The Art of Koola
What is your background?
I studied computer maintenance, but I have always been attracted by 3D. This is the reason why during my free time I enjoyed doing some rendering (essentially with V-Ray) which I posted on 3DVF at the time. That is when I got spotted by Ubisoft Montpellier, where I managed to get a job as an environment artist.
I stayed there for 8 years, as an environment artist, FX artist and finally lighting artist. I recently stopped to dedicate myself entirely to my new project: HK.
Where does your taste for architectural scenes stem from?
Actually, since I’m more interested by rendering, I don’t want to spend too much time on modelling (moreover, I’m not very good neither fast at modelling). I want to quickly be able to enjoy lighting, shading and rendering.
So I started looking at architecture pictures in search of something that could be quickly modelled and textured but which would make good tests for lighting.
What were your inspirations in architecture?
Amongst others, I have been particularly fascinated by The Third & The Seventh by Alex Roman.
You play a lot with seasons, why?
For the different atmospheres and range of colors.
How did you discover the Allegorithmic tools?
Some time ago at Ubisoft, some of the Technical Directors started having a closer look at these kinds of tools to enhance production speed. I must admit that I was a little hesitant at first because I had some prejudice. For me, procedural necessarily had an unnatural kind of feeling, very “computer-ish”.
But when I saw what some artists were able to do with it, and particularly on Polycount, I was mindblown. This is when I started to get interested in the Allegorithmic tools.
How did your use of Substance Designer change your approach to texturing?
What initially was a pain has become a real pleasure :).
I like to iterate a lot. With a traditional texturing pipeline, it’s inevitably very long to iterate. You have to edit each map of a material individually. With Substance, it’s possible to do everything directly, you don’t work on textures anymore but on materials.
Moreover, the nodal approach nicely matches my workflow.
Can you tell us more about your new project, HK?
With Viv, we’ve been thinking of making a game for a long time. With the release of Unreal Engine 4, we thought the moment was right (thanks to Blueprint and thanks to Epic for the dev grants).
I’d rather not talk about it too much for now, we are still in research phase. Being both graphical artists, we have to learn everything about animation, gameplay, Id, etc... which is taking a lot of time (but is very exciting).
What is your production pipeline on this project?
For props, after having modelled high/low poly, we use Substance Painter for baking basic maps (normal, AO, etc.) and for texturing. Concerning flat surfaces like walls, grounds, etc. we use Substance Designer for creating tileable materials, that we have just started blending together with vertex paint in Unreal Engine 4.
Do you have an estimated date of release?
No not at all, it is going to take a lot of time :)
If you want to follow the advancements of Koola's new project, check out HK's official blog: http://hk-devblog.com/