EXOTIQUE 2 Cover Artist - Artist Profile, 24 November, 2006
We revisit one of the truly spectacular EXOTIQUE artists of the past: Soa Lee, from South Korea. Brought into the spotlight by her appearance in the original EXOTIQUE, Soa Lee continues her career at game production companies and her education in character modeling.
Mind out though, the second page may not be safe for work.
|From an unknown Korean traditional animator, to a highly-prized 3D artist, Soa Lee still regards the field as a vast untapped creative wonderland, for game characters, commissions and personal creations.|
Some years ago, Soa Lee’s father came home and gave her some art books by Luis Loyo as a present from his trip to the USA. “These books were not only breathtakingly inspiring but also provided a vision on the career path that I should consider taking in the future,” Soa Lee explains. “Whenever we had a conversation about my future, my father always emphasized on pursuing challenges that my heart is really after instead of following what is the popular thing in the present time.” Soa says that it was very rare for a female to pursue a career as a 3D illustrator, however she remained confident that she could create awesome stills using the 3D software packages. Even though her major in university was Western fine art, she has focused on CG and six months into a 3D course, she won first prize at the Korea Computer Art Association.
Ever since her university days, Soa Lee had been curious about the workings behind a good animation model. At first she wasn’t interested in computer art at all, being more a traditional cell animator, and thoroughly ensconced in the ‘ink and paint.’ Later on, 3D animation in Korea became very popular, as did the uptake of online game play. Anyone working within the 3D realm in Seoul was deemed to be using the technology as an adjunct to bringing the model into an animation later on. This was her ticket into this exciting field. Soa Lee decided she had to be a part of this industry wave.
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|Not long after, she decided to ‘test her potential’ with the production of the ‘Redyan’ online game A3 character series. “Until I finished the Redyan series,” Soa says, “my main focus was more on the pose of characters and the background, rather than using techniques for 3D views. So my skills are more tuned to generating natural looking 3D characters; and I still need to work on the strengths of the 3D graphics, such as depicting realistic depth within these images.”|
Soa Lee is quoted as having a very healthy attitude about the computer being means to an end. At present, she spends time experimenting with 3D spacial techniques. “I am always reminding myself that 2D and 3D software are all just tools to create great images,” she says. “I always strive to produce the best images using any techniques. I’d only use 3D software as simply a tool to create better animations.”
Most of Korea’s game production is focused on generating humanoid characters with 3ds Max, so Soa threw herself into learning the software. “Using 3ds Max is the most comfortable and efficient when working on projects with these companies,” she says. “There’s always an extra incentive to learn.” Always curious, she is now also learning the functions of other programs like ZBrush and others.
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|“I was surprised and more than pleased,” says Soa, about the reaction to her initial appearance in Ballistic Publishing’s EXOTIQUE. “Actually before being in EXOTIQUE, I couldn't have found a use for my illustrations. So it was a great experience for me. Because I was not only introduced to people all over the world, but also had another aim to work for the book. I began to do [my images] with more of a sense of responsibility. Also it was nice to have contact from people who had seen EXOTIQUE and they say good things about my works.”|
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|Soa has always been attracted to the human characters as her favorite theme. Depending on the area of the job she is doing, Soa changes her creative methods. “Faces are usually drawn by referencing,” she explains. “I combine different pictures that have the facial shapes I’m looking for. I then create images from these and refer to them continuously. I take similar steps by combining various pictures in Photoshop. The images from these processes become a great sketch and these become the foundation of the 3D production. I draw manually for the detailed elements and patterns.|
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