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Interview with Nicolas Ferrand

3DM3 interviewed Nicolas Ferrand, very talented cg artist from France.

Hi Nicolas, please introduce yourself to 3DM3 readers

Hi I am Nicolas Ferrand, born in France, I studied fine arts and graduated with a higher certificate in ceramic design, which is far from the digital world, but still in a concept mood.

How do you get started in concept art and CG?

I have always been a video game geek, started on the Amstrad cpc, commodore 64 and gamewatches. I studied multimedia and 3d in a high school started to start working as a level artist for different games companies in france, until I moved to a new destination: Canada

It was a great and important choice in my life, because it gave me the opportunity to met so many talented artists as: sparth (Nicolas Bouvier) David levy (vyle), Thierry Doizon (barontieri), Joel dos reis Viegas (feerik), Sebastien Larroude (rainart) herve groussin (nuro ), david giraud (mojettte) and all the steambot team & friends. I did one more project as a level artist then I chose to return to my artistic roots: concept design.

I did many great and  challenging projects at ubisoft: Splinter cell, Prince of Persia, assassins, Avatar (from the James Cameron s movie) then I moved to my current employer: Eidos Montreal. At the moment I am working on a new and “secret game” (to be announced soon).

By the way I have always been very active on every concept art forums, like cfsl, sijuns or concept art.org, that’s how I could change my position level artist to concept artist.

Internet is a great tool, I still remember when we had to move with giant leather traditional portfolio or when we had to send letters by the post, to be recruited … But yes  that why internet is fantastic, all the knowledge, the opportunity to share your pictures, ideas and techniques with great artists around the world, this is just incredible, big and fast.

Click to enlarge


What are your favorite styles? Do you prefer fantasy, SCI-FI, realism, etc?

I don’t have a favorite style, like we learned at school, we have to be curious and open minded.

When I like something, I like it, the style doesn’t matter. Sometimes I am more in a sci-fi mood, sometimes its fantasy. But I also really like to mix universes and styles, to create and to try to have my own worlds, I think the idea, the concept is the main thing, I like to surprise people.

Where do you get the inspiration for all of this amazing artwork?

From everywhere and from everything, my formation in fine arts, opened my mind to a lot of style and artists. Its good to look around and to be curious, there is always a part in a photo, a picture, a sculpture  that can be reused.

Sometimes it’s a shape, that I will transform into a photoshop brush, sometimes it’s a color for an unusual mood. I really like tribal art, African jewelries, textile design and fashion shows are also good for dynamism and rhythms.

Medieval and religious related things is a good source of inspiration for me, I like to add a mystical touch into my concepts. Music is essential for me. I cant work without, it helping me a lot . The brain is good to translate songs into visuals, its just an important part of my process, I need it!



Do you have any favourite part of creation process are you like more than other (sketching, modeling etc)?

Like he said before, music is my first step, then sometime its sketches.
It depends of the pictures: matte painting, props, vehicles, environments?

For environments and props I like to start with a 3d scene, it helps me to quickly have the composition and to change it with the camera options. Its also good for level artists, because I can give them the scene after, it’s a gain of time for the production.

And when the artistic director come and asks you to do another finale picture but with another angle, 3d is your friend J. But it is just a tool, for me it’s a gain of time, so I can spend more time on the rendering after. In production you have to be smart and fast, so you need to have a good and efficient pipeline.

For personal projects, its different: experimentations and craziness, I don’t have a pipeline for these, I  prefer to just have pleasure, fun and to take some risks.

I find on your blog that you creates locations environments for Farcry2. Please tell us more about this work and have you any other experience in concept art for games?

As a level artist: splinter cell 2 – 3 and 4 and ghost recon 2.

As a concept artist: Prince of Persia 3, assassins 1 and 2, far cry 2, Avatar (license from the movie) and now the eidos project.

I am also doing freelance for different games, board games, book cover or movies. Im open to everything, video game and movie worlds are rapidly converging, so i keeps an eye on both sides.

On far cry 2, the project was really interesting plus I really like Africa. I had to create a lot of organic brushes, 3d was useless for this production, too organic, I had to find another pipeline, the brushes were perfect.

I did a lot of paintover on engine screenshots too, its really nice to be involved into the production and specially into the level design, you have to give some gameplay ideas, its no more illustration, its real concept design and gameplay mechanics, I like this.


Have you ever awarded for your works or win any competitions?

Not yet, but I prefer challenges with no awards and prizes, like the last man standing challenge on conceptart.org, nothing to win but great topics and artists, friendly mood and just the pleasure to create new pictures for your portfolio. It gives me a little boost when I m in a lack of creativity or motivation, I like when there is a zest of challenge in my work J

What are you favourite books and movies, how are you spending free time?

Im a big fan of french comic books, since my childhood, there is so many great artists who influenced me, like: moebius (jean Giraud) philippe druillet, andre franquin, marcel gotlib and Jano. Im not reading enough, but im a lovecraft s adept J.

I watch a lot of movies, like in art and music, I like everything and every genre: Quentin Tarantino, Sophia coppola, Tim burton, the coen brothers and Danny boyle are my favorites. Besides this I spending most of my free time with my “Cherie” J  but I really like sport, playing video games.

Could your share with us your plans for the future?

I couldn’t say for the moment, I’am in a thinking phase, I ve got some opportunities, but I want to think a bit. I just finished a collaboration project, the first steambot artbook: its called exodyssey, edited by design studio press, only artworks created specifically for the book, it was a long and hard path (to work besides the daily jobs) but we did it. I recommend it!

But yes for the future, I will finish my mandate with eidos, besides this  I have some personal IPs to develop, movies or games, I like both.

And please a few words which you want to say to our CG community.

Thanks to all the cg communities, it’s a big family, keep up the good work and the crazy ideas, have fun! Everyone need this, we are lucky to work with passion, so keep it intense! J

Thank you for interesting interview.

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