Get to know dynamic animal sculpting, and Krystal Sae Eua

‘I am fascinated by the form in the height of drama, or the apex of a movement.’

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Now at Weta Digital, and with previous experience at studios such as Blur, The Mill and Hydraulx, creature and character artist Krystal Sae Eua has worked on some big VFX projects. She’s also had time to dive into incredible ‘dynamic animal’ sculpts.

In this interview, Krystal shares what that kind of sculpting means and requires, how to learn more about human and animal anatomy, and which ZBrush brush she’s excited about right now.


Krystal Sae Eua.

b&a: I feel like you’ve become well known for ‘dynamic animal sculpting’? How would you describe exactly what that is? And what makes for a dynamic sculpt, in your opinion?

Krystal Sae Eua: I would describe dynamic sculpture as a piece that captures a moment in time during an action. I personally love gestural work the most. It really speaks to me. It’s an ephemeral concept but I am fascinated by the form in the height of drama, or the apex of a movement. A dynamic sculpt should draw you into the moment with lines. Something that you may or may not have observed in nature or in yourself.

b&a: For someone who would like to learn more about anatomy (of humans and animals) and applying that to their CG work, what would you suggest they do?

Krystal Sae Eua: I would highly recommend that they study humans first. Comparative anatomy is critical in learning about other species. AnatomyTools.com is a great place to go and have a great foundation in how to learn from your many anatomy books. Andrew Cawrse is an incredible teacher but you have to apply what you have learned asap. You can teach yourself with some amazing books out there, but you have to be incredibly disciplined. It’s a never-ending process but once you start, you will get addicted to it for sure.

Here are my favorite books:

An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists by W. Ellenberger

Animal Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by E. Goldfinger

Anatomy for Sculptors: Understanding the Human Figure by Sandis Kondrats and Uldis Zarins

b&a: Can you talk a little about your own career in CG/VFX? What has that journey be like for you, especially in terms of moving across the world?

Krystal Sae Eua: I started out wanting to be a 2D animator but that wasn’t what the industry was looking for at that time. I decided to go for 3D and eventually studied at Gnomon School of VFX. From there, I was able to work for CafeFX, Hydraulx, and The Mill as a modeler/texture artist and lead.

I learned so much from each of my experiences at those studios but I really had a passion to specialize in character/creature work. Midway into my career, I started to do a ton of personal study and began to make all of the things I wish I was making at work, then Blur hired me to do just that.

Blur was incredible fun and I was lucky enough to be able to work on Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots and several cinematics for Tomb Raider, Destiny and more. There was only one thing that could tempt me away from such an amazing environment and that’s when I got a call from Weta Digital.

I had been dreaming of working here for over a decade and I had to give it a go. I wish I could talk more about Weta (but you’ll just have to wait until the projects are released 😉). It’s a great place so far and the work and people here are amazing. I am incredibly lucky to be here and hope to continue refining my craft wherever my journey takes me.

b&a: What’s the coolest tool in ZBrush you’ve been using or tried out recently?

Krystal Sae Eua: My favorite new thing in ZBrush has to be the Sculptris Pro Mode. It’s the best! It’s great for pushing the work even further without topological restrictions. I am always trying to break my students out of the construct of a production workflow. It only stifles and stiffens the work and you have to understand that, in ZBrush, you can fix almost anything. So don’t be afraid to play!

See more of Krystal’s work at her ArtStation page.

This week at befores & afters is #3dartistsrock week, diving deep into a different 3D artist each day to reveal their work and their process.

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