We chatted with 3D visualization artist and CG Spectrum's Department Head of Visualization, Nicklas Byriel, to hear about his extensive career in 3D and visualization, get some insights into our 3D visualization courses, and learn what it takes to be a good visualization artist.
Hi Nicklas! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I started exploring 3D at a very young age, being fortunate enough to have access to PCs early on. I was introduced to 3D Studio back in the early nineties by my older brother, who was doing videos for the demoscene.
When I started, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but, as I grew older and my fascination with graphics programs on computers remained, I decided to go to a college here in Denmark to learn 3D. I started an apprenticeship at an architecture company doing architectural visualization (archviz), continuing it at a small games studio until my education was completed.
Through studying 3D, I learned so much about myself and what I enjoyed creating.
I ended up at a company that primarily worked on archviz and motion graphics projects. After about three or four years there, I started my own company, Negative Black, doing all sorts of jobs, from 3D to photography. Soon after that, I worked as a teacher at 3D College in Denmark.
Fast forward about ten years, and now I’m here at CG Spectrum as Department Head of Visualization!
3D visualization by Nicklas using 3ds Max and V-Ray.
Can you tell us about your role at CG Spectrum and the upcoming courses you’re working on?
At CG Spectrum, my role is to create new and exciting courses focusing on 3D visualization. One aspect we will focus on will be architectural visualization (archviz) along with product visualization, and industrial visualization!
I noticed there is a lack of comprehensive courses that truly specialize in archviz. And any courses that do exist often assume you already have some 3D experience.
Our goal is to fill in the gaps missing in other archviz courses. We are currently fine-tuning an introductory course that can prepare anyone for a career in archviz, with no prior 3D knowledge necessary.
All our archviz courses will focus on the necessary skills needed to succeed in the industry. I understand what makes a great archviz artist because I actively work in the industry, and know what companies are looking for in new hires.
The curriculums will cover a lot—from the essentials like UI introductions in 3ds Max and offline and real-time rendering skills; to more advanced techniques like simulations, cloth, and various plugins; to creative processes such as lighting, composition, and color theory. Like all CG Spectrum courses, there will also be a focus on getting job-ready, including building a stand-out portfolio.
Another render of the 3D stairs created by Nicklas.
What should people do while they wait for CG Spectrum's visualization courses to launch?
I recommend signing up for our newsletter to get the latest news about the courses and when we launch. Or you can reach out to me if you want to have a chat to learn more about archviz. In the meantime, if you're keen, you can check out my YouTube tutorials—Chaos Theory—to learn more about 3ds Max and V-Ray, which is what we'll be teaching in our upcoming courses.
I hope to see a lot of interest in our new archviz courses! Both from students but also companies in the industry.
You’ve taught students in both a physical classroom and online. What are some of the benefits of learning archviz online?
The obvious benefit would be time. Learning archviz (or any subject for that matter) online makes it possible for students to learn during the times that suit them best. It also allows you to juggle other commitments, like work and family.
Studying online opens up more opportunities for students to hear and learn directly from industry pros.
For example, one week you could learn from an expert based in Germany, who happens to be really good at lighting and storytelling, and then be taught by a mentor from the US who’s great at composition and color the following week! In a physical classroom, this would be a lot harder to achieve.
Usually, being in a physical classroom helps with community, however, we at CG Spectrum have an excellent community focus. Our online community includes amazing technical assistants facilitating discussions and troubleshooting, students providing constructive feedback on each others' work, and mentors running open sessions, and so on!
You mentioned you also run your own creative studio—what does having current industry experience mean for your students?
I think industry experience is always important to bring to students. Having my own studio obviously helps me understand what certain clients need and what they are looking for.
3D visualization by CGS archviz mentor and industry pro, Teodor Vladov.
It’s still very important for me to keep talking to other companies in the industry and hear what they and their clients are doing. These are valuable, real-time insights I can share with students.
At CG Spectrum, we are always interested in hearing what the industry has to say, what skills they want from new hires, and where they think the industry is headed. We are constantly striving to ensure our course curriculums match current (and future) industry expectations. I would invite anyone who owns or works at a studio, who I haven’t talked to yet, to reach out and tell their story.
You’re also a Certified V-Ray Instructor.
I am. I’ve been working with Chaos, the company that makes V-Ray, for a long time now. And most companies in archviz usually use V-Ray or Corona (also made by Chaos) for offline rendering. Being a certified V-Ray instructor means I have industry-standard knowledge of this rendering software, which I can then pass on to my students.
CG Spectrum also has an academic partnership with Chaos to ensure our courses are kept as current and as industry-relevant as possible.
What does the future of visualization (archviz, product viz, etc.) look like, and why should people get excited about it?
It’s always hard to predict the future, but I think it’s safe to say that we will see even more advancements in real-time rendering solutions, with technologies like virtual production, VR, and even Web3 also getting more and more traction.
Archviz artists will definitely be needed for all sorts of projects in the future—expect lots of new and exciting challenges to come!
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in archviz?
A good archviz artist is someone who understands composition and color. Look at what others do, and try and analyze what it is that makes their renders (or photographs!) work. Composition is one of the most important things in archviz; it is usually also one of the hardest things to really master, so getting a good head start in understanding it will benefit you!
Learn archviz directly from 3D visualization experts like Nicklas!
Learn 3ds Max, Substance Painter, and V-Ray from professionals who actively work in the industry. As Chaos Academic Partner, our courses (coming soon!) are designed to teach students the latest techniques in archviz to help get you job-ready for a fulfilling career as an archviz artist.
Shoshanah has almost a decade of visual effects production experience, coordinating VFX teams in Australia and London. Her credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, Ant-Man, John Wick: Parabellum, Game of Thrones, and Christopher Robin. She now enjoys getting to write about the film and games industry.