Jimmy is an Arch-Viz Wizard, best known for his 3D asset generation and integration and with over 15 years experience.
What is the story being told in your cover art?
I was lucky enough to make this image part of a series I have been working on in my free time. The series is set in the future with references to the past. It is not really meant to be either Utopian or Dystopian in nature, but more a commentary on architecture and ideas about World Building. A look at the strange and uncanny beauty. Each image has aspects that I hope are familiar to the viewer and aspects that are completely foreign and do not belong. In that way I am not sure I would say the work is completely sci-fi because there are elements that people have a relationship to.
For example, in this last image the house is a very regular single-family home. It’s the home that I grew up in as a child so it is very personal and relatable. The house is worn and old (my house did not look like this) but when I was shooting the image pack this was quite common in the area so I wanted to recreate that. You also have a mother standing at the back door with a child’s jacket but the child is not in the image, this is done deliberately allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks. In the background you have these machines that are foreign and may or may not belong to this world. There is this strange beauty that I am always going for.
It is not really meant to be either Utopian or Dystopian in nature, but more a commentary on architecture and ideas about World Building. A look at the strange and uncanny beauty.
Also, coming from architecture and seeing architectural renderings all the time they always seem to have the same equality amongst the various parts of the image. Nothing in the image is of a singular concentration. You see a lot of people talk about making images more cinematic or storytelling, this is hard to do without having a singular concentration. You see this more in film and photography like the work of Gregory Crewdson, Nicolas Moulin, and Jeff Wall etc. This is something I am always trying to push in my personal work. In the professional world I would say this is extremely hard when there are so many voices on a project.
I have a fascination with the desert and the Western United States. There is a vastness and emptiness that I find interesting. It is kind of creepy in a lot of ways, areas that either have been forgotten and or will never be developed.
How did you come up with it? What inspired you?
Being that the image is part of an on going series for me it came, for the most part, naturally. Though that does not mean fast, I would not say I am fast at making images. I am so impressed by all these artists that make stuff weekly or more. Anyways, I had been wanting to shoot Mojave for some time. I pass through the area a lot on my way to fly fish and it just has an allure for me. I really let the location drive what I was going to make. I have a fascination with the desert and the Western United States. There is a vastness and emptiness that I find interesting. It is kind of creepy in a lot of ways, areas that either have been forgotten and or will never be developed. Now you have this technology creeping on these areas were, for example, you have huge swatches of solar fields in the middle of no place. In our effort to become more sustainable we are destroying other habitats.
I am always inspired by film and photography more than anything else. Of course there are architects that I find inspiring but maybe because I went to school for this and work in the field it feels almost second nature. I don’t think about architecture that much or maybe not the same as others. I am always looking at the work of Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall, and Nicolas Moulin. Film wise there are so many great cinematographers out there but a few I love are Dekins, Lubezki, Van Hoytema, Wally Pfster, and Sigel. It almost sounds cliché to list these guys and they are only a few. I do look at other artist but not in terms of work per say but technique and skills. This pushes me to make better work. I also try to keep it to a minimum, there are amazing people but everyone has their own style and ideas about their work.
What was your approach to creating this image?
Ha-ha Matte Painting, I am not sure I look at what I do like that. There are too many people that do this for a career that are so bad-ass like Conrad Allan, Maxx Burman, Nick Hiatt, and so many others. These guys make amazing Matte Paintings. I would say I am stuck someplace in the middle of 3D and 2D, I think the concept drives this image. There are times where I do more 2D and times I do more 3D. My process has evolved over the last few years. I have learned so many great things about Arch-Viz from my great friend Karim Moussa who was an artist at MIR so it was like having inside access to that studio. At the same time, I had this point where I felt my work was at a plateau and I came across Maxx Burman's class and the tutorials on MattePaint and I was blown away. It really helped elevate my work. No matter how long you're in the industry, there's still more to learn.
For this last image I really wanted to do more 2D but it just did not work out when I was shooting the image pack. I was shooting in neighborhoods but it is kind of odd to be doing this, so I didn’t feel I got the image I wanted for the foreground. This was good and bad. I changed direction and went mostly 3D with elements of 2D. That was a little hard since it is matte painting but, as I said, I do not see the two being mutually exclusive. I got a bunch of reference images, from my mom, of our old house and started modeling the house. For this I used Maya. I have been using it since V5, so is what it is, and I don’t like to favor or talk too much about tools. There are so many great options out there these days. I think people should use what makes them happy. I also 'massed' out the machines then used assets from different libraries, this is common in Arch-Viz. Things happen at such a fast pace so you often do not have time to model all your own stuff. Having said that, I find in my personal work I am always retexturing things.
This might sound odd, but I am interested in Kit Bashing as a form of designing in architecture.
From there I exported all the stuff over to 3ds Max. I love Maya but rendering wise, I switched to Max a few years back and find it so much friendlier. It has amazing plugins like Forest Pro Rail Clone. Also, almost every asset out there is set for Max and V-Ray. I also use Corona render, again there are so many amazing options. GPU vs CPU, ahh it’s crazy! I say use what makes you happy. I finished the Machines in 3ds Max, Kit Bashing some elements. This might sound odd, and of course I could model this, but I am interested in Kit Bashing as a form of designing in architecture. I do not mean scattering stuff around, I am talking about the old school physical Kit Bashing were you combine elements model with them manipulate them to get something new. Architect Gregg Lynn, Mark Foster Gage and others have been doing this and I think it is valid for my work where I am looking to get a hyper detailed outcome. I textured using Megascans and Substance Painter. I love both they are fun and so freeing. A lot of people hate UV mapping, I have always kind of geeked out on it.
I like working with a lot of passes in post so I can have a lot of flexibility.
Next I rendered in 3ds Max using Corona (wow bad name right now), again this works for me and there are so many amazing options out there. Last, was Photoshop. Personally, I like working with a lot of passes in post so I can have a lot of flexibility. I try my best to do things like Matte Painters, but I think I still have some nasty habits from Arch-Viz. At the very least, I try to work in a nondestructive workflow so I can go back and edit as I need to. I don’t think in post I do anything amazing just try and be very clean.
What Software did you use?
Maya, 3ds Max, Substance Painter, Quixel Mixer and Bridge, Forest Pro, and Photoshop.
What did you think about working with this pack?
Funny, I really wanted to create an image pack cover and had some great conversations with Conrad. Then I went back and forth looking at upcoming image pack releases and while they are all so amazing somehow it did not feel like me. So, I approached Conrad and asked if I could shoot the image pack and do the cover art. I felt this would allow me a bit more creativity. It was an amazing experience doing both, I shot in a small town north of LA. Mojave, it is a strange town that is mainly seen as people pass through on the way to Mammoth or Bakersfield. I would say the town has a feeling of forgottenness. It feels stuck in another time and this was super interesting to me. It also is located right next Mojave Airport which seems very inconspicuous but Virgin Galactic is based there along with Solid Concepts and the Military is flying in and out all the time from Edwards AFB. There is this allure that more goes on there then they would like anyone to believe. Working with this image pack felt very personal I would say. For me I think that is a good thing in terms of getting invested in the work.
For me it’s a way to explore architecture in a different way.
Why do you make art and how did you get into the industry?
I do not think I originally had plans of doing this type of work. I am an architect and designer so that was what I went to school for and what I still do. Along the way I got more involved in making visuals and started down that path, which I would say was a little painful at first as there was not as many cool tools/resources available at the time. I also started doing Arch-Viz which can be a little brutal. Now, I make images that are just as much about design as they are about creating worlds which are based in an architectural research and narrative. I would say for me it’s a way to explore architecture in a different way. I am not sure it will lead to more then that it would always be great I suppose but for me there is a validity in exploring image making through this process.
Jimmy is an Architectural Designer / Director of Visual Communications based in LA.
You can follow him here:
This interview is part of our Retro Wasteland reference pack. Jimmy created the amazing cover art for the pack.