“With my products, I like the challenge of making something you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, expect — something that hits you with the feeling of ‘I didn’t even know I needed such a thing till I saw it!’ If I can make a 3D model different than anything you’ve already seen before, then I feel like I’ve done my job.”
Daz Artist RawArt’s products are full of wings and horns, tentacles and teeth, pointed ears, and hybridized faces. These original characters exhibit a fine-tuned sculpting process that makes novel modifications to the human form. Daz 3D’s interview with RawArt peeks behind the scenes to learn how these creatures come to life. RawArt’s Artist store is his very own creature feature- full of Trolls and Orcs, Human-Animal Hybrids, Aliens and Goblins, 3D characters that put the myth in mythical, and fantasy in fantastic.
Hey RawArt. We have so many questions, but we have to start with inspiration. Where do you get your ideas for products?
Hi guys! “So many questions” is good — that’s what I’m going for.
The inspiration can come from anywhere. There are obvious things like TV and movies, where I would look at things and think “how would I make my take on that”. Sci-Fi and monster movies are always my go-to genres (who’d have guessed). Even if they’re “bad” or “B movies,” they still leave so much room for me to think “what could I do to make that better?”
And sometimes inspiration comes more from the technical side or new Daz technologies — I’ll ask myself how can I turn this cool effect in Iray into an entire character, rather than just a cool effect.
Awesome. So let’s say you have a solid idea for a product. What comes next?
A series of questions. If I already know “What should I make?”, I start modeling. After long enough, I’ll step away and ask “How can I make that even cooler?”
Then… “OK, that’s cool, but how can I push it over the top?”, followed by “How can I make it stranger? Better?”
When I get to “Does this even make sense anymore?”, I know it’s time to push it even further.
Sounds like a true artist’s process. How did you get into art and 3D modeling?
Even as a kid, I was always drawing and modeling weird creatures out of clay. The aliens in movies like Star Wars and shows like Battlestar Galactica fascinated me, and I would come up with my own creatures.
I eventually went to college and studied classical animation (because computer animation was in its infancy at the time… I am sooo old).
I eventually started getting interested in graphic design and taught myself all the computer work (which explains why I am not tech-y at all, most stuff I do is still trial and error).
It seems to us like it’s more ‘trial and success’ than ‘trial and error,’ but can you tell us about a time when something went wrong with a product?
To be honest, I think that happens at least once with every product. There is always something not working the way I envisioned it, or it’s supposed to in my head.
I quite often get ideas of how cool it would be if the character would be like this or that, only to find that even though it seems logical, or cool, to work that way, the reality isn’t so forgiving.
I just recently made wings for a Harpy to follow the figure’s arms, which worked so well in my plans. Like, the rigging would have been beautiful — but the reality of properly following Daz’s rigging didn’t work out, so I had to improvise another approach.
I had already fallen in love with the character design and I wasn’t ready to drop it.
So what are some character designs that you’re proud of, or still think about? Can you tell us more about how you created them?
AWG characterizes something I feel is very important in character design, which is the ability to make characters that — even though they are extreme shapes — still need to function well with built-in morphs and expressions.
There are a lot of creature shapes in various shops where you can’t even open the character’s mouth! I feel like if that happens, the creator has failed as a creature maker. Interestingly, I faced criticism in the forums because some felt my apes seemed too human. I take that criticism with pride, though — I’m a stickler for proper anatomical shaping, and a lot of research that goes into my characters.
In the case of AWG, the issue ended up being that my characters were able to work functionally with all the expressions, which allowed them to have more personality than people expected with apes and that made them look more human.
One key aspect that I always make sure to build into my characters is “personality,” so that when you look at them, you immediately get an idea of what they are like as a person and can instantly relate to them. That relatability makes my characters more than just a unique shape morph — it brings them to life.
The particular challenge with Manfred was how to make a ‘creepy old man’ character still look charming, like someone you would want in your artwork. Let’s face it, it would have been easy to just make him creepy looking and call it a day, but going that extra step to find those subtle elements that really give him personality made Manfred a big hit!
When making any kind of creature, they still have to be appealing and somehow attractive to the customer and, ultimately, whoever views our customer’s artwork.
But — this is particularly challenging with creatures that are very non-human looking. How do you make something with tentacles and oddly shaped limbs still look pleasing or attractive? After that, I consider the important aspect of making the underlying anatomy for the more alien elements still look believable on a humanoid form, because tentacles from a head is not really something that happens in our world (I hope).
After all that, there are also texture considerations to take into account, such as how to make the skin look simultaneously natural and alien. With Lekkulian 2, I spent a ton of time working with translucencies to get a look that still registers as skin, but avoids seeming human.
When we look at Lekkulian, we can see all that work definitely paid off. Do you have any places fans can go to look to see your artwork, upcoming products, or other things you’re working on?
Awesome. Let’s switch gears for a bit — what do you do when you’re not designing 3D products?
I’m a family man, so when I’m not working it’s all about taking care of my wife and son and making the best possible life I can for them. We just finished (well…it’s never really finished) building a new house, so most of my time is taken up getting this place in shape.
That’s awesome, and sounds like a ton of work 🙂 ! What are some other fun facts the Daz community would be surprised to learn about you?
I have had almost any job you can imagine in the past, from security guard to DJ (before being a DJ was cool, like now), canoe instructor to factory worker and Web designer. I even spent a year at Capcom (redoing old game graphics for cell phones).
When you were younger, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
“Happy”… I was simple, and I never had plans beyond that. But I grew up in the 70’s, so I can blame the hippie mentality 😉
That’s a great answer. Just a couple more questions: What’s something you’ve learned from your work that you want to share?
Never make something because you see products like it… make something because you don’t see anything like it.
We love that! Last one — what challenges have you overcome as you’ve developed into the 3D Artist you are today?
The big challenge with this job is not so much the artist side, but more so the business side. To make a success of this to any degree, you have to deal with more than just art. You have to realize this is a business, and structure your life accordingly.
You have to have dedicated work hours, so even if you are “just not feeling it”, you can’t slack off — you have to find some way to do something to help grow your business. It’s really not easy to make money doing this kind of thing, and it takes a lot of discipline.
I was told when I started at Daz that “creatures are not big sellers” — I was warned that I probably wouldn’t make much money making the characters I liked, and wanted to. But over the years, I like to think I’ve proven that what may seem like a long shot can be made into something popular. You really have to push harder when you live in the more niche areas of this market.
We can tell that you push. RawArt, it’s been fantastic… thank you so much for the interview, and keep on making amazing (and strange!) characters!
Thanks for having me, and don’t worry… there are more coming!
RawArt is, essentially, the Daz 3D fantasy OG, with a sensational repertoire of human-like characters that are both foreign and familiar. Attention to every detail, even the small ones, is one of this Daz Artist’s biggest strengths:
“My characters come with a lot of hidden functionality that people sometimes don’t realize. I pay particular attention to make sure all my joints bend well using Joint control Morphs, and I make sure that facial expressions always work well (even on extreme shapes) with Morph Control Morphs. To avoid them being just ‘another pretty face,’ I make sure my characters work for all my fans as best as I possibly can make them.”