It is a rare occasion that we choose CG Elite. Today I am proud to present our newest CG Elite: Sofia Vale Cruz.
Forged in the fires of the cold wasteland in Denmark. Sofia emerged from a school focusing in the digital arts. Already 4 years since
she came to the United States, she currently holds one of the most coveted positions in the industry. By which I mean she has a job on
Blizzards cinematic team.
Introducing the wonderful work of Sofia Vale Cruz from Denmark, 3D character artist.
by Matt McCorkell
Tell us about yourself and how you became an artist?
My name is Sofia Vale Cruz and I was born and raised in the countryside of Denmark. From an early age on I was interested in drawing,
coloring and crafting. Our neighbors at that time would often complain about the streets being covered in what I believed to be colorful
chalk paintings. My parents introduced me to my first computer when I was 6 or 7 years old. Computer games instantly became an addiction
to me, and along side my younger brother we beat game after game. A definite favorite at the time was “Marble Madness”. Our computer got
upgraded to an AMIGA 500 and this is when I got introduced to a simple program called “Disney Animation”. It was a cell based program
that allowed me to animate sequences by putting one drawing after an other. All though the animations were somewhat crude, I was proud
of them. Everything was drawn with the help of a roller-ball mouse. I was also a big fan of comic books,- especially “Asterix” and “Tin
Tin”. Games, comic books and movies such as “The Labyrinth” became my inspiration and when people would ask me what I wanted to be when
I grew up, my answer would be “a Disney animator”.
Who or what are some of your influences? Why?
I become inspired and influenced by all sorts of things. Movies, fashion magazines, books, conversations, situations, surroundings,
friends, animals, pictures, other artist’s work etc. I love fantasy art books, especially Brian Froud’s books of faeries and goblins.
Since childhood I loved the movies “The Labyrinth” and “Dark Crystal”, so any time I want to create a character in that genre, I will
look through all my Froud books and grab stills from fantasy movies. Alan Lee is also a favorite.
What process do you follow in creation of your artwork?
I look for references in books, movies, magazines, internet etc. Then I start doodling to better understand what I want and where I want
to go with my image. Often I’ll make a Zbrush sketch to start with and draw on top of it in Photoshop. When I have a design I like I’ll
start blocking out the mesh in either Max or Maya. I use Zbrush for details and also to re-topologize the mesh, if needed. UVs are done
in MAX or with Unfold3D. When I am satisfied with the model I’ll set up a simple 3-point light to see how the model looks in a lit
environment. I’ll block out the shaders and spend a long time searching for textures on the internet. I use Photoshop and Body Paint for
texturing, and I usually go between the programs many times before I have something I like. Zbrush Applink is also very useful for
texturing. Then of course there is all the tweaking of the shaders, light and textures which can be time consuming.
How much time does it typically take you to complete a scene?
It depends on how busy I am, but I have completed scenes in a week, and others in 4 weeks. So, 1 to 4 weeks:-)
What are your goals for the future?
I want to constantly grow as an artist, and in this industry there are always new things to be learned.
Do you have any advice for other CG Artists out there?
For the new artists out there I think a passionate mind and strong will keep the good work coming.