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Kenny Carmody: creature/concept artist interview

Kenny Carmody has worked on a variety of AAA titles for MPC London, creating some amazing characters in ZBrush. Find out more…

CGHOW: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Kenny Carmody: My name is Kenny Carmody. I’m an American-German Freelance Character/Creature Artist and Concept Sculptor for the VFX, Gaming and 3D Printing Industry based in Los Angeles, California. With over 8 years of professional experience in 3D Modeling, Production for Film and Games, as well as the 3D Printing Industry, Toys, and Collectibles. My latest company work was with MPC London where I worked on amazing visuals for Godzilla 2, X-Men, The Lion King, and The Mummy. Fellow colleagues use to call me a ZBrush addict. ZBrush has changed my whole life and is used primarily during production.

 

Created in ZBrush, rendered in Keyshot and composited in Photoshop

CGHOW: Tell us about your art: Your style, themes, genre, and some of the favorite projects you have worked on.

KC: My work is definitely considered to be a dark style with eerie elements in a realistic way. I still try to create my own art style, but that is going to be a life-time process. I prefer doing hyper realistic character and creature design work, but I also love to produce stylized characters, for example like the Overwatch art style.

One of my favorite projects I have worked on was probably at MPC London when I worked on Godzilla 2 – King of the Monsters. And Lion King, which was always a dream to work on, and some unannounced projects I am currently working on as well as which have not yet been released. Also fun, was working on an amazing AAA title with an outstanding team at Goodgame Studios which sadly never will be released.

Creature design I’ve been working on. I love creating new stuff since it sometimes gets frustrating during production working on the same model. That’s why doodles are the only way to get my mind free

CGHOW: Can you describe your typical workflow, and the software/hardware you normally use when creating your artwork?

KC: It depends and varies throughout the production. But primarily I start with ZBrush to get a base concept sculpt of the 2D concept art if there is one. If there is none, I will just try to sketch within Photoshop and create what the brief requires. The combination of Photoshop and ZBrush gives me very quick results and interesting silhouettes. After blocking out primary shapes, I start concentrating on the technical side of the model. In production it is always important to work closely with the other departments and to keep the production running.

It is very important to handover work to departments like rigging, so the whole team sees it implemented in the required shot or engine, and early problems can be addressed. After handing off the model I start with detailing as well as base texturing in Substance Painter, Mari or 3D-Coat. So I can get a feel of details with an albedo color applied.

For modeling I use ZBrush, 3ds Max, and Maya. For my texturing pipeline I use Substance Painter, Mari and 3D-Coat. For baking maps I use XNormal and the Substance Baker. After, the model is ready to be implemented as a character package in VFX or as a package for Unreal Engine.

These fellows also come from the dark side of life. Having this character blocked out quite a while ago, I thought I would come back to finish him up. HaejinDevil with his fellow undeads

CGHOW: What inspires you?

KC: Of course, the most inspiring thing is my family and my dog. But what inspires me the most is being in a creative and artistic industry where we as a person are able to learn our whole life, and create artwork during that journey, and be open to expressing ourselves and our mind with our own art. For me, positivity, consistency, courage and motivation leads to success, and the people in our industry are full of that and they inspire you everyday to set the bars. Also having the chance to travel the world inspires you to work even harder, so I can have the chance with my art job to see many different places, cultures, and people.

This creature comes from the dark side of life
I’m starting to post some more of my daily doodle works. I began with the almighty Sphere in ZBrush and rendered in Keyshot

CGHOW: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?

KC: Since our industry is a very fast growing economy and there is a lot of competition, especially in the art sector. It’s very important to keep your portfolio updated as well as regularly checking the industry of your job title requirements of different companies, so you can see what specs and requirements are needed. You could build up your portfolio on top of that information.

What is the most important thing to build up your portfolio is to be 100% sure in which direction you want to go in the future, and what you want to be and are. If you want to be specialized in Hyper Realism Character Creation than you should build lots of Hyper Realistic Characters, showing Proper Modeling, Texturing and implementing. For example if you want to work for Walt Disney, your portfolio should definitely show and tell that you can bring the same amount of quality what is excepted and needed. Just let me say it like this, that you can adapt to any style you want.

I try to sculpt every night before going to bed, it’s just a ritual of mine. But I would say consistency is the key to building up your portfolio and seeing results with it. Some of these sketches make it into the portfolio which can be updated, some of them not. But it’s mostly important that you work at least try to produce something. That’s my biggest advice. Sometimes you will create something and it’s just not that good design-wise, and then the other day you create a new portfolio piece. Just keep on going and having fun.

Everything done within ZBrush. ZModeler and ZSphere Retopo

CGHOW: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

KC: This is going to be a hard one. There are so many phenomenal and really inspiring artists out there. Both in traditional and digital. Let’s start with traditional: Michelangelo is definitely one of the greatest sculptor in the history of time. His ability to create these hyper-realistic marble sculptures is just magnificent during that period of time. His anatomy and form knowledge was his key to his success. So to be able to understand how he creates his portraits and sculptures helps you a lot to improve your own work.

Basically all artists during the time of the Renaissance era: Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Monet. I like them because they were made for rebellion and they have a strong significant meaning behind them.

But I also adore Wassily Kandisky’s work because it’s so loose and fresh and you can interpret everything you want in it.

VFX-wise: Aris Kolokontes, Andrew Baker, Akihito Ikeda, Jordu Schell, Andrew Carse, all of the team of Stan Winston are definitely the stars in the sky. Some of my favorite digital ZBrush artists are Maarten Verhoeven, Jerad Merantz, Raf Grasetti, Skin Cheng, and Steve Lord. Their design language is just one of a kind, and the quality and amount of work they produce is just very inspiring, and has inspired me throughout my whole career.

I would also like to give a shout out to Phil Amelung who is one of my favorite artists: he was basically the first contact with ZBrush and I learned everything from him to have a base. So I wanted to thank him again for everything.

Everything was sculpted out of a Dynasphere. Created IMM Brushes for the skulls etc, and wanted to see how I can use the Insert Mesh with Zmodeler. Rendered with Keyshot Bridge

CGHOW: What can we expect to see from you next?

KC: There are many changes currently in my production life. I have been freelancing a lot lately for VFX companies, so I will be posting work I have done soon, really soon. I am not really allowed to say what I am working on at the moment, but I will keep you all updated in the near future. I am also planning to start a Patreon, Gumroad, and ZBrush school to collaborate with different artists specializing in ZBrush creation. But what you can expect is seeing lots of personal work and midnight sketches.

New personal project I have worked on using the new function within ZBrush 2018. They were very useful during the process, especially PolyGroupIt, SculptrisPro, MaskingBrushes, TopologyBrush with ZSpheres and ZModeler

 

Ashif Ali
Ashif Ali
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