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Interview with 3D artist Yi Sun

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

Yi Sun, the winner of the Three D Guns 2 Challenge, will answer on six questions and give us a look behind the scenes of his winning entry.

Porcelain 1911 by Yi Sun

– Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you become a 3D artist?

My name is Yi Sun, born in 1993, I’m a student from China, I had a bachelor degree in Animation design, I’m currently studying Master of Design in Sydney, Australia. Here is my Artstation. I haven’t found my first job in the CG industry yet, but I’ve been teaching myself 3D for 5 years now. I started doing silly short videos when I was a kid. Back then I discovered I can make some visual effects for videos in After Effects, but soon, I realized the 2D visual effects is very limited, I want to make more sophisticated effects, especially 3D effects. So I started learning 3D software. At that time I just thought it was cool, I never thought about doing this for a career, until I visited the universal studio in Los Angles. I got a chance to listen to the Hollywood VFX artists talks about the VFX production of the blockbuster movies and it blew my mind. I’ve been dreaming to work on a blockbuster movie ever since that talk and I’ve been working very hard trying to put my first step in the CG industry. I hope my dream will come true soon.

– What’s your favorite aspect of creating 3D art? Is there something you specialize in and enjoy the most?

I think 3D art is the best medium for self-expression, you can create almost anything and everything. I did a lot of things when I grow up, I drew comics, do photography and filming, I realized there are many limitations for those mediums. In the end, I finally found 3D. I’m amazed by its freedom to visualize any ideas, which is exactly what I’m looking for. I’m particularly interested in texturing and look development because it’s the process of making 3D objects look realistic. It’s also a very rewarding part, it’s a process that requires both technical and artistic skill, I will feel very satisfied when I made the correct shader that looks exactly like the reference.

– What or who inspires you today?

The person that influences me the most is one of my university tutor, Damian. He is a great tutor, also a very harsh, he always pushes us to create the most strange, abstract but original ideas. He often took us outside to do life drawing, because he said as an artist we must respect the life and nature, he also recommends us some unrelated books, such as the history of the steam machine and medical books about cells. It makes no sense to me back then, all I wanted to do is study 3D software, but I definitely understood it know. Damian made me understood as an artist, in order to create truly unique work, the great inspirations we can have are from nature and life, our personal experience, and our cultural heritage. If this competition is about design a realistic and futuristic sci-fi gun, I believe there are millions of 3d artist who can design better sci-fi gun than me, because I never have seen or touch a real gun. But I’ve seen a lot of Chinese porcelain as I grow up, I found them very beautiful, so when I combine Chinese porcelain element with a gun, the result is something very unique.

– Please tell us your five short tips for creating realistic renders?

  1. – Imperfection, every object in the real world is worn down to a certain degree. so during the modeling stage, you should be aware of straight edge, a perfectly clean edge is very boring. The edge in real light might be chipped, slightly angled or even bumped. It is totally worth to went extra step to import your model into Zbrush and made those edge details.

  2. – Surface imperfections, unless you are creating product rendering for the advertisement that requires you to produce a perfectly clean surface, you should always add breakups for your texture and material, even if it’s very subtle. Be aware of those tiny dust, scratches and warble those are the key to achieve realism.

  3. – The light in the real world is very complicated, having a high-quality HDRI map is very important. I always get my HDRI map from texturehaven.com, the free HDRI map it provides has high-dynamic-range which will help to enhance the reflections of the 3D object. But HDR shouldn’t be the only light source in the 3D scene, you should also add some additional light in your scene to highlight the silhouette of your object.

  4. – Reference, if you want to create an object in 3D, looking for hundreds of images of the object is the basics, you should go further by researching how this object is made, it will help you understand why the object look the way it looks in real life, did it got polished? Did it applied paint? How it’s been used? Where did it get worn? This will help you a lot during the process. But the best way to reference is to own a similar object, that way you can no only extract texture directly from the photo you took but also help you check with material and lighting in the look development process.

  5. – Post Processing is very powerful, in some situation, Post Processing can elevate a mediocre 3d render to a photorealistic level. having a good understanding of photography can help you can adjust camera exposure, depth of field, bloom correctly to make your 3d render better.

– Could you please show us any images from the work process with a short description.

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

the work process with a short description

– Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?

I really like how the handpainted watercolor texture turns out in the final rendering. It was a big challenge for me to create the realistic hand paint graphic of the Chinese porcelain, I tried to import vector into Photoshop apply filters but the result looks very fake, I tried to download watercolor brush for photoshop, but it doesn’t look good either. Then I realized it’s not possible to create realistic paint mark on the computer, so I decided to create the texture physically with hand paint watercolor. It was meant to be an experiment but work so well in the end. it was a very bizarre experience to utilize both digital and physical process when creating this work, but this made me realized even though we had so many presets, filters and plugins to helps us create digital works, but they can never replace traditional mark making techniques, as a digital artist, I should always remember to respect the physical medium.

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