New Featured Artist: Joseph Drust

Ask who Joseph Drust’s influences are in his evolution as a CG artist and you’re probably not going to expect to hear Lil Wayne alongside his drafting teacher. This North Carolinian game developer has proven to be just as lively as a rap superstar.


Digital-Tutors: Tell us a little about yourself and what you are working on. Joseph Drust: I am currently a lead character artist at Ubisoft in North Carolina. The majority of the game titles I work on are military shooters, so anything related to Tom Clancy and that genre you can probably find me working on it. Digital-Tutors: How did you first get started in the industry? Joseph Drust: I always knew I wanted to do something with art growing up, I just didn’t know what exactly. Even back in high school all my classes junior and senior year were dedicated to art. I didn’t really know that I wanted to do games until I was a senior in high school. I used to play a lot of Doom and Quake in drafting class. One day my drafting teacher asked 'Why don't you create art for games?'  It had never hit me that games needed art until that moment. I was planning on going into commercial art or product design at that point but once my teacher mentioned game art to me it just kind of clicked.


After high school I left to go to Savanna College of Art and Design in Georgia where I got my bachelors in Fine Art. There wasn’t really a game track during my time there, but fortunately I had an adviser that allowed me to determine what classes I wanted to take. I was able to change my courses to fashion design, figure drawing, anatomy, and stuff like that---things I thought would help me in the actual gaming industry. After college, I got my first job at Red Storm where I worked for the next five years.

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Digital-Tutors: You do a lot of military-type games, why does this appeal to you? Joseph Drust: When I was younger, I played with a ton of GI Joes, and had a few relatives in the military so it’s just been something I have always grown up with.  I also have a huge respect for the men and women in uniform. Digital-Tutors: How would you describe your style? Joseph Drust: One thing I don’t think I ever really have is a certain style. When I look at stuff I do, I never feel like I have a certain style that goes into it.  I go back and forth from time to time trying to establish or find a certain style; however, it's been a lost cause.  I guess my closest thing I would say I have to style is the style of realism.


Digital-Tutors: What is the best way you think you could discover your sense of style?


Joseph Drust: 'Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.' This quote is actually in a documentary about Lil Wayne.  In the documentary he states that one of the reasons he has been so prominent is because he records around eight hours a day, every single day. I think this makes quite a bit of sense, if you’re constantly producing, you are bound to get better.  I think it’s this repetition that makes you better as an artist.


I always try to challenge myself and not grow stale as an artist. One thing I have been doing recently is partaking in ‘Lunchcrunch’ sculpting. This system was started by a guy named Danny Williams (known as Pointpusher on the web.) The premise is that you sculpt a piece of art in a certain period of time; say an hour.  After this time that piece is complete, and you move on to something else.  The coolest thing about doing this is, by Friday, your most recent piece of Lunchcruch art will have dramatically improved from the piece you did on Monday. Moral of the story here is to always strive for your next piece of art to be your best.


Digital-Tutors: What do you struggle most with being a CG artist? Joseph Drust: Getting through the ugly stage is usually the worst part. You know when you’re working on something and it looks rough and ugly but you just have to be confident that it will eventually get better and look good once you get farther along. A project is usually never as easy as it may seem when you embark on it. I think this is because it is so hard to appease what you want the project to be or want it to turn out as. Every artist struggles with this. It’s very humbling to hear other artists’ insecurities---especially if it’s an artist that I really admire.


Digital-Tutors: What kind of advice do you have for new artists? Joseph Drust: If you’re not looking at what others are doing, you’re cheating yourself. I go to forums all the time to see what other people are doing and to get inspiration. I visit ZBrush Central every single day and at go to PolyCount and CG Hub at least twice to three times a week.


My next advice would be to constantly be  looking for critiques from fellow artists. I have found that most artists are very nice and very willing to give you advice. The key is to not get defensive and just accept what they have to say because that is their honest opinion. Art is very subjective; but if you attempt to sculpt a cat and your two-year-old calls its a dog---it probably looks like a dog.


Digital-Tutors: Besides your day job as a CG artist, do you do anything else creatively? Joseph Drust: If I didn’t do something artistic at least once a week I think I would become very depressed and frustrated, so I am always creating. In my free time I create kitbashed vinyl sculptures.  The last series I created was called The Piggyson Steam Series that contained various types of Steampunk style minions. I currently have a second line of series in production. Even if I were to win the lottery, I know I would still be creating art. Digital-Tutors: A big thanks for taking time to talk with us! Joseph Drust: Thank you.

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Watch Joseph’s Digital-Tutors tutorial on Creating Long Hair Using Fiber Mesh in ZBrush.

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