Alejandro Castiblanco: How Complexities Make Him a Better Artist

by Joshua Diokno   

At the young age of 32, Mr. Alejandro Castiblanco is a Multimedia Engineer who has worked as a 3D artist for 10 years. Well-versed with Maya, he had also instructed how to use the software for hopefuls in the industry.

Mr. Castiblanco graduated from the Universidad Militar de Colombia. He took up a 3D course called, Ingenieria Digital de Diseño y Arte Tridimensional (Digital Engineer of Design and 3D Art). He chose this over being a Systems Engineer and a Graphic Designer as he wanted to be challenged. And seeing his works online, we are definitely glad that he took that route.

Xeno Creatives is more than grateful to be given the chance for this interview. Let us get to know Mr. Alejandro Castiblanco and find out how his passion for the craft and video games led him to become the digital artist that he is today.

Xeno Creatives (XC): How did your involvement in the 3D art industry start? Was there an event in your life that led you to decide that you’d be working as a 3D artist for the rest of your life?

Alejandro Castiblanco (AC): The first time I decided or was convinced to start studying 3D was when I saw “Toy Story”, I think I was about 10 years old at that time. I also owe my interest to video games such as “Donkey Kong” in Super NES with pre-rendered images, “Super Mario 64”, select titles for PlayStation and Nintendo 64. During this time, I was able to buy some basic digital arts magazine with 3Ds Max tutorials from a local editorial in Colombia, it also included a CD with some short films (it’s funny but a lot of them, especially those in 3D, were built with basic shapes, which was enough to make me fall in love with 3D; “Toy Story” was the trigger)

XC: Who or what influenced you the most? Was there a digital art piece or an artist whom you found to be really inspiring that made you aspire to become a better artist yourself?

AC: Maybe I should mention a lot of influences, but the one who stands out is Masa Narita. In 2010, I was able to attend a VFX event in Colombia, where I saw him showing a bit of his process and some of his work. Many of his suggestions resonated with me. He is now a legend in the industry with jobs in many top film companies.

Other artists worthy of mention are: Hossein Diba, Vimal Kerketta, Kris Costa, Ian Parra, Daniel Bel, Jesus Fernandez, Damien Canderle, Marlon Nuñez, Raciel Romero, Hector Moran, and Francisco Ruiz. But of course, there are more.

XC: What were the things that you had to go through to become a 3D artist? What was it like being thrown into the culture?

AC: Luckily there was only one university in Colombia offering a 3D course called, Ingenieria Digital de Diseño y Arte Tridimensional (Digital Engineer of Design and 3D Art). I think of myself lucky because it was an option presented to me. Being a Systems Engineer or Graphic Designer were the second options, but these never stuck with me. At that moment, I thought I’d do better by pursuing my goal that I saw to be more complex and more challenging.

It was not easy being in Colombia as, I think, the popular sites are boring and only a small amount of information are available. However, I felt loving 3D played an important part in the intention of doing CG content, experimentation, and learning the most from my teachers and books about the subject.

The past years have been a long path with complex situations and self-learning that had me pushing myself to get to a higher level. 

XC: What’s your workflow like? Could you describe how your day runs in production?

AC: For jobs, first, it depends on the amount of time availed of me to accomplish my goals. I work on collectible stuff for animated production (characters, vehicles, props). For characters, although bearing a different process, I try to work in a similar discipline. I first do static poses, just in A or T dealing with characters which makes my task a bit easier. I try to have a clean base Topology that permits me an easier way to rig and pose, in any 3D software. Doing Static Poses will help me with UV maps and give me a more convenient way of planning textures and rigging.

My production day is similar to an office job. I try to work multiple tasks depending on the number of works-in-progress. Sometimes it takes more or less time depending on how complex it is. To kick things off right, I start early in the morning.

XC: What are the common hurdles or challenges that 3D artists like you encounter day in day, day out in a project?

AC: There are a lot of instances wherein the customer decisions, the project duration, turn into hurdles. But what is challenging most of the time, the challenging part is when we don’t domain a topic. It has happened at least with character-defining anatomic shapes or when styling is pertinent, well at least from my point of view.

It’s amazing when a project doesn’t have to be modified and your customers ends up satisfied. 

XC: We’ve had the most pleasurable chance of seeing your works online. AWESOME might be an understatement. We know that it might be a tough question to ask, but do you have a favorite piece? What made it stand out for you?

AC: Thanks a lot for your kind words! I have two favorite pieces, although most works in my profile are personal and contest pieces (sadly, I can’t mention most of the collectibles as these are under NDA still). Maybe ADRIEL is one of them, the cyborg girl with the cat helmet. I am aware that a lot of the pieces in my portfolio need a touch-up. Adriel took some time all while I am doing another job. She brought me some customers and was one of my first attempts at female anatomy and organic and inorganic mixture.

The second one would have to be the futuristic car designed for an ArtStation challenge which got 2nd place through a public vote. This one is really special for me as I have this weird dream wherein I get to see it in real life, like a drone, or a real car, I don’t know (I think it has something that can work well in this generation).

XC: If you were to market yourself as a 3D artist, what would you highlight as your strengths, your edge?

AC: Well, I actually started working as a freelance artist offering my services as a modeler/sculptor as my specialty.

My strength is hard surface modeling. I pretend to model every kind of stuff, especially characters and organic and inorganic mixes. I do this for collectibles, T.V. commercials, games, animation, films, and others.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what could you see yourself working as?

AC: Hehehe good question, it’s weird but maybe as a graphic designer or an industrial or systems engineer. Before I even considered starting a career in the military.

Want to see more of Mr. Alejandro Castiblanco’s works? Click here!

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