Mr. Carlos Villas: Great But Grounded

by Joshua Diokno   

Mr. Carlos Villas is a breath of fresh air.

He is youthful in his articulation. We feel his excitement upon divulging his favorite projects–like a kid who wants you to know what he’s been up to all afternoon. But that doesn’t mean he’s immature. He is actually one serious artist with genuine passion.

His expression of aspirations and experience are not for the faint of heart–not mere lip service. These serve the interest of the craft, and boy aren’t glad of his relentless enthusiasm! His works are breath-taking pieces: each is a practice on tedious detail magnificent artistry. To use the term “spectacular” is an understatement.

Mr. Villas is versatile and not shy at implying that he wants to be as present in all expressions of his discipline as possible. Because of this, our team here at Xeno Creatives was inspired to be better at what we do. Our appreciation for Mr. Villas’ time cannot be further stressed.

Here, we get to know the things that he had gone through to become the true artist that he is today.

Xeno Creatives (XC): Zbrush technology made the world wider for visual artists in the digital industry. It opened up a lot of possibilities for style and technique. When you first got involved with ZBRush, what processes did you have to learn to be skilled at it.

Carlos Villas (CV): I was working as an Illustrator at first and ZBrush just hit me right in the face! (lol), I just couldn’t believed the amazing things that these artists were doing. I was trained as a traditional artist and that included some sculpture so it wasn’t as if I started from zero, but it was close to it.  At first I got Pixologic`s Sculptris and just started playing with it and it was love at first sight.  The program is so simple that it is exactly like drawing on 3D.  I played with it for some time and then I just had to go for ZBrush. It`s a pretty intimidating software at first because it has so many options (and this is exactly what makes it great), so I have been teaching myself through YouTube videos and tutorials the same way I taught myself Photoshop.   You can learn anything these days online.

XC: Did ZBrush help you in furthering your art?

CV: Of course, it has helped me add a whole new level of realism and volume in a really fast and “simple” way.  I`m still really new to the program and I `m aware that I`m not using it to its full potential. But I`m learning more about it with every image I make. It corrects my poses, lights, and shadows every time.

XC: When did you decide to use ZBrush in 3D creation? How did it happen? Do you want to explore other media or do you want to just focus solely on ZBrush?

CV: I actually tried a couple of 3D programs when I decided to go for it–ZBrush was the third one I tried.   Maya was the first, but I opened it and started watching a tutorial and just got bored. It didn`t feel “natural” for me. It was too intimidating for my first try at 3D, I don’t remember the second software I tried, but what I loved about ZBrush was that even if I wasn’t familiar with most of the tools, I could just open it and start sculpting.  I just got hooked on it instantly. Now, as I am learning more about the software, I am looking into what could possibly be the next thing that can help me to evolve in my craft. I’m using Keyshot and learning Maya, as an addition to ZBrush. But so far ZBrush is my starting point when going 3D and then I go to the other software to render and polish what I do in it

XC: Before ZBrush, what were the media that you used?

CV: Before Zbrush I only used Photoshop. I started as an Illustrator and evolved into concept art and that pretty much did the job                                            

XC: Do you have to be good at human anatomy when working with ZBrush?

CV: Of course it is! You have to learn the rules in order to be able to break them down properly.  You actually have to study human and animal anatomy. You kind of learn to dissect everything you see and apply it into your artwork.  I guess artists just see things in a different way (at least I know I do).

XC: Was your art a real passion to begin with or is it just something that pays the bills?

CV: As the story usually goes, I started to draw as soon as I was able to hold a pencil.  There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to try to make a living through art. I studied Graphic Design, then Fine Arts in Mèxico`s La Esmeralda and commercial illustration at Pratt NYC, but all traditional stuff, and many years later, I discovered (really late) digital art and started teaching myself photoshop through YouTube tutorials and trial and error.

XC: Do you see yourself working in the movie and television industry?

CV: Yeah! This year I started doing work for the Movie industry.  I have done a couple of movie posters (indie projects) and some concept for both characters and creatures so it`s starting to move that way slowly, but surely.

XC: Your works online are just JAW DROPPING. All of them are just really good. Do you have any favorite works? What are they and why?

CV: Thanks a lot!  Lately I have been able to choose my projects a little more, this way I know that whatever I`m working on inspires me and makes me happy.   

Usually my latest project is my favorite, or the one that gives me the most freedom to create some really cool monsters! Lol.  Right now, I`m working on an amazing game called CRIMSON HILLS based on CTHULU, so what`s not to love about that eh?  

I think my CTHULU piece is one of my favorites so far.  I wanted to do that monster/god for a long time and I was finally given the chance to go for it. (attached), and just to mention a few of my favorite pieces I`ll throw in there (also attached) QUEEN 1, DRAGON CONCEPT, MINOTAUR, KILLER and RED DIAMOND. QUEEN 1 and KILLER were a pitch for a HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE cover, so I had no limitations with it and I was just able to play around and do whatever I wanted.  MINOTAUR was a creature/character concept for a book done in black and white that I loved also because Minotaurs are so cool! RED DIAMOND was a book cover where they gave me a scene and a couple of important points about the monster and was given a lot of freedom. I just loved how it came out, and the DRAGON CONCEPT was (of course) for a book filled with dragons.  They advised me to go as realistic as I could on it and I was pretty pleased with the outcome. I learned a lot from doing it.  I could just go on talking about them  🙂

XC: Who do you consider as your influences? How were you attracted to them?

CV: Influences, the first one was of course Frazetta and then Vallejo.  As a kid I treasured their books whenever I could get my hands on one of them. They were filled with this amazing creatures and scenes in such an artistic and realistic way that just stayed in my head for a long time.  

I love a lot of the classic masters like Caravaggio, Goya and Rembrandt, more recent Lucian Freud, Bacon, Jenny Saville, Giger, Odd Nerdrum…. I could just go on and on here…  I have a pretty wide range of artists that I love for no particular reason other than when I see their paintings they just hit me in the face like a brick.  That`s the way I think art should make you feel, at least the one I like to do.

XC: What other works do you still want to create?

CV: At the moment I think I would love to focus more on concept art for creatures and characters.  I would love to just go wild and create a whole world of my own, dark and fantastic as hell, no pulling punches.

XC: Do you see yourself engaged in Game Character Design as well?

CV: Yes, as I mentioned, I`m working right now on Illustrations and concepts for the CTHULU game, as well as 2 other games (that I can`t mention because of NDAs). I`m finding that games give you an amazing range of freedom and creativity so it definitely is a field I`m interested in.

XC: If you weren’t a digital artist, what do you think you’d be working as?

CV: If I wasn`t painting I guess I`ll be trying like hell to get into the writing & directing side of movies. That`s also a secret love I have and that I will surely try to explore sometime.

XC: Do you have any advice for individuals wanting to enter the industry?

CV: I`ve been given a lot of advices through the years, some good and some bad.  None of them truer than just be patient–it won`t happen overnight, it will take time but it will be worth it.  Let the art do the talking, just keep painting / sculpting.  You have to make yourself so good that they have to notice you. It might sound like a cliche, but if you want it bad enough, you`ll make it happen.

Yes Mr. Villas, as much as it might be a cliche, we recognize that no truer words could have been uttered. While we are in awe of your visual talent, what really got us is your passion and dedication to the craft.

We wish you all the success in your future endeavors! Want to see more of Mr. Carlos Villas’ works? Click here and be amazed!

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