Senior character modeler for Brown Bag Films, Darko Mitev, shares his passion for animation and creating interesting characters, with portfolio tips and other inspiration…
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Hi all! My name is Darko Mitev and I am 3D Generalist from Macedonia. I have been working professionally in the VFX and animation industry for 10 years. I always liked stories, and as a kid I did a lot of reading, as well as writing my own type of stories. Fast forward a few years, in high school, my Computer Science teacher gave me a disk of Maya 5 Personal learning edition
, and I learned that there is a visual way to tell stories, in animation format, through computer graphics. I was hooked immediately and still am to this day. I originally started as a modeler in the VFX industry, and after a few years, I switched to the animation and commercial industries. I am currently located in Dublin, Ireland, and I work at Brown Bag Films
as a Senior Character Modeler.
3dt: Tell us about your art: Your style, themes, genre, and some of the favorite projects you have worked on.
I tend to be inspired mostly by fantasy stories, so mainly my work gravitates towards the fantasy style. For me, the most important thing in an image or video is the story, the narrative. That's why I try to push my skills both in character and environment creation, because I like to create complete narratives with my renders. Nowadays, I am trying to come up with my own designs for my ideas, so I let my imagination guide the creative process from beginning to the end.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work on many awesome projects, and some of the most exciting ones for me were the Elvenar Game Cinematic for LIGA 01 Computerfilm from Germany, as well as the Demon Mask Concept for Lillmon Studios from Sweden.
3dt: Can you describe your typical workflow, and the software/hardware you normally use when creating your artwork?
Depending on the project, the subject matter, and whether or not I am doing characters, environment ,or both, my workflow changes slightly. For characters, I tend to start with ZBrush. I have a couple of personal base meshes that I can choose from for stylized and realistic characters. After that, I move to Maya for retopology and UV. I use Marvelous Designer to create realistic clothing on some of the more realistic characters. Depending on the style and the client, I paint my textures in Mari, Substance Painter, or Mudbox.
For environments, I usually start by blocking out the scene with simple geometry, and then refining the shapes and details in ZBrush if needed. For rendering, I mainly use Arnold, V-Ray and Redshift.
My hardware is a custom built workstation with an i7 700k processor, Titan X GPU, and 64 GB of RAM. I also have a laptop, with almost the same specs, just a different GPU.
3dt: What inspires you?
I believe that the inspiration is tightly connected to the questions you ask yourself. I mean between being in the animation industry, surrounded with so many talented artists, and the great work they produce and all the great movies and games, making-of videos that come out almost every day, I find it hard not to be inspired, to be honest. Just walking on the street and observing the way people and vehicles move, and the shapes that make up surroundings is often enough to start asking questions. If you start asking the right questions, you start to get curious about how things are made, how they function. And funny enough, the best ideas and inspirational moments come when you don't have the answers to your questions right away, because that is when you allow your imagination to take over, and make up interesting and unique stories.
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
I have a very simple recipe for keeping my portfolio interesting and versatile. In my personal time and my freelance projects, I try to work on something the complete opposite of what I am doing in my day job. For example, If I am doing a lot of character work in my day job, I do a lot of environment work in my spare time. If I do a lot of modeling work in my day job, I try to play around with procedural shading, and lighting and that kind of stuff at home. That way, I always have something I am looking forward to, and it helps to keep the passion alive, and push my skills in multiple areas at the same time.
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
There are a lot of great artists that influenced my work, way of thinking, and style. Some of the digital artists that I look up to are Seth Thompson, Jeremy Vickery, Kris Costa, and Vitaly Bulgarov. From the old masters my favorite one is Leonardo da Vinci, not just because of his art mastery, but because of the way he was able to look at the world with curious eyes, and ask the questions that everyone else was afraid to ask.
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
I am the kind of person who always has more than one project going on at the same time, so there is always something fun to think about. Currently, I am recording the process of making a realistic looking, cyberpunk/Blade Runner
inspired environment, for a talk that I am going to give in Dublin in the near future. Also, at the same time, I am working on a stylized short film, that I am very excited about.
Darko Mitev's website
Darko Mitev on ArtStation
Art of Darko Mitev facebook group