Mr. Dániel Oláh: An Admirable Artist

by Joshua Diokno   

Mr. Dániel Oláh is not like the other artists Xeno Creatives have had the pleasurable chance of interviewing. He sure knows his place in the industry, but not quite how we understand it. While he recognizes that he has the inclination, talent, and skill to produce 3D concepts, Mr. Oláh denies himself of pride. We consider his criticism of his own works to be rather refreshing; he simply chooses not to laud his own efforts as he recognizes that this place him in a place wherein he would be too comfortable.

When asked about how he actually got started with the profession, Mr. Oláh remembers that it was brought about by necessity, not necessarily a strong desire or passion to produce 3D concepts.

While we always have our hands ready to give a pat at the back at he artist who declares that he or she fosters the craft out of the passion to do so, there is also something admirable with artists who perform out of sheer need.

Mr. Oláh is an artist to definitely watch out for. Let’s get to know him through this short interview.

Xeno Creatives (XC): We understand that with just about any craft, passion takes precedence. In your case, how did it start becoming a passion? Would we be right in assuming that you consider it a “calling”?

Dániel Oláh (DO): I have always loved to draw, especially with charcoal. Ever since I was able to hold a pencil, I’ve always decorated every table, book, my hands, etc. This passion to draw didn’t develop into an urge to produce 3D until very recently though.

I applied for admission to the local University of Fine Arts in Hungary as a traditional Graphic Artist, the kind that does etchings, not the kind that does useful stuff like web design. I had always been a gamer as well ever since computers became a thing, but for a long time, I didn’t think about how those games were made or whether or not I would like to make them.

I started 3D about 5 years ago when I wanted to make a small game with friends, but obviously we had no money and we only had 2D experience. As this was the reality, we didn’t find anyone to make the 3D props for the game, so it was more out of “fuck-it, I’ll do it”, than a true inner calling. Since then, I never looked back at 2D. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun with all the different aspects of 3D production. I didn’t sleep for a year and a half while I was learning 3D every day at home from YouTube and Polycount, and it hasn’t stopped since then. It’s just that now, I can’t manage without sleep for so long.

XC: Was there ever an art piece (digital or otherwise) or artist who served as a catalyst for your involvement in the craft? When did you get involved fully in the 3D industry?

DO: I didn’t know her name at that time, since back then I never have thought about who made the designs for the games I liked, but Laurel D. Austins’ work had a huge impact on me–as with the drawings in the “Warcraft 3” description book that came with the game CD. I know more about traditional art though, because until quite recently I was planning to be a more traditional artist that made critical, conceptual pieces. This part of me is on complete hold now, as I’m learning to be a better 3D artist every day. I’m not sure whether or not I want to brush away the dust from the old me now. I have been very lucky with the 3D industry. I first started working during my university years, when a guest teacher offered me a position at his small outsource studio. I had the chance to make props for the game called, “The Surge”. It was a blast, and it really taught me to keep up with deadlines. Then a few years later, not long after I finished my university studies, my current company, Digic Pictures, found me and offered me a Modelling job. There, a whole new universe opened for me. At Digic I’ve learned to make cinematic characters. I’ve had tremendous luck, so I’m probably not a good example for people who want to get into the industry, though I’ve practiced a lot and I’m still practicing a lot.

XC: Now that you’re an active part of the industry, would you say you have pegged a solid place in it?

DO: I actually don’t if Digic would be satisfied with my work, I don’t have a lot of industry experience with other companies. I only can say that with the few companies I’ve been associated with so far, I could probably fit in productively.

XC: How does your day look like in production?

DO: At Digic we are kind of lucky as modelers because we have to do different things with different software, which is good for me. I’d go crazy if I had to do just one small part of the production for a long time. We do character concept sculpts, head scan processing, facial blend shapes, prop modeling, marvelous clothes, detail sculpts and shotsculpts too. It depends on the project though, the “League of Legends” trailers are my favourite, because not only have I played the game a little, but because we so rarely get a concept of the character with our conventional battle arena games, we sculpt it from nothing. I have had the luck and the pleasure to sculpt and model quite a few characters from the “League of Legends” trailers such as Awaken, Senna, and Ruination. So far, my favourite is the task of sculpting and modeling Senna.

XC: What are the common challenges that a 3D artist like you encounters day-in, day-out in a project?

DO: Well, I guess it depends. For me, Marvelous Designer is the hardest. It has a completely different logic to it than what I’m used to. There is not always linear progress. I solve one problem and create two more, because these days we must do more and more stuff with it. It is definitely a challenge for me.

XC: We had the most fortunate chance to see your works online and we must say they are tremendously impressive. We really admire your style. How do you go about creating your pieces? Is there a personal “ritual” that you follow before working?

DO: I don’t really have a ritual. My personal works come mostly from lunch break sculpts, or weekend doodles that I decide to flash out.

XC: Do you have favourite pieces among your works? If so, what made them your favourite?

DO: No, definitely not. I hate all my works. I start out liking them when they are in the concept sculpt phase, thinking that this will be the work that will finally make me a good artist. Then I start to see only the bad parts of the work, what’s wrong with it, and I forcefully and angrily wrap it up, saying the next one will be better. Luckily it seems to me that at least compared to the former pieces I’ve made, my new ones are a little better, and that gives me some kind of hope. I’m almost sure, though, that if I ever become satisfied with my work, it will be a very bad thing.

XC: What would you consider your biggest or most exciting project to date?

DO: Working on the “League of Legends” trailers are probably one of the most exciting projects that I had been a part of to date. That at least proves to me that I can do stuff that people like. It was nice reading the comments where people said kind things about the characters I’ve modelled, even if I cannot really put them into my portfolio.

XC: If you were to market yourself what would you highlight as your edge?

DO: According to my leads I’m quite fast. They remarked that I finished tasks efficiently, often ahead of schedule.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what would you be working as?

DO: I’d probably be a chef. I’ve gotten into barbequing recently, learning the ways of barbeque smoke as a hobby, and I’m having almost as much fun with it as with sculpting and modeling.

XC: What is your message to other artists especially in these challenging times?

DO: Always be critical of yourself. Never think that you’re where you want to be, or that you are satisfied with your work. Thinking like that is the way to progress, even if constantly criticizing yourself might be unpleasant.

Want to see more of Mr. Dániel Oláh’s awesome works? Click here!

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