Mariano Steiner is a character artist at Rockstar Games. He has work on great projects such as Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Island and is now working on Red Dead Redemption 2. Mariano has kindly taken the time out of his busy schedule to give some tips on some of his process on creating some of the best characters in the industry!

How did you start your career as a 3D Character artist, and what was your first major project you worked on?

 I started back in 2008 in an advertising studio called Techno Image in Brazil. There I had the opportunity to learn from monster artists such as Pedro Conti, Thiago Hoisel and Lucas Leibholz. After 2 years there I started in a TV commercial/ animation company called Tribbo Post, where i worked and learned with more amazing artists like Bruno Camara, Paulo Sampaio, Caio César, Luciano Neves and many others.

So in total it was 4 years in advertising studios, working on big Brazilian projects. But the first "dream project" I can remember was the "Dead Island" cinematic with Axis animation and Ten24. It was a very cool project and one of my first freelance jobs. Many lessons learned and an amazing experience.

 Very cool man. While at work, what are the initial stages of your process when working on a new character? Where do you begin?

 Having a solid concept and art direction. Planning the steps so I can make fewer mistakes and be more effective. At work, time is very important. So I try to start the modeling already thinking about UV's, bakes and textures, but personal works are different. I take more time in each step, try new things and new ways to achieve better results.

 Do you ever have a chance to work with the concept team in development of a new character for a game? If so, what does this process look like?

Not exactly with the concept team, no. But many times we end up developing characters without a concept, so it becomes a very organic process between me ( and the team) and art direction.

 With gaming consoles and PCs becoming more powerful all of the time, are there any limits now as to how much detail and poly count you can have in a character model?

 There are always limits. With consoles and PC getting more and more powerful, the games get more and more complex. Technology allow us to put more details, more textures, more things happening on the screen. But there is always a limit if you want it to work as an interactive game.

 Are there any new tools or techniques that you and team over at Rockstar are using to complete new characters?

Unfortunately i can't discuss any of the tools or techniques we use at Rockstar.
What i can say is that there is no magic "Create a character" button hehe.

 Ha that's okay we understand you can't talk about everything from work! When creating work ,specifically for print, are there any additional tools or software to help you finish your work?

Zbrush is my main and favorite tool. Specially when working for prints/toys I almost don't leave the software, except every now and then using 3dsMax. I've recently added Marvelous designer to my routine and that can speed up the process a lot!

 How does your process for completing a sculpt change when designing for print, like with Ezio from Assassin's Creed, for instance?

I guess I use the same approach when sculpting for Games, Cinematics or Toys. The goal is to make something that looks good no matter how. The process changes on final steps only.When working on toys, I don't have to worry about textures, UV's or topology. But you have to think about print size vs detail size, making the model watertight and thick enough to print, cuts, properly fit accessories etc.

 What specific traits do you look for in a candidate when hiring at Rockstar?

I can't say much, but what i always tell people is if you really want to join a specific company, watch what they do and try to match it, both in theme and quality.
Put your ego aside and honestly compare your portfolio with what this company does. If you think you are up to the job, just apply!

  Alright and finally, for young students looking to achieve a similar level of expertise in 3D Character Art, what are some ways that they can practice and develop their skills? 

I don't consider myself an expert or special in any way. What I did and still do is to devote a lot of hours to this. That's the key. Study the anatomy of everything, gather references, watch videos, go to conferences, surround yourself with artists. At the end of the day, we need to breathe art to succeed. There is no such thing as part time artist haha!

Super thanks for the opportunity and for spend time reading this !:)

We would like to thank Mariano for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with us! We always look forward to seeing more amazing work from Mariano and with that being said keep killing it out there! Your an inspiration!