Darkness, Detail, and Discipline: The Art of Mr. Marcus Trolldenier


by Joshua Diokno   

A ZBrush artist of two years, Mr. Marcus Trolldenier’s digital works are definite marvels. The darkness, the detail, and the discipline all espouse curiosity and awe.

But of course, things didn’t come easy. Among his contemporaries, sharpening one’s skills in the digital craft takes time, effort, and most of all, passion. His level of mastery of the craft comes as a wonder given that he had come from an entirely different industry. And boy, aren’t we glad that he decided to change careers.

Xeno Creatives is more than glad to have had the opportunity to feature Mr. Trolldenier and his works in this short, but insightful piece.

Xeno Creatives (XC): ZBrush technology brought a lot to the industry. What processes did you have to learn to be skilled in it?

Marcus Trolldenier (MT): Before I start, I would like to thank the guys at Xeno Creatives for their invitation to this interview. Thank you guys!

I started using ZBrush about 2 years ago and I remember that I was really impressed with what it’s capable of doing. You have so many ways, especially in ZBrush, to bring your ideas to life; so the most important part of it for me was distilling all possibilities inside the software so as to transfer it to a practical workflow for my daily work. I think that was the most important part of my learning experience with ZBrush.

XC: As a dedicated artist how did ZBrush help you further your art?

MT: I really like the way ZBrush works. I mean, I can model some quick concepts through Dynamesh or–since ZBrush 2018 was released–through Sculptris Pro. I have the ability to do what I want without thinking a lot about technical restrictions such as topology or edge flow. This is because I have the ability to re-mesh my model quickly by using ZRemesher, or–if I want more control–by using the ZSphere retopology workflow. I think the freedom to explore my ideas quickly is what helps me a lot.

XC: Was your craft really a passion to begin with, a hobby, or a mere job?

MT: My professional background is really different as from many other artists out there. I worked for a Motorcycle Company before, but I was always deeply impressed by a whole bunch of great Movies and Video Games out there. I was always curious with what is going on behind the scenes of those kind of productions. I came to a point in my life where I asked myself if I would want to VFX a try–a completely different field–and my answer was, Yes!

I started by reducing the work time of my main job and spent a lot of my time learning new things, like drawing, sculpting, and using all digital tools and programs like ZBrush, Photoshop, Substance Painter etc. At the very beginning of my journey, I did a lot of online classes to build up a solid foundation. Having Instructors who worked for companies like Disney, Bioware, and EA was, in itself, a great motivator. I also read a lot of books and saw a lot of online tutorials; I tried to absorb everything like a sponge. I believe that if we make an effort, everything is possible.

XC: Given your experience in the industry, what do you think is your edge as a 3D artist?

MT: That’s a good question! There are so many talented Artists out there and all of them recognize one rule: Do not takehe fundamentals for granted.

I really internalized this rule. The biggest part of my learning experience was to build strong foundations in art and design. Now I’m able to use these foundations as a guideline for my daily work. No matter which program or tool I use, I always have the ability to go one step back to analyze my own work.

XC: Whom do you do you consider your influence(s)?

MT: There are so many artists and personal friends out there who influence and motivate me with their artwork.

I really like Mickael Lelievre’s works. I really like that his sculpts are full of details but they never look too “noisy” or overloaded with details. He also has a great sense of  form language and his work always made me happy; that’s what I really like about his work. But there are more artists like, Rafael Grassetti, Kis Costa, Mariya Panfilova, Phil Nguyen, Aritz Basauri, Jama Jurabaev, and so on, whom influence my work.

XC: We have had the opportunity to see your works online and we must say, we are impressed with your attention to detail. Do you have a favorite piece? If so, what made it your favorite?

MT: No, I don’t have a favorite piece. However, a few months ago, I started a personal project (the one with the two fighting Moray eels) only for practice. I then posted it on ArtStation and ZBrushCentral. A few days later, I got some messages of friends and they said: Hey congrats, you’re top row on ZBrushCentral! It was really cool because I did not expect that, so this was a really fun moment.

XC: So far, what were the challenges that you had encountered working in the 3D industry?

MT: There are a lot of companies, especially here in Germany, who ask you about your degree first. If you came out of another profession, like me – they wouldn’t want to see your portfolio anymore! That’s not how it should be, but that’s the way it is. So, one of the challenges is to build up a network around you, physically and electronically on social media. These will allow you to show the people or potential clients around you, that you have the ability to work for them.

XC: What is your most exciting project to date?

MT: I’m very interested in historical things, especially in Regensburg, my hometown. There, you can feel the history behind every corner. At “Medieval” center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have a new project at the moment but  can’t say much about it. I’m already in contact with some museums and we are planning something along the lines of an immersive 3D experience. I think this project has the potential to be my most exciting project yet.

XC: Do you have any advice to aspiring artists?

MT: If we’re looking at platforms like ArtStation and we see those great pieces of art, from those outstanding Artists like Rafael Grassetti or Raphael Lacoste – use their work to stay motivated.

Do not think that you will never be as good as your idols. The difference is, if we use them as motivation, then we have the ability to work on our skills–to work on ourselves. If we work hard enough, we will only keep getting better and better. That’s like a law in nature!

If we have negative thoughts, like, “no I can’t do that. . .” or “I’ll never be as good as. . .” your motivation will become less and less. If we are not careful, then maybe we can’t continue the practice. So always stay motivated. Do not stop practicing and try to have fun. In this way, you will definitely get something back!

For more of Mr. Trolldenier’s awesome works, click here!

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