People of Kuato: Shaping the Heroes with Carlo
Carlo Bautista is Kuato’s 3D Character Artist, responsible for sculpting the iconic heroes in Marvel Hero Tales. Carlo is responsible for turning concept art into workable 3D objects for the animation team to bring to life. Carlo has come a long way from drawing Pokemon on his bedroom walls at as a youngster, and plays a big part in the visual brilliance of the award-winning Marvel Hero Tales app.
What do you do at Kuato Studios?
I mainly work on the Marvel Hero Tales app, which currently consists of 12 playable characters, including Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor and Black Panther.
My job essentially consists of three main components – sculpting, texturing (adding colour) and retopology (compressing the file size). It’s important to ensure each hero is consistent with Marvel’s original representation.
When sculpting 2D concepts of characters in a 3D programme, each character requires a different approach. It’s always fun and a unique challenge, as one day I’m making battle armour for Loki, and the next I could be sculpting Hulk’s abs. The image below shows Dr. Strange as a 3D sculpture.
Once I have sculpted the shape, it’s time to add colour (texturing). Our games are renown for stunning graphics, so this stage requires huge attention to detail and this component often takes longer than the sculpting process.
In the Black Panther example below, you can see the minute details in his body armour grooves and mask patterns, and all the various shades of black, as well as the shadowing effects from the lighting. With all of that detail in mind, its important to retopologise each character so they cab work in-game without crazy download times, or taking up too much memory on your device.
What are your earliest memories of drawing/ design work?
I always loved drawing characters as a kid. Ever since I learned how to pick up a pencil I have been doodling everywhere I can. My childhood home is riddled with drawings on the ceilings and walls (sorry Mum!). I remember drawing a lot of stick men, and when Pokémon came out in 1998, it was all about Pokémon characters – especially Voltorb!
How did that transfer from a hobby to a professional trade?
I studied computer animation at the University of Bradford, where I immersed myself in the whole 3D pipeline – animation, rigging, modelling, lighting and rendering. After graduating I focused on 3D modelling and taught myself how to sculpt. My perseverance eventually landed me a job at a company making characters for a Samsung VR animated series. I then joined Kuato Studios in 2019, helping create a wonderful array of characters for educational games.
What advice would you give to a recent graduate or someone starting a job in your field?
Knowledge of anatomy is crucial, whether you want to do stylised work or realistic. Focus on building up a strong portfolio, opting for quality over quantity. The industry is quite competitive but it is growing. Be sure to be open to every opportunity and learn something new at every chance you get.
Which artists/ game design/ project inspires you?
There are so many amazing artists out there! I always say I am standing amongst the shoulders of giants, I try to get inspiration from all kinds of mediums, ranging from baroque artist like Anthony van Dyck to more current artist such as Pablo Munoz.
Which pieces of your work are you most proud of and why?
Aside from creating characters for Kuato, I take it upon myself to challenge my craft and push the boundaries of what I can do. To teach myself something new with every project I do. Sometimes it doesn’t work out as well as you want it to, but I always come out the other end having learned something, and ultimately making me a better artist.
Outside of work, I’m particularly proud of my character concept for a “Young King Arthur” piece where I had to create my own interpretation of the King of Camelot. This piece gave me the opportunity to learn more about the application of stylisation and character design fundamentals.
Another is a more recent piece I worked on creating my own interpretation of a realistic take of a beloved video game character from Street Fighter, Dhalsim. This piece gave me a chance to learn more about technical workings for hyper-realism work, involving sub-surface scattering, sub-dermal skin colouration and fibre simulations. The works I am proud of the most are those of which I can push my knowledge and better myself in my role as a character artist!
Do you have a link to your portfolio?
There is also a wider range of my work in progress on my Instagram page @carlolide