I have a unique and diverse work history that has spanned nearly a decade in the industry since my graduation on 12/12/2012. Even before diving into 3D work, I explored various creative avenues such as concept art, digital painting, graphic design, and web design. From a young age, I was captivated by software like Photoshop and Flash, which fueled my passion for learning. Looking back, it's interesting to see how my journey started at the age of 12 with an eagerness to experiment and delve into these programs.
In 2010, I embarked on a computer graphics course alongside a talented group of 60 students. Although the curriculum included some questionable theory-based classes like "imaging" or "media cultures," which I personally found unnecessary, the experience proved valuable overall. Thankfully, I had exceptional teachers like Chad, Connor, and Darren who provided guidance and insight into various software tools, industry standards, and employment prospects.
However, upon graduating, I sensed a feeling of incompleteness. While I received a diploma that declared me a Digital Artist (or rather, Graphic Designer due to a course change midway), I believed there was still so much more to learn. Skills like baking high to low poly models and utilizing programs like Substance Painter were emerging, leaving my portfolio feeling inadequate. I also lacked the necessary expertise in areas such as animation, pre-production techniques, and portfolio presentation, leaving me uncertain about my next steps in the professional world.
Some great friendly faces in our last year of RMIT in the year 2012
Fortunately, I never lost my determination. Before fully embracing freelancing, I spent 15 years working in the hospitality industry. My parents owned four restaurants at one point, and although my father had a manipulative streak, which led to me working countless nights for his businesses without pay (aside from some pocket money and perks), I eventually found employment with him in Coffs Harbour, Australia. It wasn't until I saved up enough to venture out on my own, paving my own path in a city of my choosing, that I began pursuing my dreams. It took three years to enroll in a degree program after freeing myself from his grasp. Upon completing my degree, I realized that the last thing I wanted was to continue working in hospitality, which, ironically, was where I ended up after graduation. It took another three years of juggling part-time hospitality work until I secured a full-time job.
During the period from 2013 to 2016, I did work part-time, and it was thanks to the assistance of my friend Nick, whom I met at university, that I found the right path towards acquiring the necessary skills for job opportunities. In his small apartment, we sat down together as he loaded 3Ds Max, guiding me towards using the software effectively. With genuine kindness, he advised me that with my current skill set, he couldn't recommend me for the position he held at the time. It became clear that I needed to master an entirely new 3D modeling kit, namely 3Ds Max and Topogun. A month later, in 2013, I traveled to Spain where I spent two months immersing myself in learning 3Ds Max and Topogun, armed with a borrowed, oversized laptop from a friend while visiting my family.
Doing 3D shoes felt like doing space ships. The detail was just so abstract and was pretty surreal.
Fortunately, upon my return, I had amassed enough evidence of my skills and knowledge to secure my first freelancing gig at ZO, where I focused on shoe retopology. It was a moment of immense joy as I finally broke into the industry. Admittedly, the job wasn't ideal. The computers were slow, operating on outdated software like Max 2010, and the deadlines were tight. In fact, the pressure was so intense that it fueled my impostor syndrome, leaving me plagued by self-doubt and fears of being too slow.
Throughout my years of freelancing, I encountered various challenges. I worked on mediocre shoe projects, endured demanding clients who expected lightning-fast results for minimal pay, and received emails filled with criticism. It became clear that there were knowledge gaps I needed to address and insecurities I had to overcome. Despite these hurdles, between 2016 and 2019, I had the opportunity to contribute to intriguing projects, including ventures into VR and AR for a diverse range of clients, as well as engaging urban landscaping endeavors.
In 2019, following my first freelancing job in Sydney, I faced one of my most challenging experiences. I found myself in a small team consisting of only one artist (myself) and one programmer, working on a project with an incredibly short deadline. The task was to create 13 simple VR environments optimized for the Quest within six weeks. I had a plan and a clear scope, fully confident in my abilities. Unfortunately, the project manager had unrealistic expectations and continuously introduced changes. Despite my pleas to wrap up the project before the deadline, she insisted on adding alterations until everything was completed. This toxic environment left me feeling bitter and depressed for months, making me question my career choice. I took on a few more freelancing jobs in Sydney until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing all work opportunities to dry up.
During the downtime while searching for new work, I devoted time to further self-training. It was during this period that I decided to pursue stable employment and seek a full-time job for security. That's when AIE advertised a teaching role as a trainer, which a friend recommended to me. Intrigued by the prospect of becoming a good teacher and sharing my knowledge, I applied for the position. Thankfully, after my second attempt, I landed the job in April 2020.
And boy, was I mistaken! Teaching turned out to be an incredibly challenging job, and it opened my eyes to the vast amount of knowledge I had yet to acquire in my skill set.
The list of subjects I had to learn and prepare myself to teach seemed endless. From character sculpting and anatomy using Zbrush to rigging with bones, skinning, controllers, and IK, from character retopology with proper topology flow to animation principles and character animation, and even rendering for film using Renderman and compositing in Nuke. It was a whole new array of skills to master. At first, it felt like I was going back to university while simultaneously teaching and providing valuable feedback and assessments. I struggled in the beginning and often questioned whether I was cut out for the task. However, I persevered and pushed myself to do my best, putting in extra hours of overtime to compensate for any knowledge gaps I had.
After three years in this role, I have grown into a confident and passionate teacher who truly loves their job. The work my students have produced during my time here speaks volumes about their progress. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Lyle, Dan, and Yoav, who have also provided invaluable support over the past two years. These portfolio pieces showcase the work created under my guidance in my classes, as I teach many subjects at AIE. Initially, I had a lot to learn as an educator, refining my sense of hierarchy and structure, and learning to pace myself to ensure effective teaching.
Not only have I become proficient in these skills and in teaching, but I also witness the incredible growth of my students as they excel in their projects. Many of these pieces are their first-ever works since joining the program in their first year. I take immense pride in being their mentor, teacher, and project manager throughout these assessments.
Now, after three years at AIE Sydney, I am ready to dedicate time to showcase my own skills by creating new portfolio pieces. I admit that I have been rather silent on the portfolio front, both on ArtStation and my blog. However, I'm excited to announce a forthcoming change. I will eventually transition from hosting at pacocasares.com to the new brand, paco3d.art, with a rebranding effort. I aim to focus less on web development using Wordpress and instead utilize ArtStation, which provides everything I need for a portfolio and blog site. The rebranding will emphasize simplicity while clearly representing XYZ RGB 3D, while remaining friendly to Vector 2D art. Additionally, I intend to establish a brand bible to maintain consistent standards in showcasing my work.
Time for a rebrand. Something super simple. Surely people will remember this url, right?
Paco 3D.Art may be simple and straightforward, but it's a name that's easy to remember and establish as a brand.
Currently, my main focus is on creating characters with proper anatomy, preferably in a stylized manner. Despite feeling more grounded in my overall skill set, I want to explore this avenue further. I have been self-teaching anatomy, and now I'm eager to dive into the realm of stylized texturing using tools.
It has been an incredible journey thus far, and I am truly content with the progress I have made. Although it took time to reach this point, I am grateful for the path I have traveled. I hope to continue on this trajectory and reach new exciting heights in my career. It feels like I have transitioned from Paco the grey to Paco the white, ready to showcase my magic to the world.
Since leaving my role as a trainer at AIE and relocating to Spain to be closer to my family, I have encountered some unexpected challenges in taking a break from teaching and adjusting to a different lifestyle. However, I came here with the hope of finding a moment of rest and inspiration to fully immerse myself in my artwork and studies. Although there have been a few bumps along the way, I am determined to overcome them and establish a system that allows me to focus primarily on art, with a strong emphasis on anatomy and character studies.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this lengthy update, and I look forward to keeping you more informed about my artistic endeavors in the future.
To address this challenge, I have created a dedicated Instagram profile focused on showcasing my work in progress and daily artistic endeavors. The main goal is to share something artistic every day, regardless of its level of completion. This platform serves as a reminder that as long as I engage in art every day, I am making progress and moving forward. The intention is not to showcase "wow factor" artwork, but rather to capture the evolving state of my creative journey. For displaying finished pieces, I will primarily utilize ArtStation.