Pedro Conti is a well-known 3D artist, and actually it’s a very special day for me. I am delighted to talk to him, I love his work.
I’m following his works for years. So it’s a great honor that he gave me some time to answer to my questions and talk about his journey as a digital artist. Thanks again Pedro! Love you work!
Currently, Pedro Conti is working as a freelance 3D artist and supervisor, and is also an international speaker at various events around the world (thanks to his bio). Therefore, he has a strong portfolio with nice references (like Disney for the movie Moana), and is a well-known 3D artist is the 3D community for his skills and his great artworks. I like his works because it combines three things: a cartoon appearance, his characters really seem to be alive, and they are fun to watch!
But I said too much: let’s talk to Pedro now!
Pedro Conti – Digital portrait of a 3D artist
Hello Pedro Conti. Can you please describe yourself to the readers?
Hello! My name is Pedro Conti, and I’m currently a freelance 3D artist, working mostly for projects in pre-production. I’m very generalist and I do work in most steps of the process, from design to modeling, texturing, lighting, comp, to directing and supervising projects.
I started using 3D back in 2005 and professionally in 2006. At the time, I was in a Graphic Design College. I was in love with 3D and all the possibilities around this art. Concretely, it was taking over all my free time. In early 2007, I had the opportunity to work in a big studio in Brazil called Seagulls Fly. It has lead me to leave university in the 1st year and focus on my 3d artist career. It was definitely a hard decision but after all these years, I consider I’ve made the right decision.
After working 2 years for this studio, I joined a very small studio called Techno image in which I became partner a year later. I stayed there for 6 to 7 years. We had the opportunity to help to transform the studio into an animation studio. As a result, I directed and supervised a bunch of commercials. But you know, producing animations is not an easy task. I found out that I had to leave and learn from those who were doing it for a long time. I ended up going to the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank – CA.
I worked on Moana as Look development artist. And nowadays, I’m freelancing for studios such as Dreamworks TV, Aardman Nathan Love, Shed MTL, Hornet Inc, Squeeze studios and more.
I’m very very happy to have you here! The first project I saw from you some time ago was “One More Beer”. Can you tell me where this idea came from ? And more about this project?
One more Beer was my first personal animation project. It was done back in 2012 with my Buddy Alan Camilo. I always had the dream to work on animation feature films, but the Brazilian market is very small when it comes to making movies.
Moving abroad is not an easy task also due the visa, so I decided to do the best short film I could do with the tools and the skills I had. I wanted to do something very small but get it done.
I had this idea of a viking character ordering a very girly drink. For that, I worked on an illustration first, in which I could do all the assets creations as well as lighting, and get things ready for an eventual animation. My friend Alan Camilo got excited with it and decided to animate it. He gave a love of inputs when it came to the storytelling.
Even though it was a very short short film, we had to tell things in a funny way. It took us around 1.5 years to complete it in our free time, and it was rendered locally on a computer.
We had no ambition with the project. But it ended up getting quite a lot of exposure, which lead me to the amazing opportunity of direct/supervise commercials and work for international clients.
” I heard about this software called Maya
which was used to make a movie called Shrek “
Let’s talk about your last project I saw on Behance : Villain. A really cool badass guy. Can you tell us more about this guy? What did you do in this project? Are there any projects involving this guy in the future?
I started this character years ago with my friend Fernando Peque. We wanted to do a crash course showing the process of designing a character and going through all the aspects of 3D making.
Life got busy, I ended up moving abroad, as well as Fernando so we shelved the project. I recently had a baby and I took a time off to help out my wife in the first month. While the baby was taking a nap during the day, I managed to move forward with this big dude.
This project was very collaborative with Fernando. We had the idea together like brainstorming, then Fernando did a first take on the design in which we worked together to get where it is now. I was responsible for all the 3D aspects of it as well as doing creative inputs on the character side.
We have no plans to move forward with the character but we are super excited to keep collaborating. We have a few short film ideas and we plan also to move forward with the crash course. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will give news about it.
Now, I would like to know more about you. Where comes from this appetite for cartoon and 3D characters?
I always loved watching cartoons as a kid. During the high school, I figured out it could be a profession.
I had 2 good friends that were very good at drawing stylized characters. I was not very good but I got excited with the stuff they were doing at the time. So I consider them my first main influence to do what I do today. That was the reason I joined the graphic design university.
In the first months in there, I heard about this software called Maya which was used to make a movie called Shrek. It blew my mind that I could do the same thing they were doing in Hollywood in my own home.
So I started 3D with this will of doing characters for cartoons. During the years I started to know more artists and be influenced by others styles which I figure out my main taste is stylized characters with realistic render. Tiago Hoisel, Lucas Leibholz, Mindbender Animation Studios and Cory Loftis impacted a lot to do what I do nowadays.
” (…) with 3D art, we can create something that was never created before,
if we consider all the possibilities that the future is showing us with VR “
What do you like the most in 3D projects?
I love the the fact we can cry and laugh while watching characters that are just a bunch of vertex floating in the 3D space. This is what keeps me motived about 3D art. I want to get in depth on those aspects and really try to do a character that people can believe is real.
Technology is also super exciting because with 3D art, we can create something that was never created before, if we consider all the possibilities that the future is showing us with VR.
What softwares do you use and why?
My main softwares are 3DS max and ZBrush for character creation.
3DS max is the first software I learned and I rely a lot on it. The entertainment industry is moving a lot towards Maya. In the last 2 years, I’m putting a lot of energy to learn it. I’m feeling very comfortable with it for all the process of texturing, rendering and lighting.
I still rely a lot on 3DS max and ZBrush for the modeling process. I also use a little bit of Substance Painter for that part.
For my rendering process, as a freelance 3d artist, I have to be able to work in any company’s pipeline. So I use VRay, Arnold, Redshift, Corona and Maxwell render.
The rendering engines are very good nowadays, so it’s matter of personal preference.
I finally use Ornatrix and XGen for grooming, which are the most used out there.
Do you have any pro advices you could give to artists who wants to become character artists ?
I would say that doing stylized character is, for most of the time, about your own choices and decision.
Sometimes keep it simple is the best choice, and learning a lot about design in general is a smart decision.
No matter if it’s a car design, architecture, product design, you can bring all those influences to your character creation.
Taking the time to draw more and see your work in a more abstract way can help you a lot too. That’s what I’ve been focusing on more and more nowadays. Drawing and design concepts overall.
Where do you find your inspiration ? Are there any great artists that you follow ?
I’ve been trying to find more and more inspirations from life experiences rather than through someone’s art.
I still have a huge influence from other artists, but my goal is to try to stick to my own perception about things, which is hard sometimes. Trying to get more inspiration from life moments like traveling, walking with the dog, listening to music, living the life with my family, observing people’s life style/personality, animals behavior and stuff like that. I will share some artists I really love in different fields: Fernando Peque, Carter Goodrich, Frederik Storm, Max Grecke, Olov Burman, graffiti artists Speto and Os Gemeos. Musicians: Derek trucks, John Mayer and BB King. Music has a huge influence on me, and I found it very inspiring for me.
Would you mind giving to the readers some books/tutorials/videos and any material that helped you in your career, anything from anatomy to art fundamentals, color theory, art direction, digital sculpture etc… ?
I think one of the most important things that have been helping me a lot to improve my skill as an artist is to go back for the principles of design, drawing, photography and cinematography.
We, as 3D artists, tend to focus in the technical side. But by the end of the day, those broad decisions will make a bigger difference in your pieces.
I’ve put a little challenge for myself which is to make live model drawings everyday before I start to work. There’s a bunch of websites where you can set the time you want to draw, and it will automatically update a new picture.
I also watch Aaron Blaise classes which focus in the fundamentals of drawing and I’m loving it. Design as whole is also a big thing that expanded my mind in the last years. I could understand how to apply gesture to my works and have tools that will ground my work, when sometimes we are not in the best creative moment.
Is there anything you would like to add to this interview ?
I’m really glad with this opportunity and I hope you to have contributed somehow. 😀
Thanks for your time again Pedro Conti and this great interview ! 🙂
You can find the works of Pedro Conti on :
And as always, if you are a digital artist with cool content, and want to discuss about it, please send me an email (top right icon)