New Featured Artist Interview: Pat Imrie


After Pat Imrie’s Digital-Tutors tutorial Modeling a Fantasy Character in Maya was declared a top training product of the month by 3D World Magazine, and our forum boards were exploding with requests for more tutorials from him, we knew we needed to sit down and find out more about this incredible artist.

654-Fantasy_Character-620x350 Digital-Tutors: Thanks for sitting down with us! Let’s start off by you telling us a little bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on.

Pat Imrie: I've been in the industry since early 2007. I went to work for an independent animation studio, Super Umami, as a Junior Artist during my final semester at college. I must have done ok, as I continued to work with them for the next 2 years. Most of my early work was for TV and websites, but I eventually started to produce work for animated feature films, commercials, game development, documentaries and visualizations. Currently I am hard at work developing creature concepts for a VFX feature film pitch. I can't share any more information than that but it is a very exciting project and an honor to be asked to work on. On a personal note, I am in the early stages of developing a short film that a friend and I are adapting from a short story she wrote a few years back. I am trying to produce more personal artwork this year and share the progress through my blog.


Digital-Tutors: Was CG something you always knew you would get into or did you just kind of fall into it? Pat Imrie: The seed of animation was planted in 1995 when I was 10-years-old. Toy Story had just been released and I remember being in complete awe of it. In 2000, I had an epiphany that steered me on to the road to the world of CG. Until then I had wanted to be a comic book artist but it wasn't until I got my hands on Photoshop and Bryce 3D that I realized how I could evolve my art using digital means. While I was aware of the high-end 3D packages---due to their cost I could only dream of getting my hands on them. Instead I started working with everything from Infini-D, Amapi, Amorphium and Truespace until I finally settled with Cinema 4D. I continued to work and learn with that until I finally got the chance to use Maya---from there on I dedicated all my time to learning as much as I possibly could about CG and the industry.


Digital-Tutors: What is one reason you love what you do? Pat Imrie: Art and Animation defines who I am as a person. It drives me to constantly improve myself as an artist and share my knowledge with others.  Every day I am inspired by the amazing work being created in our industry by a world of talented artists. Seeing this level of artwork inspires me to want to create and to better myself as an artist because there is always the chance that something I create will inspire others to create art themselves. Digital-Tutors: Do you like to teach or create better? Pat Imrie: For me they go hand in hand, animation is my passion and I like nothing better than coming up with ideas and creating artwork. I feel compelled to share what I learn with others. I like to think that it is one of the ways that art evolves---experienced artists passing on knowledge to new artists. It keeps everyone on their toes. Teaching is one of the best ways to troubleshoot as you are bound to be asked a question or have to solve a problem that you are unlikely to have encountered before. Students ask the BEST questions. The most rewarding part is engaging with students and knowing that I have helped someone learn something new that will help them in their career as an artist. I look for what I refer to as the 'click' which is that look a student gets in their eye that lets you know they have just understood something. It's normally followed by a little smile which shows that they are just as pleased about learning something new as you are about teaching it to them.


Digital-Tutors: What advice can you give to people trying to get started in the CG world? Pat Imrie: Immerse yourself in the world and keep up with current events in the industry---arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Learn about traditional techniques; almost everything we do today in CG can be traced back to an older method of production. It is important to remember that CG art is a technical art. Do your best to learn a coding language, even if it is just the basics, as it will help you in your day to day tasks. Set yourself up online and pay close attention to the kind of work that employers look for in a potential artist. If you want to get into VFX, look at Matchmoving 3D to live plates, node-based compositing and creating photo realistic work. If it's game development that peaks your interest then learn about game engines and how to manipulate motion capture data. It is also important to study how production works in general. Whatever your specialism might be, knowing where you sit in the pipeline is important. Having a strong understanding of who comes before you and after in a production will make you of more use to a studio. Digital-Tutors: What are some trends that you see happening in the animation and design field? Pat Imrie: Software designed from an artistic approach rather than a technical one. There are already a handful of applications that follow this trend, namely ZBrush and Modo but other packages are starting to follow suit. Technical knowledge will always be necessary, but any software that reduces technical setup and lets you create quicker will always be a welcome addition to my workflow.


Digital-Tutors: What gets you ‘in the zone’? Pat Imrie: If I am developing new ideas then I will listen to music and skip through tracks until I find a track that conjures up an idea and start from there. It's hard to explain exactly how music influences my designs, but sometimes a song will just make an idea 'click.’ I normally carry a sketchbook with me--- that way if I am listening to music and I get an idea, I can immediately jot it down for later. When it comes to working on a project I switch out music for podcasts and documentaries, as I find working in silence distracting. If I need a bit of a boost or need to get over artists block I turn to my library of art books and artists blogs. Sometimes just sitting and casually thumbing through an art book gives the brain a chance to re-jig itself and ideas start flowing again. Also, and this might sound strange but, I recommend the use of desktop wallpapers with a lot of green in them. This makes me less prone to artists block---I adopted this approach this year and so far it has really worked for me. Oh and caffeine...that helps too! Digital-Tutors: You say in your resume you would like to work worldwide. Where would your fantasy location to work at be? Pat Imrie: It would have to say Vancouver. I had the good fortune of visiting the city in 2011 while I was attending SIGGRAPH. I really enjoyed my time there.


Digital-Tutors: Thanks once again and are there any last things you would like to share with the world before we leave? Pat Imrie: I would like to encourage artists to strive to continually improve their work. Learn as much as you can and if your final goal is to become an artist in the VFX, animation or game industry then never stop trying. If you want something enough and are willing to put in the hard work required to achieve it, then it will happen. It may not necessarily happen exactly when you want but it will happen eventually. I live by a simple little motto, which is to 'Get good, then get better.' This reminds me that once I learn something new, never stop trying to improve on it or learn more. As one of my favorite artists, Scott Spencer, states in one of his books: 'The day you stop learning, is the day you stop being an artist.' I couldn't agree more.


Learn more about Pat by visiting his website or send him a tweet. Also, don’t forget to watch Pat’s tutorials on Modeling Exterior Scenes in Maya, Modeling a Fantasy Character in MayaCreature Concept Sculpting in ZBrush and 3D for Illustration in Maya and Photoshop available on Digital-Tutors.

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