Chocofur interview with Lukas Walzer
Lukas has been, and still is, one of the most prolific artists that I've known. He has progressed exponentially during the period that I have been following him. Reading through this interview, we'll get a glimpse of how his mind works and his ethics that make him such a successful and creative artist.
Let's dive in!
How did you get started with Blender?
Honestly I don't really remember. When I started toying around with CG, the first programs I used were Sketchup and Vue. Later someone at school might have told me about this Open-Source CG software and I started building things in Blender from time to time. But it wasn't until late 2015 that I started using it intensely, meaning: everyday!
What is the main source of your inspiration?
Oh, many things! There are artists I like, historical art periods and their accompanying architecture/ design/graphics, movies, fashion, and also things personally important for me.
Your strongest and weakest points as a 3D artist?
Strongest: I guess, lighting and materials. And generally, planning out a scene.
Weakest: Oftentimes I feel I am working not deep enough, meaning my work lacks a thorough base and just comes out somehow without any deliberate purpose. This kinda annoys me, since it inhibits my way to a personal style.
Ghost Driver really started out with the steam locomotive itself. That was a mistake, because once I was finished modeling, I didn't really know what to do with it. It took me several attempts to come up with a concept I was happy with. I drew much inspiration from the great Cornelius Dämmrich, especially the graffiti is a nod towards his amazing detail-overgrown artworks. It was also the most time-consuming of all my projects, I started working on it in July 2016 and finished it in June 2017, but, of course, there were several months inbetween where I didn't work on it. If I would have had a real plan, I do not doubt I could have finished it in far less time.
Oftentimes I feel I am working not deep enough, meaning my work lacks a thorough base and just comes out somehow without any deliberate purpose.
The most challenging project you ever did in Blender?
That would be my artwork “Ghost Driver.” I could have finished it much earlier, but as described above, I had no clear idea in mind which left me struggling for the best composition, spending days and weeks modeling assets that never made it into the final image. I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
As a 3D artist, what was your biggest success?
I'd say, to have been featured (full page) in the renowned 3DArtist Magazine among so many intimidatingly skilled artists. Yeah, and to have won the third place in one category of an ArtStation Challenge!
What is your dream project to work on?
I still dream of participating in animated features. I guess, if I had all the money in the world, I'd make an animated adaptation of Walter Moers' “The City of Dreaming Books.” Haha, yes, bit childish, I know.
Sometimes I browse through Pinterest and suddenly something grabs my attention and enchants me. That was the case, when I found a picture of an Instagram model posing in front of a Hongkong goldfish market and I knew I would have to reproduce it in 3D! It was also a nice opportunity for me to practice character modeling, something I hadn't really done before. Still long way to go on that aspect, but at least the image looks quite nice for itself. It took me about two months.
Your most-loved passion aside from 3D Graphics?
Erm, nothing? XD There were times, where I was very into typography and graphics design, but right now CG occupies almost 100% of my activities. I love watching movies, though, but then again, who doesn't? Oh, and I'm a member of the German Tolkien Society, always looking forward to our monthly meetings!
What is your favorite aspect and feature of Blender?
The fact that you have everything at hand: Sculpting, Modeling, Rendering, Compositing. Until you really want to push the limits, you'll never have to change software!
If you had the chance, what would you change in Blender to make it better?
I think I'd have the simulation systems reworked (which happens right now, in fact) and maybe strive for unified approaches in everything. Blender still keeps dragging some old features and workflows with it that have been there since forever. I guess this poses a serious obstacle for beginners.
Until you really want to push the limits, you'll never have to change software!
This was done to showcase the great nature texture pack from Eisklotz by Adrian Kubasa. I decided to play it safe and go for something that I knew would work. I came up with a concept rather quickly and the rest of the process was very straightforward. Lesson learned here: New knowledge and improvement come with a time offset: By the time you get really good at something, it's already routine to you! This took me about one month.
If there's one thing you would teach your younger self, what would it be and why?
You are not working in a vacuum. Take a close look around you! Everything you had thought of being a matter of talent and wide away is actually there, like an open book. Concentrate on what you really want to achieve, don't go for compromises, or at least don't go for them in the long term. And most important: Think from the end!
What is your workflow when creating 3D artworks?
Of course there is a general idea to start with. But then I go right away to Pinterest and open a new board. Then I start collecting everything that might hold inspiration for different aspects of my idea, some images for functionality (e.g. mechanical parts), some for color, some for style, etc. What I love about this method is that the algorithm will always bring up images that are distantly related to your idea. It's like a torch lighting out all the great stuff that lies on the border of your consciousness and that's incredibly enriching. It makes me feel grounded and confident to know that I'm building on the works of others but will make something completely unique and different.
For the actual scene itself, I prefer to start with a rough blockout with basic materials. I play around with the lighting until I'm fairly happy with it, but the lighting might change during the whole process. Then I just start replacing every blockout asset with a detailed one, until the whole image is finished. Post-processing is very important for me. I think this is where the magic happens. So I experiment a lot with changing colors, adding photographic imperfections and so on.
What is your hardware and software setup?
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960
- Graphics Tablet: Wacom Intuos Art Medium
Unfortunately I know next to nothing about hardware, so I guess I'm missing a lot of opportunities to improve my performance.
Most of the time I only use Blender and Adobe CS5. Other software I own and use occasionally: Substance Painter, Inkscape, Rhinoceros 3D, Mischief, Unreal Engine, Unity
In your 9 years of experience with Computer Graphics, if you had to change something, what would it be and why?
I'd wish to have come in contact with the community earlier and to have started earlier doing CG seriously. But on the other hand, all the things I did instead may have their valuable influences on my future life. You never know when your past may come in handy.