5th September 2022

‘Milk Mondays’ – featuring Unreal Artist, Damir Martin!

Stella Patsikas
Posted 5th September 2022

Welcome back to Milk Mondays…

Where we get to show off our lovely lot and share a little bit of their wisdom, what makes them tick and what they get up to when they’re not making VFX 🙂

Read on to find out more!

How long have you been working at Milk?

I’ve been working with Milk regularly since the Dinosaurs In the Wild project back in 2017 which was a truly memorable experience for a paleoart nerd like me!

What do you like about working here?

I like the projects, I like the people. Most of us are creatives, have a love for film, visual effects and storytelling.

With all that, it just comes naturally to connect and communicate with people here at Milk.

For example, when I showed up for Dinosaurs In the Wild, I’d never met or seen anyone of the Milk family prior to that moment; but still I felt like I had known some of the people for ages and it just felt right to be here. 

Did you always want to be an Unreal Artist?

My signature says Unreal Artist and that’s the role I spend most of my time on here at Milk in recent months.

In reality, I’m a Digital Art generalist and I can help out with anything from 3D modelling and texturing to 2D concept art or quick digital sculpting/sketching in zbrush.

Along with Unreal, I still very much enjoy every opportunity I get to create creatures and organic or hard surface models in Zbrush. 

I never dreamed of becoming an Unreal Artist. The role came to me slowly and now I enjoy every minute I spend building environments and cinematic previz sequences in the Unreal Engine.

How did you get into your role?

My transition to Unreal started about 2-3 years ago when I began my subscription to Quixel Megascans. I started relying on their photo scanned 3D assets and PBR materials to speed up my workflow and bump up the visual quality with my renders.

Soon after that, Unreal announced UE5, Nanite, Lumen and acquired Quixel Megascans. All of these advances in visual fidelity, speed and relative ease of use, along with their free use policy for non-interactive content (ie. film and animation) became the turning point for me where I thought, “I need to learn this tool, I need to jump on board”

So far I’m enjoying the ride and the best is yet to come.

What’s the best bit of your job?

The best bit of my job is when all the pieces begin to fall in place and the vision you had in your mind slowly starts to surface inside the viewport or rendered sequences. 

Especially so if you’re struggling with fleshing out visuals at a certain stage of the project. 

What’s been the most exciting project you’ve worked on in the last year?

A big episodic project at Milk for Amazon which I can’t name yet! And all the Unreal work I’ve done on it with the help of Chris Hutchison (our Head of Animation), Darren Byford (Senior Pipeline Developer) , Neil Roche (Head of 3D) and Matias Derkacz (Head of 2D)! That was mega.

Your favourite project at Milk and why?

Probably “Dinosaurs In the Wild“. Because dinosaurs 😀

What does your typical day look like?

Getting up at 7:00 in the morning, taking my daughter to kindergarten after solving some lost plush toy crisis, her crippling indecisiveness on the type of dress, shoes or colour of her socks etc.  

Coming back to the apartment around 8:15. Having a snack or a light meal. Browsing world news, mostly reading an article or two from the industry. 

Then around 9:00 kicking it off from where I stopped the day before or getting on with a new task. 

Mostly I work till 18:00ish but sometimes when I run into creative walls or software woes I find myself working well into the night and I do not shy away from pushing on into the wee hours of the morning. 

I do this mostly when I’m truly inspired with the project. You get these waves of inspiration where you don’t wanna jump off. It’s addictive. 

I used to experience these rushes of inspiration a lot more as a kid. When you get excited about creating something and you can’t stop until it’s done. Like reading a great book, and you find yourself turning the pages well into the night or morning. And you realise you should stop, rest, but you can’t. You gotta turn just one more page, and then another. But the body can only do so much.  

Sometimes a break and a good rest can re-ignite inspiration as well. I’m still learning that one. 

Your top 3 key ingredient/s for creating amazing work?

1 Do plenty of research, try to understand the subject as much as you can, time permitting. 

2 Build a solid reference gallery.  Good prep is half the work. 

3 When you’re done prepping, roll up your sleeves. If you’re wearing a t-shirt just rip off whatever sleeve there is, take a deep breath and dive in…

What do you love about working in vfx?

I like when I can witness a rough concept, a sketch or a storyboard segment come alive and polished. 

It never wears off.   

Advice to your younger self (when starting out in the industry)

Don’t wait for too much to become “better” or to pump “more quality into your portfolio” before you set out to find work.

Apply for jobs and knock on studios’ doors because you will fit somewhere and you will be growing and developing much faster than you would on your own. 

What’s the secret of your success?

Nurturing a child’s enthusiasm about things, be it work related or just a plane or a helicopter flying above you.   

If you can’t get excited about stuff why get out of bed in the morning? Wag that tail! 

What do you like doing when you’re not working?

I like running or riding MTB trough local forests singletrails. I like taking photos of trees, rocks, clouds and an occasional human here and there. 

I like drawing with crayons together with my daughter, we do it alot. Ever since I became a father, my daughter and I create a lion sand sculpture every summer. It has become a tradition for us.

 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you?

At the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic I learned how to use a sewing machine. 

I made my daughter a dress and I made a screen accurate Pennywise the Dancing Clown costume from the recent remake.  I still have to create a head prosthetic and get a wig. 

The idea is to dress up for Halloween or Carnival and cause a bit of a stir around the town 😀

And just for fun…

What’s the one thing you always keep on your desk?

Thylacine, museum quality skull cast that I was given by the client who hired me a couple years ago to make a digital thylacine reconstruction for a museum exhibit, with fur and whiskers and all 🙂

Pets?

We have a cat. A Lilac British Shorthair, Pepe.

 

Last present you bought yourself?

It was a threezero Transformers: Bumblebee collectible figure. I like toys, I can’t help it. 

Luckily I have a 5 year old daughter so trips to toy stores are justifiable, for now. I don’t know what I’m going to do when she loses interest in toys.  Open for suggestions! 

What would be your superpower?

The power of Thanos Infinity Gauntlet so I can snap my fingers and disintegrate all the weapons and all the trigger fingers of the world. 

What are you learning at the moment?

I was poking around in MASS FX physics simulations and A.I. image generation.  

Bonus question:

Tea or coffee ?  one sugar or two?

Tea, don’t drink coffee. No sugar, teaspoon of honey.   

Add anything else you’d like to tell us?!

I’m like a “I like turtles” zombie kid, but “I like dinosaurs”. Wait, I like turtles as well. Ah well.

Awright Guv’nah

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