Interview with 3D modeler Nikola Novak
Nikola Novak is a 42 years old futurist from Serbia. He is a self-taught 3d modeler, animator 2d sketcher, CAD modeler with huge passion for concept car design. We have conducted an interview with him.
How does it feel being on the top cover of 3D Artist magazine from UK?
Everything started when Steve Holmes from 3DArtist magazine from UK magazine saw my supercar concept on my deviantart profile and asked me to publish it on top cover of their magazine. For me it was awesome feeling to see how my own design fits on top cover of 3D Artist magazine. It was also great advertising for open source software Blender 3D to attract more users. It was my way to show my appreciation to software developers, owner of the software Ton Rosendaal and to blender3d artist community, my video tutors. In this edition of 3D Artist magazine issue 83 there are work presentations from other Blender3d artist professionals too. By the way my supercar concept look even much better, when Steve sent me print edition, where quality is much much better comparing to my computer screen. It’s also cool communication opener for talking with beautiful females :).
On the other hand for some people in my surrounding it’s not a big deal, because I didn’t monetize it. Today I think that ordinary people simply don’t understand how everything works in the entertainment,industrial and automotive industry. Yes I work what I like, but I also have very talented, skilled and strong competition from all around the world. All in all I wished then to work and learn in creative environment where my ideas could grow on much higher level. I worked in similar environment in 2006 when I worked as professional packaging and graphic designer for one year. Mostly people around me were pleased when I worked there, because I was paid good as a designer. Back then I worked with professional graphic designer Dragan Gavric, who finished school for graphic design and graphic engineering too. I learned a lot from him about Adobe photoshop, illustrator and about Corel draw too. We were a great team, even I was just self taught designer, he respected my 3D modeling, design and rendering skills.
Also I learned from industrial designers how to develop my concept ideas with Rhinoceros 3D, because CAD modeling is industrial standard. So I worked and learn in the same time, and tried to adapt to company needs. It is very hard task when you are self taught artist, but you give your best. When I worked for some clients on automotive online design projects several years ago, I had to be a car designer, cad modeler and engineer, which was mission impossible for me. Together with pressure and expectations from my surrounding and client’s pressure it was pretty stressful situation for me. I let it to overburn myself by trying to please all the clients and to prove to others, which was my huge mistake. From the other hand I learned my lesson from that kind of experience. Nowadays, I don’t talk a lot what I’m doing as freelancer, so even if I fail, I can recharge my energy much faster. Also walking on fresh air, running, workout, riding a bicycle helps to clear your mind :).
What kind of expectations do you set for yourself as a 3D Modeler for concept car design?
My expectations was very high several years ago in year 2012 exactly when my concept supercar Exona was featured first on my Behance profile and then all major car blogs all around the world. I convinced myself that I can design a car which someone could build, so I could earn money from it and live my own creative life I always wanted. After the success of Exona concept there were some promising projects, but with only one client I was close to realizing my dream. Unfortunately, my client was forced to stop that supercar project. Now I see that is pretty hard task particularly when you are self taught designer, so I create my own designs and sell it on 3d stock markets including private jets, airplanes, jetliners created by well known brands.
Which software skills are you proficient in so as to create the 3D stock creations?
I create my 3d models mostly with open source software Blender3d. I can create 3d models, add realistic materials, render it with realistic rendering engine called cycles. I can also use this software to create 3d animations including my 3d models, or to create some interesting videos with particle effects. I must admit I’m mostly highly motivated when I create my own designs, cars, aircrafts, spaceship, etc. So I could say I’m more concept designer then 3d modeler, but also I can adapt to to 3d modeling tasks too if client demands.
When I prepared my supercar for 3D Artist magazine I had to use Simlab Composer rendering software, because back then I wasn’t that good with cycles rendering engine. The developers from Simlab offered me kindly to use their rendering software in exchange to promote their software. Back then it was expensive software for me, so I kindly accepted their offer. It was pretty hires image, but Simlab Composer handled it without problem. For creating textures for my lowpoly vehicles, mostly airplanes I use Inkscape vector software. For enhancing my 3d renderings I use Gimp graphic editor.
Creativity for my car design concepts comes from paper sketches or I create sketches with graphic tablet by using awesome free sketching software sketchbook pro. I sketch cars for almost 25 years, but I started to sketch better thanks to online video tutorials. I also invested money from automotive freelance project,created with blender3d, in pretty affordable but powerful CAD software Moi3d. This software was developed by Michael Gibson who also worked on developing of well known Rhinoceros3d software. Now he works alone on his project Moment of inspiration or Moi3D. It lacks more advanced tools like surface matching, but I give my best to create sexy looking concept cars with this software. I saw some people can create pretty complex and powerful looking 3d models with this software.
Why do you like futuristic cars?
I don’t know I like interesting forms, which you can’t see every day. Interesting cool interiors with gadgets and color schemes which are pleasing my visual senses to higher level. Imagination of the designer artist without the limits with appealing look, particularly with digital illustration presentations. I’m 3d modeller and I can create realistic renderings, but I still admire to industrial designers who creates amazing design presentations with photoshop or with markers too. I think the biggest influencers for my passion for futuristic cars was sci-fi movies, like Bladerunner, Star Trek, Star wars, cartoons, Anime like Transformers and my biggest impact was movie “Back to the future” part 2 with futuristic flying cars. This movie pushed me to explore not just futuristic cars, but also futuristic design, futuristic architecture, computer graphics and computer technology in whole. I was really convinced back then that future will be similar to that movie, with flying cars, hoverboards, etc. Yes science fiction movies and books are my biggest influencers. For example after I watched movie “Contact” created according popular book by Carl Sagan I started to explore more science and astronomy. I also read a book Contact which is awesome too. Isaac Asimov is also my favorite writer and it really pushed my intellect to think, to rethink and to reimagine that futuristic worlds in my head.
Science fiction movies I’ve mentioned lead me to explore car illustrations from car magazines, and even today I’m trying to learn new sketching technics as industrial designers create on their video channels. When I was a teenager sketching vehicles was just a hobby, and other people told me it is just a hobby, I had pretty low self esteem then, so I easily accepted other people advises. At the end I finished secondary school for car mechanic. I wasn’t pleased so after that I told to myself I will regret later in my life if I don’t at least try to chase my car design dream. From my point of view that was not a huge mistake, like some people think, but if I had money for design school my learning path would be much faster and much easier. Not just because I would be teach how to design proper,but also because I would be among people who share same interests like I do.
From the other hand maybe as teenager I would be impatient like many design students and hardly waited to learn 3d software or Photoshop, instead of learning more traditional sketching technics, like perspective boxes drawing, exploring design fundamentals form and proportion. I have to admit I learned about it from online Youtube videos mostly from industrial designer and concept artist Scott Robertson, also I learned from digital concept artists Matt Khor, Marouane Bembli, Sangwon Seok, IDcreatures, Fheng Zhu, Hudson Rio, ChouTac and from many other artists from all around the world.Their videos will convince you that anyone can learn to sketch anything from every angle with their sketch technics and it is really true if you practice a lot. Since I started to watch their videos, I’m much better with visualizing my concept ideas on paper,sketching with graphic tablet and with creating new designs with 3d softwares too. I’m just half designer, so I like also beside design to play basketball, to ride a bicycle, to swim. I also watch sports events like basketball, athletics, Olympic games and soccer, mostly world championships. All in all I still not giving up from my design dream, from learning and from creating new concept ideas, because without it I would be just an empty shell. Enjoy my galleries and designs links are enchored in text of this interview. Beside concept cars there are other concept design ideas, like furniture design, graphic design, product design, abstract art and photomanipulations too. Enjoy :)