"Most people don't realize how much work it takes" Pro character artist on getting hired

– I mean, I understand where the people came from you know? Like, I can draw you know, or I can do that. But it’s like yeah you can draw.

Maybe not as what you expected or what you imagined, but you can draw, it’s just the time you have to work everyday to get that level. – You might not know him by name, but Daniel Orive is a character artist that works at Riot Games. And Riot Games, if you don’t know, created League of Legends, that big, I don’t know, I’ve never played it but I hear it’s got a lot of players. Anyway, so he’s a senior character artist there and he’s good at both like concept 2D, as well as 3D sculpting and modeling.

And whether or not characters is something that interests you, his advice that he gives in this interview is applicable to pretty much all artistic fields. We talked about like talent versus skill, overcoming procrastination, being realistic with your goals, using your time wisely, identifying scam schools and much, much more. So it’s about an hour long, but there is chapter marks in the YouTube description if you want to jump ahead because I know a lot of you do, short attention span. It’s just like me.

So this is part of a new YouTube interview series. If you wanna see more, I could give it a like. And so that you don’t miss a future episode, hit subscribe.

And the last thing I wanna mention before we get to the interview is that this video is made possible thanks to our sister company, Poliigon, Poliigon. So if you wanna make world-class renders, you need world-class textures, and that is what Poliigon provides. So try it out today and discover the difference that professional sharp textures can make to your renders. And now, onto the interview. Daniel, thanks for coming in.

– Well, thank you for inviting me. – Yeah. – Of course, my pleasure. – So tell me, have you always been a creative person?

– I think so yeah. Yeah, I remember when I was a child, like always before to know like I like art, always I was messing around in the garage, like building things, I don’t know, like taking like an old piece of wood and trying to create something. So I guess I always say I was kind of creative. Yeah, I don’t know in what direction yeah, something like a builder or something like an artist, I don’t know, but yeah always I like to take any challenge or create stuff since I was a kid. – What do you think it was that drew you to that? – I don’t know, like most of my time when I was a kid I watched a lot of movies.

Like movies from 80s, kind of like Dark Crystal, Neverending Story, so I guess in the background I was building kind of like that creative sense, you know? So always like also because those kind of movies, they have the Muppets, they have stuff like that so that’s why always I wanted to create the stuff with the hands. So I guess like mostly of that things coming from what I was doing when I was a kid, what kind of movies I was watching or like when I was playing like with kind of things. You know, I think so, I don’t know. Some people say it’s like you born like this.

You know, you born as kind of artists, creative or whatever. I don’t know if it’s that true, but I remember like I really liked it, like all that kind of stuff. – Do you think some people can be born creative or you think it’s (crosstalk). – Yeah, I think some people born with that kind of like, I don’t know how to say it but that kind of like they like that kind of things. But I don’t believe like some people say they born with like an artist, like for example if you have like insane skills, art skills, like yeah, yeah, you have those because you’re born with those. I don’t believe in that at all.

I think it’s more about how you work and turned your life, you know? I think you’re born with just like a sense of I don’t know, like a feeling of creative, like a feeling for the art, like a sense, just like a small thing but I don’t think you’re born like I’m a creative person, I’m gonna create stuff or whatever. That’s my point of view.

– yeah, has anyone ever said that to you, like you’re gifted? – Yeah, everyone. (laughs) Yeah, yeah most of the people say that, like how much I love Dan, you have this gift, you can do it like whatever.

Like I work a lot, no I don’t think so. I think that’s a minimal thing that you can use for that, you know, but it’s not the full thing. – Yeah, yeah I think that what that is like people don’t, they can’t understand how you went from nothing to being where you are, and so they just assume like well that’s so special, that’s so amazing, it must be some supernatural or I don’t know given ability. – Yeah, yeah, I mean I understand where the people came from, you know?

Like I can draw or I can do that. But it’s like yeah, you can draw. Maybe not as what you expected or what you imagined, but you can draw, it’s just the time. You have to work every day to get that level. So always I say like I mean, I have seen like friends of mine, like some of them for example they were super talented, they didn’t work at all.

Like every day they were not telling himself to become better and they’re stuck with that. And people who was like a worse, having words like less say creative (crosstalk) they become super good because they work so hard. So I think it’s like the path is different for everyone, depends about that skill you have since you born. It’s like okay, I’m level one instead of level three, but let’s say something like that but it’s not a big, big, big thing. – Right, we have to get to level 100. – It’s like a full career.

I mean always I say the same. Like I would like to have like two lives so I can like a full work in my 3D and my 2D in a different life because it take a long time so it’s just about time and work. It’s nothing about I don’t know, this is not Matrix like plug something in my head and I’m gonna get it. You need to work hard for that for sure. – Why is it that you think, you mentioned that some people, they stop, right? They practice but they sort of stay at a certain level.

Why do you think that is? – Well, depends of the person. I’ve seen cases like they stopped because they don’t have interest. It’s like yeah, I like it but I like other things. So probably they choose other things. I’ve seen other guys that are lazy, really lazy.

So always I think is you are lazy with art is because maybe you don’t like enough to keep going on that. And to be honest, this is most of the cases I’ve seen before, like– – What do you mean by lazy? – Well, like you have to work a lot of time. You have to do, redo and redo and again and fail.

It’s not like I draw something, looks amazing, way is to say to see it and put it there and everyone love it. No, it’s not like that. You work on that, you say fah, it’s not good enough, you need to learn okay, I need to learn how my values work, my collar or like a sculpting, I need to do more stuff because you all the time compare with other artists. Like you go to ArtStation and you see like awesome artists over there.

So you are comparing yourself somehow. So you wanna be that better. So imagine like those people I’m talking about, like they not trying enough because probably they don’t see themselves like, they recognize like how long it take that.

It’s like far, I know this guy is working a lot. Yeah, I can do it, I can do it, but tomorrow. And that tomorrow start going rolling, rolling and never happen. I mean some of the cases I’ve seen.

And its really, it’s kind of like sad because you see like people like really, really good with a lot of talent. They only need to work on that. But unfortunately, they don’t do that. – So you think like exposing yourself to better artists and realizing how much more you can grow is helpful in that? – Yeah, yeah, yeah for sure, for sure.

Yeah, it’s a lot of time. I mean, the thing is like people I think don’t realize how many things you have to put away to be here. Like to be honest, I don’t meet anyone like maybe one or two like they were like super good and they never have to put like a lot of time because they get things like that, but most of the people who I work with, they put a lot of time, they hang out less with friends or with girlfriend or whatever. So it’s a lot of commitment and not everyone is ready to get that or to do that. – Yeah, so you say you think that some people that work professionally, they feel like they’ve got a job, they can sort of relax. – Oh yeah, yeah.

Yeah, I’ve seen in my experience some studios, I’ve seen that a scenario, like people they feel like, well, I don’t know I’ve seen like kind of like two scenarios like the one who feel they are in the place they wanna be or like this is, I’m working now at (mumbles) studio or something like that so I just need to keep going here and it doesn’t matter; or people who I don’t know, maybe they get older, they have like another things to care in life and that’s like a job is a job. So in what we work is kind of tricky sometimes because these are passion or hobby, and also it’s our job. So right sometimes you need to put the line because it’s so easy to put a step pass in the line and it’s like oh fuck, it’s too far.

– Have you experienced that? Can you tell a story when you went too far? – I mean, I do that a lot because I am a guy who have a lot of passion for what I do in my work, my hobby and other stuff. So when you come back home for example and you’re still thinking in work, in the character you’re working or something happen at work, I think you’re getting far. – You’re what? – It’s when you’re getting far.

– Too far? – Yeah, too far with that. Like, okay, so yeah work, you should be like 100% with all this stuff, but when you’re at home, maybe it’s time for other stuff.

Like hung out with your wife or like do your personal stuff. So it’s like okay, I need to separate that and sometimes it’s difficult, really difficult. – Have you learned any tips to get past that? – You need to realize that. That’s the tip. You need to realize like I’m getting far.

I’m over thinking this thing, and that’s not worth. So when you realize you’re doing that is when you start changing. But sometimes it’s difficult to realize that. – Yeah, yeah. Do you think it’s important or essential for an artist that wants to work in the industry today to continually practice personally?

Or can you be one of those people that just goes home and doesn’t try to evolve? – Well, it depends about your goal. I mean, I always say that. Like I was a guy who wanted to came here to lay to work like a big company.

So I knew it, I had to put a lot of time in my work and my personal work because a lot of people want to work there. So it’s like really difficult to get to those places so I was realistic and it’s like I have to be one of the best or at least like, I don’t know, they have to look at me in somehow so I need to get, get better. So if you have like a big challenge, you wanna, I don’t know, like work in a place or build your company, I don’t know whatever, probably yeah, you have to work more time. But if you don’t have that, it’s totally fine. I mean, if you’re happy with what you’re working, what you’re doing, you don’t need to go home and still doing that.

If you like it, of course do it. But it’s not a must. I think it’s just a must if you have like high goals. – Okay, so you’re not at risk of being fired or anything if you don’t try to evolve or anything over time? – Why, why? (crosstalk) – Not fired for not practicing but just, if everybody else is improving and you’re sort of staying the same.

– Well, think about like at work, we work like eight hours. So you’re getting better. – That’s true. – You’re getting better, doesn’t matter. So that’s true, like people are getting really good and you have to be there, but I think like over the years is another waste, like you can use your, probably you have like less energy to put that time on it but you are more, you have like a more wisdom.

You know how to use an hour maybe you have, or two hours. So you are more focused and you know how to avoid like a difficult way to achieve that. So you’re getting smarter in what you’re doing. So I don’t know. Yeah, I’m not gonna say like yeah, I don’t know, I think it depends, it depends.

– Yeah, makes sense. – But there’s a lot of people, like I work with a lot of people who they are kind of like worry about that, like they worry a lot about to get better because in the future people is getting better, get a job. We are losing that, like you are doing that because you enjoy that. – Right, you think they’ve lost the love for it. – Yeah, yeah. I think we are just sometimes looking at the business and we are not looking like what we’d really like or what we’d really do.

And we are, as we told before, like I guess we are creative all of us, so I’m pretty sure we can figure out if that future came to us to do something. Like you feel like you’re not good enough or whatever, or like people are better than you. So you will figure out I’m pretty sure.

– Yeah, that’s it, interesting point you mentioned that yes, some of the reasons that professional artists are so much better is well, one, they’re professional so they’re at a level where they can be hired. But also, once you’re hired, you’re working eight hours a day and you’re able to improve at a much rapider rate than somebody who’s doing it part-time or a hobby. – Yeah.

– Yeah. So I’d say at Riot Games for example, like how many of those eight hours are actually sculpting or drawing or something artistic? I’m just curiuous. – Well, Riot is quite different because our culture give us like a freedom to be involved in everything. So that means I have a lot of meetings.

I have a lot of meetings for one thing that’s happening here, one thing that’s going there. So it’s the first job I’m not like eight hours there like doing all the time what I have to do, but I have plenty of time. – Like four hours, six hours a day? – Oh yeah, yeah for sure, something like that, around that is you have.

So that’s again what I say before, like that way to work is because I came in from a place that you have to work so fast, I have like my pipeline is kind of fast. So right now, I’m getting smarter so because I don’t have the full time, when I go I use my time to do what I know I have to do. So that’s like a different, you’re learning. It’s not like okay, I’m okay because I know tomorrow I’m gonna have eight hours and tomorrow I’m gonna have another eight hours, another day I’m gonna have eight hours. So I’m like oh maybe tomorrow I’m not gonna have the full time to work on this so I’m gonna now make like at least I have two hours and I’m gonna go super, like full speed to work on this.

So it’s like again, like it makes you smarter in how you still work. – Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. So trying to use the time that you’ve got valuably. – Yeah, yeah, that’s it. And that’s really cool because that’s what happened at home too, like you are with your wife, you have kids or whatever, you don’t have a full time.

So if you have like a one hour, a couple of hours, like okay, I know suddenly how I’m gonna invest that time, that small time, and maybe no. I mean I know other people who they don’t have any commitment, like they are kind of like oh yeah, yeah, I’ll do it tomorrow, tomorrow, you know? They get that lazy or stuff like that. So the same, come back to your question like at Riot, we are really busy with a lot of stuff. We are like, as I said, we have a lot of freedom to be involved in different stuff.

So people like me with a lot of passion say yes to everything, and that’s like oh dude, I have to do my stuff. (laughs) – Yeah, yeah, oh that’s interesting. Do you ever have times when you want to sit down and work but you just feel so distracted, or like you just don’t wanna do anything?

– Oh yeah. – Can you describe a time you’ve had that and how you’ve gotten past it? Have you got any other, I was curious what your talk was about so how do you get past art slumps? – So basically what we talked about it’s like, well, it was funny because we say how to get out of art slumps so people came there like, oh how can I get out of them. But you can’t. I mean, the thing is like we give them kind of like experience in a, sorry, like we give them some stories about our experience how we get out of any art slump we have in that moment, but doesn’t mean that’s a way to get out.

This is what we did at that point to get out of those, but at the end you realize like those are slumps, they’re gonna be with you. You need to accept them. And when you are in one of them, don’t freak out because some people think it’s like kind of like you have like I don’t know, like a hole.

You go in the hole and when you get back, you stay in the same floor. But they are not true, they are kind of like a stairs. So probably you are in the hole, but when you get out you are like in a higher step on that stairway. – Oh really? – So you’re getting better, you’re getting better.

So you have to see them as it’s okay, it’s gonna be all right. When I get out, it’s gonna be much better, I’m gonna have like a more no late, I’m gonna be smarter. So that’s what happened. And most of them are related about your personal life. So we think sometimes art slumps is about like I can’t draw hands or I cannot sculpt this, I’m not good enough to get that.

So most of them, they are about your life. Like I mean, to give some examples, like I mood… Well I think I’m gonna give another example. I’m trying to remember the talk so which one is like the most, yeah so for example I remember my first studio when I was working on like six years ago or something like that, was it like a small studio, I was feeling like fuck yeah, yeah, I’m here, I’m in the art industry, it’s just like I get this train, I feel like comfortable and just the stop will be like Riot, Blizzard or any of those places.

And they fired me. Like yeah, I was like there at the beginning, like I put in a lot of hours like enjoying that and they fired me and I was like okay, so– – Why did they fire you? – Oh well, it was like a kind of financial problems and they get rid of people. I remember that my plan was completely destroyed. Like how I’m gonna get there?

And also like I didn’t, I was not allowed to use anything I was doing there to my portfolio and was a good thing because it was really bad (chuckles) at that point. So I start from scratch and I joined a challenge that was the Comicon challenge at that time. And I did the Comicon challenge so the people, I didn’t know that, like the people response to me so well, like hey I love these what you’re doing, so they gave me that motivation. I was completely destroyed, I was no motivation.

I was thinking like maybe I’m never gonna be a character artist or working art or working games. I so quit and do any other stuff. But thanks to that, thanks to the art challenge, like give me the motivation to people to believe in me. So for example is what I say, like that was an art slump, like a huge art slump in my life.

Like I was feeling so badly I wanted to quit. Like I was not believing in myself and just joining art challenge give me that motivation because people start trusting or like what I do. So that, as a personal style, I give you the motivation, it’s like fuck yeah, I’m gonna do this.

Also at the end I get the third five position I don’t remember, so that even more give me the motivation to you know what, I think I can work on this in games, making character, stuff like that. So one of the how to get out of art slump was like do challenge, art challenge. But doesn’t mean you’re gonna get that. For me is how work at that point, make sense? – Yeah, yeah, I understand. What do you think it is about a challenge or a competition that motivates people?

Why do you think that is? – I think it depends. Like I guess like if people want to get the prize. I guess other people want recognition. And most of them, I think they wanna join for fun and do something.

So it’s like a reason to go home. Instead to be lazy and don’t do anything, you have like okay, I’m gonna do this, like a motivation to work on something. – And a deadline. – Yeah, you have that there. So probably you’re gonna start with some friends, so the people in the forums they’re gonna see you. So if you don’t finish you’re gonna feel guilty.

(laughs) But you can say oh guys, I’m kind of busy with work, everyone understand. But I think it’s motivation to do something. Like most of the people, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

– That makes sense yeah, I’ve experienced that myself where I’ve had a personal project that I was working on and it just wasn’t, didn’t feel like there was any point that I needed to work on it tonight. But then I had a competition, actually I created the competition, it was this sci-fi competition and then yeah, it was like every night I had a reason, I had to work on it because otherwise I wasn’t gonna finish it. And I already told people. I think that was it, I told people that I was gonna do it. So I was accountable.

And you don’t wanna look lazy in front of your friends. – That’s it, that’s how been. Yeah, I’m remembering right now, like another challenge I joined was the city hub, do you remember city hub, the Mass Effect one? So I joined that challenge because challenge is amazing, but I remember that was really funny because I’m a Dragon Age fan.

Mass Effect I didn’t play. – Dragon what? – Dragon Age.

– Dragon Age fan, okay. – Yeah, but I didn’t play Mass Effect. So I didn’t know anything about Mass Effect, but I checked the people who was participating in that challenge and was there badim, like a slipgate central, one of the the guy who won the dominance world, that one, like it was amazing, and few other artists, they were super, super, super good. So I decided to participate in Mass Effect because I wanted to beat badim or those people. At that point, I was like yeah I wanna do that, to give some context, like badim, his work inspired me to be a character artist. When I start working in art, the game industry, I was a concept artist and I saw his stuff and I started like learning ZBrush and stuff like that.

I really admire his work. So at that point it was like I want to beat him. So that was another motivation, it’s like I don’t care about the prize, I don’t care about anything, I wanna just, I don’t know, like this guy notice me or something like that.

– [Andrew] Right, so you wanted him to notice you. – Yeah, that recognition, I guess. So at the end I didn’t beat him, but he got the first position, I get the third position. So that was amazing. So he did my goal like really high. So I was able to be close to that.

So after that, we start engaging, we’re friends. Yeah, that was cool. So another motivation at that point for that. – Right, that’s an interesting one. Yeah, like recognition from the people that you admire. – Yeah, so it depends where you are.

I mean, what stage are you? Like you feel like you want the motivation or you just wanna do something, or it depends. But always help. – Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point.

Everyone has their own reasons. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. You never know. – That’s right. – It’s so dark.

(laughs) – Wow, do you think it’s important to practice different styles or like maybe you work on like fantasy, grungy detailed stuff at work that you also tried to get good at simplified cartoony as an example? Or do you think it’s good to go the very narrow niche route? – Hmmm, always depends. Of course better if you can handle like a different style, so think about like some of the studios, they are not like just focusing one style.

So if you have that variation, you’re gonna be like a better fit for them for sure. Is this what you like? Sure. If you don’t like, like dude I met some of those guys like doing the portfolio review in THU, like I like just realistic stuff. But I know (mumbles) doing that or whatever, it’s like dude, don’t think about that, like do what you like. If you don’t like to do the stylized stuff, don’t do it.

I mean, always I give them like a sample, if you see my portfolio, you can see some like pieces like really stylized, like the stuff I’m doing in League, or you can see stuff I did in Castlevania, like really more realistic or the city hub that the challenge, like a more kind of like CG character more realistic. I do all different stuff because I like it and I never think about if it’s good or not good. Some people they think like you’re still just stuck in one style so you’re gonna get better. You’re gonna kind of like be an expertise about that. How I see it is like every different style benefit another style. So probably you are thinking about your stylized stuff, and it’s like ah, what I like is realistic.

But if you are working in something stylized, when you jump to the realistic one, you’re gonna be better with shapes. You’re gonna have better read silhouette because you have that foundation from stylized. So the same for realistic, when you go to the stylized, you know where to add that detail because you are working on that on the realistic side. So for me, have a benefits to work in a different style.

Also like I do the 2D and 3D, right? So at one point, I was like I was doing 2D, I jumped to 3D and I was doing three 3D, 3D, 3D and I was like oh you know what, I wanna come back to 2D, I like 2D, but I feel so kind of like scared and kind of lazy because I know it’s gonna take a lot of time again, like I come back. So my surprise was when I come back to 2D, I was better because I guess I was bottling the ZBrush, I was getting that 3D view and working the anatomy, working on different shapes, stuff, so when I had to draw, it was easier for me to understand and was like wait a second, I learned a lot from that. So again, like a style or like the way you’re gonna work is gonna be like, you’re gonna have benefits from any side of those.

– Right, yeah. That’s interesting. There’s one thing I’ve noticed across all the artists I’ve been interviewing, is even the most obscure thing related to art or creativity can be helpful in other areas, yeah like watercolors, yeah, can be helpful for sculpting.

You wouldn’t think it would but somehow you’ll remember like oh there was that texture of the brush or something. – That’s awesome, yeah, seriously. 100% agree with that. So when people came to me like I only wanna do these, or when the people say like do you still do just this style because you wanna get the expertise or better on that, I’m like okay, I’m okay with that but it’s not what I think. I think you’re still jumping to whatever you like and you’re gonna get any benefit or you’re gonna improve for anything you’re doing with passion. – Yeah, yeah.

Do you think it’s also important to have a focus? Something that you’re, like say somebody, they go to clay or they’re interested in clay, watercolor, mosaic, but they can’t get a job. – That’s difficult.

I know that. I mean, like get focus when you are looking for a job is difficult. So my recommendation is like first try to work for your job stuff.

Like get the job and so if you have to work in your portfolio, 3D, (mumbles) or whatever, do that. Do that, finish it, try to find a work so at least you have that like down, like it’s done. And later you can enjoy your clay or you can enjoy another stuff. But if you’re jumping around and you’re stuck with that idea like you don’t have a job, you need to find a job, it’s gonna burn you.

Yeah, yeah, yeah for sure. I mean, that’s my kind of like recommendation. Like if you really want to get a job, or maybe not, if not it’s okay, do whatever you want and just finish what you do. But if that’s what you have in mind, yeah for sure.

– Yeah, you gotta meet what they’re looking for. – Yeah, I mean at the end, we live in a world where you need money to pay bills and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s hard, it’s beautiful, but I mean you have to do your stuff to– – Yeah, if you wanna get a job in this industry, yeah, there’s sacrifices I guess.

– But anyway, what I say too to other, like some people they kind of like frustrate themselves because they wanna get a job in a specific place or whatever, like enjoy any. I think you’ll learn from any place. Like it doesn’t matter if it’s to play studio, some mobile studio, you’re gonna learn from any place and it’s gonna be amazing stories over there, like badass stories I’m pretty sure, but you’re gonna get more expertise, you’re gonna get better.

So like enjoy any time, like any position or any job. Don’t feel like so frustrated like you have to take that. – Yeah, yeah, gotcha. Hmmm, it’s good advice I like it.

(laughs) Can you describe a time when someone on your team or somebody else has given you feedback on something that you didn’t notice or you couldn’t notice before and that you eventually changed? – I think for Xayah, when I was working on Xayah, I really want to have the white hair. So I was like a white-haired thing, I had my design, I love it.

– This is a character? – Yeah, it’s a character, it’s a character on League of Legends and I loved her with the white hair. It’s like, what, I love my favorite character, I love her. I remember, so was a paint over with the red hair and I was like the first day when I saw it it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, that red, pink hair, no, no, have to be white because it’s serious, have to be white. But like two days later I was like, it’s better. (laughs) Works better.

I went to Chris and say dude, like yeah, yeah, yeah, I really like it. I’m sorry, I don’t know, I was stuck on that white, but right now I believe it’s much better. Yeah, so that’s happened. Yeah, for sure, for sure. – Yeah, yeah, I’ve noticed that as well. Like sometimes you can get, in fact that’s probably the biggest problem with working by yourself, is that you get tunnel vision.

– Totally, I get that. Totally I know so. What I think like when we do stuff, we put our passion. So when we create something, it’s like a bit of our soul in there, so when something like taken away or it’s not there, you feel like I believe in that. (laughter drowns dialog) better. – Right, right.

Has there been any times when you’ve not wanted to listen to feedback? – No. – No? Okay. – Like always I think listen, at least listen to feedback.

I mean, we are talking about that word but that will be for everything. Like, if you are like in a forums or stuff like that, you are in a challenge, you’re doing something more or you put like a piece of artwork there, you always should listen to feedback just because you, I mean one thing is listen to feedback, one other thing is take the feedback and execute that feedback. So listen, you should always listen because you’re gonna learn. Like, we have different point of views so that’s amazing, see like with other eyes what they get from that.

And sometimes that feedback is really good. It’s something you didn’t see and it’s like okay, this gonna improve a lot my piece. But if you are rejected to listen to feedback, you’re gonna miss all those opportunities. So I mean, like you have 10 guys saying the same thing probably as a human, they’re gonna say like I know, I know, give me time, you know, whatever. But yeah, I encourage everyone to listen to feedback because we can’t, as ourself, we only have two eyes, we only have two hands, that brain, so we don’t know everything. Always people with fresh eyes, they give you some context.

Like it’s really nice. And also, I’m pretty sure it happened to you when you’re working on something, maybe you don’t finish, walk away, you come back on that scene like two days or in a week later, you see things different. – Yeah. – Oh really?

I was doing that, I think it’s wrong. So yeah, so imagine someone who is not working directly. – Yeah, yeah, it’s such a strange thing isn’t it? Like you mentioned, like a couple days later, come back and like what was I thinking?

(laughs) That’s so stupid. – And also something I love that’s happened at Riot, like I mean in our work environment, like you receive the feedback from different roles. So as a character artist, a concept artist, we care a lot about their silhouette, proportions or values, how work the character, but sometimes we don’t think about how it’s gonna move or how it’s gonna be, I don’t know, like everything, anything related to different disciplines. So when they came to you to give some feedback because they are thinking of their discipline, it’s something like it’s bringing more value to what you’re doing. It’s like oh okay, I didn’t think about that.

Or when they come with idea for a character from another discipline, it’s like they are bringing a point of view where you never were. So that’s cool too. – Can you think of any example when that happened?

– I remember like I was in India when I was working in, okay, I was working with an animator like Warwick was his name, so I should say hi. – Warwick? – Warwick, Warwick. – Warwig.

– Yeah, I remember this guy always bring me crazy ideas, like dude, I don’t know, like a little character with a step of her legs have their little hands, like completely he was thinking about the movement of the characters. We were doing this for fun, not work related and it was amazing because you know what dude, I never bring that kind of ideas. So he was all the time pushing for that, and that was awesome. Yeah I learned a lot from that. – What role was he?

– Animator. – Animator, ahhh. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that’s what I say, like as a character or concept artist, most of the stuff we care is like, as I say, silhouette, kind of like the character we are creating, values or stuff like that. But sometimes we miss like cool things, like another discipline can bring. – Right, right, gotcha.

I’m curious, can you think of any resources like online training or books that could help someone learn character design, like concept character design? – I mean, it’s exactly for character design? I don’t know. I’ve been, like most of my career, I’ve been like a self learn stuff. – Okay!

– Yeah, so because I think, like Internet, you have a lot of resources. Like YouTube channels like yours, so stuff like that. I remember I told you about the color theory. So I’ve seen that video, I learned from that video. Like a lot of different tutorials you can find on Internet. So it depends.

Like it’s sadly something I have in mind like really helped me out was I did that course with CGMA. – CDMA? – CGMA. – CGMA, okay. – You know that one?

So it was about the color and light, and I did that class with Tyson Murphy, he was my teacher. So because I really liked his stuff and the course was really nice about that color theory. I learned a lot. But other than that, I never done like a class or something like that. Like all the 3D stuff, I learned by myself on the 2D, yeah. So Internet is a lot of resources.

So right now for example, I follow a few Patreons too. Like Tay Carter, Taylor Carter, he’s one guy I follow. I really love his stuff. There’s another guy I don’t remember the name right now, he’s good too. – Ha, poor guy, doesn’t get the promotion.

– Oh, sorry, sorry. He’s really good. But anyway, like when I wanna learn something, like right now I’m doing color pencils. So I go to YouTube, I just color pencil and I start learning from there (crosstalk) yeah, yeah, anywhere.

– What was the name of that Patreon guy? – Taylor Carter. – Taylor Carter. Does he have tutorials as well, does he?

– Yeah, yeah, yeah, he has, like the Patreon. He does tutorials, stulff like that, it’s really nice. He used to work at Disney and he had like a really nice sense for color and light and like simplified stuff. So I really like his stuff. – Nice, okay.

We can put the link for that in the description. – Also, I can put the other one I don’t remember. (crosstalk) (laughs) So, so sorry.

(crosstalk) The name is not the easy to say. – Right, got those tricky names. Yeah, so I’m curious, we didn’t finish talking about your upbringing. So first of all, your accent, where are you from? – I’m from Spain. – Born and grew up there?

– Yeah, yeah, yeah.. I was there like living there for 26, 27 years, something like that. – Right, okay.

And you moved to America how many years ago? – No, first I moved to UK. So I was there in UK for like a couple of years, two, three years living there and recently moved to, well like a year and a half I moved here to America. – Right, and you moved like straight from UK to US. – Yeah, that’s it, that’s it. – That’s a lot of moving.

– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Stressful, isn’t it? – Yeah, well it’s nice, yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s nice, I think it’s not as stressful at work. Probably the beginning yes, the first move to UK. But right now, with my wife and me, we’re already used to that so it was like an easy thing.

But for example, like this is another way, like move abroad is another thing like we did to get out of art slumps too. – Oh, for moving? Okay. – You know, like when I was living in Spain, I was working on Mercury Steam, Castlevania, we are like really happy over there but I was not feeling like like, I don’t know, like a feeling what I’m doing what I want to do, end up in one of the studios, so I wanted to improve my English.

And one of the ways was like I can go to school and study some English or I can move to another country and learn there, it’s like yeah, the hard way is my way. – Right, well that’s interesting. So yeah, tell me about your life in Spain. So you finished high school, what did you do after high school? – Ah well no, I didn’t finish high school.

No, no, no. As I said before, like I was not a great student so I quit the school when I had 16 or 17, something like that. To be honest, I quit and I was super lost. I didn’t know what to do. I was like no motivation, and I remember at that time, a friend of mine, he was doing, he was working on video editing, like a camera, yeah something like that, and I was like you know what, that’s cool, TV, I like it, so I start doing some like free classes that were there for people who doesn’t have like employment. So I was doing that and I remember at that point I met another guy who told me he’s gonna go to a school, an art school where they’re doing like dragons and stuff like that and that time I was playing World of Warcraft a lot and thanks to that, it’s like, thanks to that friend, like so my (mumbles) and also like my passion for the game, I was like, maybe I can draw for games.

And that’s why I started there. So I did that, it’s like a three years course. Like it was traditional animation.

– All right, okay. – Nothing related to video games but I don’t know, for me, when I opened the dossiers, like dragons, I don’t know, Viking, stuff like that, yeah, this is what I want to do. – Yeah, yeah. – So yeah, I did that. So the thing is like when I finished that school, most of my teachers, they were former students for that school.

So what that mean, they never get a job in the game industry or art, related to art. So that frustration, they give it to us. Like it’s really difficult to work in a game industry, just stop telling people they are gonna do it, so yeah, don’t try or things like that. So when I finished, I didn’t try. – Wow, because they took away your motivation.

– Well, it’s not about motivation. When someone is your teacher, he’s better than you, he knows more than you and say to you like it’s impossible, what do you expect? It’s like I believe them.

– So they actually said like you shouldn’t try? – Well, not that way, but in the way like it’s really difficult and just like the most talented guy is gonna get the job. – And you are not the most talented. (laughs) – Well, you get that, you get that, you get that.

So when I finished, I decided to don’t try. I worked in advertisement, web design and stuff like that for yeah, doing that stuff. – You did everything. – I was working on that for five years. So yeah, so I start kind of late in the game industry.

It was like my first job with 25, 26. – Really? – Yeah. – Your first? – Job in the game industry.

– Okay. – So before that, I was working in an advertisement and web design, and yeah, it’s really funny because I was working on that but after five years, I was feeling like this is not my passion. I feel it’s not what I like. The day I realized that is like I went, I had, at that point I was doing well, I had my clients, I was making my money so it was no reason to quit, to be honest.

I had like an appointment, sorry, like a meeting in a fancy hotel there in Madrid and the client was super fancy, they came with a suitcase, with everything, like it was really nice to talk about that bezel, I don’t know, for the company or whatever and it was summer and I was wearing like shorts and a World of Warcraft t-shirt and I wasn’t that fancy with those fancy people. Like, hmmm, I think this is not my place. I’m not enjoying in this. So when I went home, I decided to quit.

Yeah, I quit, I start over and it’s like you know what, I’m gonna work on my portfolio, I’m gonna do what I like to do, it’s the characters, game stuff like that. – So you knew that you wanted to do games? – Yeah, I wanted to do that. Yeah, well, yeah.

I was playing World of Warcraft so of course I wanted to– – Ah, so that was the motivation. – [Daniel] That was the motivation. – World of Warcraft. – [Daniel] Yeah, that was for me the motivation. – And that’s why you wanted to go to Blizzard. – Yeah, that was, that was.

So I always have a think, like imagine like working games, so imagine to work in this game. The game like suck my life. – How many hours did you have in World of Warcraft?

– Oh dude, I don’t know but like we are talking about hours or months? Yeah, yeah a lot, a lot them. Yeah I remember my dad, he came late from work every night and say good night to me and I was playing all the time. My dad was like, he’s playing this game all the time?

So one night he came to me and he asked me, like Dan you never gonna finish this game? And I was thinking like, wow my dad feels like I’m a loser, like I don’t finish games? No dad, you don’t understand, I’m playing with friends, this is online thing, this never end. Oh okay. – Woah.

What did you think when he said that? – I’m crazy, but it’s true. Well right now, they understand that.

My Dad say, you know the game I was playing like lately, because I was playing, like so this is the company, I explained to him all this stuff, like wow, this is amazing. – Right. – Yeah, yeah. – Wow, that’s interesting. Were you like drawing a lot at that time when you were working at the, I’m curious how you went from web design, which seems pretty far from concept art.

So yeah, like do you have a hobby for drawing characters at that time or… – Yeah, I think a few years I didn’t do anything at home. I was just like living my life and working and stuff like that. Little by little I realized like it’s not what I like, so I started drawing. I took few works like maybe more involved in draw instead of, in draw, in drawing something or something like that or for example at that point I was like a freelance thing to do, they didn’t pay that much but it was okay, it was like a book for childrens, like a tale. So stuff like that because I was happy doing that.

So I don’t know, I was drawing. Not constantly. – [Andrew] Consistently. – Yeah, consistently sorry. But yeah, like after I quit, it’s where like I closed the door of another room and never go out.

– Wow. Wow, so how long was it since you quit to when you got your first job in games? – So probably less than a year, something like that. – What was your training regime in that year? – At that time?

I don’t remember. I remember was a book about anatomy for comic artists or something like that. I draw a lot from there. I copy a lot, stuff like that. I don’t remember, like books or things like that.

Internet at the time was not like that thing like a library or whatever. So at that time I think I was drawing by myself a lot. But the thing is like this company, like it was a really small company, they just start, I met them because I was involved in a project with another guy, like I was helping them to draw Viking stuff like that.

So I made those guys that want to start a company, so they called me in to work in that company. So I was kind of like lucky movement too. The thing is like I work in that company maybe for a year or something and it’s when they fire me for that economic problems. So there was even more difficult, so there is like, well more difficult, I took that more seriously is when I start doing my portfolio, like working on those challenge.

So there, for example in my mind I was like okay, at that point, the best company in Spain, well I knew that I want to work Blizzard or whatever but it’s like I have to be realistic. I need to work here. So what is the best company here we have in Spain. At that point it was Mercury Steam because we were working with, they were working with Konami on Castlevania.

– [Andrew] Mercury what? – Mercury, Mercury Steam. – Oh okay, sure.

– So I was like okay, I’m gonna do a real focus to get a job there. So for it was like a seven month, I was like that was crazy, probably I slept every day like three, four hours. Yeah, no more than that. – For how long? – For seven months. – Dude!

– Yeah. I was crazy. – [Anrew] That was crazy. – It was really crazy at that point– – And you were just teaching yourself, learning at home? – Yeah, I was learning ZBrush, I was doing the character, stuff like that.

So preparing my reel– – How do you practice? Like some people could just work seven months and stay on, like I’m sure you’ve seen them, they sort of stay at the same level, they don’t really improve. How did you ensure that you were growing? – So for me, how works always like I take huge risk. Like a huge goal. So I don’t, it’s not like I’m gonna learn ZBrush and I’m gonna do, I’m gonna get the ball, I’m gonna stretch a ball, I’m gonna learn the different tools or I’m gonna do like a bust, I’m gonna do a gun.

No, I do a full character. I do a full character, I’m gonna finish the character, I’m gonna do the UVs, I’m gonna do the texture, I’m gonna put it in a render. I take the huge thing.

So finishing all this little project, I don’t think, well sorry. If you have in mind to do like a small project, like I said, like a gun or bus or whatever, you have to do a ton of them to get a level up. When you do one as serious like you say three months for a character and you work those three months to do something really good, when you’re finished is when you’re gonna have like the level up. Because the next one, you’re gonna take it and it’s like okay, you learn a lot from that long path.

But if you’re taking small pieces, at least for me how it works, like I never get something. Like I say, like I don’t know, like this is worth to learn. I have to take like a huge risk or like goal or something like that.

– Right. And did you try to produce many characters in that time? – No, no, no, focus on one. – Oh, so you just did one?

– No, no, no, I’m sorry. For those seven months? No, no, no. For that one I did four, four or five. Yeah, I think so, goes like that.

– Yeah, yeah. Here’s a question, how do you know when you receive feedback whether or not to listen to it? – I guess you mean like execute, not listen, because listen I guess– – Sure, execute.

Whether you should do what they say. – I mean if it’s something like really improve what you’re doing, like what you’ve done or something like that, of course. And you have to see it in the same way. Also, what I say like when I see those, most of the cases is when someone dropped me a paint over. When you see a paint over, I mean I’m an artist. If I read like how to improve like a piece of art, sometimes it’s difficult.

It’s like it should be this, should be that, it’s like yeah, but you don’t know, I don’t see that. But when someone like drop you like a paint over, it’s like oh damn, yeah, yeah for sure, for sure. – Then you can see it. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So depends on the feedback. You can have feedback like maybe with just words, like someone said to you like in person.

Hey dude, I think this or whatever. It’s like yes. But come back to your questions, to the question, I think when you see like something is improving what you got is when you take an action for that. – Could you give an example? – Hmmm, I don’t know. Like for example always I get feedback from Mavi for example, Mavi work at Riot to simplify the silhouette and try to unify some of the shapes.

So when you see it, it’s like yeah, you’re right. But I’m still working, I’m still learning to get at that level, to see that, simplify shapes, and I’m getting much, much better since I joined. But still someone have to like say no, you can do this better and put it there.

And when you see, it’s like damn it, you’re right. – Yeah, so it depends on where you get the feedback from. – Yeah, it depends. I mean, it depends. Like sometimes, when you get some feedback from imagine like a narrative for how is the character or if you’re transmitting that with your sketches, ideas or not, like that of course coming from words doesn’t come in from a paint over, but you get those, it’s like make sense.

– That’s interesting, yeah. That makes sense. So you don’t have a degree? – No, no, no. So some people, I mean I like always to be really clear with that because I feel like it’s a different ways to get where you wanna be. So all my life I grow up like family or people around you like you have to do these to get that.

At the end it’s like don’t have to be like this. It’s different ways. Could be maybe harder or whatever, but it’s different ways.

– I’m curious, what are your thoughts on art school? – I mean depends where because here I went to Gnomon or I went to the San Francisco artists school too and they are amazing. I wish to had a chance to study here when I was in Spain at that time, like for me, like the most close to art stuff was like life drawing or like paint like fruit and vegetables. So there we didn’t have any culture about games.

So it’s not game industry or like a studio. I mean like classes for that or whatever. Probaby today it’s better.

I don’t think it’s like here, but at that point, like when I was there, like it was empty with that kind of thing. So for me never was an option. – What sort of things, like say somebody who’s watching this that just finished school and they’re curious whether or not they should go to art university or college, what advice would you give them? Like for making that decision? – Well, my advice is like first, like do whatever you wanna do. So if you think for you it’s better to go to the art school and do it and learn there and finish it, whatever, do it.

Like if I’m saying I didn’t do that, doesn’t mean that’s the way to get here. So that’s another experience. But if you are kind of like in my side where you are not good like a student or you don’t enjoy that, like don’t frustrate yourself. Work hard and you can get there too.

So doesn’t matter what you choose, you just do it with passion, with love and enjoy what you’re doing. And that’s my advice, just enjoy what you’re doing. Doesn’t matter, don’t think about. Most of the people, like in this world, like think in the steps they have to do to get in somewhere. Sometimes yeah, you have to be realistic, but I think you have to follow up yourself, believe in yourself, trust you and just go through.

It’s not like okay, because I meet this guy, he did this, this, this, this, I need to do the same. Don’t do that ever, that’s not my advice. Like feel free to choose your path and just be clear where you wanna get. – Mm-hmm, right.

Yeah, that’s something that I’ve learned talking to different artists. Like my advice previously before talking to everybody was like don’t go to university because it’s a waste of money. But after hearing from so many people who did go to university and they had a very good experience, and if anything, it was the reason that they were able to get a job, it sort of changed my perspective and it does, I think it very much depends on, for one, the sort of person that you are. And like you said, if you don’t do well in school and if you’re, I think that’s important as well, if you can learn yourself like on YouTube or reading books or something and you can do that, like not everyone can do that. – Yeah, also the most important, like some of those things, like art places, like art schools like here, they are really expensive.

So don’t think it’s the only way to just go through one of those schools to get a job. Like, if you can’t afford one of those schools, like go to YouTube, like learn online and learn from others and you’re gonna get the same level as those guys they go to the school. I think that’s cool. Always I look at them like when you are not, that how to say like it’s not mature but like what I’m trying to say when you are a guy who knows like you’re gonna sit in that desk for two hours, three hours and you’re gonna do it, you are like self-motivated and you are strong enough to do it, it’s like cool, nice.

But for those guys who are not that strong, like dude, this is impossible to me to sit in that desk and do something, go to a school is the best way for them because they’re gonna force themselves to go to that school, sit there and listen to the teacher. So they’re gonna get used to that workflow in a time. But some of them, they are super, I mean there are people who maybe they don’t have any resources, they are in countries where I don’t know, it’s not that easy to get anywhere.

So thanks to Internet or whatever, they can do whatever they want, yeah. So it’s more about you, how you wanna get it. And then your resources. – Mm-hmm, yeah, it really depends if you do choose the school route which school you sign up for.

Because I think there are a lot of scams out there. Like, they advertise as like, do you like video games? Then you can get a job in the video game industry, we teach you how. And I think they’re just scams. – I mean for me, if I have to choose or help to choose, like I try to check who are the teachers. So if the teachers are people who work in the industry or they have kind of experience, for me it’s good.

If they are people like in the school I went, like that thing, the teacher, they were like former students so what are you gonna learn? You’re not gonna learn anything. But for example I know like some people, one of the guys, like he was doing an internship at Riot, his teacher was Sam Neilson. And it’s like, dude, I wish my teacher was Sam Nielson.

So if you go to the school and Sam Nielson is your teacher, yeah, go for that school if you can for sure. Yeah, so check, check. Like double check who are there. And if you recognize some of the guys or you feel motivated for some of them, like this is a good option. – Yeah, yeah definitely. And also, check the students’ art, see what they’re producing.

Because some of it’s quite sad. – Well, the thing is like, I don’t know, like I think some of those art schools, they promote themselves with the student work. I don’t know, they have, imagine, like 200 students per year and just to show this stuff from two guys?

I’m gonna get the sense or what they’re doing? I don’t think so. – Yeah, exactly. – Like if you get 200 of anybody, the top 1% is always gonna be pretty good. Yeah, how do you see the other 99%? – I think it’s what I said before, like you need to just check like who is behind those classes, what they’re doing, because what you’re gonna do is, I mean you’re not gonna learn more because people around you is doing better or worse.

I think it’s how you’re gonna get it. Of course, like an environment where everyone is like going, learning a lot, going faster, you’re gonna go with them and you’re gonna be awesome. But the basic is the guy who is talking to you. That for me is the basic thing. If that guy motivates you and you trust him, you see him as a guy who you wanna be like him, yeah, that’s good enough to choose a place. So yeah, like the way I decided to, like I wanted to do games, like working in games, was because I was playing World of Warcraft you remember and a friend of mine gave me like a dossier for a school, art school.

So that art school was for three years and most of them was about traditional animation. I was doing animation for cartoons, stuff like that. But also I had like life drawing, color class and stuff like that. Some of 3D too. Like there I learned to model something, but it was really bad.

Like I remember like you have the concept like this, like you put the planes and start modeling, it’s like oh my gosh, I have to do this? I can’t, I can’t. – Poly modeling, right?

– Yeah, so I remember I hate 3D at that time. This is boring, this is so boring, I don’t like it at all. I think I came back to 3D when I met ZBrush. – Oh really? – Yeah, I remember like some friends, they were working with ZBrush and I was like, wait, wait, wait a second, this is like clay you can move around, blah, blah, blah? Yeah, yeah, yeah, look at that.

And I was like oh, so you don’t need again like this poly modeling with those planes there? Like, no, you can go free and do it. So that’s why I started. – Wow, yeah, seems like ZBrush was like a big changing point for the industry, right? – Yeah, yeah, yeah for sure. – On that note, I’m curious, like a lot of artists, actually a lot of people around the world are worried about automation or like AI taking the jobs of the future, right?

So I’m curious from your perspective, do you think there’s any let’s say smarter software that could make certain jobs or tasks in what you do redundant in say, five to 10 years? What you mean, like I want to get what you mean. Like something that’s gonna take what we do in like any program or? – Yeah, well like say there’s like I don’t know, retopology as an example, like ZBrush does like a ZRemesher, which is quite good. So some tasks like that. Is there anything that, yeah, like could you foresee any software taking away jobs from artists?

– I hope so. – Yeah? – Like, I said to everyone around me, you wanna be rich? Just like create a program who make the retopo for me. Like a good one, not like something, like ZRemesher is nice for proxy models or something like that, but never gonna be like the final one. So if someone create that, that could be awesome.

I hope so. People create like tools like the things I don’t like to do they do for me, all the technical stuff. But anyway, no joking about that, I’m pretty sure like in the future, like a new technologies they can, for example like I think it was a huge thing, like a scan, 3D scan? – 3D scanning, yeah. – Start using those, like it’s kind of like putting away like some character artist’s job. They are kind of like cleaning on top of that, they are like 3D scanning everything for that thing.

So yeah, I’m pretty sure, like I mean this is like both things so I’m pretty sure like in years, it’s gonna be like a new tools it’s gonna kind of like, no, it’s not gonna take us away but it’s gonna facilitate what we do. – [Andrew] Facilitate. – Yeah, facilitate what we do I’m pretty sure. But I guess like I’m ever like a creative stump, like a creative side. If you’re creating characters, you’re, I don’t know, like if you’re creating monster stuff, like monsters or I don’t know, whatever, always gonna come. I don’t think it’s gonna came from a program.

Program is gonna facilitate our workflow. – Or help you, yeah right. – But never it’s gonna do our job. I’m not sure. Maybe like in Matrix, maybe we can put a cable here and you can like I don’t know, print orc or something like that from your brain.

But I don’t know if it’s gonna be a future pretty close to us, I don’t know. – Yeah, any advice that you would give to a young 18-year-old out there that’s got the world ahead of them and they wanna work in this industry? – Hmmm, I think like my advice would be like enjoy what you’re doing.

Like don’t trust, don’t run to get something. Like just enjoy. Of course like you’re gonna prioritize. You’re gonna get your goals or whatever, but enjoy. So don’t frustrate too much yourself.

Like it’s a long journey and every day count to get better. So it’s not like something like this. Like that was my mistake.

Like I tried to rush, I tried to run, I tried like fuck, I’m gonna work a lot, I’m gonna learn this, I’m gonna learn that. Sometimes I didn’t in my life I didn’t enjoy what I was doing sometimes because I really want to get something, so that could be my advice for people. Like, they’re gonna get there, I’m pretty sure. Like no worries, it’s just about time. So enjoy and try to be smarter with the decision you’re taking, what you’re learning and stuff like that. But you’re gonna get there, you’re gonna get there.

I’m pretty sure, yeah. Some people they think they never gonna get, blah, blah, blah, it’s like you know, it’s a space for everyone, yeah, I’m pretty sure. – Fantastic. – Cool!

– All right, thank you. – Thank you man, bye.