Xeno Creatives Artist Spotlight: Hossein Afzali

by Joshua Diokno   

Erudite and well-spoken, Mr. Hossein Afzali articulates his experiences in the digital art discipline in this short, but insightful feature. He bares out his aspirations and views on how artists in the 3D art industry should go about their business to flourish and the challenges they could face as they do so.

Xeno Creatives (XC): We understand that with just about any craft, passion takes precedence. In your case, how did it start becoming a passion? Would we be right in assuming that you consider it a “calling” as a lot of your contemporaries do?

Hossein Afzali (HA): Calling is the perfect word to describe it! My passion for 3D animation ignited during my first year of high school in 2000. It all started when I had the opportunity to watch both “Toy Story” and “Chicken Run” on television. These movies had a profound impact on me and changed my life forever. While “Chicken Run” was a stop-motion animation, I couldn’t discern the difference in implementation compared to “Toy Story”. I was captivated by the way the characters came to life with three-dimensional volume and fluid motion. They were unlike anything I had ever seen before.

The impact of these films was so strong that I couldn’t stop talking about them at school. Luckily, one of my teachers overheard me and took the time to introduce me to 3D software and how they are utilized in the animation industry. From that moment on, my passion for 3D animation blossomed, and I knew deep within me that it was my true calling.

XC: Was there ever an art piece (digital or otherwise) or artist who bolstered your interest in 3D art and motivated you to enter the space? When did you get involved fully in the industry?

HA: Absolutely! There have been several art pieces and artists who have significantly influenced my interest in 3D art and motivated me to pursue a career in this field. One particular artist who played a pivotal role in bolstering my passion is Adel Adili (VFX Creative Director). He was a brilliant 3D Artist at the time where I was living and his incredible mastery of 3D art and his ability to bring imagination to life through digital mediums was truly awe-inspiring. Seeing his work pushed the boundaries of what I believed was possible in the realm of 3D art, and it ignited a desire within me to explore and create in a similar vein.

As for my full involvement in the industry, it began in 2015 when I was hired by a mobile game studio in Bangkok. Shortly afterward, I joined M2 Animation Studio, where I have been fortunate to work on a wide range of Animated TV series. This experience has allowed me to grow as a 3D artist and expand my skills in the field of animation.

XC: Now that you’re an active part of the industry, would you say you have a solid place in it?

HA: I would say I currently hold a favorable position in the industry. However, I wouldn’t describe it as solid since I believe there is still much for me to develop and learn in order to become an outstanding member of the industry. Furthermore, the industry is undergoing rapid revolution and advancements, making it challenging to predict what lies ahead.

XC: What does your day look like in production?

HA: As a lead character artist specializing in 3D modeling at M2 Animation, my day primarily involves reviewing and providing feedback on the work of other artists. I collaborate closely with the rigging, surfacing, and animation departments. I also participate in daily catch-up meetings. Additionally, I engage in character art tasks such as sculpting, modeling, creating blendshapes, and occasionally working on surfacing.

XC: What are the common challenges a 3D artist like you encounters daily in a project?

HA: I think understanding and meeting client expectations is crucial. Interpreting their vision and feedback accurately, while maintaining artistic integrity, can sometimes be a delicate balance. Projects in the animation industry often have strict deadlines. Balancing quality and efficiency while delivering work on time can be challenging, especially when unexpected changes or revisions arise.

XC: We have seen your works on ArtStation and we observed your knack for detailed portraits. We are excited to see more of your works. Do you have any favorite pieces that are either live online or have yet to share? Why do you gravitate to it/them?

HA: Yes, I have created more works during the last 6 years at M2 Animation on various projects. However, due to client and company policies, I am not allowed to publish or share them on platforms like ArtStation or social media. One of my favorite pieces I worked on recently was Danika and Sakan for the Warhammer Pariah Nexus series. I had a lot of fun working on Satan’s face, as I had more freedom in designing and implementing it. The challenge of bringing the character to life and seeing the great results as it progressed through the different departments is what really attracts me to these pieces.

XC: What would you consider your biggest or most exciting project to date?

HA: We have had the opportunity to work on multiple exciting projects for Games Workshop over the last few years. It’s difficult to choose just one, as all of them have been significant and thrilling. Some notable projects include Warhammer Pariah Nexus Series 2022, Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Cinematic Trailer, Warhammer 40,000: The Armouring Ritual of a Space Marine, Warhammer Age of Sigmar The New Edition and Cinematic Trailer, and Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team Cinematic Trailer. Each of these projects has brought its own unique challenges and rewards, making them all equally memorable and exciting.

XC: If you were to market yourself, what would you highlight as your edge?

HA: My edge lies in a continuous learning mindset, and an unwavering passion for 3D animation.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what would you be working as?
Great question! If I weren’t a 3D artist today, I would most likely be working as a scientist in the astrophysics field. I have always been fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and have a deep curiosity about the workings of the cosmos. Shows like “Star Talk,” hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the lovely Chuck Nice, have further fueled my passion for exploring cosmic queries and understanding the vastness of our universe.

HA: While my path ultimately led me to become a 3D Artist, the intrigue and wonder of astrophysics have always held a special place in my heart. I find great inspiration in the beauty and complexity of the cosmos, and the desire to unravel its secrets and contribute to scientific knowledge is something that continues to resonate with me. Even though I express my creativity through 3D art, my admiration for astrophysics remains an integral part of who I am.

XC: What is your message to other artists in these challenging times?

HA: Success as an artist is not solely dependent on the tools or technology you use, but on your creativity, dedication, and passion. Stay true to your artistic vision, never stop learning, and continue to express yourself through your art.

Hossein Afzali is 37 years old. He finished Graphic Design and has worked as a Lead Character Artist at M2 Animation Studio for 6 years. You can find him at Instagram under the handle @hoss.afzali and at ArtStation.

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