Grand Space Opera: Light Age Prop Art (Rendered) Winners Interview

1st Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Anton Fomenko

The Grand Space Opera: Light Age Prop Art (Rendered) category asked participants to create three rendered props with no paintover. Renders of the front, back, and side views of the props were required, along with a callout sheet of elements such as wireframes and texture maps.

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For this interview, we spoke with Prop Art (Rendered) winners Anton Fomenko, Lucile Thyrard, and Dorin Jannotta about their challenge experiences. Read on to learn their advice on preparing for future challenges!

Tell us about the concept for your submission.

Anton: Before posting the selected concepts, I tried to make a rough block out of about ten different concepts to understand what I have enough knowledge to do (for example, I tried to avoid organic forms, because they take more time and I don’t really like sculpting). I also tried to choose concepts that were based on a 3D block out, as this would help to avoid problems with perspective and differences on orthogonal projections.

The concepts for the first two props were based on very cool work done by Himesh Anand; it’s very nice to work with such detailed concepts. For the third prop, I chose a very unusual concept made by Lara Gonzalez; I really liked the color combinations (and very cool stickers).

Lucile: All the concepts from the 2D challenge were very interesting. Since for me the challenge represented a way to train myself to push my skills within an allotted time, I decided to create my own concepts. I had briefly thought about what I wanted to produce, starting with a spaceship. It allowed me to define a universe for my project and the style I wanted. Then I designed the two other props so that they fit into this world.

Dorin: My initial concepts evolved from a couple of criteria I set for myself early on. I decided to take “Light Age” very literally and use plenty of emissive lighting in a dark deep space environment. I also wanted my designs to exist in a world that was both structural and advanced but not totally alien. I did have one of those art imitates life moments of inspiration because I have one of those bladeless fans in the corner of my room that directly influenced the concept of the Jump Gate prop.

2nd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Lucile Thyrard

What was your strategy for working on the challenge?

Anton: I divided the allotted time into three parts and set a deadline for each model. If I had time before the deadline, I spent it creating animations or effects and also did not start working on a new model until I completely finished the previous one. After selecting the concept, I started searching for additional references. Depending on the detail of the concept, this took different amounts of time. For the guitar, I spent three to four times as long searching for references as for the first two props. The standard process was divided into stages: modeling HP/LP, UV, texturing, and setting up the scene in UE4.

Lucile: Without having a very precise schedule, I estimated the time I needed to realize not only my props but also my small animations and FX. During the challenge, I tried to have all the props at the same stage so I didn’t focus too much on one for too long. It was important for me that at the end of the challenge my props seemed functional. I would say that I worked on it a little every day after work and on the weekends.

Dorin: My strategy for this challenge was to approach these props with final compositions in mind. I started by setting up some basic scenes with cameras and lights before focusing on the prop which really helped me manage my time. I used a pretty straightforward modeling technique but relied heavily on Blender’s deformer stack for a more procedural hard surface workflow.

3rd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Dorin Jannotta

What did you find was the most difficult part of the challenge?

Anton: Of the three models, the most interesting and challenging for me was the guitar, because I frequently had to dig into references. It was also very interesting to work on the holographic and gas shaders. It was hard to stop in time and get out of Unreal Engine because I had to make the next model.

Lucile: I don’t really do science fiction very often; animation and FX even less so. I got out of my comfort zone by hand-painting on these props.

Dorin: The most difficult part of this challenge was coming up with three cohesive prop designs that could live in the same world. I knew I was up against some very good designs from very talented artists from the pre-production stage of this challenge so I felt the pressure to not just create good models but also solid concepts.

1st Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Anton Fomenko

What advice do you have for future challengers?

Anton: My advice is to take more time to choose a concept and search for additional references. I think it is very important to find something that will be fun to work on.

Lucile: The essentials of this challenge are communication and consistency. Talk with other challengers. Taking part in this big exchange between amazing people, we can all help each other progress. Do not hesitate to go further than what you already know. Try to post regularly enough so that the hosts and other artists can give you feedback, and also see your project move forward!

Dorin: Plan your project from beginning to end in some form or fashion before starting. Like many others, I always want to go directly into creating a model, but a bit of structure for how you do it really goes a long way.

2nd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Lucile Thyrard

3rd Place Grand Space Opera: Light Age – Prop Art (rendered): Dorin Jannotta

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