Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 by Nadine Obst
We'd like to introduce to you Mike Hermes, creator of the very useful YouTube channel and blog MHTutorials. Whether you are looking for videos on 3D modeling, rigging, lighting, or texturing and animation, you'll find it here. Mike took the time and gave us an interview on his passion of making videos.
Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time. So, let's go way back. Where were you born and raised? What was young Mike like? Where are you now? What sparked your interest in digital art and what inspired you?
Well, we will have to go back more than fifty years. I was born in Holland but at the very early age of two years, my parents decided to pick things up and move our entire family to Canada. Being so young I had no recollection of Holland and in my mind I was Canadian. I didn't speak Dutch either and had no idea what a "Holland" was. In the late 60´s and 70´s, I would watch "The Roadrunner" on TV, "The Jetsons", "The Flintstones" and of course "Sylvester and Tweety". So it is fair to say that my love for animation started at an early age.
I have always been a bit of a dreamer and due to my parents moving house over 18 times before I reached the age of 18 you could say that I didn't have a lot of friends. So I would spend my youth sitting in my room drawing on a piece of paper. Anything from spaceships (child of the 60's) to vehicles or buildings. For some reason, I was never into drawing characters but always trying to figure out how things were built mechanically.
In my early 20's (now living in Holland again) computers started to become popular and I jumped in with a vengeance. Now keep in mind that this was in the early 80's so the capabilities of hardware and software were limited. I decided to choose a different route and did not end up in modeling or animation at first. I got trained in mechanical engineering and computers and ended up spending most of my adult life in the procurement and logistics in the IT industry.
But during all these years I have always kept my love for drawing. Now what really triggered me to get into the digital side of things was John Lasseter. Now for those of you who don't know who he is (I can't imagine), he´s the driving force behind what is now known as Disney's Pixar. In an era where animation was done traditionally, he decided to start using computers. A bold decision that hurt his career more than once. He has always been my great example and he is the reason why I got into digital modeling and animation in the first place. For me, he is the real deal and a true pioneer.
For me, a computer is nothing else but a new brush or pencil and as computers and software became more powerful, more opportunities started to pop up to do cooler and better things.
What are some of the projects you have worked on?
As I make the majority of my money as a business consultant I am free to work on whatever modeling or animation project I feel like (no financial pressure) and this has led to some interesting projects.
As few examples:
- I have modeled for commercials
- I have created models and scenes for kids TV shows
- I have created models for manufacturers of miniature toys
- I have created models used for medical purposes
- And obviously, I create tutorials, my main passion!
What tools do you use? Any preferred software?
Yes, I have a preference for Autodesk Maya but I also use ZBrush, Photoshop, Keyshot, Blender, Marmoset, 3DCoat etc. etc.
How did all start making tutorials?
Well, I found that there are a lot of young (and not so young like me) people out there that would love to learn how to model or animate in 3D but simply do not have the opportunity to do so. They either can not afford college or private tuition or they simply live in a country where training is not available. Now Autodesk Maya can be downloaded for free as a student version so if you have a PC and an internet connection you are ready to go. That is why I decided to invest the majority of my time into free modeling and animation tutorials. My videos are free and they always will be! I love it when someone starts to follow my videos and a year later I receive an e-mail that they landed their first job at a studio. When things like that happen I smile all day long.
What's special on your website/channel? We really like the section "Tutorial requests". Can you tell us more about that?
It is hard for me to compare my channel with that of others but I always try to bring things back to basic. Once you understand the method you can start to create anything you want. I cover a wide variety of topics from modeling to FX and from animation to lighting and rendering. And as for the tutorial requests: Well, that is the coolest part of all! Interaction with my viewers and subscribers. I help them where I can, however, I can. Seeing their skills grow is my reward. So for me, it is not just about putting videos out there.
Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting?
Well, yes there is. In the last few months, I received several e-mails from high school teachers asking me whether they can use my videos in their classroom. They are now even putting videos requests. And again, helping others to grow their skillset is what I love.
What would be your main advice to someone who wants to start a career in digital art?
That's a tough one...The first question you should ask yourself is "Why? Why do I want to do this?" If you want to go out and make a living doing this it is very hard. Not everybody will be hired by Pixar or Dreamworks. There is a lot of financial uncertainty and you never know where your next paycheck will come from. My first advice would be diversity. Create 3D logo's for small companies, do modeling for websites and so on. Anything that will help you to develop your skills and bring in a paycheck. And my second advice would be "Get out there". Nobody will hire you if they don't know you. Use any method you can think of to promote your work. If people can't find you they won't hire you.
Anything else you'd like to say or add?
To all, you aspiring artists out there, never give up and ask yourself every day "What can I do better?" I know for a fact that I am far from being the best modeler or animator out there. But that is not the point. The point is whether there are people out there that are interested in what you are doing. Every artist will doubt his or her skills or ability but that is normal. That will be the fuel to drive your progress.