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undefined undefined September 7th, 2022

Artist Interview with Kemal Gunel

This week at CGHero, we're talking to the fantastic Kemal, a lighting artist who has worked on titles such as PAYDAY3 and Overkill's The Walking Dead.

In this series, we're going interview a Hero from our site about their career, their day to day as an artist and their work. This week, we're talking to Kemal, a fantastic lighting artist from Sweden. Kemal specialises in Unreal Engine to light his scenes, combining colour and tints to create amazing moods and atmosphere. Check out some of his work below. Take it away, Kemal!

Hello! I am Kemal. Currently I am working at New Starbreeze Studios as Senior Lighting Artist for PAYDAY 3. I moved to Stockholm / Sweden in October 2018. Before PAYDAY 3, I worked on Overkill’s The Walking Dead as a Lighting Artist.

First of all, I would like to say “thank you” to the CGHero Team for giving me this opportunity. Hopefully, this will inspire artists and people alike who already have ambition but not enough courage to kick it off.

Cheers Kemal!

What do you think are the most important things that an artist needs in order to
become a high-level professional like yourself?

Being an artist is not easy as it looks. We always have concerns about being creative, try to think differently and on top of this kind of stuff we have technical challenges. It can be very tough from time to time. Even the weather might affect your creativity… What I am trying to do most of the time is; basically a “breakdown process”. I am trying to understand the topic first, then asking the question of “what are the pieces that became this problem or form?” Then the research process starts.

Long story short, for me: it's the combination of being curious, reading a lot, looking at other artists' approach and asking questions. Finally, I always try to solve the problem in front of me by approaching it as if it was real, not 3D.

Nowadays, a lot of people breaking into the industry use free online resources to finesse their craft instead of following the traditional education route; how often do you refer to things like YouTube tutorials?

Tutorials are great. They are even greater if you are very new to that specific topic; I was watching a lot of them even though I knew what the content creator is going to show. For me there are two points of watching a tutorial:

1: I can see the technical part of it.

2: How a different artist would execute a similar solution. Maybe I can learn something that I wasn’t aware of.

I believe due to the full time job I have and less time availability, I watch less tutorials than I was used to but I'm always catching up on the latest trends - as much as I can, anyway!

Are there any industry trends that are changing your approach to your role?

Yes! For a long time game engines were using pre-computed, or baked, lighting due to performance concerns and accurate results. This battle is still happening but the biggest parameter that shifted the game a lot is the GPU computation power we have right now on the market. It is insane! The potential and possibilities are very promising and it is happening now. Imagine that you need to calculate very complex interactions between many objects and lights. It requires a lot of time to get accurate and good looking results.

But now, a decent graphics card has the power to do it instantly. This change in technology is a very big step in the industry, not only for video games but also for film production, allowing us to be more flexible. I have been looking into Unreal Engine 5 and its new tool Lumen for lighting - even with my old GTX1060, I managed to get great results instantly.

The future is now.

Which software do you prefer in your workflow?

I use LightWave 3D for my personal projects and Substance Painter for texturing.

Tell us something you love about your job? And something you would want to change if you could?

What I love is the power of lighting. You can change the mood of a scene from “happy” to “scary” with only a couple of tricks. If I could, I could change the mindset of people who think lighting is easy and achievable after some tutorials.

Thank you for the interview! Do you have any shout outs?

Thanks for having me and the opportunity. I would like to say something to the people who want to break into the industry. “Never be afraid and work hard! One day, you will be great.”

Check out his work, or work with Kemal on his CGHero page here! You can also find Kemal on YouTube and ArtStation, where he creates amazing UE4 tutorials.

Huge thanks to Kemal for doing this interview with us! What kind of artist would you like to see us interview next?

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