Artist Profile: Zaid Abouzeid

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Artist Profile: Zaid Abouzeid

The XYZ Artist Showcase is a monthly(ish) presentation highlighting our employees’ special talents and passion projects. August's featured artist is Zaid Abouzeid, from our San Francisco studio.

How did you settle on World War II as a theme?

The very first 3D project I did was a World War II plane. That was 8 years ago. I never finished it, so I thought it was appropriate to go back and complete it for this 3D showcase.

You used several programs to create this project—Autodesk 3ds Max, Modo, Zbrush, Corona, FumeFX, Substance Painter, Headus UVLayout, Photoshop. Do you have a favorite, or is there one in particular that you find intuitive and easy to use?

All of them have their place. For example, I made the smoke with a plugin called FumeFX. You can try to achieve something similar with 3ds Max, but it wouldn’t look as good or realistic. I learned Substance Painter for this project because it saves so much time when you’re trying to texture something that looks beat up. So I don’t have a favorite because each one is specialized. When you’re using a program for its intended purpose, you can feel how much easier it is than using a general program not built for that.

Almost all the images in the project adhere to a dark palette, with the exception of one—the photo with a vibrant orange airplane and a sky blue hangar. Why this departure from the somber tones of the rest of the photographs?

I wanted to try different styles of photography with this project—different looks. I tend toward dark colors and dramatic lighting, but I’ve seen other projects that are bright, colorful, and cheerful, and I really liked them. I wanted to try it and see if I enjoyed the process. That photograph was one of the easiest and fastest to finish. It also fit well in the theme: 3 pictures that describe the war before it started, during the war, and afterward. The pre-war photo is foggy, smoky, still—the calm before the storm. It’s dramatic because you don’t know what’s going to happen. The action shot during the war [in which the man parachutes from the airplane] is dynamic and explosive; motion blur communicates the speed of the war. The colorful shot is bright, more cheerful. It alludes to the Baby Boomers and the rebuilding of society after war.

Did you have a say in the layout of the photographs? Why are they hung as they are?

I planned the way they were hung before they were shot. The colors had to work together, and I knew that I had limited space to display them, so the composition had to work. I put a lot of thought into it.

What was the most challenging photo to work on, technically or otherwise?

The pre-war shot [in which the military man stands in front of his plane in the fog] was technically the most difficult image for two reasons. First, I was building the plane as an asset for the first time, which took a while. The other reason is that I wanted a very specific fog. Getting that in 3D with FumeFX was difficult. The second hardest image was the one with the guy jumping from the airplane. Suspending someone in the air is pretty expensive, more so than I had imagined. I had to improvise. I shot him sitting down, and in order to get his body in that position, I took hundreds of images. I took about 12 of them and combined parts of his body to form the right posture and shape. There was a lot of cutting and pasting of limbs. It was challenging, but less challenging than the first one. This was more challenging in terms of actual photography—the pre-war photo was more challenging from a 3D perspective.

The man’s facial expressions are quite striking. How did you direct him?

I tried to direct him and it didn’t work, so I bought a leaf blower and stuck it in his face, and that worked. I stopped the shoot, bought it, and came back.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when retouching your own photography?

With a lot of clients, you suspend your mind and follow their notes, and when I started retouching professionally, that was challenging for me. I would see a note I’d disagree with, but I couldn’t say anything about it. I prefer retouching my own work, but it never feels complete—when it’s your own work, there’s always something you see after it’s done.

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII Portrait - 3D Photography


Zaid Abouzeid - WWII Portrait - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography

The XYZ Artist Showcase is a monthly(ish) presentation highlighting our employees’ special talents and passion projects. August's featured artist is Zaid Abouzeid, from our San Francisco studio.

How did you settle on World War II as a theme?

The very first 3D project I did was a World War II plane. That was 8 years ago. I never finished it, so I thought it was appropriate to go back and complete it for this 3D showcase.

You used several programs to create this project—Autodesk 3ds Max, Modo, Zbrush, Corona, FumeFX, Substance Painter, Headus UVLayout, Photoshop. Do you have a favorite, or is there one in particular that you find intuitive and easy to use?

All of them have their place. For example, I made the smoke with a plugin called FumeFX. You can try to achieve something similar with 3ds Max, but it wouldn’t look as good or realistic. I learned Substance Painter for this project because it saves so much time when you’re trying to texture something that looks beat up. So I don’t have a favorite because each one is specialized. When you’re using a program for its intended purpose, you can feel how much easier it is than using a general program not built for that.

Almost all the images in the project adhere to a dark palette, with the exception of one—the photo with a vibrant orange airplane and a sky blue hangar. Why this departure from the somber tones of the rest of the photographs?

I wanted to try different styles of photography with this project—different looks. I tend toward dark colors and dramatic lighting, but I’ve seen other projects that are bright, colorful, and cheerful, and I really liked them. I wanted to try it and see if I enjoyed the process. That photograph was one of the easiest and fastest to finish. It also fit well in the theme: 3 pictures that describe the war before it started, during the war, and afterward. The pre-war photo is foggy, smoky, still—the calm before the storm. It’s dramatic because you don’t know what’s going to happen. The action shot during the war [in which the man parachutes from the airplane] is dynamic and explosive; motion blur communicates the speed of the war. The colorful shot is bright, more cheerful. It alludes to the Baby Boomers and the rebuilding of society after war.

Did you have a say in the layout of the photographs? Why are they hung as they are?

I planned the way they were hung before they were shot. The colors had to work together, and I knew that I had limited space to display them, so the composition had to work. I put a lot of thought into it.

What was the most challenging photo to work on, technically or otherwise?

The pre-war shot [in which the military man stands in front of his plane in the fog] was technically the most difficult image for two reasons. First, I was building the plane as an asset for the first time, which took a while. The other reason is that I wanted a very specific fog. Getting that in 3D with FumeFX was difficult. The second hardest image was the one with the guy jumping from the airplane. Suspending someone in the air is pretty expensive, more so than I had imagined. I had to improvise. I shot him sitting down, and in order to get his body in that position, I took hundreds of images. I took about 12 of them and combined parts of his body to form the right posture and shape. There was a lot of cutting and pasting of limbs. It was challenging, but less challenging than the first one. This was more challenging in terms of actual photography—the pre-war photo was more challenging from a 3D perspective.

The man’s facial expressions are quite striking. How did you direct him?

I tried to direct him and it didn’t work, so I bought a leaf blower and stuck it in his face, and that worked. I stopped the shoot, bought it, and came back.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when retouching your own photography?

With a lot of clients, you suspend your mind and follow their notes, and when I started retouching professionally, that was challenging for me. I would see a note I’d disagree with, but I couldn’t say anything about it. I prefer retouching my own work, but it never feels complete—when it’s your own work, there’s always something you see after it’s done.

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII Portrait - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII Portrait - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography


Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography

Zaid Abouzeid - WWII - 3D Photography

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