Senior Character Artist
Who is Aaron Colman-Hayes?
“My name is Aaron Colman-Hayes, Senior Character Artist living in Los Angeles and working in the film industry. I’m lucky enough to be able to work in an field that I’m passionate about. When I’m not busy creating things in ZBrush, I love to unwind by taking pictures of dogs.”
“What art project are you most proud of?”
“I’m always most proud of the most recent project I’ve finished. As of right now, my most recent project is titled “Theia” and can be seen here
I don’t put out a ton of personal work that often, certainly not as much as many other artists I know. Because of that, I find that I can see my improvement as an artist between each piece. It’s like a visible growth in my ability, and that’s really gratifying for me to be able to see.”
“Is there something you wish you had done differently leading up to where you are now?”
“I wish I would have explored my educational options a bit more. The school I went to wasn’t the best for learning 3D, and when I see some of the student work coming out of places like Gnomon or Think Tank, I can’t help but feel a little regret in some of the choices I’ve made, because their work is so good!
That being said, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now in my career if I had made different choices, and I’m really enjoying what my career is looking like right now. I think that’s a difficult enjoyment to find, so I get some comfort from that.”
“If your friends or co-workers were here, what would they tell me about you?”
“I think the first thing they’d tell you is that I ask a lot of questions. I’m a senior artist, but that doesn’t excuse me from asking for help or trying to learn more about something. I treat every day like a school day; I’m here to learn. Yes, my actual work is a priority, but a day I don’t learn anything new feels like a day I’m not growing as an artist.
I want to get better every day, and the best way I know how to do that is by asking a ton of questions, learning from other artists, and then taking the new techniques I’ve learned and applying them to my own work.”
“What does the process of coming up with new ideas look like for you?”
“A lot of my ideas come from concept art, but when I’m doing something new and free form, I like to just start with a sphere in ZBrush. Pushing and pulling out shapes has a very organic feel to me and allows my mind to run a little wild while I work. Sometimes I’ll pull or push some geo further than I wanted, and I’ll get a new and interesting shape.
From there, the project can move like a snowball down a hill, and it just picks up speed as I move from shape to shape. I find that can be a lot of fun and a cathartic break from a technical and detail oriented work flow.”
“What kind of advice would you give someone who struggles to come up with ideas?”
“Sometimes the best thing to do is just dumb it down. Go outside for a walk and find something that speaks to you, whether it’s a simple color or a shape. If you’re working with characters or creatures, silhouette is always one of the most important things, and it can be as simple as 3 thick lines on a piece of paper.
For specific genres, like if you wanted to do something sci-fi, sometimes it can really help to put on some sci-fi music. Fantasy? Throw on the game of thrones soundtrack. Sometimes, getting your mind in the right mood can kickstart the creative process, and it can be as simple as playing music from the genre or era you want to create something in.”
“Before you start a project, what feelings or thoughts are going through your head?”
“Usually when I start a project, I get really excited. It’s fun to think about doing something new, especially if you’re challenging yourself and not relying on your artistic comfort zone. I’m gathering references, I’m exploring different silhouettes, I can see what I want the final piece to look like in my head. And then I actually start working, and things can kind of go downhill fast haha.
Sometimes it really feels like the ideas I had in my head aren’t translating well onto the sculpt, or I feel like my work isn’t good enough. I think a lot of artists go through this mindset at some point, and it can be very tough to break through that barrier and continue on.
I have like 50+ projects I’ve started and abandoned because I didn’t like how it was looking. But what’s important is recognizing that it’s totally normal to feel that, to trust your artistic ability, and to power through. The results of finishing something and putting your best effort into it are often far more rewarding than the feeling of abandoning a piece of work.”
“Do you have any advice on breaking out of your artistic comfort zone?”
“I think it’s important to explore other artistic practices or mediums. If all you did was sculpt, you would never gain the same vision or appreciation for certain things like someone who draws. Different artists see things in different ways, and I think it’s important to learn from different resources.
I mainly sculpt things in ZBrush, but taking a break with drawing, photography, painting, or even filming can give me a completely different perspective and appreciation for things. I think limiting yourself to one medium can only hurt you as far as being creative, growing and improving as an artist.”
Remembering an artist’s name shows that you care. It’s not all about the artwork, but also who created it! If you could ask Aaron Colman-Hayes any question, which one would it be? Post it in the comments down below!