Tsubasa Nakai: Going the Extra Mile

by Joshua Diokno   

A graduate of the Industrial Sociology Department at Ritsumeikan University, Mr. Tsubasa Nakai has been a Digital Artist of 18 years. During this considerably long tenure, he has seen it all. He is immersed well into the culture and is well-versed with its workflow and strict pipeline.

But despite the evident wisdom and talent, Mr. Nakai is not one to stand prideful of his achievements. Fact of the matter is, he admits that he continues his efforts at improving further:

When I decided a goal for my work, I’ll find the shortest way to achieve it. I think it’s very important to improve my skills. As this is the case, I research for better technology to avoid wasting time.

This kind of attitude desirable to any artist of any discipline. And hearing it from the likes of Mr. Nakai is both enlightening and empowering. Want proof? All you have to do is look at his works online.

We here at Xeno Creatives are more than glad to have the opportunity of an interview with such an artist.

Xeno Creatives (XC): How did you get involved in the 3D industry? Do you consider it as a “calling” or something that just pays for the bills?

Tsubasa Nakai (TN): When I was a college student, I watched “Toy Story” which both shocked and amazed me. From then, I knew that I wanted to work in this industry.

I studied CG skill and knowledge about every field in the attempts to make my own movie.

XC: Who or what influenced you the most? Was there a digital art piece or an artist whom you found to be really inspiring that made you aspire to become a better artist yourself?

TN: As I have mentioned, “Toy Story” is a work that inspired me. In addition to that, Japanese anime influenced me a lot.

For instance, I really took a liking to “Akira”, “Spirited Away”, “Ghost in the Shell” etc. I love fantasy and Sci-Fi and CG is the best tool to express them.

XC: What was it like to be thrown into the 3D culture? What were the ropes that you had to learn to be the artist that you want to be?

TN: CG art is the marriage of science and art. The science part of it is in constant transition so that we need to improve our skills and our workflow every single day.

The most important thing we need is effort and learning how to enjoy creating art.

XC: What’s your workflow like? How does your day look like in production?

TN: In my personal work, Maya and ZBrush for modeling, SubstancePainter and Mari for texturing and Lookdev, Xgen for hair, Arnold for rendering.

Thanks to these tools, I am able to create the images I had imagined both quickly and smoothly.

In production, I don’t use CG tools very much because I’m a director now. My daily job is only to check, check, and check.

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

TN: The most common challenge for me is thinking how we would be able to produce quality work on a small budget and a short period of time.

I’m sure that contemplating on things renders good solutions. Even if the budget is not enough, if one has ingenuity, he or she can come up with anything.

XC: Your works online are really something. Browsing through them was truly a treat. It might be a tough question to ask, but do you have a favorite piece? What made it stand out for you?

TN: Thanks! My favorite is “電子”. I will try to design attractive characters who adopt Japanese Pop Art or comic style.

My work, “電子” is the work that I honestly thought I did well. Character design is really difficult and I can’t do simply at my pleasure.

That’s why when it’s completed, I’d be really glad and proud of it.

XC: If you were to market yourself as a 3D artist, what would you highlight as your strengths, your edge?

TN: I think my strength is my working speed. My motto is “Do not waste my energy.”

When I decided a goal for my work, I’ll find the shortest way to achieve it. I think it’s very important to improve my skills. As this is the case, I research for better technology to avoid wasting time.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what could you see yourself working as?

TN: Maybe a comic book artist.

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