Q & A with Lee Souder
3D Concept Art presents an Q & A with a very talented Cinematics artist specializing in environment and hard surface design, Lee Souder. He has been around for about seven (8) years working in production of feature films and games. For companies like Treyarch, SCEA Sony Santa Monica, Trion World Network and many more. He has been involved in several AAA titles, some of them have been COD Black Ops 2, God of War: Ascension, Defiance Syfy MMO and several others.
He uses frequently his talent to make concepts and illustrations, both traditional and digital showing up his skills in mechanical hard surface design. His work has been published in different international publications like 3d world and 3dcreative magazine.
| 3D Concept Art: Tell us about you and how did you become interested in 3D modeling and to work in the game industry?
| Lee Souder: → As a child, I loved to draw animals and build with legos. The first 3d class I enrolled in was during high school (thanks, Mom). We used Rhinoceros 3d which is NURBS based.
That first day I did not know what to expect but after 2 hours I knew I was going to be obsessed with building in 3d. During the last years of college, I came across the conceptual work of Syd Mead and Feng Zhu. This pushed me along the path of entertainment design, which is where I am at today.
| 3CA: You specialize in hard surface design. Of your experience in the field, what are the most problematic parts when working on different projects dealing with Hard Surface? Also with making different parts fit well and also making hard surface interesting and appealing to the viewers?
| L.S: → The most problematic part is balancing interesting forms and functionality. The second balancing act is between high detail and simple areas of interest. An easy way to solve this problem is to add as much detail as possible then subtract parts to tone things down.
Each viewer has different ideologies so its hard to please everyone. In recent years its easier to understand what the general public finds appealing. Because of sites like this in which your Artwork can be rated.
| 3CA: Where do you get inspiration from and who are your role models?
| L.S: → Inspiration comes from everywhere but mostly from other CG portfolios and transportation design.
The people that shock and awe me the most are those that are great modelers and also understand Industrial Design. They include Syd Mead, Mike A. Nash, Vitaly Bulgarov, and even students.
| 3CA: In some of your work, you have used a well-known technique, Kit-bash. Dealing with kit-bashing in environments/vehicles and find the adequate shapes and forms for your creations, that fulfills your visions but also gives the right design language are sometimes quite time-consuming. What are you advices when it comes to dealing kit-bashing in an effective way? And also the importance of giving it the realism needed to the concepts without losing the perception of different objects?
| L.S: → Yes, I do not want my model to look like a junk pile, that is not appealing to me. But in some IPs it is necessary. I am very picky when it comes to kit-bash parts. I may bring in and arrange 8 different parts until I find the right one. I view these parts with thumbnails so I can imagine them next to each other.
The best way to get started kit-bashing is to model actual mechanical objects. This will teach you how parts connect when you are conceptualizing. Also, these studies can then be broken down and placed in your kit-bash library.
| 3CA: Any good advices for artists and students who want to get into the business as a 3D Artist in fields like cinematics and environments, also going for a career in the game industry?
| L.S: → First of all each CG company looks for different types of artists and styles. So do not get discouraged if they do not like your design style. For example, I would not expect to get hired to work on WOW. Now a days 3d art is as popular as pencil and paper sketching. It is easy and anyone can model. So keep in mind what makes you a unique modeler?
1.To give you an edge research color theory, design principles etc. Or take other design courses
2. Just like any other company, people hire ones that they know. In other words befriend EVERYONE in your classes.
3. Most modelers major in 3d and minor in something else. For example; hand painted textures, shader coding, scripting, concept art, animation etc.
4. You do not exactly need a degree but take classes to meet other people and brush up on skills. The first thing we look at is your online portfolio.
5. One motivating quote I keep replaying in my mind is “I am a content consumer or a creator?”