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3D Artist of the Month March 2018: Bondok Max

Thursday, March 1st, 2018 by Julian Karsunky

Buckle up and hold on tight, as our March 2018 3D Artist of the Month is about to take you for a wild ride! Just as his powerful ‘Gladiator 69’ jeep is ready to tackle any terrain head-on, Egyptian CGI generalist Bondok Max is always ready to dive into new challenges and equally quick to adept to the everchanging environments of the job of a freelancer.

Continue reading to find out which engine drives Bondok’s success as an artist and what it took to shift his latest project into high gear.

Despite not having driven the car himself, you can almost hear the engine roaring just by looking at Bondok Max’s digital recreation of the Jeep Gladiator 1969. From the vehicle’s mud-stained body to the ragged sunscreen in its windshield, his image perfectly recaptures the wild and untamed spirit of the iconic four wheel drive. “I just really love the design,” Bondok tells us, “it’s like a monster!”

Like a gladiator emerging as the sole victor in the arena, the ancient warrior’s vehicular namesake strikes a proud and defiant pose, having successfully conquered an uneven battlefield. “I used 3ds Max for modelling, then worked on the details in Zbrush,” he describes the development process. “Most of the textures I did in Quixel as it’s both fast and powerful, but for projections I prefer Mari.”

Although the highly detailed car model clearly takes center stage in the scene, Bondok put a lot of time and effort into crafting a fitting and evocative environment: “I used SpeedTree to create the small shrubs, it’s amazing and gives you full control at all times. For the mountains in the background I tried out World Machine for the first time, which is a realistic 3D terrain generator.”

'Gladiator 69', work in progress

Stepping out of his comfort zone and learning new software is an integral part of Bondok’s self-perception as a 3D artist. “I’m constantly challenging myself because I firmly believe that’s the only way to improve”, Bondok states. “Since I wanted the ‘Gladiator’ project to be an accurate representation of my current skill level, I made everything from scratch, even if it meant using unfamiliar software.”

In the same vein, his quest for self-improvement and artistic growth is the reason he prefers working as a generalist: “As a freelancer, I’m currently focused on look development, lighting and asset modelling, but I try to involve myself in as many disciplines as possible.” Bondok’s best advice to aspiring artists thus is to keep an open mind for new ideas and techniques. “You have to check out what different 3D packages have to offer – don’t stagnate, have fun learning!” Bondok says he himself recently picked up Unreal Engine and is excited to further explore its capabilities.

Bondok’s self-proclaimed “fascination for heavy machinery” can also be seen in ‘The Dozer’.

His passion and determination for CGI are equally apparent when looking at his professional career. Like many 3D artists of his generation, Bondok has no formal education and is entirely self-taught. “It all began back in 2007, when I was just messing around with Photoshop,” he recalls. Searching the web eventually lead to the discovery of 3ds Max, which quickly shifted his ambitions into higher gear. “From there, I began seriously studying with the help of online courses, tutorials and most importantly, trying things out for myself.”

Before becoming independent, Bondok gained the necessary experience working in animation and TV advertising for almost seven years, often times as team leader. In addition to his professional work, he developed his reputation as a talented and dedicated 3D artist by steadily building up an impressive portfolio in his spare time. True to his artistic vision, Bondok prides himself on not being defined by a particular style, opting to always try out new approaches instead.

Bondok’s artistic range extends far beyond the world of automotive technology, evident by his ‘History Room’.

Unfortunately, Bondok hasn’t had the chance to try out the RebusFarm render service as of yet: “Since the studios I’ve been working with all had their own render farms, I didn’t get around to trying it out,” he says. “However, now that I’m freelancing I’m not only excited to finally check it out, but will most likely rely on it!”

Bondok, whose real name is Mohamed Lotfy, adopted a moniker given to him by his childhood friends as his artistic name. “Bondok translates to ‘hazelnuts’,” he explains, “I was always eating those as a kid. One day, my peers started calling me Bondok and somehow it just stuck.”

Asked what’s next for him, Bondok announces that he currently aims to extend his services to the VFX and cinematic industry. Concerning upcoming projects, he simply says: “Right now I can’t tell you anything close to exact release dates, but I do have a lot of personal projects in mind, which I hope will turn out well, so please stay tuned!” And what about the Jeep Gladiator that inspired his latest artwork? “Hopefully I’ll be able to drive one myself one of these days,” Bondok smiles, “I’m sure it’d be a thrilling ride!”

We look forward to find out what Bondok Max has in store for us in the future! Keep up to date with his work here:

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