Artist Showcase: Zeljko Mihajlovic

  23-year old Zeljko Mihajlovic from Serbia started learning 3D just 1 year ago, but you wouldn't know it from looking at his realistic textures and stunning models. Here is what Zeljko says about his work, Blender and his inspiration.

Soady

Who is Zeljko, why does he call himself Soady and what does he do?

I'm that guy that everyone calls when they have a problem with their PC! I call myself Soady because most people can't pronounce my name right, even after hearing it a bunch of times. It actually stands for System Of A Down, which is one of my favorite bands. I added the Y to turn their initials into a name about 10 years ago and I liked how it sounded. And my mission...I am trying to get better at 3D art every day. I like to stay out of my comfort zone at all times and always observe my current position as a starting point.

What is your ultimate dream?

Being surrounded with easy-going, hard-working, ideas-having, brainstorming talented artists with a sense of humor that are also my best friends and colleagues. [caption id="attachment_173404" align="aligncenter" width="640"]TEX_PLAY-render1-1024x576 "Rocky Crystals"[/caption]

What is your professional experience?

I am completely self-taught: I finished High School of Economics and am now attending a first year of college on the subject of Computer Multimedia. It has very little to do with 3D specifically, or not at all. But here is what I believe: you need to surround yourself with art that impresses you and eventually your art will start to impress you the same way. I bomb myself with useful information because I think knowing that something is possible is the first step to implementing it in your work.

How did you get started with Blender, did you use another 3D software previously?

I wanted to try working in 3D a long time ago, but I always thought that 3D programs were very demanding and that I wouldn't be able to run them on my laptop. About 2 years ago, I searched for the most light-weight 3D program and I was shocked to find out that Blender was free - plus, at that time it was only 30MB! I downloaded it instantly and started playing around. My laptop was painfully slow to do any rendering so I was mostly focused on simple animation and the game engine. Last year, I decided to put all my efforts into learning 3D and I would spend a couple of days following a 1-hour tutorial. Soon enough I bought a new PC and I could finally do everything I knew in theory. Andrew Price really kept my spirit high when I knew nothing at all, his positive attitude and his teaching style backed up my decision to learn. [caption id="attachment_173405" align="aligncenter" width="640"]"Buddha's Spiral Garden" "Buddha's Spiral Garden"[/caption]

How did you come across CG Cookie, what do you like about the site and what is your favorite tutorial?

I came across CG Cookie when I was browsing for tutorials about a year ago, but I only recently became a citizen. And why am I here? I love the CG Cookie staff as well as the community! They are always ready to help, give advice and answer questions. My favorite tutorial is "Creating Antelope Canyon - Blender Procedural Workflow", because I love anything that's done procedurally.

It seems that displacement textures are a big interest of yours: do you photograph and create your own displacement textures or do you find them online?

Yes, I love displacement textures! I am always looking for shortcuts for modeling rather than doing it traditionally, and being able to simply draw in black and white and turn it into a 3D object is what I like the most about it. I create my own displacement textures, but I make them from images that I find on Pixabay or by searching through CreativeCommons.org. Sometimes, I use my own photographs but I am currently using an iPhone 4S which isn't really great for that purpose. My goal for next year is to buy a professional camera and spend a lot of time in nature creating tons of high-quality, high-res textures. [caption id="attachment_173406" align="aligncenter" width="640"] "Icy Spikes" with wireframe[/caption]

We love your "Icy Spikes" scene. What was your inspiration and how did you construct the scene?

I love abstract art and I was just having fun with the displacement modifier and exploring its possibilities. This was a very quick scene done in a few minutes, not much planning went into it.

What does your workspace look like?

I'm running an i7 4770K, 16GB, GTX970 on Windows 7. I also use a small Wacom Intuos pen tablet. It's a very basic setup, not too personalized since I try to keep my eyes on the screen.
The only decoration I have is a wooden cat sculpture that also serves to keep my mouse cable in line and a glass bowl of hazelnut shells.
My_Workspace

You are studying Computer Multimedia at the moment: how do you motivate yourself to continue improving in 3D art in your free time?

My college is not very demanding and I have enough time to work on my 3D skills and still do freelance work.
What motivates me is the feedback I get from other people and the feeling of connection with the world! The need to express myself and my strong inner desire to create is what really drives me.
I also want to continue working on my YouTube channel and will be adding two new tutorials soon - everyone is invited to check it out for an inside look into my technique!
[caption id="attachment_173407" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Play_render_2-min-1024x576 "The Forgotten Skull"[/caption]

If you could go back in time and talk to Zeljko 10 years ago, what #1 advice would you give him?

'Follow your passion and work hard!' because a lot of times I didn't do either.
I seriously doubt that I would listen to myself, though.

And finally, what do you want for Christmas this year?

Another GPU. But I won't bother Santa about it, I will buy it myself.

Say hi to Zeljko on CG Cookie and visit his Gallery, or check out his Facebook for more of his work.

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  • Chuck Shultz (fxswan)

    I just started to learn Blender a few weeks ago. I hope I am this good in a year. Well done young man, well done.

  • kjcummings

    I'm loving his work, it's quite an inspiration.

  • lee caropolo (shadowmead7gmail-com)

    Awesome work! Those displacements really pop don't they. Very inspiring!

  • biennale art (biennale2016)

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  • killer-wolf

    Fantastic work, amazing after only a year of learning!

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