Ian Spriggs is a 3D character artist based in Vancouver, Canada. His portfolio offers an amazing variety of hyper-realistic portraits of the highest quality.
My work previously was mostly digital doubles for films, they were done in T pose, and I felt they lacked that emotion and always had that drive to push them further.
I first challenged myself with my Self Portrait to see if this was something I could accomplish, to tackle the uncanny valley and create that connection.
I will always do a portrait of someone I know as I think it is important to know understand someone on a deeper level so that you can express them better. Now that I have done a few portraits, I am realizing how much more there is to learn and how much more I can do to express my subjects. – Ian Spriggs – *
1. What is your source of inspiration for your work?
A lot of my inspiration comes from the masters of art, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Van Dyck. The highlight of art for me was the baroque period, these painting still speak to us today, the people in these paintings you can relate to as if they lived yesterday, you can feel emotion and life in these paintings as if it were your own.
2. What kind of technology, technical or software do you use?
The programs I use are Maya, Mudbox, Photoshop, and V-Ray. I block out the shapes and forms in Maya then take the mesh to Mudbox to sculpt the likeness. I will then paint the textures in Mudbox and use Photoshop to color correct them. After that is all done I will bring it all back to Maya to start to light it with V-Ray. The whole process takes 2-3 months. No scans are used for my portraits.
3. Why can your work be a source of inspiration for others?
I think we live in one of the most exciting times when it comes to technology, the digital humanities are new to our generation. In all of history we have always aimed to represent the human form, and now we get to be able to do this with new tools never been used before. I hope my work can be inspiring for others because I am mixing old and new together creating a new form of portraiture.
4. Do you know all of your subjects… and do all of your sculpts stem from actual photos of them? If so, do you take these photos yourself? And what does the process for this typically look like? *
My portraits are not photographs but I do use photographs as reference, I will always do a photo shoot of my subjects… Usually, I will take 100-150 images to help me model and texture. I set up a small stage where I will shoot them, play with different lighting, different poses, different expressions. Once I have these photos, I will composite some together, getting ahead from one or an arm from another, change the values and composition to get a rough idea of what I want my portrait to look like. I will also get photos of every angle of the subject. Then I will start to model, first by posing a rigged base mesh in the pose I liked and then using each angle of the photo to help sculpt.
Sometimes it gets confusing as each photo might have different expressions, but that’s where my artistic side and understanding of anatomy comes in. I think it is pretty important to have the photo reference when I am creating a likeness, once in a while I will make a face which I think looks nice but it isn’t a representation of the subject so I have to redo it. I think creating a digital character and creating a portrait are two very different things. When creating a portrait I have to make sure that I am not putting too much of myself into it, it still needs to be true to the subject, it is a fine balance which I struggle with.
5. Talk to us a little bit about your process for sculpting details. The hair, wrinkles and particularly the eyes are selling points of your work’s realism and we’d love to know more about what you are using/doing to create these components. *
To be honest, I am not sure what I do. I just look at it for hours and hours. I go to bed thinking about it, wake up thinking about it.
The time I’m making a portrait, I am almost a little obsessive about it. I can spend entire weeks just focusing on the eyelids or nose or the wrinkle on the forehead, sometimes I get lucky and it looks right the first time around.
Other times it is just a trial and error until it looks right. It is almost like doing a hundred portraits per portrait if you include the all the mistakes.
I just keep doing it until it looks right, which is nice about personal work there is no time limit. When working on the details I develop one spot which looks decent but then sometimes that spot might not work with other aspects of the image.
I have to make sure that the whole image balances out. I think a good technique is to try to work on it as a whole and bring out the details out altogether.
Some of the things I think about when doing details are: variation in hair strands, thickness of eyelashes, thickness of eyelids, fat compared to muscle, how the cloth lays on top of the body, thickness of the cloth, size of the pupils, size of pores (xyz maps are really useful for skin details), depth of wrinkles, gravity on the body, how the hair blends on the hairlines, I guess this list just goes on…
*Extrait from an interview conducted by Anna Cicone for CG Society