Mr. Frank Torrealba: His Place in the Industry and Continuous Development

by Joshua Diokno   

A character artist with a 16-year tenure in the industry, Mr. Frank Torrealba is not unlike any other digital artist. He was drawn into the craft through an inclination to drawing, comics, and videogames. Since then, Mr. Torrealba had gone into producing his own concepts, (awesome ones at that) that are notable contributions to the digital art industry.

But when asked if he had already established a place for himself in the industry, Mr. Torrealba had this to say:

I feel like there is always room to improve with my craft. If I ever become too complacent then I think that’s when the industry might pass me by, so I’m always looking to level up and find ways to get better and get faster at what I do. Humbling yourself and keeping the attitude of a student regardless of years of experience is super beneficial.

Mr. Torrealba is an artist who knows his value and place in the industry, but is still in the quest to improve himself further. We need artists like him to inspire more artists. That is why Xeno Creatives is more than glad to have had the chance to interview him. So today, let’s get to know Digital Artist Mr. Frank Torrealba and see what makes artists like him.

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”?

Frank Torrealba (FT): Like many others, I started drawing and reading comics at an early age. I feel like there was a kind of natural progression into video games from those two hobbies. One of the games that sparked my interest in 3D art and game development was Unreal Tournament and more specifically a character named Xan Kriegor. I just thought he was such a cool-looking character and wanted to figure out how to get my ideas for custom skins into the game. I started looking at tutorials on making skins and bought a book by the great Paul Steed called “Modelling a Character in 3DS Max” to help me understand the process and get more familiar with the basic concepts. At that point, I knew I found something I loved to do and wanted to continue investing in.

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?

FT: In 2003 I got my start in the industry at a company called 2015, Inc. (Medal of Honor Allied Assault and Men of Valor) as a prop artist and worked my way up to assuming the character artist role. Some artists from around that time inspired me to push forward were Brian Jones with his amazing hand painted characters, Anry Nemo with the beautiful and colorful illustrations, and Craig Mullins incredible water colors and digital illustrations.

XC: We saw your works over at ArtStation and we were completely amazed with your artwork. We noted your knack for detail and was intrigued with your creations for “Crowfall”. Is this something that you can talk about at length? Do you have any favourite pieces among your other works that may or may not be posted in the site?

FT: Thank you! Crowfall has been fun to work on. I think some of the pieces I enjoyed working on the most are the God statues. They presented interesting sculpting challenges with some of the details like the flowing cloth and action poses. I try not to shy away from difficult modeling or sculpting tasks because I know the experience will benefit me the next time I encounter a similar problem. Even if it’s not right away, it seems to pay off eventually!

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

FT: I feel like there is always room to improve with my craft. If I ever become too complacent then I think that’s when the industry might pass me by, so I’m always looking to level up and find ways to get better and get faster at what I do. Humbling yourself and keeping the attitude of a student regardless of years of experience is super beneficial.

XC: How does your day look like in production?

FT: My days are fairly simple as a character artist since I am near the front of the pipeline. Start it off with a meeting or two then dive right into my work for the remainder of the day. It’s key to maintain lines of communication with other departments to keep things moving as smooth as possible and eliminate any unwanted surprises!

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

FT: Meeting deadlines, solving discipline related challenges like modeling, texturing, or pipeline related, meeting or going beyond expectations for you or the project, and effectively communicating with the team are some common challenges one might face. I think if you try and work on being an effective communicator and be a facilitator for your fellow artists and other departments, it will go a long way in solving development-related challenges. It’s something I am always trying to get better at myself.

XC: As we had already mentioned, we had the chance of seeing your works online. It was such a delight. Your artwork is endearing. Do you have favourite pieces amongst your works? If so, what made them your favourite?

FT: I sculpted the Draugr as a personal piece years ago, but still to this day remains one of my favorite sculpts. That guy has a lot of character and asymmetry which made it really interesting to work on. A lot of that credit goes to my friend and co-worker Nik who initially conceptualized it. I think he would look great on my desk, so I’ve been meaning to 3D print him at some point!

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

FT: I worked on a lot of cool projects during my freelance days and I would consider Borderlands 1 and 2 to be in that category. Crowfall is also up there too. I think I just enjoy the concept of faction-based PVP-Centric MMOs since the early days of Dark Age of Camelot.

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

FT: My hard work and dedication to the craft. Along with maintaining a student like mentality that’s always willing to learn and get better.

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

FT: I would probably be a concept artist or an illustrator. My first love was drawing, so it would make the most sense I think! If not either of those, I might be a musician in some capacity since music is also something I am very passionate about.

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

FT: Try to get in the mind frame of being creatively prolific, be open to new ideas and learning new things, and hopefully one day you will reach the goals you have set out for yourself as an artist.

Want to see more of Mr. Frank Torrealba awesome works? Click here!

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