|As Moderator of Renderosity's SOFTIMAGE XSI forum, I am very excited to present our first XSI user interview, with the very talented Kolby Jukes [kolby_jukes]. I'm personally a huge fan of Kolby’s work, and his modeling videos have changed the way I model forever. |
So, let's just get right to it, shall we?
How did you get started in 3D Graphics and how long have you been using XSI?
I first started getting into 3D when I was about thirteen. My cousin was a musician at a game company in Vancouver. I went to visit the studio and was totally hooked. I didn't really learn 3D at that point in my life, I was just aware of it. I then started going to 3D forums and reading 3D magazines — but that's about as far as it went — I didn't really have any practical knowledge.
Fast-forward five years — taking film production at the university. I had taken a bunch of classes and started shooting my own “shorts,” when I began to realize that almost all my ideas required SFX in some form. So I began working with After Effects, Lightwave, and Poser. Two months later, I knew that the FX interested me more than filmmaking itself, so I left the university and enrolled in Vancouver Film School [VFS] — I had seen some of the crazy reels on CGtalk. It was at VFS I got my first real taste of modeling, and 3D in general. I began using XSI my first day, so I guess I've been working with 3D/XSI for 2.5 years now — 1.5 years professionally.
Your time lapse modeling videos are some of the most sought after on the net by those just starting out. Do you have any formal training? What's your preferred method of modeling?
My formal training is, as I mentioned earlier, VFS. When I was at VFS I was using the box-modeling method. Some time after graduation I start exploring/developing my own techniques, and finally settled upon edge-extrusion (poly-by-poly). I know there are a lot of other modelers who employ this technique.
Now-a-days I do most of my organic character modeling in ZBrush, creating only very basic meshes in XSI. However, when I do things like accessories or weapons I poly-model all that in XSI. I still love poly-modeling, but due to production time constraints and required levels of detail for normal mapping, ZBrush is definitely the way to go.
© Kolby Jukes
You're currently employed at Raven Software, a game company I grew up with. How is it working at Raven, and can you tell us a little about your favorite project with them? Do they use XSI where you work?
Raven is a great company to work for — a very talented bunch of developers. I'm working on the next generation Wolfenstein sequel. I can't really go into any detail about the project due to Non-Disclosure Agreements. However, I am the lead character modeler on the project. When I arrived there, Raven had already purchased several XSI licenses, so that's what I used, but most people use Max/Maya (depending on the project).
You also use ZBrush in both your professional and personal work — do you find it a good companion to XSI? What are your likes and dislikes when using the two together?
Yes, ZBrush is an essential part of my modeling pipeline. ZBrush and XSI work well together. I was very happy to see the addition of the ZBrush importing features in XSI 5, as well the ultimapper and the gigapolyon core — all really useful features for working on games with ZBrush. As for improvements, I would like to see faster/more stable Displacement with MR.
I notice a lot of your personal work seems to be ... Hellboy ... [laughter], no just kidding. Seriously though, where does your inspiration come from when developing personal projects?
Superhero and comic book characters are a total obsession of mine — I don't think I'll ever tire of modeling them. Comics have always been a big influence on both my personal and professional work, in fact I've been a total comic geek since I was ... like five. My biggest influences in the comic world are Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, Frank Miller, Alex Ross, Lee Bermejo, and John Cassaday. Outside of comics, I'm a huge movie buff — I'm always watching movies while I work.
© Kolby Jukes
The Tweak Forum, you've created on your homepage, is growing fast and mostly with extremely skilled artists from the industry. What made you decide to start the forum and what's your vision for its future?
Yeah, Tweak has grown much bigger than I expected, I always figured it would just be me, and a few of my friends, in there. I'm really pleased how the forum has grown, and with the quality of work being presented.
I use to help run a modeling forum called ChemicalDust with my friend Tim Lyttle (Levitateme). It was a private, invitation-only forum, very serious and focused. I've even heard it described as Spiraloid on Crack.
Anyway, ChemicalDust started to decline, and I had grown tired of posting WIP images on CGtalk, so I decided to start my own modeling forum. As for its future, in the coming months I'm going to transfer it to its own domain. Beyond that, I'm hoping it will continue to grow and that we'll continue to see the same level of quality work.
© Kolby Jukes
Speaking of predictions for the future, where do you see the film and game industry going in the next 5 years?
I don't know that I'm qualified to speak on the future of the Film Industry. I imagine we'll continue to see much of the same stuff we've seen over the past decade, only with higher budgets and even better FX.
As for Games, it's hard to say, I think most studios are still trying to acclimatize themselves to demands of next-generation game development. Everyone seems to be speculating that next-generation development; equal bigger crews, equal higher costs, equal more risks, equal less innovation. I sincerely hope this isn't the reality of the situation. Games like Shadow of the Colossus and Resident Evil 4, give me hope for the next generation of games.
© Kolby Jukes
We're going to wrap it up here — one last question before we go. Is there any advice from your personal experience that you'd be willing to give to someone starting out in 3D or looking to break into the Game Industry?
I know it sounds cliché and obvious to say this, but, in my opinion, the most important thing to do if you want to break into the industry, is practice. The more you practice, the better you will get.
Beyond that, networking is very important, try to meet other 3D artists and Industry-hopefuls, this will be invaluable when trying to find work. Also, visit forums like CGtalk, 3DTotal, Renderosity, Polycount, heck even check out TWEAK — talk to other artists, show off your work — get to know people! Lastly, see if there's a SIGGRAPH chapter or XSI user group in your area and attend the meetings.
Again, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us!
To learn more about Kolby and view his artwork, we invite you to visit:
and cannot be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the artist
A special "thank you" to
contributing columnist, artist, Teyon [Teyon Alexander],
for taking time out of his busy schedule
as Renderosity’s Comics Corner, 3D Modeling,
and SoftImage XSI Moderator.
We invite you to view Teyon's Gallery
January 30, 2005