Mr. Sebastien Giroux: A Constant Learner and a True Master  

by Joshua Diokno   

Flexible and multi-facetted, Mr. Sebastien Giroux is an artist who does not tire from learning. If you are to look at his works, (and mind you these are pieces not to be taken lightly), you would think that he had already reached a high point of mastery of the software.

But instead of bowing out, Mr. Giroux aims at taking his craft further. He busies himself with learning various software that would enrich him as he contributes to the game development industry—and boy, aren’t we excited what Ubisoft Montreal has in store for us!

We look at his works and can’t help but be amazed by what all those years of discipline had brought him. Mr. Giroux’s experiences in the industry are indicative of his vast skills and learning curves. He may be a constant student in the industry, but in his own right, he is a master; one who had the wisdom to move the industry forward.

So let us sit down with Mr. Sebastien Giroux in this interview by Xeno Creatives and get to know what makes genuine artists like him.

Xeno Creatives (XC): ZBrush is quite an impressive addition to the software in the 3D industry. But we do understand that it does take a lot to get used to. What processes did you have to go through to work efficiently with it? How did ZBrush help you in your craft?

Sebastien Giroux (SG): Yeah it is efficient; no other software can compare to it. ZBrush got that traditional approach to sculpting as with modeling with clay. It has so much more under the hood. These can be combined to create new techniques to do a particular thing. It is a nice mix of art and technology that one can benefit the other.

Another reason why it can be hard to learn is that it is not really intuitive. In addition, at every update, stuff change quite a bit around the menus or the features change place, get removed or do something else. The software is an art in itself, so make sure to use it efficiently and keep your workflow efficient with new updates.

I have used ZBrush since the 2.5 version. I am still learning it to this day. By chatting with other artists, you learn new tools or combine them and then adapt those techniques/tools to your approach by creating new different workflows.

XC: When did you decide that ZBrush would be your main medium in producing 3D art? Do you want to just focus on it or do you still have other media in mind?

SG: Well Zbrush brought an ease to sculpt through vertex pushing/modeling, something that the other 3D capable software didn’t have. It must noted however that ZBrush is not perfect—some tasks require other software that do a better job or that are more tailored to your personal preference. I am super open to find the best tool/software/task for the job over the years. I feel we do not hear that quite enough but I really praise traditional life drawing and clay sculpting.

Recently, I started doing speed sculpt sessions with some of my peers during lunchtime at the studio. I found out that practicing with different constrains and out of your comfort zone really brings out creative ways to resolve artistic issue or push the quality further. I see many of those traditional skills polishing affecting directly my work in ZBrush, which makes me more efficient and creative with it and rely less on other software to fill some sculpting problems.

XC: How about other media that you have already used or are currently using? What were these?

SG: The ones I use often currently outside of ZBrush are: Marvelous Designer, Substance Painter/Designer (some detail or surface detail are better done in normal map than being sculpted for a game asset), Marmoset Toolbag 3 (for the baker), 3Ds Max, Maya, Softimage, Unfold 3D, UV layout, and Photoshop to name a few. There are still a lot of software that I need to look into during my downtime like MoI3D, Fusion 360, Keyshot, Maya X-gen for hair.

XC: How did you start with 3D art? Was it a passion, a hobby, or just a job for you?

SG: I learned 3D back in 2002 in Ottawa (Canada). I wanted to go into practical effects for movies back then, but in Canada and Quebec there was not a lot of school teaching that. I stumbled into a brand new school program called 3D animation and I tried it out in Ottawa.

I completely fell in love with it. After graduation, I did not get pro level skills for the industry but still I did a few little jobs in the VFX industry. Then I got back to school in 2006 at the NAD Center in Montreal to study in VFX for movies once more and worked on movies, commercials and TV shows for a few years. At some point, I got involved with a Los Angeles 3D scanning company for VFX and games and with them I went on many different movie sets and video game development studios. At some point, I went and did scans for Ubisoft Montreal Cinematic Dept. and got offered a job to move with them. This, I did. After around 2 years, the dept. got dissolved and I transitioned in video games production at Ubisoft Montreal for 6 years. I also went to Activision/Beenox for almost 2 years then back to Ubisoft Quebec where I am right now for 8 months.

These being said, for many years I felt kind of discouraged about my work and showing it only I felt it was never good enough to achieve what I had in mind or did not have enough discipline to finish them.

In the last few years, I started to feel a lot more comfortable and serious with my skills. I noticed that I could do the models I always wanted to do and finally got the skill level to make them. So I started to think, I get paid every day to make someone else’s dreams/wishes come true sculpting/modeling/texturing-wise, why not treat myself and do something that I really enjoy for me? And that is pretty addictive.

XC: Your works online shows your utter originality and eye for detail. They are just outright AWESOME. We know it’s going to be a tough question but do you have favorite pieces? What are these and why?

SG: Thank you! Those are high praises! It’s a tough call; I liked working on the Rainbow Six Hazmat because it got good material contrast, but I think it would be the Aquaman merman that I liked best. This is because it was a personal project and that I took an awesome concept of Kenneth Rocafort and made it my own. I initially had no clue where that project would end up. I kind of find my own art voice/style with that Aquaman piece.

XC: Who do you consider your influences? What attracted you to them?

SG: That’s an even a tougher question! 🙂 I’m a huge digital and traditional art fan in general so it’s pretty hard to narrow down. I love the comic book art of guys like Sean Gordon Murphy, Greg Capullo, and Joe Maduiera. For the video game side, I like Yoji Shinkawa best without a doubt. I still scout the web every day and I find amazing artist quite often in all different fields. My other influences are cars, motorcycle, aircraft and product design. All of them are created with a function and purpose in mind.  

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

SG: So many things I got an excel sheet reserve just for that where I pile-up future ideas for sculptures.

In general, I really like contrast in everything art-related. I like mashing-up different themes within the same character, it could be stuff like a deep diver, Sultan, Frankenstein, poisoning by a Nano engineer virus and so on. I like creating backstory keywords that reflect in design, outfits, and props.

XC: Has working for television and film ever crossed your mind?

SG: As mentioned before, I am a huge movie lover. But the main reason why I would rather work in games is that you can create a lot more fantasy/fictional characters that will be seen and played for many hours. I think it’s fun to play with one of the characters you modelled.

XC: Your works will really look GOOD in a VIDEO GAME. I hope it’s all right to ask, are you currently working on a game? If you are not, do you see yourself being immersed in Game Character Design?

SG: Yes I do currently work at Ubisoft Quebec a brand new unannounced AAA game!

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist at present what do you think you’d be working as instead?

SG: Probably a mechanical engineer/industrial designer/engine builder—something that need a lot of mental focus, manual labor, and got enough place to perfect and learn my skills for many years. I love to challenge myself and push the boundaries of my mind and body all the time at the gym, or with a book, it doesn’t matter the format I just find it’s something I enjoy a lot.

XC: What advice or message can you give aspirants wanting to enter the craft/industry?

SG: I look for the best in the industry. I really try to ask myself why I like in their work and why. I gather tons of references and put them in a Photoshop document. I save them sometimes in a 60k by 60k pixel format. These could be because of material reference, design choice, ZBrush quality benchmark, color palette etc.

For those wanting to enter the industry, get out of your comfort zone as much as possible and challenge yourself constantly by approaching work with many different angles/techniques as possible. Through these, you will grow exponentially! When I am in that zone, I get self-doubt constantly. But as weird as it sounds, that’s actually good thing. I know in the back of my mind that I reached a challenge and that only good can come out of it if I keep pushing. 😉

Last thing, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you over at my Twitch channel where I stream every morning before work. Please do visit it if you want to see more my process in-depth. You may talk with me and ask questions there!

Also, you can also check out my Facebook page where I post most of the tools that I use, artworks in progress, and relevant news to digital sculpting.

My Instagram not super active right now, but once I finish my first collectible 3D print, I will use the platform a whole lot more this year. You may check it out here! 

Mr. Sebastien Giroux, we are deeply grateful for this opportunity. We wish you all the success in your future endeavors!

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


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