Julien De Mey

By: Rebelway

Rebelway alumnus Julien De Mey talks about being a freelance CGI artist and explains how Rebelway helped him grow artistically.

When and how did your artistic journey begin? How did you get into 3D art and what was the first tool you used to create your artworks? How has your style evolved since then?

I started studying fine arts when I was 16, I have also loved computers ever since I was a child. Later, I understood they both can work very well together. So, since that day, I became passionate about the relationship between Technology and Art. The first tool I used for 3D creation was 3ds Max, and as I discovered more and more tools, the field of possibilities opened up and my style evolved accordingly.

3ds Max environment by Rebelway Water FX alumnus Julien De Mey

Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey as a 3D artist? Where do you currently work?

Since 2015, I have been doing video mapping in the field of entertainment as a freelancer, it’s a very interesting area that requires a lot of teamwork and communication with various actors like dancers, light designers, and others. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to travel and take part in big shows. I am still working there.

You have been creating 3D art for quite some time and your artworks range from human anatomy studies to beautiful environments and realistic VFX - what are your favorite things to create and why? What software do you normally use for your personal projects?

Obviously, my preference is CGI, although all artistic domains are interesting. I mainly use the Houdini/Blender combo, which is very efficient.

environment art by Rebelway alumnus Julien De Mey
cloth study in 3ds Max by Rebelway alumnus Julien De Mey

Can you tell us more about your latest work, Wave crash simulation: how did you set up the scene, where did you look for references (was it inspired by a real place?), what software did you use to create it, and what were the things you found the most challenging about working on this simulation? What are the main tricks behind getting water simulations to look real?

Firstly, I looked for a good reference on the Internet, because it’s the most important part of the process. Once I had found a video, I started building the scene in Houdini with low-poly 3D scans from Quixel Megascan. Then I converted to VDB to have a correct collision.

SideFX Houdini viewport screenshot

When the setup was fine, I used Igor Zanic’s great technique that I had learned in the Water FX training to create wedges.

I also emitted a second flip on the foreground with a pre-roll to create the illusion that a wave splash had already happened before. After finding the right settings, I rendered it with Redshift.

SideFX Houdini viewport screenshot

The biggest challenge for me was getting scale and motion right. With the training and the feedback from Igor, I got a better understanding of what I needed to achieve my goal.

The main trick to get a realistic simulation is to take a good look at the reference, understand all the parameters of the simulation, and do a lot of wedges and tests.

How did Rebelway help you grow as an artist? What was your favorite part about being a Rebelway student? In your opinion, how does Rebelway compare to the other CG & VFX schools, and what are its main advantages?

Rebelway taught me a lot and allowed me to gain a solid understanding of Houdini. It’s a great pleasure to learn from great VFX artists such as Saber Jlassi or Igor Zanic. The quality of the training, as well as the availability of teachers, create the ideal conditions to learn and reach the next level. The other big advantage of Rebelway is the community, everyone helps each other.

Who inspires you as an artist? Who do you look up to and why?

I really like artists like Andy GoldsworthyAlberto MielgoJeremy GeddesHenri Cartier BressonMaxim Zhestkov, and many others. They are in different artistic fields, but I think we must keep being curious and never hesitate to find inspiration outside digital art.

marble shader created in 3ds Max

Many digital artists, especially the ones who are only getting started, often struggle to keep moving because they can’t stop comparing their works to what the other artists create or get too overwhelmed with how many tools there are to learn - have you experienced similar issues and how did you overcome them? What would you advise aspiring 3D artists to do to stay motivated?

Yes. I think the solution is to avoid constantly comparing yourself to others and to get inspiration from the artworks you see instead, to admire great artists. That allows you to stay motivated and forge ahead. My advice would be to do the things you love and stay passionate about them.

What are you planning to do in the future as an artist?

For the moment, I will go on to work at various events and when I feel ready, I will try to get into the VFX industry.

More art from Julien: https://www.artstation.com/diecom

VFX created using SideFX Houdini by Julien de Mey

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