Sunday, December 13, 2009


Final Project: An Interview with a Blizzard Artist

It would be hard to read the interview text off a screen-fitted magazine page, so I copied and pasted the text into this blog for your reading pleasures. The intro is still in Swedish (due to laziness), but otherwise in English.. So skip the intro if you're unfamiliar with Swedish :P

The project itself was to design a 12-page magazine with 3 other people. I chose to do something really exciting with my share of pages, an exclusive interview with a Blizzard Concept- 3D-artist, Marc Brunet! How did I manage to get it? Very simple: Once again artists prove to be some of the coolest people on earth who will not hesitate to help students :)


This is what my two pages looked like!
Click for larger view

PS. All the images are clickable for larger views

Marc Brunet är en 23 årig 3D- och koncept artist. Som många andra inom spelindustrin, är han självlärd, men hans motivation och positiva tänkande fick honom dit där nästan varje spelare eller artist vill vara. Blizzard Entertainment® är ett världsomfattande känt spelutvecklings och publiceringsföretag, och det är där som Marc Brunet har hittat sitt drömjobb. Vi fick denna exklusiva intervju med den unga artisten i förhoppning om att få inblick i hur det är att vara designer och var vi hittar inspiration som grafisk design-studenter.

01. Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to realize art was what you wanted to do.
I’m from Montreal and lived the majority of my life there. It was as a kid that I really started to like art. I was drawing comics with my younger brother all the time and was really having a blast. In early elementary school, I quickly became my teacher’s favorite in art class since I would yell at the other kids to shut the hell up when he was explaining stuff. Just so that I could get to the fun part faster: Doing art. My parents told me I was way ahead of the other kids, coming up with cities drawn in correct perspective while the others where drawing them flat. At that point, I was too young to understand drawing could be my job later on. It was only at the start of college that I figured I would make a living out of this. I was already getting commissions and coloring jobs for comics, so I thought I’d try to expand my skills by taking 3D classes (as the Blizzard cinematics, as well as the cutscenes from Final Fantasy had me drooling over them). I went into a 3D program of 3 years, and stayed a year and a half before I got my first job offer at a Montreal based game studio called A2M. Flash forward 2 years later, and I was getting a job offer from Blizzard Entertainment in California; My dream studio, and makers of all my favorite games. I should mention winters in Montreal are very cold! The choice was obvious.

02. What is it like to work at Blizzard? Can you tell us about your role, and what a typical day is like?
Blizzard is by far the best place to work at, ever. I thought my last job was awesome, until I started working here surrounded by all those insane artists and working on a game that will blow away everything ever made. Doesn’t get any better than this! I think that the biggest difference here is that I care a lot about what I do, and I genuinely want to make it awesome. As far as I can tell, it’s the same for everyone working here, and as a result, we have a very creative and friendly work environment. My position is  2D/ 3D character artist, simply meaning: I do both the concepts and the 3D models.

A typical day is something like this:
I’ll get to work at 10, go grab breakfast at our awesome cafeteria, then come back ready to start my day. Next Gen Characters* take a lot of time to create, so I can easily spend 3 weeks working on one, but let’s say I’m going to start creating a new one: I normally know what I’ll be working on in advance since we have a lot of things to do, but if not I’ll go chat with the game designers and art director to see which character they want me to work on, and what their functions/ abilities will be. When I get a good feel for that character, I’ll start with a bunch of quick sketches, then refine one, add colors, and then have my art director approve it. Lets say I’m going fast and I’m done by lunch time, I’d boot up ZBrush next, and start sculpting my drawing in 3D. There goes my day! After work I often stay to work on personal stuff, so on average I leave work pretty late.

03. How long did it take until you felt like you’ve reached the required level within the industry to start designing professionally?
I’ve always felt I wasn’t quite there yet, at least before I actually got hired. When I did, I compared myself to the people I was working with and I think it was only then that I noticed I was fitting right in, in Montreal at least. But with Blizzard, it’s a different story. My plan was always to work here, but I thought I would spend at least another 3-4 years back in Canada before I’d consider myself worthy of a job at Blizzard. Needless to say, it was a pretty cool day when they contacted me only 2 years after I left school! I truly never thought that would happen.

04. In regards to 3D art, what are your favorite and least favorite parts?
A lot of the modeling process is very technical and tedious, and as an artist I like to create pretty things, so the sculpting part is my favorite. Sculpting in ZBrush is just like with clay, except it’s more awesome. I also learn so many things about anatomy each time I model something, which even helps me in painting. It gives me a better sense of volumes and how light interacts with shapes. I would suggest it to any 2D artist!

05. Which of your works are you most proud of?
This is a tough one! I think I’m always more satisfied with my latest painting. Modeling is such a big part of my job that when I have free time, I usually draw or paint. Don’t get me wrong I like 3D a lot, but I don’t get the same satisfaction looking at a finished 3D character in a boring rig-friendly pose that I get by looking at a finished painting. So to answer the question, my favorite piece is the one I’m working on right now!

06. From your experience, what is the most important asset or skill to succeed in producing decent 3D-models?
Well, most important is good 2D skills; I think those two go hand in hand. A lot of the skills you need for 3D come from technical knowledge. We make games so these models have to run on certain machines, be it PC or consoles, they have to run. It’s important to take a whole lot of things into consideration when creating 3D models. In general, 3D artists don’t start at the beginning,  nor the end of the pipeline. They need to respect the concept, and hand in a model that the animator will be able to animate properly. If your model isn’t well made, it’ll deform horribly and ruin the whole thing. It also has to be light** enough that the game engine will use it without wasting too much processing memory on it, etc. You pick all the technical stuff over time, and any non-artist can learn it.

07. Any  designer has a favorite form of inspiration, which influences and directs  their creativity. Which are yours, and are there any names you’d like to give?
What really got me into drawing was Dragon Ball, so as funny as that may be, I would put that as my top influence. I would copy pages and pages. I actually learned a lot from that manga. Also, it was awesome
Next biggest influence was the asian artist Kim Hyung-Tae. This guy, even to this day, really impresses me with his art. Other than that, my inspiration comes from a bunch of different guys and gals all over the internet, posting their art on blogs and art websites. There’s just so much out there it’s really hard to run out of inspiration.

08. As a design student, I usually find it quite challenging to find a creative environment to work in. Do you have any tips for us on how to create or find creative and inspiring environments other than school?
What I always do when I want to get things done, is down 2 or 3 cups of coffee, put on some music that reminds me of something in the past (which simply brings up good emotions.. I’m a very big music guy), and I don’t go to bed until I’m done. I also forgot to mention, I do that at night only. Somehow I’m more creative then! I used to go through a lot of art online before starting with something (to get my brain started), but that was before I tried coffee!

09. There are just too many people working within the design industry in today’s world. What in your opinion helps getting an artist/ designer hired?
Employers want to hire people who can adapt quickly. It’s always important to be able to render in a lot of different styles to show them you’ll have no problem switching gear and mimicking the art style of a particular game. I think it goes without saying, you have to be good. Your anatomy/ perspective have to be spot on. Lastly, you have to be a nice person to work with! In the game industry at least, the work environment is very interactive and it’s something you learn to like. You don’t really have a choice! I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and I can tell you, we turn a majority of the applicants down because of their personalities, even if their art is good. The less drama  in the work place, the more  space for creativity.

10. 3D-graphics and idea development are two main aspects we’ll be working with regularly. Do you have any advice for us as aspiring designers?
Well, from my experience, the best way to succeed in this field is constant hard work. Very cliché yes, but the people who get the cool jobs are the ones who commit themselves to their work. It’s all about managing your workload, improving, as well as staying motivated and inspired. That balance can be very tricky to maintain, and its often the reason people don’t succeed as much as they would want to. Now that I think about it, it’s almost like a diet; It’s always hard to maintain even thought we all know it pays off in the end. Remember, there’s no such thing as a crazy idea!

I would like to thank Marc Brunet on behalf of my team and class, DG09, for taking the time to answer these questions.

All Pictures © Marc Brunet -