Maarten Verhoeven is a Belgium based freelance digital sculptor with a professional background in film and toys. He uses the ArtStation Pro Insta theme to showcase his artwork because simple “one page tells all” design makes it clean and ideal for potential clients.
In this interview, Maarten shares how he got his first job, his approach for new projects and advice for Zbrush beginners.
Tell us about how you got your first job in the industry.
Well let’s fist say that I’m not a character artist, concept artist, game artist , or VFX artist – I’m a ZBrush sculptor, so that’s how my career also started. I discovered ZBrush ten years ago and it was an instant love so I started to try out a lot of things as a hobby because I had a day job as a graphic artist in post-production company.
The many hours before and after work paid off and I got contacted by the good people of Hasbro Toys. I was so happy that a company reached out to me, so I asked my previous boss to freelance part-time, because it felt like a risk to me to bet on one job opportunity. The man didn’t want to let me go so I quit and never looked back. I got a new opportunity from Hasbro Toys and jumped on it. My career started with sculpting a toy, more particularly a weapon for the GI Joe 3 3/4 inch figures. Bigger things can start real small and I remember I was so happy to work on a brand that I use to play with as a kid.
How do you approach a professional project VS a personal piece?
When I have professional work, I try to work to clients specifics as well as I can. I approach it a as a I’m the extension of the art director or the producer of that project. They have a vision and I have to translate it within my skill set. My favorite kind of client project is any project that someone hires me for and tries to understand how I work as an artist so we can make it all happen within budgets and deadlines. I don’t like to work with people that don’t show respect and keep adjusting and tweaking the original idea. For me it’s important that the playing rules are laid out on the table from the beginning.
On the personal stuff I would say I like everything in my portfolio but I love creatures and if I don’t like it, I destroy it and redo it. It’s just a sculpt and the most time I spend on a personal project is only a few days because I don’t have the patience to keep picking at a sculpt.
What advice do you have for those trying to work on their digital sculpting skills?
Know your basics. I know it sounds cliché. Study your human and animal anatomy and learn to direct the viewers’ eyes with shapes, forms and composition. Learn to work and think in 3D and don’t always start from a 2D sketch since they are two totally different worlds with different rules. Please keep in mind, using all the brushes will not help you make a solid 3d sculpt. There are no shortcuts. Start big and end up small. The most important thing is to keep practicing it over and over again.