Gabriel d'Orazio, Meet MAT Winner
May’s "Meet MAT, Paint MAT" was our most successful contest ever, resulting in more than 1200 different renditions of our funny, friendly little mascot. Today we’re pleased to bring you an interview with Gabriel D’Orazio, who took first place with his "MAT by Vincent".
BONUS: Find Gabriel’s complete "MAT by Vincent" tutorial in this month’s edition of 3D Artist!
Hey Gabriel, thanks for taking the time for this interview, and congrats once again on winning the Meet MAT contest! Could you introduce yourself to the community?
Thanks a lot; it’s been a great pleasure for me! My name is Gabriel D’Orazio and I live in São Paulo, Brazil. I have a degree in graphic design and I’ve been working as a 3D artist since 2007. I am also passionate about photography and travel.
What is your background?
As is common in Brazil, I started as a 3D generalist, focusing on the advertising field. Most CGI studios here are focused on this market. Over time, I was able to focus on what attracts me the most: shading, lighting and rendering for still images and animation films. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in some great studios in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. I’m currently working at Zombie Studio as a 3D Shading/Lighting/Rendering specialist.
How did you discover the Substance tools?
I discovered the Substance tools via a video teaser that a friend shared with me. This video shows the process of texturing an airplane using physical particles that simulate dirt and stains supposedly caused by air movement. I was very impressed by what I saw, but I confess that, for several years, I thought it was a software only for the gaming industry.
How did you learn Substance Painter?
Around this time last year, we were working on a very cool animation project at Zombie Studio. I worked on that with some colleagues and we decided that it was time to put our studies into practice. After watching the training videos available on Allegorithmic’s Youtube channel, I started looking at the texturing process in a completely different way. It was our first animation project using Substance Painter and the result was fantastic. Since then I can’t texture any other way.
What motivated you to enter the contest?
I really liked the idea of Meet MAT contest and I thought it would be a good way to test the skills I had learned so far. The proposal was simple and objective, different from other contests, and anyone could dedicate a few hours a day to achieving a contest-quality result. Using a common model, all artists would be starting from the same point. Therefore, to have a shot at winning, was mandatory. This was what motivated me the most, but I must say that the prizes were incredible, too!
What did you learn from participating in Meet MAT?
Before the contest, I didn’t rely on Substance Painter to create relief details on my models, I just imported normal maps from another application, or I was baking the normal map from a high poly model.
During the contest, I discovered that Substance Painter is also a powerful tool for authoring normal map and height details. The impressive collection of hard surface normal maps and alphas made it possible to create a more complex starting point. This helped me a lot in creating realistic brush strokes for my character by adding relief to them, for example.
I guess this was one of the aspects that made this contest so impressive: despite the fact that the model was the same for everyone, there was a lot of diversity in the entries, with most of the models having their own style. It shows that Substance Painter is flexible enough to express any kind of style.
How did you come up with the idea of “MAT by Vincent”?
I knew that a good creative concept would be essential and possibly a key factor for a successful entry. It took me a few days to get the concept I was looking for.
First, I wanted to try and get away from the initial intention of relating the head structure to robots or armor. That was the hardest part. When I realized that it could represent a painting canvas, the rest came naturally. I tried to imagine what a funny MAT version of a great painter would look like. I am a big fan of Vincent Van Gogh’s work, so I came up with the idea of using his self-portrait as the character’s face. I believe that relating the name of the tool to the traditional meaning of “Painter” was a funny start and helped me to give more life to it.
Where you familiar with Toy Art before entering the contest?
Absolutely. I’ve always been inspired about Toy Art. Many of them are the synthesis of stories, whether they are action figures from movies, or a funny version of a public figure. As a 3D artist, I have the privilege of working daily to bring characters to life, even if it is only in the 3D world, and I am passionate about that.
How did you learn that you won? Were you surprised?
I was having coffee with some colleagues in the studio when my cellphone buzzed. It was a notification from another friend tagging me on the official Allegorithmic post. At first, I had the idea that I could be among the winners. When I opened the link and saw that I had not only been among the winners, but finished first, I was in shock. The feeling of seeing my character in the first place, with so many other spectacular versions of MAT, is still indescribable to me.
What has changed since you won the contest?
The recognition. There were several messages and friend invites in my social networks. It was great to get feedback from so many new people. My inspiration as an artist has grown. Now I feel more confident about my work and I feel excited when I think about new projects.
Which are your favorite entries from other participants?
There were so many good entries that I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to select the best ones. I could make a list of the ones that caught my attention, and among my favorites would definitely be:
– El Luchador "MAT" cho by benjitoddartist
– MAT the Ashen Knight by Erik Johnsson
– Chiselled by Csaba Baity
– Antique MAT by Liu Zinan
– Gooey MATooey by Terry Lee
– Painted Russian Doll by Lewis Labram
– Meet mat-steampunk by Vladimir Sergeev
– Material Ball Vending Machine by Andrii Mykhailov
Have you used or are you currently using Substance Painter for any professional projects?
I frequently use Substance Painter for work.
For example, it was largely used in the “Dream” project. I was responsible, among other things, for texturing some elements and characters such as the clean and the oiled pelican, the mother and baby rhinoceros, the baby seal, the first boat that appears on the scene, the trees and other small elements. This particular project was a challenge for me. It was the first job where I had the opportunity to use Substance Painter professionally.
The last project I textured using Substance Painter was the trailer for Total War: Warhammer Norsca. I was responsible for the textures of the Wulfrik (the main character), the mammoth and the giant spider.
Making Wulfrik was a wonderful experience and allowed me to reach the full potential that Substance Painter can offer. There were 15 TextureSet groups, individually worked on the same file, covering all types of materials, with large amounts of dirt, rust, snow and all the kinds of detail that the tool can provide.
What are your future projects?
I recently launched an animated short film "Finito", a collaboration with Mauricio Bartok, that screened at several festivals around the world, including the 2017 Shanghai International Film Festival and the 2017 Anima Mundi Festival. This was a whole new experience for me and I believe that new projects like this will soon come to life. In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of great projects at Zombie Studio, and as soon as I can, I’ll be sharing them with you guys.
Is there something we forgot to ask?
No, but I’d like to take this opportunity again to thank you all for launching a contest that gave participants the chance to challenge their abilities and create so many cool MATs. I feel honored that my work was selected as the winner.
Thanks again, Gabriel. Last but not least – could you send us a picture of you and your work desk?
Thanks to our friends from 3D Artist you can get access to the step by step tutorial from Gabriel coming from 3D Artist - October 2017.