Yes! New work from you. I read back this specific thread anytime I'm on a creative hold, and it does the trick every time. Your sculpting skill mixed with your amazing creativity makes this one of the best ZBC threads of all time, in my opinion.
Thank you a million times over for pushing art and keeping things fresh!
Welcome to this first installment of the ZBC Spotlight series! Our goal is to have regular mini-interviews where we can get to know members of the ZBC community and learn a bit more about the person behind the artwork.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Messy! I don't really have some particular style to admire or emulate. Thats why in my personal stuff, you can see influences from different periods, authors and topics. Each has inspired me in one way or another, and I have tried to put a bit of them in my work.
Where do you find your inspiration?
There is almost everywhere someone or something that grabs my attention. When that happens I want to reproduce it the way I saw it, not necessary the way it is or it happened. Either in 2D or 3D.
I can browse the net for days looking at the works of different artists from past and present in order to obtain my inspiration from them. I also watch lot of movies; mainly drama but also a lot of historical and fantasy. I am not much of a fan of the movies with huge amounts of CG effects, though. Fake 3D and hi-tech stuff I just pass by.
Generally I don’t complain from absence of sources of inspiration. But for me, it's much harder to overcome my natural indolence and to start modeling something for fun. And it's even harder to finish it!
What is your background?
I am from Gabrovo, Bulgaria, a small town in the heart of the Balkan mountains. Let's just say it was in the time when arcade games were the last word in fashion.
I studied mathematics, then went to technical school for electrician. I never attended art school. I have bachelor's degree in Communications Audio/Video Technique and almost completed my education in economics (successfuly avoiding military service).
Drawing has been my passion since when I was kid, but I started more seriously with it when I began real work. When I graduated university, I started work in a company as video editor for adult movies. I had opportunity to steal enough time for self education, reading and watching tutorials for Photoshop and whatever could help me find another job because that wasn't my dream one. Three years later I started work in a game studio, modeling creatures.
Are you a professional artist?
I guess I am a professional because I have earned a living with 3D for the last seven years. I have worked in game studios and VFX studios for movies and commercials, but for the last two years I have worked as a freelancer in my home. I make models for movies, animations and 3D prints -- but mostly for games. Which is kind of ironic because I am not a gamer at all. I mostly play games with cars.
And of course, you can see my stuff at ZBrushCentral.
Do you have experience with traditional sculpting? How does that translate to ZBrush?
Not really. One of my great-grandfathers was very good in wood carving and my mother paints very well. My father was a machine engeneer, but since retiring he makes all kinds of different metal and wooden figures and wares. Generally I have a lot of skillful members in my family, and maybe I have inherited a tiny part from their skills. I have worked with all kinds of metal working machinery in my dad's workshop. I have worked with wood and plastics but the first time I tried with clay was couple years ago. I haven't had a chance to do it since, except for a few figures I have made with plasticine. Right now I am very enthusiastic about wooden figures.
How do you challenge yourself as an artist?
When I view the works of the great artists from the past, I have always dreamed that somewhere, someone could see something of mine and like it. So that’s why I want to do something really good someday. But because I haven't yet, I have to work a lot, to work hard for that dream.
When did you start using ZBrush?
I was a beginner in the world of 3D and tried a ton of 3D software packages, but all of them seemed very complicated to me and modeling seemed very time-consuming. When I found a ZBrush tutorial with ZSpheres I thought it was more fun than puling and pushing vertices, so I got really obsessed. Of course it took me a rather a long time to do anything, but it was fun to mess around with some sphere. That was ZBrush 2 and the year was 2005. Back then I got my first tablet, too.
Why do you use ZBrush?
Well, it works. Like every tool, it has to do its job, and ZBrush does it very well. Maybe after so many years, I am kind of getting used to it but I feel comfy working with ZBrush. It has the functionality I need right now. To be honest, I tried some other sculpting software tools , but I never found better. On the contrary! ZBrush just works.
What are some of your favorite ZBrush techniques?
I don't think I can give you any new and unseen technical advice. But maybe for someone who is just start with digital sculpting: Try to squeeze out the maximum details at the lowest iteration before subdividing your model again.
All in all I use just few brushes for shaping and forming the silhouette of my models before I start adding details. Those are Move, Clay, Clay-Buildup, Inflate, Dam Standard and lot of Smoothing.
I always try as much as possible to make different variations such as asymmetry and poses. That’s why I use lot of layers. I always put eyes with texture into my human sculpts as it looks more alive to me. And I try to use references as much as I can.
Finally, you have to feel comfortable with the software you use and try not to burden yourself unnecessarily while working. Don’t drink and sculpt!
How has each new version of ZBrush affected your work?
I am always excited when a new version is on the horizon, but I am also kind of reserved and wait a few weeks before I try it. I don’t now why.
The transition between ZBrush 2 and 3.0 was something like a jump in the future to me. SubTools, TransPose, Clay brushes, MatCaps... These were all things I never expected to exist back then and the influence over my work was enormous. The possibilities for better models were opened up.
Plugins like SubTool Master and TransPose Master were huge time savers, too.
In 4R2 I became a huge fan of BPR, Wax Preview, the new clay brushes and of course DynaMesh and the Curve brushes. I think those last two are the most favorite to me. They give you the freedom to make something cool really fast, without troubling with modeling and edge flow, etc.
I think for 4R3 my favorite is the hair.
What percentage of your work is typically done in ZBrush? Why?
It depends. If I already have a concept or I know exactly what I want to do, in most cases I will create my base mesh in external software. But if I am modeling some creature or animal without too many SubTools I start directly with ZSpheres.
If I am making something without a specific idea I usually start with the PolySphere. In that case the percent of using ZBrush is almost 100.
In any case, ZBrush plays an enormous role in my workflow. Even if I model my base mesh in external software, ZBrush makes it very easy for me to make whatever changes to the silhouette of the model. And adjusting the details is very quick and easy.
Which is your favorite creation so far, and why?
Well, I think I only have a few models that turned out not so bad. In almost all my models I have something I like, but I can't define any one of them as my favorite. I think that if I ever make something that really pops up above the others, I won’t be able to make anything else. So my favorite is always my last one.
What do you do when you're not working?
I am former cyclist, and biking (now the mountain variety) is one of my biggest entertainments. Of course now I take it much easier because of the many injuries I've sustained through the years! I read a lot and I've already mentioned movies.
Drawing is something I find calming. Despite that, I find I am drawing more rarely.
And of course I try to be with my closest people as much as I can; my family and my girlfriend!
We hope you've enjoyed this chance to get to know Martin a little bit better. Feel free to reply to this thread to comment on his artwork and this spotlight interview!
We're also accepting suggestions for future Spotlights. If there's a ZBC artist that you really admire and want to get to know better, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a link to his or her gallery or sketchbook thread!
Really great idea and I think a big motivation for every artist here on zbrushcentral, thanks for giving us such opportunities.
really nice sketches Shmud, interesting article, just keep on rockin' & sculptin'