Q & A with Hugo Bermudez
3D Concept Art presents an Q & A with a very talented artist with a background in 2d animation and concepting, Hugo Bermudez. He has been working in the entertainment industry since 2001 as 2d animator assistant/clean-up, concept artist and 3d modeler. He has for years worked in production of shorts, tv-series and advertisements. For companies like Big Lazy Robot VFX (BLR VFX) , Production Club Inc, Polygon Pictures, Cetursa Sierra Nevada S.A. and many more.
He uses frequently his talent to make futuristic mechanical designs, vehicles, robots, mechs and skillset in preproduction as a freelancer.
| 3D Concept Art: Tell us a little about you and how did you become interested and involved in 3D modeling, Concepting and Texturing?
| Hugo Bermudez: → Since I have memory I have been interested in mechanics; from cars to robots and all that 80’s sci-fi stuff which I grew up with. When I was a child I spent a long time drawing and creating stuff with construction games, and when I was working in 2d animation as an assistant I saw the complexity of working with mechanical designs and how you must sacrifice details in order to gain in production times.
That was frustrating, but, at the same time, a lot of pioneers were creating awesome stuff with 3d softwares in a more human scale, not the regular high profile companies. I saw how 3d was the future of everything in visuals and a great way to do the sci-fi stuff that I was interested in…So here we are.
| 3CA: You have a background within art as concept artist, 2d and 3d animator, do you feel you are more capable of landing jobs as a 3d generalist, and also able to contribute more to a team? Of you experience, Is it a need to have a higher skill to stand out in the crowd?
| H.B: → I don’t see myself as a ‘true generalist’, as I feel a ‘true generalist’ is a semi human-god that can do any stuff you ask for, and if he can’t, he will study or explore the needed software to do it in a reasonable amount of time with optimal results. In fact, I am lucky enough to have good friends that are this kind of people, but not me.
Once this point has been clarified, my role is not that of the usual modeler, I prefer to work in a more wide range of the preproduction steps; it is a kind of ‘generalist’, but not the term that I think that big companies use. In my past background I used to work in small teams where if you had a wide and related range of skills you had more opportunities to succeed. And for me, it is better to work on my own ideas. I feel better working on developing a model of a concept that I created instead of simply executing other artists’ stuff. That is ok too, because as a modeler you always have to fix things for rigging and animation later on, on top of that, I learn from other people’s ideas, but if you have a concept artist’s appetite you always want to be as creative as possible.
The vfx industry is now at the point at which I consider that the attitude is to be as specialized as you can, but this is a double-edged sword, as I think this depends on the level that you want to work on; if you want to work in a small team you need as much as you can to contribute to the team, but if you are in a building with a hundred guys doing the same as you, you must be the best to stand out.
In my case, I think that this was a natural evolution based on my personal interests, because if I started today, maybe I wouldn’t have the time to do that. As I said, I’ve spent a long time of my life drawing stuff, trying to imagine things, and, at a moment’s notice, I started with computers.
Right now, my drawing skills are limited to a tool to express a concept, but I’m not a good illustrator, in fact, I think that I’m a better modeler than illustrator, but if you have a secondary skill which complements the main one, this might help you in any situation.
In conclusion, I think that if you aren’t a super human, you should try to focus on something, and if you have time to learn secondary skills, that would be fine.
| 3CA: Where do you get inspiration from and who are your role models?
| H.B: → My inspiration is a mix of my interests; I’m a big fan of automotive industry and engineering, as well as being interested in custom and personalized vehicles. I’m fascinated by how people spend their time and skills in distorting common mass production designs to create something bold and innovative. You can find hundreds of details in a motorbike or a car that someone has de-constructed to the frame and rebuilt in some extreme way, and some of those details, shapes, textures or materials can be the root of a new concept or give me an idea to start with.
When I was young I experienced the Japanese visual culture introduction in Spain and I became a great fan of Japanese mechanical designers, like Masamune Shirow, Katsuhiro Otomo and Shoji Kawamori. This influence is still inside me and I’m always looking for new Japanese mecha art, for example, you can check Izmojuki’s work, a contemporary Japanese mecha designer that I think that has been a big influence in the modern ‘mecha way’.
Other influences are all those classics, like Ron Cobb, Syd Mead, Doug Chiang and all those classic sci-fi artist that created things with a realistic look.
| 3CA: You passion for mechanical design and engineering has brought to life some incredible robot designs, what are you advices when scaffolding and concepting this type robots and mechs?
| H.B: → As I said, I’m a big fan of custom vehicles scene, and there is two ways of doing cars and motorcycles: ‘form over function’ or ‘function over form’.
The usual mistake that a lot people make is to think only in ‘form over function’ when a concept is started. It is like having a car without a motor, just a nice shape and color, but you need everything that is in the inside to ride it. When people see a robot, they want to see a mixture of beauty and logic. At first sight, they see the general shape and color, but, subconsciously, their brains are reading the function and mechanics, and if these are wrong, that design is failing to reach its full potential. You must think in the beauty of the engineering and how things work.
When I start a concept, I ask myself about function, and If I have a cool shape in mind, I ask myself again if this shape would be in consonance with the function, because that function is the reason that mech exists. In other words, I usually think if the function justifies that cool form.
In spite of what I have said, this depends on the project, sometimes you just want be as cool as possible, but this is not the usual practice, and some constraints always force you to be more creative and a better artist.
| 3CA: Any good advices for artists and students who want to get into the business as a 3D artist and concept designer within field of mechanical design?
| H.B: → You must have a deep understanding of the animation pipeline and always keep in mind that your design has to move after you create it, so spend the time you need in developing the mechanics; remember that the beauty of mechanics is how it works.
Using a simple sphere, as a joint is something that anyone can do so you must be creative doing this. In my opinion, this is the most important thing that you must understand in order to be better creating mechs. On top of that, the time that you spend drawing will be better if you have functionality always present.
3D Concept Art Community thanks Hugo Bermudez for sharing his knowledge and advices in this interview. He has been involved in the well known KELOID trailers. He has a special love for robots. Keep in mind, specialize and don’t forget about adding secondary skills on your shelf.