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Interview with Lukas Walzer


Interview with Lukas Walzer from  Edge Loop Magazine Issue #2

My name is Lukas Walzer, and I am a Lead 3D Artist at Animationsfabrik in Hamburg. I also live near Hamburg. My job is mostly - besides general 3D artist work - look development for new projects and pitches, supervising lighting and researching new techniques.

I think I first came in contact with character art, when I participated in the Weekly CG Challenge (now CG Boost Challenge), where I had to tell stories to create an appealing artwork. And storytelling is impossible without characters. Even rooms or landscapes must become characters - in a way - to tell stories of their own.

My latest project was a game character fan art of Suki from the beloved series "Avatar - The Last Airbender". I really took all the time I needed to do proper research on possible costume ideas, drawing inspiration from classical Japanese samurai armor as well as contemporary fashion, since my goal was to fuse masculine and feminine elements in the design.

Then I did some iterations on possible combinations. When my favorite was found, I started blocking out everything with simple shapes that I would then refine further by detailing or sculpting over them. That way I slowly created the highpoly model.

The lowpoly model was a bit tricky, since I had to balance my polycount with the goal to cover every visible surface. It is obvious that some compromises had to be made. The hair was done with the Hair Tool Add-on for Blender. Texturing was then done in Substance Painter. Finding the right colors was a long process.

I relied on the help of my friend Vivien Lulkowski, who is an awesome illustrator and character designer, to finally get everything right. Then I did a very very basic rig on the model that I just used for posing and then adjusted the model so there would be no intersections or stretching visible in the rendering. I set up some lights in Eevee and generated some quick renderings.

I actually was surprised how well it turned out in Eevee.
 I think, my dream would be the ability to work on, or even create a major non-children animated feature here in Germany. I have no real ambition to work at the big studios.

In Germany, animation is still almost exclusively reserved for children, to the extent that parents are absolutely shocked when they go the cinema to see an animated movie that clearly states it is not meant for children. It just won't settle in their heads, that animation is an art form beyond any restrictions of age or whatsoever.

We have many absolutely awesome storytellers here, and I think my dream project would be an animated adaptation of Walter Moers' Masterpiece "The City of Dreaming Books".

For personal projects, I use - apart from Blender - Photoshop and Substance Painter, while at work we also use Blackmagic Fusion for Compositing. Recently I started playing with VR tools like Gravity Sketch and I hope to incorporate this into my workflow soon.

I use a LOT of add-ons! I think the most essential ones are the pre-installed Loop Tools and Bool Tools. I really can't live without them. From the paid section I love the awesome Quadremesher add-on that makes retopo almost obsolete for certain models, and the UV packmaster addon, without which my Suki project would not have been possible.

I have a lot of interests, and I think for every kind of art form there are some certain role models that come to one's mind. For example in 3D illustration I adore the colors and complex scenes of Cornelius Dämmrich, for archviz it would be Alex Roman, of course, for character design Mikhail Rakhmatullin, Tomas Barcelo, Brian Sum, Julian Holm, for environments Ivan Tantsiura, for colors Alexander Mandradjiev, Eve Ventrue, Nikolai Lockertsen, Jakub Rebelka and many many others.

Be curious and willing to do experiments. There are a lot of people who think there is ONE way to become a good artist, and they go the straight lane of learning all the basics and best practices that come tailored for the beginner.

These things may be important, but for me, the joy and purpose of our profession lies in the exploration of new paths, of thinking over and over again: OK, what OTHER ways are there to do this thing? Tools tend to shape the outcome, never forget that. Always stay in charge of the creative result, and when obstacles occur that seem impossible to be taken, improvise and fake and cheat as much as you can. ;-)

About the Author


Father, Artist, Teacher, Writer. I've been using Blender since 2.59. Blender is my obsession, or passion, whichever. I use it to make games, illustrate book, animation, and teach. Blender changed my life and has given me all sorts of opportunities I would never have otherwise had.


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