Mr. Muhd Aiman: A Master and a Constant Learner
It is no secret that being involved in the arts is a constant learning process. In the discipline, there are those with genuine talent and those who had learned gained skill and renown through consistency and industriousness. Both are welcomed and much admired.
Then there are those who have the best of both worlds. Their talents are disciplined with experience. And no one can embody this better than Mr. Muhd Aiman.
With an impressive portfolio that sees various influences unified by impeccable style, Mr. Aiman is an artist not to be taken lightly. He had taken the craft seriously–finding and making time to learn further. He is someone every aspiring visual artist must emulate.
Though already a veteran of the industry, he is still willing to learn and submit to change. He is wise but uncompromising. He is a master, but also a student. He is already an expert but does not boast.
We here at Xeno Creatives are more than appreciative of the opportunity of an interview.
Xeno Creatives (XC): We all know that ZBrush is competent. But it does require a lot of technical know-how to get used to. What processes did you have to learn to be skilled in ZBrush? How did this help you in your craft?
Muhd Aiman (MA): ZBrush is well known by many artists for their sculpting capabilities to make high quality 3D models. ZBrush helps me to focus on my creativity without worrying too much about the technical work. However, I still need to know how the tool works and how to navigate around the program. ZBrush works quite differently than any other 3D programs out there. It took me quite some time to go around the program.
To get to know ZBrush, I did a lot of random speed sculpts from a Dynamesh sphere to get my hands dirty at first. I watched tutorials on the Pixologic website (Z Classroom tutorials) to get familiar with the buttons and tools. They have all the information over there and I also did quick Google searches whenever I faced small problems or errors. All I did was some simple organic sculpts and tests out all the brushes available in ZBrush. I spent time enjoying all the tools in there and experimented with what I can do.
When I felt confident enough, I tried to step up my game a little and tried to work with 2D artists by referencing their artworks and translated them into 3D models in ZBrush. This was a really challenging process that required a lot of patience and attention to details. This was the time when I had to level up my skill and improved my visual library, because I felt like I needed to get out of my comfort zone sometimes and learned from others. In this way I can make better designs and gain new knowledge at the same time. It was not an easy task, but it was worth my time.
When I felt comfortable with my workflow and started to feel that my works were repetitive at some points, I designed custom UIs and shortcut buttons of my own to get me up to speed with my work. I also made a custom human model that I can re-use for future projects. This was basically the whole process how I get up and run with ZBrush in general. It really helps me to this day when I make my art pieces.
XC: When did you realize that you want to create 3D art through ZBrush? Are there other media you want to learn or do you just want to focus on ZBrush?
MA: I realized this when I saw that 3D tools were very accessible to everyone. I always thought that 3D arts can only be achieved in big studios and requires overly-expensive tools. But I was wrong. I started doing 3D ever since.
Other than ZBrush, I was really thinking of learning CAD software to create quick hard surface designs. I’ve seen some artists using it in their work to create quick concepts. But after the release of ZBrush 4r8 with their awesome Boolean tool, I feel like focusing on ZBrush, and see how far I can go with hard surface designs for now.
XC: Based on experience, do you think that having a good hand in human anatomy a must for ZBrush?
MA: Definitely! This is a number 1 skill for any ZBrush artist to master their hands on. It doesn’t matter how many tools there are in ZBrush, in the end, ZBrush is just a tool and a medium for artists. We as the artists have to do the work. Even when I am designing mech characters and robots, I still have to refer to anatomy figures to help me with proportion, joint placement, etc. Also, I feel like even if I master anatomy skills, I still should re-learn them to fully understand their complexity.
XC: Were there other media that you used before or are still using? What are these?
MA: Before I know ZBrush, I used Maya extensively to craft my character designs. It was really an unpleasant experience back then, to be honest. But I did learn a lot about 3D production work.
I am still using Maya now, but mostly for cleaning up ZBrush models, and doing UVs.
I also use Maya together with substance painter to create the next-gen AAA quality texture looks.
Finally, I use Marmoset toolbag to render and present my characters. So, ZBrush, Maya and substance painter are my trio tools that I use the most now.
XC: In the beginning, was producing 3D art a real interest or just plain work?
MA: It was just a hobby and a tool that I played for fun in the beginning. But as I saw that 3D tools have become much more affordable to everyone, I started to take 3D art more seriously and taught myself to use all these tools—even now as I am pursuing with my post-graduate studies in Game Development and working on my thesis about 3D character art.
XC: Seeing your works through Art Station was such a visual experience! Your creatures and concepts, though indicative of inspiration, have freshness to them and turned out completely original. Do you have any favorites? What are they and why?
MA: Thank you for the kind word, I am happy when my works inspire other people. This is really something that I want to give to people through my character design, to inspire them.
My favorite was my male anatomy piece which I started back in 2014 and finished it in 2016. It was the longest project that I spent on a single piece. The reason I like this piece so much compared to others is that, it has taught me the fundamentals that I needed to get started in character art. It may not be a perfect anatomy shape, but it helps me understand in detail about human skeletons, muscles, and blood system.
XC: Who are your influences? What attracted you to them?
MA: Ryan Kingslien is the guy who mainly influences me in my work. Ryan is a teacher who teaches online classes at Uartsy.com. He also uploads some anatomy lectures on his Facebook page. His lectures on art and anatomy really motivates when I am working on my artworks. He gives a lot of advice on how to get the ‘professional’ look in our art piece, especially when doing 3D art, which is really amazing.
XC: Are there other pieces you want to create?
MA: Currently I am exploring some workflows to create hard surface design because I want to get more into modelling. So, my future pieces would be more of a sci-fi mech and robot characters. I really want variation of character styles in my portfolio.
XC: With the nature of your works, do you also see yourself being immersed in Game Character Design?
MA: Yes I do. I see myself telling a story through character design every time I work on a piece. Every detail that I make, I need to have some sorts of reason and narrative in it. That is what I have to think of every time I design my character. Plus, I also have to consider the textures and get the natural looks on it in order to fully polish my work. I usually do different iterations of the character design and polish my work from there.
XC: How about working for television and film, is that a prospect you would want to pursue?
MA: I certainly would love to work in those firms, but I don’t want to pursue it as a professional career. I’d love to pursue more on games and real-time technology and work professionally in these firm. I love to see my works in an interactive environment.
XC: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what do you think you’d be specializing in instead?
MA: Perhaps graphic design? Because I did a lot of graphic and web design works back when I was an undergrad in university. I was so motivated to do them before I know anything about 3D.
XC: What advice or message can you give young aspirants wanting to enter the craft/industry?
MA: I am still a student myself, but if anyone wants to start crafting 3D works, just be passionate about it and spend your time doing art. Pick your tools, experiment them, and start mastering them as much as you could, and bring out all your ideas into the screen.
To Mr. Muhd Aiman, your story truly inspired us. We wish you all the success in your future endeavors!
Want to see more of Mr. Muhd Aiman’s amazing works? Click here!