Alexandre “Raad” Raad – In The Spotlight

Raad

Alexander RaadSo, Raad, tell us a little bit about yourself, a little of your background?
Well, it’s funny to talk about me. I was born in Central West region of Brazil in a city called Goiânia. As a child my family moved to Belo Horizonte, the third-largest city in Brazil. My father died when I was 10 years old and at 16 I started working in an advertising agency downtown. That was where I first had contact with design professionals.

Have you always been interested in graphics and art?
Always! Since childhood. I keep persisting even today.

Tell us a little about your schooling at UEMG (Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais)
The UEMG was the first University of design in my state. I did the course of Industrial design, which opened important doors. I have learned a lot about the creative process and techniques for manual rendering. This helped me a lot. Through the university I got a stage of design in a large car factory and I discovered the importance of design in industry and its influence on the everyday lives of the people, it was where I had my first contact with 3D.

What would you say the biggest thing you learned attending UEMG?
Organize the creative process, no doubt. I learned how to get a good idea out of my head and the need to draw very thoroughly. I have adopted this method and use it today. Do however many drawings are necessary to find what I’m looking for. It was a great learning experience.

You have a wide array of work, which do you prefer to work on?
Although I am a designer, today I am more focused on illustration. I prefer to work developing characters, this is a job that gives me much pleasure, it’s what I prefer to do. In 2005 I took first place in a design competition of cars in Brazil, I love to draw cars too, but dedicate more time to my creatures.

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What are some of your tools of choice when creating your work?
Today my main tools are the Modo and Zbrush. I use Sculptris too. Can’t live without paper and pencil.

I love your cartoony style. Have you always loved doing that type of style?
I like it a lot! The cartoon allows me to exaggerate expressions, better shape the personality of the character, even if it’s just in a still. The ability to use 3D to give life to these characters is so much fun. Different from the more realistic style, it becomes easier to give life to the projects, because there is no comparison to the real world.

Tell us a little about your work process?
When doing work or an idea, I start for a while thinking about the possibilities, so the first “click”, interestingly enough, is when I start to draw. I have a few sketchbooks where I record daily, some ideas. After sketching, I start work in the modeling process. Usually I use the “box modeling” technique, it’s still the fastest method. After finishing this step I seek the best solution for UV mapping. The textures are a chapter by themselves. I work with 8k resolution to ensure quality. A good texture can makes all the difference, even if the mesh is not so good. I use several references and paint everything in Photoshop. For the render I use Modo’s native system. Recently I’ve been applying the progressive render, which allows you to use the resources more “heavily” at the same time, displacement, fur, DoF, SSS. Final adjustments of post-production, I do in Photoshop. I’m never satisfied, but always put a deadline to finish the job. It’s the best way to see how things are evolving.

Do you generally start your projects out with pencil and paper?
When it comes to characters and personal jobs, yes, always! But I usually work in advertising directly on the computer. I follow the layout sent by the client.

The eyes on your characters are awesome, how do you get such emotion in your characters?
The eyes are usually the first point that we observe in a character. There are some features about your eyes that define the character; if he is being sarcastic, if you’re sad, happy, things like that. I’m aware of these details having play on the characters, combined with the materials and lighting. I imagine the characters moving around their eyes before styling. And, most of the time, the place—watching for the camera. I don’t use much symmetry; this helps mainly in expressions. Like most of my characters are cartoons not afraid to exaggerate. I research all the best ways to texture your eyes and always discover new things. But the real basis is always the drawings. Doing studies on emotions are fundamental, the look will show you a little of the spirit and personality of the character.

How long would you normally say your projects run form start to finish?
My projects for advertising are usually 5 to 7 days. It is a requirement of the market. More elaborate designs and characters usually 15 days. For the personal jobs I try to always work in this period of time to learn new solutions in a short space of time.

Where do you see the business of 3D and graphics going?
I understand that 3D is growing a lot, especially in the entertainment industry and in advertising. Today I see a new trend that is creating objects for everyday life through the popularization of 3D printers.

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Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Many things inspire me, comics, movies, documentaries about animal life, watching people and, of course, great artists.

Which part of the 3D process do you prefer: modeling, rendering, texturing?
I like the complete 3D process, but I prefer the modeling. It is the basis.

Do you think it important to have a traditional art background?
Yes, painting helps in the textures, in post-production. Sculpting helps a lot in modeling and in the forms which are additional knowledge.

What is 3D and animation like in your country?
Here in Brazil, the big market for 3D is advertising. Here there are incredible studios with talented professionals. Today the illustrations for print ads also require knowledge in 3D. As with the growth of the market of games, the possibilities are amazing.

What’s your hardest challenge you have when dealing with clients?
The biggest challenge for me is to work with very small period of time and achieve the quality that the market demands, and also dealing with last-minute changes. There is always the time of rendering and post-production. It’s scary sometimes, but it always ends with a happy ending.

What do you enjoy doing outside 3D and graphics, hobbies?
I like to drink beer with friends, walking, going to the cinema, reading comics.

Do you have a family? How do you find it balancing work and home?
My family is a priority. Despite loving my job I have to balance my time. I no longer work Saturdays and Sundays. This is a great achievement.

What do you feel is unique about the work coming from your country?
Joy and creativity. This is a feature of Brazilian people in general in all professional areas.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?
My dream is to create a character for a big movie production. That would be fantastic!

Your DJ Oriente piece was incredible. Tell us a little about that?
I loved that job. The client gave me creative freedom and a lot of time. The only requirement was the theme “70’s Disco years”. I drew a few cover versions and the client chose the most challenging technically. It was a great challenge and I learned a lot. I Googled cassette tapes of the time, and unrolled several! I modeled everything including the character in Modo. This was one of those works in which texture made the difference. Skin painting took two weeks. Arguably the greatest challenge was to curl and texture the tape, but I found a very simple solution using “snap to background” in Modo. I started to replicate the process several times until I got the desired result. It was a large image with 6k resolution. I made a timeline for all the steps and I was able to meet with tranquility. The client was happy and so was I.

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What are your impressions of the work you’ve seen out there so far?
I have seen many jobs here. The frequency, with which I understand, is that the professionals here are trying to reinvent themselves every day. This always generates unbelievable novelties and new solutions.

Have you had the opportunity to visit the states?
Not yet, but next year I plan to visit the Comicon or Siggraph.

I know a lot of people have noticed on the forums some great work coming out of Brazil and Latin America?
Yes, This is good, we are all friends. We are happy when we see some Brazilian being mentioned in the forums. All are passionate about CG.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I had been more patient. Today I have learned some things about of time.

What was the hardest thing for you to pick up and learn?
For me it was very difficult, there was no path of stones. I started with software that nobody knew here in Brazil, the Internet was here, via phone; its speed was very slow. There was no tutorials, forums, Youtube and also there were no books on the software in Brazil. But I persisted, so I ended up finding people who were using the same program and things started brightening up.

What do you hope to contribute to the CG world?
I hope people have fun with my characters. I feel people need more joy.

What would you like people to know about you they might not?
I’m also a graphic designer specializing in packaging design and logos, I have a lot pieces in my portfolio.

Last question Raad, what advice would you give to young people trying to succeed?
Make and study what you like. Work for love and not for money. It’s not easy, but with time and effort good things happen. With 3D it’s no different.

Thanks Raad!

I want to thank you Raad for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us, we look forward to seeing more great work from you. If you’d like to view more work check out his site at www.raadnet.com.

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