Soaring Across the Digital Landscape: The Art of Mr. Naky Solanki

by Joshua Diokno   

When asked what would he be if he weren’t a Character Artist today, Mr. Naky Solanki stated that he would be,

“A commercial Pilot. I have this insatiable love of aircraft.”

Quite a far cry from his present discipline. But based on his works online, he seems to be excelling, soaring high with his art. And just like spectators of aircraft from the ground, we can’t help but be amazed by the spectacle that he is able to create.

So let us get to know Mr. Solanki in this short feature and be inspired by his journey towards being a Character Artist.

Xeno Creatives (XC): How did you get involved in the 3D industry? What was that one moment that led you to decide that you are going to take it seriously?

Naky Solanki (NS): I was introduced to the 3D industry around 2010. I was good at sketching and crafts from childhood. I loved sketching cars. I wanted to be an automobile engineer who designs Ferraris because of my love for supercars. However, as I grew older, I realized Math and Science play a greater role in automobile engineering; it more than just producing cool looking designs.

After finishing school, my girlfriend actually suggested that I take an animation course considering my talent as an artist. That was the first time I ever considered that this can be a career. With full support from my family, I joined a place to learn 2D animation. That was when I came across an art magazine with Rafael Grassetti’s interview. It mentioned a software called ZBrush. I wrote it down and searched the net for it when I got back home.

I was blown away the moment I saw the potential the software had and what the industry professionals around the globe were working on through it. I was 15 when I got my hands on ZBrush for the first time. I played with it for a very long time realizing that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I think it was around that time I decided to be a Character Artist.

XC: Would you consider yourself a fully-fledged 3D artist? What were the things that you had to go through?

NS: I don’t think I’d ever be a fully-fledged artist. I may have established a good place today but this path of learning and growing would never end — and that is the best thing about it. Today, we all over the world can be easily connected. I see a lot of amazing artists. Seeing such spectacular work (some of whom are actually kind enough to share the process) makes you want to push the envelope even further.

I started at an institute which taught 2D but as I said, it was the magazine and the net that opened my eyes.

I left the place and stopped wasting my family’s money. The internet became my source; the artists around the world who shared their knowledge were my teachers. This was challenging to explain to family.

I was active on social media sites posting my artworks, getting feedbacks, participating in 3D competitions etc. I was finishing my studies on commerce simultaneously to assure my parents that I have a fallback if ever the art industry doesn’t work out for me. After all, I was only 16 or 17 then.

During this period, I was super focused to push my artwork and knowledge. It was the happiest experience of my discipline since these were my foundation days. Today I remember most of everything that I learnt at that time.

Luckily, during my holidays after completing graduation, I was offered my first job at Little Red Zombies which is also my current active job from almost 5 years now.

XC: What or who influenced you the most?

NS: Video games, game cinematics, cartoons, comics, and anime were the major backbone for my overall influence. However, my older brother is the biggest influence in my life because he introduced to everything that I love. If it weren’t for his guidance, I might not be enjoying doing this today. Another one is my Mom who is an artist herself. In so many ways, these laid my basic artistic foundation.

On the other hand, Rafael Grassetti got me introduced to so many things. I would love to meet and thank him in person someday.

XC: What’s your day in production like?

NS: I am a Lead Character Artist now. I am responsible for overlooking the production of multiple, active AAA projects at our studio. This involves clearing the tests from clients, communication between team and client, setting quality benchmarks for characters, creating pipelines for efficient production, RnD in special cases, guiding other team members, and working closely with the studio Art Directors to keep the production smooth. I am also responsible for training interns.

XC: What are the common challenges that a 3D artist like you encounter when working in a project?

NS: The first thing to do is to make sure that I don’t fall sick. Unexpected leaves can affect the production, so following a strict healthy routine is important. Understanding the style of a project or setting the initial benchmark can be tricky. A lot of things are uncertain early on in production. Quality control within the project is another important task. Meeting the deadlines because schedule on paper is fixed and seems manageable, but in production, hindrances are just around the corner. So figuring that out as a team is a must.

XC: What’s your biggest or most exciting project to date?

NS: As much as I wish to name the projects, I cannot because of confidentiality. In fact, I am quite happy to say I am working for one of my dream studios right now. I am really looking forward to revealing it after we get the official permission. It’s definitely the biggest and most exciting one that I have worked on.

XC: What would you say are your strengths, your edge as a 3D artist?

NS: Adaptability, improvisation, looking for solutions always, keeping quality first before anything. These are only a few of my mindsets. If I have to be specific about what I excel at then, I specialise in creating highly realistic real-time hairs, realistic cloth sculpting, Marvelous cloth simulation, hard surfaces using ZBrush and concept sculpting.

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

NS: A commercial Pilot. I have this insatiable love of aircraft. Add that to the fact that I am a fan of “Top Gun” and the cartoon, “Swat Kats” and since my brother himself is a Captain of commercial flights I would follow his footsteps and fly alongside my brother–that is if I weren’t a Character artist.

Want to see more of Mr. Naky Solanki’s awesome works? Click here!

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