PK 047: 3D Artist Morten Jaeger on Finding His Own Unique Style

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Morten Jaeger has learned how to focus on making the art he likes doing best

“When you start to realize what you’re really good at, that’s when your art will start to get better.”

Morten Jaeger now works as a 3D artist at Cinesite in London, but he almost ended up working on a golf course instead!

Hear what inspired him to swap golf clubs for green screens and cutting-edge 3D software in our new podcast…

How Morten Jaeger Became a 3D Artist

As a 16-year-old growing up in Denmark, it was seeing Disney’s acclaimed Pixar animated movie, The Incredibles, that first got Morten into making art.

He says: “I’d read interviews with some of the artists who’d worked on this film, and they all mentioned using 3D Studio Max software to create their work.

“So, I downloaded a trial copy, and began teaching myself how to use it.”

However, it took some gentle persuasion from his parents to take his talent further…

In Denmark, all school students have to do a two-week internship with local companies. At this time, the young Morten was crazy about golf, and originally wanted to get his work experience at  the local driving range.

However, his dad had a better idea. He knew of an advertising company nearby, and suggested Morten apply to do his internship there instead.

And later on, when a friend of Morten’s mom said their company was looking for a 3D artist, she decided to put his name forward.

He explains: “I decided to show them a 3D version of their logo that I’d created. There wasn’t too much 3D work around at the time, so they were really impressed and hired me!”

But Morten Jaeger didn’t find initially himself working on exciting character designs and sci-fi lighting effects. In fact, his first few years as a 3D artist were spent designing buildings and creating product shots of cars and other vehicles.

How Morten Jaeger Moved Into Character Design

Although his job taught him a great deal about composition and lighting, Morten knew that character design was his real passion.

So, he enrolled on an animation workshop, and it was from here that his interest and skills grew.

He signed up to creative forums, where artists were talking about using ZBrush to bring their experimental characters to life.

After learning how to use this software, Morten started collaborating with 2D artists, and sharpened up his skills by offering to transform their 2D characters into 3D.

Eventually, this experience led to him moving to London and working as a 3D artist. But what does a 3D artist actually do?

How a 3D Artist Works

“I work in set extensions, which is a group of disciplines,” Morten explains. “My official title is 3D Modeller, which means I get to design characters, creatures, and environments.

“First, we’ll get a plate (a shot) from the client – for example, this could be a shot from Pirates of The Caribbean, with Johnny Depp performing some kind of action in front of a green screen.

“This green screen plate will then be sent to the tracking team, who will track everything in the scene and make preparations for putting the real-world shot into 3D.

“Then, myself and other artists will start working on replacing all the green screen with 3D elements, such as a pirate ship, landscapes etc.

“There’s so much work that goes into movies that people never see – artists like me work on all the invisible stuff that makes things look better!”

You can check out a showreel of Morten’s work below:

Showreel 2015 – Morten Jaeger from FlippedNormals on Vimeo

Character Design and Flipped Normals

In addition to his full-time job as a 3D artist, Morten has also found time to launch a site, Flipped Normals, which provides tutorials for anyone interested in 3D software and character design.

“I started it with a friend,” he explains. “We realized there was a lack of high quality tutorials for people who want to learn about 3D art.

“For example, we answer questions like ‘What is concept art?’ and ‘What is Modelling?’ It’s all about sharing our knowledge with others. We’ve already produced a lot of free tutorials, and we’ve just released our first paid one.”

So what advice does Morten Jaeger have for aspiring artists?

He says: “Whether you want to work in VFX or any other area of art, it’s important to realize that you’re never going to know everything. Focus your efforts on what you like doing best, and pursue that.”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why you should focus on the art you most enjoy doing
  • How internships can be great for your creative career
  • How a 3D artist works
  • How to focus and perfect your creative skills

People on this Episode:

Mitch
Morten

Mentioned in the episode:

Morten’s Website
Flipped Normals
Morten on Twitter

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Wednesday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Mitch

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