How to Create a Realistic 3D Character Portrait with Ian Spriggs

2minutes read


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Digital Portrait Artist Ian Spriggs catches up with Maxine to unpack the creative process behind his mind-blowingly realistic 3D character portraitures. In this episode, discover how Ian approaches creating his digital portraits, including how he chooses subjects, tricks for lighting and workflow, and the importance of practicing your craft. Ian also discusses the difference between hyperrealism and photorealism, how digital portraiture compares to traditional painting, and finding inspiration in art history.

Episode Breakdown

00:00 Intro
01:15 Ian’s 3D portraiture
03:38 Finding passion through a self-portrait
05:37 Ian’s background in VFX
07:57 Working at ILM and Oats
10:10 Working in small versus large studios
12:01 How Ian selects portrait subjects
16:11 How digital portraiture compares to traditional painting
20:33 Ian’s art shown in galleries
23:06 Ian’s process for portraiture 
26:08 Hyperrealism vs. photorealism
29:36 Ian’s portrait of Kim Jung Gi
31:28 Feedback and attention to detail
35:35 Leonardo da Vinci portrait
38:24 Personal work versus professional work
42:03 Finding inspiration in art history
43:50 Lighting models
45:50 Tricks Ian has picked up from the industry
47:35 Following your passion and practicing
50:02 How many hours Ian spends working 
53:20 Listener questions: recommendations for realistic sculpting, preferred workflows
55:50 Where to find Ian

About Ian Spriggs

Ian Spriggs is a digital portrait artist. He works on creating believable digital humans, which questions the notion of portraiture and the understanding of the uncanny valley. He completed his first realistic 3D portrait in 2014, which helped define his career as a 3D artist.

Ian has also worked as a lead character 3D modeler with credits including Bloodshot, Mulan, The Mandolorian (Chapter 1), Spiderman: Far From Home, and John Wick 3. He's been creating digital art in the industry for over 16 years, working at studios such as OatsStudios, ImageEngine, ILM, Mr X, and is currently at Unity Labs.

Looking forward, Ian wants to create a new generation of portraiture that reflects new ideas and uses new technologies to challenge our concepts of portraiture in the contemporary age.

ian-spriggs-self-portrait-mayaIan's incredibly life-like digitally modeled self-portrait. Modeled and textured in Maya and Mudbox (no scans), with touch-ups done in Photoshop. 

Ian-Spriggs-character-3d-model-tonyAnother life-life 3D portrait of Ian's friend, Tony. Modeled and textured in Maya and Mudbox (no scans), and hair is nhair with a V-Ray hair shader. Touch-ups and color corrections done in Photoshop. 

ian-spriggs-rakka-creature-artRakka creature from the film Rakka by OatsStudios. The concept and model were done by Ian. (All of the concept art and models can be downloaded via Steam). 

ian-spriggs-krish-helmet3D character model by Ian from a test idea from OatStudios called Praetoria.

To see more of Ian's work, head to his website and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Additional resources about this career:

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