In this interview we talk with Ozana Nemčanin, the 1st place winner of the CG Boost Magic Book Challenge from Croatia. She will give us some insights of her journey as CG Artist and a look behind the scenes of her winning artwork.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is Ozana Nemčanin. I’m a mother of two boys and have millions of
I come from Croatia, where I was a teacher of mathematic and computer science.
Four years ago, I moved to Austria (Villach). There I got the opportunity to switch my teaching carrier and start building it in 3D design.
I was happy that I got this opportunity and that life threw me back again to the path of art.
2. Tell us more about your creative path: How did you get to the point you are now?
My whole life, I was expressing myself through one or another sort of art.
Before 3D, it was all kinds of different techniques I was using to create: Painting, Graphic Design, Clay, Crafting, etc. That is why, before college I went to Art School and completed my high school education as a Graphic Designer. I worked during college years and afterward as a freelance in Graphic Design.
Now, I’m more focused on 3D.
I think I’ve finally found the media that can occupy me in every sense. I feel like with 3D I can express my ideas the best, and I enjoy the full process of it.
Doing 3D artwork requires more of me than any other art technique I’ve used before.
The learning curve in 3D is quite steep therefore the feeling of success, when you do something you like, is greater and more satisfying. I just love it.
3. What was your main motivation for participating in the challenge?
Freedom of expression and learning possibility was my main motivation.
Participating in a challenge is quite rewarding. The motivation for creating a new work of art, and finishing it at the end, is also huge because you have a greater purpose.
Having a strict theme pushes you to be more creative by giving you strict boundaries, resulting with a good and representable portfolio piece.
4. Where did you find the inspiration for your latest entry, and what inspires your work every day?
I like heavy atmospheres, grungy textures, and moody lights. Furthermore, I like strange, unusual and scary stuff. That excites me.
Before starting an Artwork, I’m first thinking on the story, as I develop the story I’m starting to imagine visuals.
During the creative process I try to figure out what works the best for the story I want to tell: mood, setup, lights.
I continue until I feel that the story has been told. I don’t compromise the mood of the image just to show every piece of an asset I’ve created for the artwork.
5. What software (and plug-ins) did you use to create this image? Are there some other tools that make your life as artist easier (maybe not only CG tools but also something you used to organize your work etc.)?
Main software was Blender 3D and Affinity Photo for post. I’ve also used BlenderKit and Blendswap.
6. Are there any particular techniques that you use often? Can you give us a short breakdown of your entry?
I always start with developing a story, that’s why I have quite a good idea of what I will be creating. This time was not different.
After the story was developed I started searching for reference images.
Reference images give me boundaries, proportions, and they connect the real world to images from my imagination. Also, I did a small photo collage in Affinity Photo.
Then I started blocking out elements in Blender, just roughly, to get a feeling of the space, I’ll be creating. In this step, I usually start creating mood and lighting.
Designing light is the part that gives me the most satisfaction, so I’m starting with it as soon as possible, tweaking it and changing until the very end.
I’m adding lamps wherever needed :D, even where it doesn’t make sense (think in physical terms) but if it looks ok to me, then the decision to put it or not is easy, I’m adding it.
Modeling and Texturing
After modeling all the elements I needed to texture them, I focused on the book. I’ve created lots of textures to have diversity and avoid obvious repetition.
The Book was created with mirror and array modifier, then I’ve applied everything, separated all pages, and made linked groups. Then I’ve made a torn/used paper effect on each group and then positioned the pages where I wanted them to be.
The idea was: after the viewer observes the book, the eye of the observer will wander off and notice the rest of the elements that are complementing and telling the story.
That’s why, I’ve paid a lot of attention on the position of the assets. The goal was to have a centered composition with everything guiding the eye of the viewer to the middle.
Assets that are all over the room were hinting that the place belongs to a witch, that bats are coming out together with a demonic hand, that spell going wrong was the reason for “explosion”.
Let me be
Even when I’m done with every step of the way, and happy with the result, I’ll still leave the work to rest for 5-6 days, not thinking or looking at it.
In my understanding, every work of art needs time to grow, to mature. I can see what I like and don’t like, only when I stop working on it for a while. Then when and if I don’t “feel it” I still can redo it. 😀
That’s how I ended up with two versions of this work. The other was too distracting, just wasn’t going for me, and it didn’t quite tell the story, so I’ve decided to calm it down and add more bats to the image.
7. What was the hardest part on creating your entry?
The hardest part was figuring out how to create effects.
I started doing a lot of particle systems, but wasn’t achieving what I was imagining. So I’ve decided to draw effects exactly as I wanted them in Affinity and importing them to Blender as planes with Emission and Alpha.
8. Have you learned something new from participating in this challenge and if yes, what?
Yes of course, I’ve learned a lot of new tricks to work more proficiently in Blender. I’ve experimented a lot with particles, and learned a lot about how to control them.
9. Any advice for people who want to learn 3D art or join challenges like this?
Definitely, before you start working on the artwork, you should know what you want to create. This is what I’ve learned long ago, and never altered that since.
Planning is crucial for success.
And if you don’t enjoy your work during the process, it’s also ok to switch or change Ideas to something completely different. I’m encouraging you to experiment with all the ideas you have and see what works the best.
10. Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
I admire a lot of artists and enjoy them each for something peculiar.
I’ve prepared a limited list below, of modern artists I like.
They represent various kinds of modern artists, but they have something in common, they are all greatly paying attention to details and their work occupies me for a longer time as an observer. And that’s exactly what I’m seeking to achieve in my art.
- Dragan Kordić
- Yulia Brodskaya
- Atelje Jantolek Kastav
- Iris Scott
- Tim Bengel
- Jim Mckenzie
- Jan Morek
- Alexa Meade
If you are interested you can check some other digital artists I follow on my Artstation page.
11. Any good books, podcasts, YouTube channels or other useful / inspirational content you can recommend to other aspiring artists?
I would recommend this channels for learning Blender:
For learning Composition, Photoshop and other art techniques