3DValley Featured 3D Artist of January 2007 – Soa Lee. Soa is a 3D modeler/ illustrator from South Korea. Soa has been working in the CG industry for almost 9 years. She started out in the animation industry and is currently working freelance for several game producing companies. In most of her work appear female characters, these female characters tend to be dreamy, fantastical and picturesque. “Reality serves as a tool to feel the dream as a reality” is what Soa says about her own work. Read the interview below to learn and read a bit more about her.
Gallery album of Soa Lee
Website for Soa Lee
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who are you and what do you do in your daily life?
Soa: Hello, dear readers. My name is Soa lee and I am a graphic illustrator residing and working in Korea. My weekdays are filled with full days of 3D production works then I catch a breath on the weekend with my husband, his family or friends.
Christa: When did you first notice you had artistic talent?
Soa: As a matter of fact, the artistic field that I was fascinated with as a child was classical dance and music. Then I started to find myself drawing and sketching whenever I was sitting at a desk since my grammar school days. I realized that my classmates provided great feedback to my work. I liked to draw images from cartoons or entertainers, and I think this enabled me to improve the ability to observe objects.
Christa: Do you have traditional art experience?
Soa: I have a major in European fine arts. If I had more information back then, I would have studied at a Design college; however, studying fine arts served me very well. It provided a strong foundation for my ability to design the direction of my productions and to shape up the style of my work.
Christa: Which software packages do you use for your artwork?
Soa: I love to use 3DS MAX and Adobe Photoshop. I have utilized Maya before but I have exclusively used Max ever since I started to focus on the illustration.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Soa: The most crucial step I take before I start any type of project is the come up with proper sketches. Even though these sketches are not detailed, I would like to portray the pose and the ambiance of my work in the sketches. I would like to portray the first impression on the objects. Once I determine on the composition and the layouts of the images, then I sketch on the accessories, ornaments and outfits. I sometimes get inspired from the magazines and other reference publications, and then I perform modeling and shading with the Max. I try to anticipate the results in Photoshop with the rendering results with cameras and lighting tentatively ready. I sometimes find new additional objects needed and modify the layouts somewhat. Then I complete the layout with all these elements considered and start my 3D work.
Christa: What and/or who inspires you?
Soa: Everything that I hear and behold provides me with inspiration. What I see could be productions of my favorite artists as well as the magazines or etc. Sometimes, objects and images that I have been collecting would come in handy as well. Music also provides great inspiration as it brings out the emotions hiding inside of my heart and allows me to expand on my imagination.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and if so, why?
Soa: It may sound odd but I love most of my pieces. I believe that my audience would be able to feel it if I dislike my work. Therefore, I strive my best to ensure that my works meets my expectation so that I like them. If I have to choose my favorite, it has be the Tears from the A3/Redian work that I have produced.
Christa: What is your goal as an artist?
Soa: I believe that public remembers an artist because they can relate to his/ hers art. I would love to produce art that many people can relate to and can love. One day, I would like to publish my portfolio collections.
Christa: Besides 3D Valley, which other CG sites do you visit regularly?
Soa: It has been recent since I started to look around CG sites. I have worked through Raph.com a few years ago but stopped because of the demanding schedules. However, my interest has been resurfaced ever since I have published my work with Ballistic publishing and I started to visit CGsociety.org, which is related.
Christa: Do you have any tips for the artists who admire your work?
Soa: It’s mandatory to discover what you like or could excel in and then keep studying and improving upon it. This would be mutually beneficial to the artists as well as the owner of the works who would need your works and skill.
Christa: How many years are you working in the CG industry?
Soa: It will soon be 9 years that I have been working in the computer graphics field.
Christa: What kind of projects have you worked on?
Soa: I have been producing music videos with cyber characters, and game characters mainly. On one project, I have illustrated game characters in multiple themes like cyber stars and this experience was very intriguing. I would like to render the characters within pre-determined themes just like the constellation series that I am currently working on.
Christa: Which areas of your work do you enjoy the most?
Soa: I find myself being excited to be able to stretch my imagination during the sketching stage. Then I get really gratified when I’m editing all the rendered images and pieces that are drawn to my devised plans. Ironically, 3D working stage is the most excruciating stage for me. Haha.
Christa: How would you describe your own style?
Soa: In most of my work appear female characters. These female characters express catharsis from me. And my works tend to be dreamy, fantastical and picturesque than realistic on purpose. Reality serves as a tool to feel the dream as a reality.
Christa: I’ve read on your website that you use a special render technique so the color in your art will stand out more and let the colors look very rich and vivid. Can you tell us some more about that?
Soa: It is not a special technique. I believe that the feelings of the colors can determine the quality of an image (coming from fine arts background). Thus, I allocate a lot of my efforts on color revisions. The majority of the colors are determined during the secondary sketch stage. Secondary sketch stage refers to the stage in which I put together somewhat completed rendering results within Photoshop to anticipate the final results. This stage allows me to confirm my findings and the direction of my work for the remainder of the project. Also, I could give a variation to the colors promptly because this variation process can be very slow if you were to do them on the final project whose file sizes are huge.
Christa: I’ve also read on your site that you started out with 3D software because of the animation ability, though on your website I couldn’t find any animations. Can we expect some animations from you in the future?
Soa: My portfolios prior to 2000 included animation works. However, I stopped producing animation ever since I have begun to focus on the illustration. However, I would hope to end my career in the animation field as my beginning was in the animation area.
Christa: How is the CG industry currently in Korea?
Soa: It’s fair to say that 3D in Korea developed and progressed with the growth of the online games. General publics’ interests are no longer limited to 3D animation but now are expanded into 3D games as well. Online games are huge and growing in Korea, countless games and users appearing in the market. Therefore, many universities have been opening multimedia departments or games-related majors, and many students would like to major in this field. Most online games in Korea are 3D, which nurtures the environment for the 3D artists. Male producers are not alone anymore there are many female artists joining the market. The numbers are still growing. So far, there are more male 3D artists but it’s not too difficult to meet female 3D artists working in delicate jobs such as costume design.
Christa: Is there a personal or work related project that you are currently working and can tell us something about?
Soa: I am currently working on a few character-modeling projects for multiple game producing companies. I would like to stop limiting myself to the game industry. I would like to apply my characters to different business.
Christa: Is their something that you can’t work without?
Soa: Music, I can’t do without the music. I can concentrate very well with the music on. Perhaps the music mesmerizes me?
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Soa: I love to watch movies or TV dramas. These days, they produce very well made TV dramas and they are very enjoyable. By the way, I am a huge fan of the Battlestar Galatica 🙂
Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview Soa!