Inspired Yet Original: The Art of Mr. Valentin Erbuke

by Joshua Diokno   

Mr. Valentin Erbuke is a student focusing on modelling, texturing, and shading at Gnomon School of visual effects in Los Angeles. He will be graduating soon. He had studied for two years in France before taking the leap and moving to California to pursue his dream career.

It is to Mr. Erburke’s belief that it is Gnomon that had given him the chance to be taught by amazing instructors such as Max Dayan, John Brown, Louie Tucci, and Miguel Ortega. As such, the quality of his work comes to us as no surprise.

Though seemingly inspired and taken from other sources, his works take on a tone of originality. His executions are crisp, rich in detail, and ultimately of top tier quality.

And him getting there is paved with a great deal of effort. To say the least, Mr. Erbuke is empowered not only by talent but by will that is endemic to artists of his calibre. The best part? He credits that all good effort are those done by a team. He is not a lone wolf–he believes in what the pack can do. He says it best:

You will only go so far alone. I treat every project as a team effort even when I am the only one pressing the buttons.

So let us get to know Mr. Erbuke through this feature and see what genuine digital artists are made of.

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

Valentin Erbuke (VE): I first discovered ZBrush three years ago when I was studying in France. It really opened a new world of organic modeling for me. I never thought of UI as a problem so it was easy to start experimenting with all the tools. However, I had to appreciate the difficulty of the learning curve especially as my fundamental skills were not fleshed-out enough. It took me a while to figure out my workflow and most of the tools that I still use today. Everything really came together when I took the Digital Sculpting class with Louie Tucci.

At the time my techniques and my critical thinking were getting much better. I also had the chance to be working alongside with amazing students. One on one time with Instructors can be limited because they are usually busy teaching other classes or working within the industry. So, the people you see the most are your peers. It is really important for me to socialize with other students as they have really valuable skills and techniques that I might not know. I keep learning new things and honing my skills everytime I use ZBrush.

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

VE: ZBrush really helped me bring my organic work to the next level. It gave me the ability to detail things close to realism and reproject the detail work on texture maps. I use the same workflow with my hard surface work as well. ZBrush has the ability to increase resolution like no other software, which is why I use it for every project.

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

VE: A true passion! I come from a mixed background where I first learned more technical skills like programming. When I was younger I thought I would end up in a scientific field. However, I realized that looking at words and equations all day was not for me. During my time programming, I made small video games where the need of graphics led me to 3D.

When I first delved into this new field, I felt like a magician and instantly fell in love with it. My best friend motivated me to make a short animation together that at the time took us way too long to complete, but it is then that I developed a passion for 3D computer graphics.

Since then, I haven’t stopped loving learning more and more everyday as this industry is so complex. There is always something new to keep me going and I just adore it! The balance between the technical and the artistic side reflects the way I see life in general.

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

VE: I am still a student at Gnomon School of visual Effects, but what I think helps me the most is my technical background. I am always trying to find solutions to optimize my workflow, or ways to troubleshoot faster. I am rarely hindered by the software and it allows me to really focus on the craft rather than just pressing the right buttons. I even script tools that I incorporate to my workflow to speed things up. The other thing is dedication. My friends and I at Gnomon sit in front of our work all day long, seven days a week, and the results really show for all of us!

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

VE: I have been following a lot of artists over the last couple of years, and I had the great honor to even meet some of them, including my favorite artist Justin Holt. His work on Chappie has pushed the boundaries of reality while he was at Imagine Engine. I recently met his former student Paul H. Paulino that is an incredible inspiration. I also adore Andrew Hodgson, one of the best, if not the best, hard surface modeler I know. I have to mention the amazing Kris Costa from ILM that always bluffs me with his traditional sculptures!

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

VE: As I said I am still a student. However, I moved a lot and had to readapt to new environments. Fortunately, people are always nice to help me adapt, especially here in LA!

XC: What is your most exciting project to date?

VE: I am really proud of my two latest pieces, the digital portrait of an old man, and the first mermaid that I made recently while attending Gnomon. They are both a lot of work in a short amount of time paired with really fascinating technical and artistic challenges. The stress they both put on me made it a really intense experience and it was so liberating to be able to call them done just recently!

XC: Do you have any advice to aspiring artists?

VE: Absolutely! Stay curious! The worst thing you can do to yourself is believe that you mastered something. There is always something to learn from others out there. Which leads me to my second advise: give back. I really feel like sharing information is the key to progressing faster and further.

You will only go so far alone. I treat every project as a team effort even when I am the only one pressing the buttons. I am currently a tutor at Gnomon so I can share as much as I can all the time!

Thanks a lot to Xeno Creatives for interviewing me.

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


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