Daz Artist Interview Series: MikeD’s 5th Anniversary

a collage of MikeD product images

From scripts, outfits, props, and more, MikeD has been creating 3D content as a Daz Published Artist for five years! Congratulations from all of us at Daz and thank you for the interview. Sit down with us and MikeD to learn more about the person behind the products. 

And if you haven’t checked out MikeD’s products in the Daz shop, go take a look at his artist store

The Interview

MikeD, thanks for taking the time to tell everyone more about yourself! Let’s start with the basics. How did you learn about Daz 3D?

I ran into Poser in the early 2000s and used it for a while. I searched in Google for its successor or something similar in 2015, and that’s when I discovered Daz Studio. I downloaded it to my PC and I remember being so thrilled about it that I stayed awake the first night discovering its features. As you can imagine, it has been installed on my PC and laptop ever since.

That’s amazing. We’re so glad you found us! When did you become a Published Artist?

I sent my first item to Daz sometime in May 2017, but my first release was on August 22 the same year.

How did you pick your artist name?

My artist name is the abbreviation of my real name, so it is not so fancy, but it was easy to pick.

There’s nothing wrong with that — we’re big fans of keeping it simple. How did you get into design, art, and 3D modeling?

This is a long story that involves my previous job. I studied biochemistry and used to work as a high school teacher. There were a lot of circumstances where I had to show an image of a molecule, picture of a cell, or even a short animation explaining a biological mechanism. There was a lack of these kinds of materials in my native language at the high school level, so I started creating very basic 3D animations. Gradually, these animations became more complex, and the need for more accurate 3D models led me to learn more about 3D creation.

a woman in a denim dress, cowgirl boots, and a hat poses against wooden crates
MD dForce Classic Jeans Outfit for Genesis 8 and 8.1 Female

Wow, that’s incredible that the desire to better instruct your students led you here. Now that you’re not creating for high school students, where do you get your inspiration when designing products?

Most of my scripts and plugins originate from my own needs to automate procedures in my workflow, create new tools for Daz Studio, or more easily organize and manage things. As for the other assets like clothing, environments, props, and poses, I get inspiration from everyday life, books, movies, or PC games.

And what does your artistic process look like?

The process begins with a general idea I form in my mind when I get the inspiration for my project. At this stage, I make a preliminary decision about the contents of my product. I try to picture it in my renders and how it can match Daz Studio’s figures and existing items. 

In the next stage, I use as many references as possible to reveal design patterns and small details I may have missed in my first approach. This really helps guide me to create realistic 3D models. The references may come from the internet, a movie, a description from a book, or from images I have taken with my camera. If I have access to the real cloth, environment, or prop, I prefer the last option, taking my own photos. This case is the most interesting because I can interact with it and use some of my images for the 3D textures as well. 

The modeling and rigging procedure is more or less the same for any content creator. At this stage, if I feel the need, I add or subtract some items from the contents of my product. 

In order to achieve the best texturing quality, I use software such as ZBrush, Substance Designer, and Substance Painter. At this stage, I create test renders to adjust the shader’s properties. Any dForce item is tested in this stage as well. 

Making the promos tests the items to the field. I try to make scenes for my product in combination with other products from Daz’s store to see how well they blend in. Final adjustments and fine tuning take place in this stage if needed.

a render by MikeD of a woman standing outside a stone building
MD Backyard’s Swing

We appreciate you being so thorough! We’re sure others will find this helpful. Is there an artist or style that inspires you?

The truth is that there are so many talented Daz PAs who inspire me that I cannot distinguish any one of them. I’m lucky to be friends with some of these artists, chatting with them in Daz’s PA Discord channel and trading thoughts and ideas about new projects.

What’s the most difficult aspect of designing products?

There are times that, no matter what I do, the lack of inspiration is so strong that I feel that no project suits me at the time. Normally, a break for a couple of days solves this situation.

So many of us can relate to that. On the flip side, what’s the product you had the most fun creating and why?

I believe that I had the most fun creating the Climb High Bundle. I used to climb myself, so I have all this equipment in my storage room, which I remember having scattered across my living room and next to my PC, measuring and modeling each one of them. This bundle has four independent items: wearable props, clothes, an environment, and poses. Creating it was very relaxing!

a render of the detailed climbing gear by MikeD
MDCH Climb High Bundle

That sounds fun! And now that you’ve reached your fifth anniversary creating with Daz, how would you say your work has changed since then?

Over time, I’ve been able to create better products faster and easier than before. I like investing my time in study tutorials and new techniques or different workflows that can improve my work. These tutorials also include the learning curve of some new (for me) cutting-edge software, which has definitely upgraded the quality and speed of my work. For the same reason, I have also gradually developed a lot of scripts in Daz Studio. Many of them are also available to other content creators through my site. 

Daz’s PA Discord channel has been a great help as well because I can discuss and find solutions about any problem or technique with other PAs or Daz’s people.

And what should we expect from you in the future?

A lot of interesting new things, including new scripts and plugins. Some of my most recent products are based on Greek mythology, history, and culture and were featured in the Demigod Series alongside Daz’s Noa 8.1.

What’s something we might not notice or don’t know about your products?

I am a great fan of scripts. Most of my props, environments, poses, and/or clothes include visible or auto-loaded, non-visible scripts to the user end. They significantly improve the user experience and offer some very convenient one-click (or a few) solutions setting up a scene.

a render of a man in armor inspired by Greek mythology
MD dForce Myrmidons Armor for Genesis 8 and 8.1 Males

That’s awesome! So how do you know when a product is finished?

For my scripts and plugins, I spend a couple of weeks testing it in its beta version. It’s in this phase that I make changes and adjustments to make it as friendly as I can to the user and, at the same time, achieve its purpose of using as few clicks as possible. I consider the script finished when I feel that it blends smoothly in Daz Studio. 

As for my other products, I feel that they are finished when the final renders look like the image I had in my mind.

What challenges have you overcome as you developed as an artist?

The greatest challenge I faced when I started working as a PA was splitting my time. I had to learn how to use some demanding 3D software programs, all while creating new products, working at my day job (which I left to commit to 3D creation a year after joining Daz), and enjoying some spare time all at once. Over the years, I’ve learned how to balance my time (most of the time) between all my activities. 

That is definitely a challenge — one that many may not think of. As a PA who has been with us for five years, what advice would you give to someone who wants to become a PA?

Always evolve.

Wise words. And where else can we see your artwork, products, and other work?

You can find a lot of stuff, including my photo collections, 3D work, and free scripts and tutorials about creating and/or using Daz Stuido, on my site. You can also follow my Facebook, ArtStation, and DeviantArt pages.

a render by MikeD of a man flying in a glider
MD Glider

Thank you! Now, let’s move on from work-related topics to something a bit more fun. What do you like to do when you’re not making awesome products or renders?

In my spare time, I like photography, watching movies, listening to good music, playing the guitar, or playing PC games.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Become a Daz PA earlier…

We appreciate your candor! But you’ve also had such a unique journey that’s brought you to where you are today. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a student, I wanted to become an air-force pilot. Due to my growing myopia, I couldn’t do this job, so the closest I reached to this was to fly a glider for a couple of years.

That sounds fun! And last but not least — if you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?

I think manipulating time is the superpower I would choose. Humankind has achieved things that can be considered superpowers like flying, healing, x-raying, etc. — but not time manipulation. What if someone could turn back in time and change some choices (considering that we won’t face time paradox issues)?

I think many of us agree that it would be very useful. But thank you for the interview, MikeD, and we’re eagerly awaiting what you come up with next!

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