Interview With Marc Brunet, Senior Character Artist at Blizzard Entertainment

March 10, 2014 11:15 pm

Tags: 3D, Adobe, Autodesk, Blizzard Entertainment, Game Development, Games, Maya, Photoshop, Pixologic, ZBrush

Can you tell us something about yourself, current job, artistic background and how you got into this artistic branch?

Before anything, I want to take a second to thank you for the interest you show in my art and art channel, I'm super honored!

Like most of the artists I work with, I've always been drawn to drawing and painting. It's almost as if I never grew up and just kept doing what I loved so much as a kid. I had a vague idea, at best, of the possible ways I could turn my passion into a career growing up, but one thing I knew for sure was that there was no other field of work I could see myself fit into. It was all or nothing. 

I just had the feeling that if I tried to make art at the same quality as the artists working in those big companies, I could eventually take their jobs. Combining this with a desire to get as much exposure as possible on the internet, I think is what made things happen for me. Fast forward a couple years ahead and I was getting my first gig at a game company in Montreal, Canada, my hometown. Soon to follow was my current position as a senior character artist at Blizzard Entertainment here in Irvine, California.


Marc Brunet, Senior Character Artist at Blizzard Entertainment


What was that first job in a games company you mentioned, and what’s your current position at Blizzard?

My first gig in the industry was at what is now called Behaviour Interactive, a studio located in Montreal. I was on a very small team whose goal was to create next-gen game prototypes. We were basically working on game pitches after game pitches, trying to push the engine we were developing from scratch at the same time. There was only a handful of us so at that time I was a hybrid doing concepts and 3D models, whatever was needed.

Currently, I'm a 3D character artist on the Starcraft II and Heroes of the Storm development team. I get to do concepts once in a while, but the job is primarily 3D.



Which are usually your tools of the trade, and why?

I use the same tools both at work and at home, and those consist of a Wacom Cintiq 21UX on the hardware side and Photoshop, Maya, ZBrush, and a bunch of other less important 3D programs on the software side. I've used less expensive Wacom tablets in the past, but the Cintiqs are just way more fun to work on, if nothing else. Program-wise, I simply use the most commonly used in the business, there is no going around Photoshop for sure, and as for Maya, I've just been using it for so long that I could never make the switch to 3ds Max, the main alternative. Old habits die hard!

I know you are a self-taught artist, but I was wondering if you had pursued any formal education at some point, or did you jump straight into the professional field?

There was one and a half year of college that I spent studying 3D animation. It was the closest course to 3D video game art I could find in my hometown at the time, so I went for it. At that time, I was really into 3D modeling and I was able to learn Maya pretty quickly thanks to that course. When I received the first job offer though, it was after they had seen my personal work online so it was initially for a 2D position; nothing to do with what I was studying in my animation classes.



What is usually your workflow when starting a new project, from initial concept (such as defining a style, an overall look, etc.) to the finished piece?

I'm sure everybody has had a song stuck in their head at some point, and for me the process always starts like this. In the same way, I'll have this image in my head and it'll keep coming back until I paint it. This is usually how most of my paintings start, it's a way to actually "get that image out of my head." I wish I found a solution for the catchy songs too...

That initial idea is always pretty limited, though, after I have the rough blockout on canvas, I start to create the background story for it and it helps me come up with pretty much everything else. First on the list is the color palette, then the lighting for the scene, which is then followed with the final composition based on the initial idea. At that point if you squinted, you would get a very good representation of the final image. 

The final steps are always the longest and the least impactful, but they consist of rendering all the materials, cleaning up all the messy brushstrokes and doing the final color correction to get the desired result. The style always kind of just "happens" if I follow those steps; I never really actively think about it.

When working on your own projects, do you have any specific visual style that inspires you the most, like sci-fi or medieval, and why?

Sci-fi is definitely my biggest crush. I've always loved robots growing up and I think the contrasting mix between organic parts and very designed and logical mechanical pieces is what drives me to it constantly. It has a very difficult aspect to it in the sense that you have to think a little more to make sure the parts could somehow work together in real life. Most of the design elements are constantly taken from existing machines, so people have something to compare it to, just like anatomy: one misplaced muscle and people will instantly notice.  It takes a little bit more studying, in my opinion, but this is the part I like. With fantasy art, anything can be explained with magic! 



If you meet someone who's obviously talented enough, but lacks the "courage" to pursue a professional career as a character artist, how would you encourage that person?

That's an interesting question... On the 3D side of things, I don't think that would ever happen because of the sheer amount of technical skills you need to acquire to just get you running up to date. It would be very strange to have the courage to do all that, but chicken out at the finishing line. 

I could see this happening for concept art, though, and I think the best way to go about it is to get as much exposure as you can on the internet and see what happens. It doesn't stop you from doing anything else meanwhile, and if you're really good at it, the jobs will actually come to you once you get enough eyes on your work. 

To be honest, I didn't have the courage either when I was offered a job back when I was 19 year old. I practiced doing what I liked to do, put it up for the whole world to see and the opportunities came to me. It didn't require any courage on my part!

Are there any words you would like to tell to our readers?

Thank you so much for having me and I hope I was able to share my passion for art with some of you. If you have a similar dream as I had back then, then I urge you go for it at a 110%. Life is too short to have regrets, grab that pencil and get to work!

We invite you to check out Marc's incredible tutorial channel, MB Workshops, on YouTube:

MB Workshops is a YouTube channel where I provide weekly art tutorials and share my experiences working as a professional artist. Teaching is a passion of mine and I’ve found that using this platform could help me reach and potentially help many people who don’t necessarily have the money or the help to get started on the right path. It feels incredibly rewarding and I hope you check It out!

MB Workshops Digital Art Tutorials

All supporting images are copyright and used by permission of Marc Brunet
Images cannot be copied or printed without permission.

Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.




March 10, 2014

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