Sebastien Hue is a french digital artist, based in Paris, specialized in digital paintings and environment art for worldwide clients.
He is well known for his very impressive futuristic artworks, where massive spacecrafts are magnified thanks to his meticulous work on lights and details.
Sebastien Hue invites us into his world, somewhere else in the universe, where our eyes like to get lost. He will tell us more about his taste for science fiction, his education, how he uses 3D in his 2D workflow, his strategy to get new clients, why he loves so much Sci-Fi, and… a lot of other great advices!
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Sebastien Hue – Digital portrait of a freelance environment artist
Hello Sebastien. Can you describe yourself for the readers?
Hi. My name is Sebastien Hue. I’m a French digital artist from Paris area.
Self-taught, I started around 10 years ago when inspired by the likes of Dylan Cole and other famous matte painters.
Initially, I started out with Photoshop. But, as I put aside my drawing skills for a while, I decided to learn 3D modeling as well to help me build objects or things I could not paint. I felt that environment was more my kind of thing. My passion for Science Fiction fuelled my inspiration and imagination.
Formerly Community Volunteer for DeviantArt Sci-Fi gallery and Staff-admin for the International Collective The Luminarium, I became officially professional freelance CG artist in 2014, and works worldwide since then for publishing, game companies, and goes more and more into VFX and film industry.
I see your works over the web for quite some times now, all acclaimed by critics and professionals. Is notoriety something important to you?
Oh thank you so much, but not sure I have that much notoriety. At least, my last name rings a bell to any Photoshop users (laugh).
What I feel is more and more enthousiasm around my art and as an artist, it is really important to get good vibes and love from the community. Especially from more established and experienced artists.
When I contacted you for the first time few days ago, you told me that you’re not strictly speaking a 3D artist, or would I say, 3D isn’t the core of your technic and art, am I right? Could you explain to us why you chose digital painting as your first medium? And do you think 3D technics can get bigger in your next projects?
In fact, 3D has always been by my side when learning digital art. Though I never wanted to spend hours and hours understanding complex 3D programs, and endless rendering. I learnt 3D by myself, so it was pretty limited. But it helped me to understand many foundations to serve my 2D art.
I truly prefer the flexibility of 2D and try to use the precision of 3D and its tools (light and shadow, perspective, camera exploration) to speed up or block out the basics of my scene for my 2D. In a pipeline, I try to spend no less than 20-30% of the time on the 3D and 70-80% on the 2D aspect.
This ratio evolves with new tools like Octane Render which is a fantastic program and super cinematic for my taste.
Now, let’s talk about your projects! I can see a strong dominance for themes related to space and spacecraft. Where did you get this style from?
When I started, it was the big creative period of space artists and space art. I literally felt in love with this style, which allowed you to be pretty creative while technically learning photoshop. Sometimes you know what you want to do and love to do, but you just don’t know how to technically do it.
This period revealed the SciFi addict I was when I was a kid when I discovered the first Star Wars trilogy and the super old series like Buck Rogers, Star Trek etc…
Space has always been so fascinating to me that it naturally came up in my art expression too.
” It is really important to have a personal project
as it is supposed to be the essence of your art somehow “
Can you tell us about some achievements you are particularly proud of? And why?
I think it would probably be Terminal 13. I did it,in the beginning of 2012, after four years of practicing Photoshop and 3DSMax. It took me a month to finish while following some very complex tutorials on Vue 9 with procedural terrains and nodes.
This artwork helped me getting noticed by 3D magazines and I was featured on CGSociety, which was so rewarding for me. I was expecting to be selected into the prestigious Ballistic Exposé book. But unfortunately, it did not make it in the final stage. I was so disappointed but that kind of failure or disappointment totally boosted my will to work even more and produce more solid work of that caliber.
Your T-13S personal project is a big visual slap. The camera angles, the lights and the contrasts are stunning, and each image is truly unique. How come those ideas? How do you manage to always renew yourself?
Thanks Nicolas. It is really important to have a personal project as it is supposed to be the essence of your art somehow. What you love the most doing and good at.
In the beginning, it started essentially to catch the attention of professionals with something less random but more focused on a back story, something solid to show and eventually sell, because in the back of my head I was fancying changing my professional situation.
By showcasing my art this way (with some sort of personal IP – Intellectual Property), it would amplify the visual impact more with a series of artworks. It evolved quite a great deal and most of the time I just do personal art and see if it can fit with this personal project.
Sometimes I have the theme or image I want for the project and just do it. Ideas come from other inspirations, artists, or by just browsing for stocks. I get one which could be cool to develop for my project.
” Don’t showcase art you don’t like to do “
On your Behance account, in addition to space, we can also see works about Dunkirk movie, or digital paintings on more bucolic themes. Is it important for you not to lock yourself into a defined style?
Yes, this is really important to get out of your confort zone and not just do the same thing all the time. I love exploring new things, technically and artistically.
What is really important in my professional career is variation, and that’s what I like the most in freelancing. The variety of the projects that could pop from illustration, to photoshop retouching tasks, matte painting and concept art. All that multiplied by the variety of themes you can be hired for (fantasy, scifi, cyberpunk or just contemporary themes) makes my job a new adventure each time.
This last year, I have been working more and more into VFX and Film industry. And I know the Industry wants to see in your folio your capacity to produce various things, and do almost anything because themselves have a huge variety of film projects. So, they won’t take the risk to hire you for a task they can’t witness and judge in your art.
At some point, you do art for yourself but as a professional, you do art also to pay your bills, and then you have to maximize your chance to catch the good client with a large spectrum of skills 2D-3D, but also in term of style, themes etc… So you need to show them what they want to see from you. The most important thing is to show what you want to be hired for.
Don’t showcase art you don’t like to do, my advise.
I saw on your project Adobelive 3 some WIPs followed by completed projects. Do you always start your works by blocking out your masses in black and white?
I tend to do that indeed but it is really not systematic.
Sometimes I just go straight into an artwork because I have an inspiring plate to work on. It really depends on the inspiration and what I have in mind. If I have the image and concept in my head I would do a sketch first in my sketchbook to not forget it. If I’m lacking inspiration, just browsing my stocks can pull the trigger in a new concept.
I love 3D for this too. You make a procedural terrain, put just a few shapes, play with the camera and here you go. What matters maybe is the ability to go beyond what you actually see with a bit of imagination.
Can you tell us more about your clients and which projects you mostly work on? in which areas?
My clients are mainly from the US, Canada and the UK. I have very few clients from France for no particular reason. Working remotely is not totally rooted in french’s morals.
My biggest clients were mostly in the publishing industry like HarperCollins, or Hachette Group for book covers. I worked for games on the marketing side but what I like the most is game trailer because there is the cinematic and film side.
The last couple of years have been much more focused on the Film Industry with concept art and keyart for pitch movie and film pre-production.
I’m working on a movie right now which is so much fun. Another project I loved working on was for a French music band called Indochine and the studio Cutback which did all the animation and motion design for their live show Tour this year. It was an incredible experience and something different from my usual stuff.
” It’s really important to take few minutes
and observe how lights and shadows are working together “
Do you have artists that you admire and who inspired you?
Of course, I have so many. But probably my top five ones – or at least those who made me want to do this job (chronologically) – would be:
- Dylan Cole
- Yannik Dusseault (Matte painting-Concept art)
- Jaime Jasso
- Stefan Morrell, a fantastic 3D artist
- Andrée Wallin, with who I took a class at conceptartworkshop.com. His class really changed a lot of things in my art
- Raphael Lacoste
- Martin Deschambault
- and to finish with one of the biggest smack in my face: John Wallin Liberto
- oh I forgot Sparth as well
To make it short: really Sci-fi inspired, I know, too hard just to pick 5 ha ha!
To those who would love to create works like yours, what advice could you give them?
Good question. I would say light understanding… I think the lighting in an artwork is really key. Light implies so many things, shadows of course, but atmosphere too and composition. How materials react to the light. In that respect, 3D is a fantastic help to understand all that but life and observation too. It’s really important to take few minutes and observe how lights and shadows are working together.
Watching movies too especially in dark environment. You really see how professionals and directors thought about the contrast, and where and how to put the light in the frame. I love analyzing that kind of thing in a movie.
Furthermore, do you have any resources to advise beginners?
We are lucky enough to have all the needful ressources on the internet now. I have personally learnt, and still do everything on the net with great CG platforms like CGSociety, or ArtStation, 3DTotal. I would advise to first think deeply about what you really want to focus on in your apprenticeship, like… am I more environments, characters etc…? And then try to find great artists you can learn from, or take proper class with.
There are more and more online workshops, and tutorials like on Gumroad. Learning has a price to pay too, so sometimes you have to pay a good price for it, but it’s really worth it because it is from a professional. So be careful with that and privilege the quality of the tutorials you paid for.
Lastly, follow the artists you really love on social networks as you will learn from him or her, and probably get good tips, advices and feedbacks from things he or she may share or directly give to you. This is a community here and you have to be up to date with the trends, the new tools or events happening inside the community and for the community.
Just try to know better what you really want to become as an artist and go for it.
See more of Sebastien Hue works on:
Personal Website: http://www.shue-digital.com/
Thanks for your time again Sebastien Hue for this great interview! 🙂