Q&A: Nikolas Ilic

From Pixels to Clay

Mold3D: Hi Nikolas! Thank you for taking the time to talk to our audience! Can you please tell us a little bit about what you do and where you work?

N: I am a Character Designer/ Visual Development artist in the animation industry. I am originally from Toronto, Canada but I am now currently residing in Burbank, California. I'm currently working at JibJab media in Venice California as a designer, and I have also done some character design work with Sony Pictures Animation and Toonbox Entertainment back in Canada.

Mold3D: You’ve recently teamed up with sculptor Brooke Howell to produce a maquette based off one of your original designs. What was your experience working with Brooke?

Final Maquette by Brooke Howell, design by Nicols Ilic.

N: Working with Brooke was a real pleasure. I must say she is one of the easiest people to work with. She has a natural eye and needed little guidance from me. Every designers dream come true!

Mold3D: What are the challenges of realizing a 3D form from a 2-dimensional design? Please describe the process.

N: First I gave Brooke the initial character sketch of the viking. Afterwards she worked on a rough overall block in pass to nail down proportions. After blocking in the character she showed me where she was at and I did some draw overs on what I thought was working great and what could use some tweaking. Some of the challenges we encountered was with the character's nose. In the original drawing the nose looked appealing but it was in perspective and I wasn't sure how it should look from a front view. So we had some back and forth notes regarding the nose and how it would translate in 3D. Ultimately I trusted Brooke since she has a keen eye on appeal and knew what would work and look best for the maquette. I wanted to give Brooke as much liberties as I could to make her job as fun as possible.

Mold3D: How would you describe your aesthetic style?

N: I really like drawing funny characters. I like to push the characters as much as I can and what I mean by that is the push and pull of the shapes, having contrasting shapes within the character to make it interesting to look at. 

Mold3D: Your collaboration with Brooke resulted in a unique and awesome Viking maquette! Is this character based on a personal story or series? Can you give us some background history on the character?

N: Well I have always been interested in Vikings and the middle age time period. In fact it's my favorite subject matter to draw! This character was actually just a doodle that I really enjoyed. However I am slowly developing a short story idea regarding vikings and the story of Grendel. I hope to eventually to get those characters sculpted one day as well. 

Mold3D: It seems that designer/sculptor collaborations are popular. What are the benefits of teaming up with a 3D modeler/sculptor?

N: Well I would say there are tremendous benefits! Where someone lacks a skill set the other has it. Doing a collaboration you learn from each other's strength's and figure out what works best for the sculpt. I would recommend more traditional designers like myself to consider collaborating with a sculptor or 3D modeler as it helps you improve your design sense to what works and what doesn't in the rounded physical form.

Mold3D: Nowadays artists are coming up with creative ways to brand themselves, especially online. What do you think of the potential of using 3D printing has for artists who are working to build up their brand?

N: I think it is amazing! I mean a lot of people have online stores that sell their prints which is great. But having 3D prints of your work is something that is fresh and unique and will get you the exposure without a doubt!

Mold3D: From the perspective of a 2D designer, are you interested in learning how to 3D model in order to 3D print something that interests you?

N: Definitely! I think it would be a great learning experience to see what is possible and not in 3D. I have touched some 3D modeling in college and enjoyed it. It really is a whole new skill set to learn and would require quite some dedication which I would love to get into someday.

Mold3D: Thank you for your time Nikolas and for sharing your inspiring project!


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Be sure to check out Nikolas's website: http://nikolas-ilic.blogspot.com/