The Works of Ms. Elisa Moraes: A Contemplation on Beauty and Experience

by Joshua Diokno   

Her works are a marvel—we just can’t look away. There is a certain terrifying quality to her pieces that makes them beautiful, inviting you to fall in love.

While products of her fertile imagination, Ms. Elisa Moraes’ works through ZBrush are more of a testament of her rich experience and active agency to learn all that was needed to be learned within her industry.

Reading through her interview here, we can’t help but feel her exuberant enthusiasm to tell her story—to share with us that her journey towards the mastery of her craft is a personal journey to her identity as an artist.

Xeno Creative (XC): To say that ZBrush technology is an innovation in the industry is an understatement. When you first got involved with it what processes did you have to learn to be skilled with the software?

Elisa Moraes (EM): Honestly, the first time I opened ZBrush I was really intimidated! It is such an exceptional software that you really don’t know how it will work unless you start messing around with it a little bit. That said, once it got me interested, and I saw its potential, I immediately started binging on YouTube tutorials and speed sculpts to understand more about ZBrush. After that, it is just an organic process of finding out stuff by yourself, getting advises from friends and other tutorials that come around, and of course lots of practice and studying!

XC: How did ZBrush help you in furthering your craft?

EM: ZBrush was really a turning point for me. Before I knew about it, I thought 3D was only poly by poly and a lot of technical stuff.  So when I got to know the software, that was the moment I really fell in love with this kind of craft, and dug deep into exploring my own art. I was always enthusiastic about art, but never thought I could do it myself professionally until ZBrush came around in my life. It is what got me into studying art really seriously.

XC: How did your decision to pursue ZBrush come about? Do you want to expand to other media or do you want to just focus on it?

EM: The first time I ever heard about the software was through an open class that André Castro (later my teacher) was giving in a local event about art. In it, he talked about the software, and how it changed his career and his life. I got so impressed by ZBrush and André’s art that I immediately started using it after his talk.

Right now I’m focusing on getting better at my 3D art, not only sculpture, but also on the more technical part as well. My goal is to work fulltime at the game industry, which is my passion, and to do so there are a lot of other software and pipelines that I have to be aware of, so that has been my main focus lately.

XC: Were there other media that you explored? What were these?

EM: My first contact with art was with 2D media. But the thing is, I would always spend more time appreciating other artists stuff than actually developing my own skills at it, because I had this idea that those amazing people were born with some kind of gift that I didn’t have. Over time, through listening and reading to a lot of artists’ interviews and opinions, I realized that art is more about dedicating yourself to it than anything else. I forced myself to study 2D really hard, but only after Zbrush I found that sculpting was actually the thing that I was most comfortable with and passionate about.

XC: Is it necessary to be good at human anatomy when working with ZBrush?

EM: I would say anatomy study is essential. That doesn’t mean you need to know every name of every muscle and bone of the human body, but understanding how it works, and how it all fits together, is totally necessary. If you want to have freedom to express yourself however you want with your art, first you need to dominate the essential aspects of it, an anatomy is one of those things.

XC: Was your art a real passion to begin with or just a mere job to you?

EM: I don’t think I would be doing it if it wasn’t a passion for me. The path to becoming an artist is very long and hard, it is really easy to give up and let go. The love for art becomes the thing that pulls you back to doing it, it is the hook that makes you want to get better and continue studying and working.

XC: Do you see yourself working for the movie and television industry?

EM: Yes, I do. Television/movies are a big part of my life, I spent a lot of time watching, talking about, and researching them. I enjoy watching things about the backstage and how everything is made, including the VFX side. It is really an amazing industry, and seeing so much great stuff coming out, just makes me want to be a part of it as well.

XC: We genuinely admire your works on Facebook and ArtStation. They are beautifully-frightening and completely original. Picking a favorite was difficult as they are all GOOD. Do you have favorite pieces? What are they and why?

EM: Thank you! Really appreciate that. Every piece has a significance for me, because I learn something new with everyone and that means a lot. Also, I have something of a hate/love relationship with my own art, because I spend so much time with them that I know not only their qualities, but all their flaws as well!

That said, the Ancient Lava Dragon has a special place in my heart, since it is my first fully completed and rendered piece, and turned out better than I expected. Also, my latest project, the Skeletor, because it pushed me to develop a lot my skills in the pipeline of real time characters.

XC: Who or what can you consider as your influences? What attracted you to them?

EM: Anything that sparkles my creativity is a big influence for me. When, for example, I play a game that gets me hooked, I go after everything about it that I can find: lore, official art, fan art, theories about it, the development, etc. That said, I tend to like stuff with a bit of fantasy, or a really well executed plot. I go all the way from Lord of the Rings to Breaking Bad!

Talking about all the artists that inspire me would take a lot of space! I don’t limit myself to the 3D media in this case, any type of artist can influence me in a lot of ways. That said,  some 3D artists that I admire are Rafael Grassetti, André Castro, Alessandro Baldasseroni, Rafael Souza, Kurt Papstein, Gilberto Magno, Adam Skutt, Pascal Blaché, Renaud Galand,  Mariano Steiner, Ricardo Luiz Mariano, Bruno Camara, and many others.

XC: What other pieces do you want to create?

EM: I have a lot of projects that I’m working on! Probably my next character will be a female, maybe a wizard or a vampire, and I also want to explore a bit with hand painted characters, in a Blizzard style.

XC: Do you see yourself engaged in Game Character Design as well?

EM: Yes, it is my main goal.  I’m working towards it, and my latest project, the Skeletor, was a big step in this direction, since it is a real time model, ready to be used in a game

XC: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what could you possibly be specializing in instead?

EM: I probably would be doing something else related to the entertainment industry. For me, it is a way to forge the bound between art and our society, even though it is through commercial means. For me, telling stories that makes others care about them, regardless of the media, is one of the things worth living for.

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

EM: Try not to care so much about “tendencies” and “things that get likes”. Make the kind of art that you want to make, do it for yourself and not for the others, because otherwise you will hate it or end up just making bad stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept criticism, though. One of the best ways to improve yourself is getting feedback from others, especially people with more experience them you. Be humble and work hard!

Ms. Elisa Moraes, you are indeed an inspiration. We wish you all the best in your future projects!

Want to see more of Ms. Moraes’ works? Click here!

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