Syn Studio presents an exclusive interview with Layna Lazar, 1st place winner of the Darkstalkers Anime 3D Fan Art Challenge, sponsored by Syn Studio. See the winners’ entries here. And see the latest challenges here.
Layna Lazar is a 3D character artist and 3D modeler for toys and games. She recently won first place in the Darkstalkers Anime 3D Fan Art Challenge. It wasn’t until early 2014 that she started to specifically focus on digital sculpting for tabletop board games with companies such as Seven Seas Entertainment and Succubus Publishing, among others. She currently works at Grinding Gear Games as a 3D artist for Path of Exile in New Zealand while continuing to pursue her passion in 3D character art.
Tell us about yourself. Where do you come from?
I was born in the south of Texas, grew up moving from big city to big city all over the state. As I got older I spent some time in Arizona, and lived in California a majority of my college years. All the while playing video games, had a killer passion for fashion, and learning 3D every step of the way. Towards the end of 2013 I made a big step with my partner which now has lead us to call New Zealand home.
How did you start CG? What got you started?
I’ve played video games all my life, and especially when I was growing up, but I have to say Final Fantasy 8 is what got me hooked into 3D art. After seeing that opening cut scene I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Although I didn’t quite know exactly what that meant at the time, I wanted to do whatever it took to be on my way. Around 15 years old I attended an overnight 3D art camp with iDGA for three weeks. Made my first crazy ridiculous looking character and never stopped since! Around 2013 I met Jon Troy Nickel. Someone I have looked up to not only as an artist, but as a person. He has been my biggest supporter, and I would not have been here without him 🙂 I owe many thanks to him.
Why did you specialize into character modeling?
At the time I was first discovering 3D, it was the characters that struck me the most. Especially in playing tons of JRPGs. I feel that I’ve wanted nothing more than to put my love for fashion and video games together, and learning how to build characters has been the best way to achieve that goal.
Did you know the Darkstalker’s video game before? Have you already played the game?
Yes! When I was around 8, I played darkstalkers 3 almost non-stop. I had this lousy excuse for a PS1 controller but would play so hard my thumbs would have giant ‘X’s’ on them by the end. Morrigan was my favorite, I always mained her every time I played. Customized her colors every which way I could until I had enough. Of course second in line came Felicia! I loved every minute of playing this game. The characters were all so interesting and the backgrounds were so fun. I would have to say the arena with the giant demon baby was my favorite, haha!
Why did you choose this particular DarkStalker’s character?
Honestly, I’ve rarely seen anything QBee related. She’s got such a cool design and has gotten so little love. The internet is saturated with Morrigan and Felicica, given- they’re awesome, but I wanted to see if I could spend a little time with something people haven’t really seen much of.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with the QBee character?
Pushing past the struggles. I always get excited to start a piece, then hit a certain point where I’m stuck and just haven’t the slightest clue how to push it to the next step, even though I see there is lot’s of room for improvement. I’ve started to realize it has nothing to do with skill in regards to being stuck, it’s just continuing to push yourself and having the ability to see it through till the end. Spend more quality time with it, set goals, get critique, do paint-overs, grab some fresh eyes. Thankfully I’ve got some awesome friends who were kind enough to critique her and do some paintovers. I found myself struggling over all a lot with the pose. I did my best to reference anime figures and take long stares at work from Hazardous. It’s really the little things, the twist in the ankle, kicking out the hips, breaking the pose, moving every last joint in the fingers so they look sleek and sexy. On top of it all, the facial expression. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really posed a face before, but thanks to a good friend of mine I jumped in the deep end and gave it a shot. He really stressed how important it was to not leave it blank. Absolutely do not leave it in a dead face state! So what better way to finish off Qbee than to be eating a bit of honey 🙂
Would you like to give any advice for young artists who want to become a character artist?
If you really want it, prove it to yourself. Stop talking, sit down, and just make art. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make art. Even more so, don’t stop. You may not see the growth you want right away, but I promise you will if you just keep going. You will struggle, and you will fail, but that’s the first step to getting better.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given in your career?
“Reduce the distractions, put in the time, and just make art.” – Jon Troy Nickel