Yanal got converted to Blender during his studies. Today, he runs a popular sculpting-focused YouTube channel and sells his Blender training for a living, but he is always improving his knowledge of art fundamentals. "Being a 3D artist is no excuse for skipping the building blocks," he says. (This article was first published on CG Cookie.)
Yanal, what's your history with Blender? Do you use it in a professional capacity?
When I was a project management student at a 3D animation school we had some basic 3D classes where we learned programs like 3ds Max and Maya. One of my friends who joined the class was a Blender user and very passionate about it.
He would always talk about how it was a great program and how he preferred it over the others. He sat next to me in class, so I would see him work with Blender quite often. I am not 100% sure what was the deciding factor that made me try it, but a big reason was the speed at which he modeled in it compared to the other students in the class using the industry-standard programs. There was also the fact that he would always show me cool features that other software didn't have.
Truth be told, Blender back then was not as appealing as today. The school, professionals and the industry, at that time, suggested that you would have a hard time getting a job with Blender and that we should stick to the industry standard. That said, I decided to give it a go for a week or two, thinking that there was no harm in learning it in my free time. Interestingly enough, if I recall, 3 weeks later, it became my main 3D software choice...I was hooked. Keep in mind, back then I didn't do character stuff yet, I did mostly environmental stuff.
I actually found the interface a lot friendlier than other software. Did I mention that I subscribed to CG Cookie when I started to learn Blender? I even recommended it to my students when I gave a Blender class at a university not long ago!
Fast-forwarding to today, Blender is my main choice of software for my Youtube channel @YanSculpts, which is what I do for a living.
Is it possible to find a job in the industry with Blender?
I have a video on the channel titled "Can You Get a 3D Artist Job with Blender in the Game and Film Industry?" where I talk about that. In short, choose whichever tool you enjoy most - if that's Blender, go for it, get really good at what you do as an artist and you will be set!
You’ve created some great training for Blender Market. When did you decide to create courses?
I created my YouTube channel at the start of 2017 since I wanted to follow my passion for art, specifically characters. It was the plan since the start to make it full time so that I could focus on creating characters, improve, and eventually inspire others to become better artists through tutorials, time-lapse videos and art advice.
For that to be possible, I had to plan ahead and turn it into something sustainable. Creating courses was one of the ways I thought could make that a reality.
You sell your training videos on Blender Market as well - why?
Blender Market has a great team behind it, they do a great job at communicating with the creators, answering their questions and promoting the products. Jonathan and Matthew are both a delight, they are one of the main reasons I opened a store on Blender Market. I would definitely recommend it to others.
What are your favorite Blender add-ons at the moment?
I don't use external Blender plugins, mainly because I want my audience to be able to follow my tutorials easily, and understand what I am doing in the time-lapse videos without any confusions. Some native add-ons in Blender that I use are the F2 addon, Node Wrangler, and Rigify.
You've been studying a lot of in-depth anatomy details lately. How big of an impact has that had on the overall quality of your sculpting?
Anatomy, nay, drawing, had a colossal impact on my art and life in general.
Imagine being a surgeon without knowing the human anatomy, why would creating a character from scratch be any different? Even environments and non-character related stuff holds the same truth.
Of course, I still have ways and ways to go, but since I started in July 2017 on my journey of learning how to draw every single day, I went through many of the art basics. That includes perspective, anatomy, gesture and more. All of these basics have had a positive effect on my art, character or otherwise.
Being a 3D based artist is no excuse for skipping the building blocks. That is something I strongly believe.
What resources would you recommend to someone who is used to modeling in Blender but is just getting started with character sculpting?
Any book on the basics. Figure drawing, anatomy, perspective, shading, light and color, etc.
I like to choose books by specific subject, looking for an online review on the authors that cover it or simply reading comments on their books through Amazon. This helps me make a choice on which author to get it from, but that is up to the individual.
You've done some great work with ZBrush and Maya. What was it that got you to switch to Blender, and what has made you stick with it?
Here's my 2 cents on the subject: the program you use is an extension of your arms, just like a pencil or a brush.
I don't put much focus on which program I use, instead, I focus on generally improving as an artist. Personally, I choose the tool based on how fast it allows me to create and reach the final piece, and how fun the process is.
Today, Blender is both of those things, which makes it my main choice of software. Of course, there are many other benefits to Blender, such as the community and passionate developers which is delicious icing on the cake.
What non-computer graphics related hobbies or interests do you have that help you to be more creative when creating characters?
At the moment, I would say working out and drawing.
The first one might sound weird, but when you are in good shape and healthy, both in mind and body, you tend to be in an overall better mood which helps you focus on your art and creativity.
Run, jump, make friends, play games, whatever makes you happy! Never neglect your health, body or otherwise, it will hurt you in the long run.