Exposure For Artists Interview – May 25th 2003
We would first like to get this started by you introducing yourself.
Neil: Hello, my name is Neil Blevins, I’m a professional artist
have been doing 3d for about 10 years now, but I also enjoy painting
and drawing. I prefer fantasy and scifi themes.
X4A: Could you give the brief summary of your path, which got you in
the position you are at today? Also, did you always know you wanted to
be involved in CG?
Neil: Well, I’ve been drawing and painting since I was 6 years
Originally I wanted to design toys, but then when video games took off
in the late eighties I decided I wanted to make videogames for a
living. I then got into 3d back in 94, and got a job at blur studio
after I graduated in 1999. Blur did videogame cinematics, ride films,
feature films, tv commercials, all kinds of different things. In 2002 I
left and got a job as a technical director at Pixar. Cg didn’t really
exist as such when I was born, so no, I didn’t know I always wanted to
do this, but I always wanted to do something creative and artistic, so
in that respect yes I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do.
X4A: With the market becoming increasing competitive, in your opinion
what do you believe is still a must that an artist has in his arsenal
Neil: Well, the market hasn’t become that much more
perse. There are certainly more people trying to get jobs, but that
doesn’t mean there’s no space for talented people. For example, the
division of square that produced the Final Fantasy film closed down
last year, and just about everyone who left the company who wanted to
continue to work in cg got jobs elsewhere. If the job situation where
horrible, a lot of those people might be out of work right now. Saying
that, if you have a good portfolio of work, you’ll probably do just
fine. Certainly experience and knowing popular 3d software helps, but
companies are still willing to retrain you if you have a strong
artistic portfolio, so just keep doing your work and work on improving
it, and you'll do fine.
X4A: You have Matrix listed as one of your favorite movies, are you
looking forward to the next two installments?
Neil: Most definitely. I just saw the new trailer for film 2 and
looks fantastic, I can’t wait to see all the stuff in the next two
films. I’m also very hopeful that the story will match the fantastic
special effects, I really liked the mood, feel and story of the first
film, and some killer performances, the great effects were just the
icing on the cake.
X4A: Did you have a favorite cartoon growing up? Favorite now?
Neil: I suppose it was either the Transformers or Goldorak.
was the french dubbed version of the Grenzier Japanese cartoon. Now, I
suppose simpsons and southpark are my favorite cartoons, but certainly
I’m interested in anything that has large robots hitting each other ?
X4A: Can you tell us a bit about the CD cover you did for the band
Neil: I’ve done a number of cd covers for bands before, so like
others, the band contacted me through email and asked me to work on the
cover. One big difference though was this band actually payed me for my
cover, I’ve had bands before who either wanted the work for free or who
promised payment and then didn’t pay me once the cover was done, it was
nice to work with some professionals for a change. Basically me and the
band collaborated on the cover, they provided me ideas and I tried to
focus them into coherant artwork.
X4A: Do you have any upcoming personal projects you can give us a peek
Neil: To peek at, no, but I have continued to do personal
past year, and hope to show a bunch of new stuff off this summer.
X4A: On your development of Quake 3 Maps, could you explain the process
Neil: Well, my friend steve at blur one day downloaded this
called q3radiant, which was the quake map editor used by ID to make the
maps for the original quake3. All the blur people were big fans of the
game, so I made a few maps. It's not that different from making stuff
in max or any other 3d package, although you have some different rules,
and of course it's not enough for the map just to look cool, you want
to make sure gameplay is ideal as well, so you spend some considerable
time playing your level, and moving things around based on how easy it
is to move from one area or another. Playing quake for as many hours as
I did, I had a good idea of what worked and what didn't, at least for
my own personal style of gameplay.
X4A: Do you have any advice for your fellow artists?
Neil: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you’re drawing (or
whatever) – that’s how you get better, by fixing the mistakes – and
draw everything, especially the things you’re really bad at drawing. I
used to be awful at drawing people, and I never would, but I got sick
of not being able to, so I practiced a LOT. I actually did a lot of
drawings of classical Greek and Roman statues, and I’ve gotten much
better. I still have a long way to go though…
X4A: And have you dived into any other new games?
Neil: No, I used to be a huge videogame fanatic when I was
played so many genesis games you'd be sick, so I've avoided games in my
adult life because if I started playing again I might do nothing else.
are like crack to me, best to lay off :) Quake 3 is probably my only
slip in years.
X4A: If you could have a theme song follow you around everywhere you
went, and we mean everywhere? What would it be and why?
Neil: It would probably be a devin townsend song, probably
his Infinity album. It's a short 4 minute instrumental, but if you ever
hear the song, you'll understand, I swear you can feel like you could
fly after hearing that song at full blast.
X4A: Have any tips for the Brazil users out there?
Neil: Well, first, buy the full version if you can, it's way
advanced than the old public test. Doing so will also get you access to
a lot of ressources, including 24 hour support chat, splutterfish have
setup a really top notch support network for clients, and gotten a
great team together to handle answering questions and suggesting
techniques. If only all 3d software could have a group as dedicated as
the splutercrew is.
X4A: What do you do to pass the time, when you are not in front of the
Neil: There's time when I'm not in front of the computer? Well,
try and get away once in awhile, I like hiking, drumming and playing
guitar. I also try and get out for dinners with friends and such. And
at work, I take yoga once a day, it's a great diversion in the middle
of the day, it helps focus me and gives my body a rest from sitting in
the chair. I also like reading and watching films.