Mr. Gabriel Barbosa Fronza and His Knack for Detail

by Joshua Diokno   

The rituals of artists vary. But mostly it’s about the realization of an idea, the exploration of each of its facets, and the work that eventually follows. And what we probably know but do not realize is that artists are always set on the details of life. Nobody knows this like Mr. Gabriel Barbosa Fronza. He has a personal ritual wherein he observes everything around and about him, enlisting how his environment looks, how his personal clothing article register on his body, and even as far as taking his own colleague’s likeness to integrate as video game characters.

Mr. Gabriel Barbosa Fronza’s creation process is one of simplicity, but fascinating at the same time. But of course, there is more to mere process, he also knows the influence that artists can have on people and how these can effectively cause change in their world.

So now let’s get to know Character Artist Mr. Gabriel Barbosa Fronza in this short feature to see another facet of 3D art creation.

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”?

Gabriel Barbosa Fronza (GBF): It started with my first ever playthrough of the game Chrono Cross, by Square Enix. It opens with beautiful pre-rendered cinematic displaying 3D characters experiencing deep emotions. That touched me a lot. I became fascinated by the empowering journey of these characters, from leaving their comfortable homes to find meaning in life and to bring change in the world. As someone who used to feel quite insecure about myself as a teenager (as many of us do), that found inspiration led me to fight and pursue my dreams in life and to become an artist too. It led me to leave my small town in Brazil, become an artist and now have a life in the Netherlands. In my art, I strive to encourage my audience the same way that I have been once encouraged by those characters.

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?

GBF: There are too many to mention but one notably was a neighbor of mine who turned out to be an indie game developer (Michael Neugarten). As someone with experience in the field, he let me know that the only thing that separates the ones who succeed from the ones who don’t is their mindset. So I moved to London looking for work and later he shared with me a link to a competition at Creative Assembly for an intern position. I told myself I had in me the drive to win it and so, for three consecutive weeks, I worked on a 3D version of Julius Caesar non-stop. Luckily my girlfriend at that time was doing the groceries for me, or else I would have starved. Finally, I got my foot on the industry’s door when the Creative Assembly artists picked my work as the winner. What a relief!

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

GBF: I have just left my full time job as a lead character artist and have been working as a freelance character artist for a year. I must admit, I have a lot to learn in my new role, especially when it comes to getting new clients and managing my connections. I feel pegged particularly in the local industry (Netherlands).

XC: How does your day look like in production?

GBF: I start my day with some planning in advance. I set plans on how I am going to spend my day through Google Calendar. I also open Trello (depending on the project). Through this organizing platform, I see my most pertinent tasks and plan around them accordingly. After that, I jump straight into work.

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

GBF: I think clear communication with the client is the biggest challenge. To be able to know what clients want exactly, I have to have genuine curiosity and run a battery of questions to extract the right picture from their mind and then translate it into paper.

XC: Getting the chance to see your works online was such a visual treat. Your concepts are just as amazing as your eye for detail. How do you go about creating them? Is there a personal routine that you follow before working?

GBF: Well, thank you. I usually start with a concept in mind, from that concept I create a nice mood board with everything I can find to give the scene life. The image below is my mood board for my latest project:

Once I know what I’m working on, I research many more images for every single 3D element, so I can give it life in the smallest of the details. Even for the socks of the character, I spend some time looking at my own socks, observing how the stitches are sewed on it, how the left one folds a bit differently around my lower leg than the right one does, how the little Muppets embroidery looks when the sock has already been washed many times. How holes appear and dirt builds up, etc… Maybe this process sounds boring to some people, but actually creating art with such care and attention feels relaxing and quite rewarding. Imagine that out of nothing, one makes something that has some meaning and somewhat real in the viewer’s mind.

XC: Do you have favourite pieces amongst your works? If so, what made them your favourite?

GBF: Definitely my last piece, “Keep Clear: Covid”, since I spent so much time on it, trying to push myself out of my comfort zone to master every single aspect of 3D character modelling (that mask was a project in itself for me). It also is my first big personal project in a while and it feels quite satisfying to do art for the sake of art again. The honourable mention goes to “Julius Caesar and The Warg” and “Hyena” pieces. Both scenes took me a lot of effort and discipline to complete and looking back, the work that required the most energy from me, are the ones that I am most fond of.

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

GBF: Among my personal pieces, it would definitely be the one mentioned above, but as a project I worked on for a company, I’d say “Day of Infamy”, a game released by New World Interactive. I was this project’s character art lead (despite having zero experience for such a role). I had a lot of fun working on this small game with a small indie team. I 3D scanned the face of most of my colleagues (including myself and my boss) and made everyone a character of the game. That was a project that I genuinely enjoyed even throughout its crunch times, we all felt so united in the team; I loved it.

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

GBF: Great question. I believe the answer for me is enthusiasm (!!!). I am greatly motivated by ideas. I even compromise on some work that bear more importance just to work on those ideas.

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

GBF: I would probably be a psychologist or a life coach. I would really like to understand how people’s minds work and how we can be the best version of ourselves.

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

GBF: Look at a ton of good art. Develop a great eye for composition, form, structure, anatomy, texture, light. Look at what works for those who are successful and strive to bring those elements into your own work. Also, remember the power of relationships, no one thrives by themselves so make sure you stay connected and share good vibes 🙂

Want to see more of Mr. Gabriel Barbosa Fronza’s works? Click here!

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