Elevate Your Artistry: Engage in Global Contests on The Rookies Platform

Elevate Your Artistry: Engage in Global Contests on The Rookies Platform

Andrey Oliver, a promising Generalist 3D artist, started his journey into 3D art at 12, fueled by curiosity and a Bachelor's degree in Animation Design. His dedication to mastering 3D art, showcased through contests like Adobe's Meet Mat 3, reflects his aspiration to excel as a Character TD.

Andrey Oliver is a promising Generalist 3D artist, equipped with a recent Bachelor's degree in Animation Design and a passionate aspiration to excel as a Character TD. His journey into 3D art began at the age of 12, when the simple act of rotating the Blender viewport unveiled a world of possibilities encapsulated within the Default Cube. Since then, driven by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, Andrey has dedicated himself to mastering 3D art, diligently refining his skills through contests like Adobe's Meet Mat 3 - 3D Digital Painting Contest and pursuing his dream of making a mark in the industry.

In this article Andrey shares details of his amazing entry that gave him a Runner Up accolade in this recent contest.

What inspired the choice of textures for your character?

I had several character ideas, including Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio and Baby Groot. I even started working on them, but I wanted something different.

I was looking for more diverse materials. I wanted something to showcase Adobe Substance 3D Painter's ability to handle many textures in one piece. Also, I really wanted it have a nice displacement.

That's when I came up with the idea of ​​creating a character with various navigation elements. Standing on top of a hatch with several coins minted with sponsors' logos.

It was perfect for showcasing materials like wood, metal, fabric, bones, all together in harmony. Moreover, I could create something with many imperfections, such as dirt, moisture, moss, and rust. These are the materials I enjoy creating the most. For me, adding imperfections gives things the soul they need in 3D.

Participating in the [Adobe Meet Mat 3] challenge wouldn't just be a chance to explore and improve my skills, but also to meet other artists around the world.

At first, I sketched my ideas in Photoshop. Then, I drew the map for the character's head. I only made the Base Color because I would add imperfections in Painter. I based it on a real old map I found in a cartographic library. I created my version, which took about three days.

I used ZBrush and Blender to block and refine the shapes. I had to continually test if the bake would work in Substance, so I spent a lot of time in this back-and-forth process. The advantage of sculpting first is that you have better control of the overall shape.

On the other hand, the complexity lay in the High Poly to Low Poly geometry baking process. Since Mat's mesh couldn't be changed, adapting the design was a challenge. I started texturing only after reproducing all the details in the Height Map. Even after all this, I didn't know if my project would still be viable. I didn't know if I could transfer these details to the texture. When I finally managed to create the final bake, I saw it could continue.

I used a High Poly mesh to guide the details. I took the opportunity to separate all the objects and make an ID Map. This lets me select and apply materials exactly where I wanted.

For each material, I created a "simple" base, like a draft to build on. From there, I added textures, filters, and effects that come with the program. I went through this process until each channel was the way I wanted it to be.

In the end, even after finishing the turnaround, I kept changing the textures. I had to render everything again. But it was worth it. The base textures got more detailed than the first time. That's where I added the water leaks on the deck/boots and fixed the reflections on the globe. I went through this process for each different material. It was quite laborious, but it added an extra layer of realism.

Finally, I exported the textures and applied them to the geometry in Blender for the final render. I found a very good webinar by Josh Hope from Mimaki USA, explaining how they put Meet Mat in Blender. This gave me a better idea of ​​what to do to replicate the Height Map textures with Blender's Displacement.

I rendered everything in 4K 32-bit. I adjusted the colors in Davinci Resolve for both the still renders and the video. Essentially, this was the process I went through to create my Meet Mat.

What inspired you to participate in the Meet Mat 3 contest?

I’ve Always admired The Rookies platform; I discovered it through artists who received accolades through the Rookies Awards. What attracted me the most was the value given to art and artists. It provides an inviting space for us, artists from all over the world. Hosting these contests is very important for artists. Having a chance to showcase our work, our reality to everyone, make friends, evolve, and still having the chance to win incredible prizes to help in your growth is truly admirable.

While exploring The Rookies platform, I discovered the various contests that were organised. MEET MAT 3 caught my attention. It was after seeing the results of previous editions that I realized it would be a great opportunity to be part of this community. Participating in the challenge wouldn't just be a chance to explore and improve my skills, but also to meet other artists around the world.

How long have you been using Substance 3D?

I discovered Substance while I was in high school back in 2017. But it was when I entered college in 2019 that I could purchase it and start using it for the first time. Unfortunately, Substance wasn't part of the curriculum at my college, so I learned everything I know about it through YouTube tutorials and online forums, a practice I continue to this day. Because it's a well-structured software and shares a layer logic similar to Photoshop, I was able to learn many cool things over these years, studying almost every day. In fact, it was through using Substance that I discovered my love for material creation.

How easy was it to learn?

At first, everything new can be a bit intimidating, but as you explore, you begin to understand how it works better, and you see that it can be a fun process. Substance, for such a comprehensive software that allows you to do so many things, has a fairly straightforward learning curve. Of course, the complexity of materials can vary, with some having hundreds of layers, but the basic logic remains the same. I pay close attention to the world around me. I lost 80% of my vision in my left eye. So, my right eye has become trained to notice many details. In a way, it helps me to see the nuances of objects and reproduce them in Painter. Once you find the logic, you can create any material with it. Also, Substance 3D Painter offers many materials, smart materials, masks, and great filters. With some creativity, it's possible to create some truly amazing things with the tool.

What other programs or plugins do you like using it with?

The main software programs I use alongside Substance 3D are Blender, Maya, ZBrush, Marvelous Designer, Unreal Engine 5, Photoshop and DaVinci Resolve. It's the combination that works best for me today. It's like Substance 3D Painter is in the middle, bringing everything together. I can move files between them very easily. Since I started using this workflow, making 3D art has become much faster. It's also more enjoyable.

Can you expand on the different features and tools you used in Substance 3D Painter, to execute the various design choices you made?

One of the main features I utilised, and what I consider most crucial in my workflow, is the High Poly to Low Poly baking. Being able to generate these maps, especially the Height Map, directly during the bake process was essential for creating my Meet Mat entry, particularly in 8K resolution, which was an incredibly useful functionality to have. It allowed me to capture even the smallest details, especially those on the sides of the ship's helm handles and coins, without resulting in a stretched appearance. Also, the ability to separate objects with the material ID map was key. It let me control where to apply textures very well. Understanding the existence of these features enabled me to develop my design better. Adapting them to work with the Mat's geometry without altering it was challenging, but it worked very well in the end.

[The Rookies] hosting these contests is very important for artists. Having a chance to showcase our work, our reality to everyone, make friends, evolve, and still having the chance to win incredible prizes to help in your growth is truly admirable.

What are your next study/career goals?

I have been studying 3D since I was 12 years old, and I don't intend to stop anytime soon. It's something I truly enjoy because it brings me happiness.

Unfortunately, the art market, especially in 3D, is very challenging for Brazilians. We have talented artists. But, they face limited access to resources and specialised education. So, this path is hard to pursue. I have received a lot of support from my parents, whom I am very grateful for. Without them, I couldn't finish my studies. I also couldn't complete my Animation Design degree, where I met great people.

Now, I aim to find an opportunity to grow my career outside of Brazil. This could involve working in a great studio or studying at a top art school. However, leaving Brazil may be far off financially for me now. As a generalist 3D artist, I continue to study on my own. As one of my school teachers told me, “The student shapes their own learning journey”.

Check out more of Andrey's work via his Rookies profile here.