Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Joel Dos Reis Viegas, born in Paris 30 years ago. I used to be a 3D animator before I became a senior concept artist for videogames. I left France 4 years ago to live in Canada where videogame industry is growing faster.
I worked on big titles these 10 last years, such as Top Spin (xbox), Naruto: Rise of a Ninja (xbox360), James Cameron`s Avatar (PS3, Xbox) and the upcoming Thief 4.
Can you tell us how you first became interested in pursuing a career in art?
As far I remember I always wanted to draw. My mom told me when I was 4 years old I often woke up in the middle of the night because of nightmares, and silently I would start to draw my fears on paper. As a teenager, I had a passion for comic books and manga, especially the motion in it, manga uses a lot of tricks to express energy and emotions like speed lines, deformations (SD), huge fonts or unbelievable facial expressions. Naturally I turned from manga to anime, which is very popular in France, and it was a revelation to me. Drawings were more dynamic and alive when in motion with sound, then I knew that was the thing I had to do, and I started to work in animation studios.
How did you find your way into Les Gobelins High School? Can you tell us about your educational experience?
Certainly one of the best experience in my life. To be accepted at Les Gobelins is something unique for anyone who wants to be an talented artist, known as one of the best animation school in the world. I always remember the day I read my name written on the paper at the entrance of the main school door. Through Les Gobelins I met wonderful artists and teachers, it allowed me to give life to my drawings, to see them moving and creating emotions is an incredible feeling.
Do you have a preference for any particular software?
Mostly Photoshop cause it is the software I started with 10 years ago, and I already have all my habits. Photoshop is pretty flexible and powerful, but nowadays I use it in combination to others softwares. Its very complete in term of functionalities, workspaces and the custom brushes. I also use Painter for the huge panel of brushes, rendering and action scripts. Artrage for its simplicity and the color blending and Alchemy cause it allows me to break my habits by creating brand new original shapes.
What kind of 3D software do you use? How do you integrate the 3d work into your concepts?
I use 3DS max and recently Mudbox. I don`t use 3D that much for my personal work on characters, but more for environments. Nicolas Ferrand has shown me a lot of tricks, to render different layers of HDR, reflection and diffuse separated with alpha channel, and then it`s a compositing job with masks in photoshop to play with materials and shaders. Modo seems to be an excellent software too. Its capable of generating incredible results. Sebastien Larroude and I have some ideas to create new kinds of images with Modo.
“Through Les Gobelins I met wonderful artists and teachers, it allowed me to give life to my drawings, to see them moving and creating emotions is an incredible feeling. ”
What was your first job after finishing art school?
I directly worked in an Animation studio in Paris called Alphanim, I used to be an in-between animator and storyboarder. I was working on various TV series for kids. That helped me learn a lot about drawing skills and discipline.