenge your imagination and feed it something different.

  2. – Gather many good references, if possible use your phone or camera and take some photos yourself.

  3. – Sketch! (or write) either on paper or digital but do flesh out early ideas and concepts no matter how crude. Strike that iron while it’s hot.

  4. – Ask friends for feedback/impressions – specifically people that don’t work in CG or 3D.

  5. – Reverse-engineer an artwork from your favorite artist -or re-imagine it. As Picasso said: “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal”.

Choose your prize

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