Omar Aqil: The man who is combining world-class Picasso art with modern 3D skillset.
04.05.2019 | Share — Twitter Facebook Copy link
Omar Aqil is a very talented 3D CGI illustrator and art director from Pakistan. He has over 8 years of experience and is currently enjoying recreating work from famous artists, such as Picasso in his own (modern) way in 3D.
What led you into your current career path?
I grew up in an environment, where everyone has supported me and gave me freedom to choose whatever I wanted to become. My father had a strong relationship to art, he was a painter and professional textile designer so fortunately I’ve learnt basic things from him. Painting skills taught me patience to achieve details and perfection in my own work. After completing my master degree in communication design I’ve explored various mediums, but found that 3D was the most comfortable to work in. I have started to learn 3D software in 2011 and chose to focus on Cinema 4D. I started experimenting with this program to find my own style. The software is useless if you don’t know specific techniques how to use it.
The journey of finding my signature style is very long; it took me 6 years to achieve the specific style and turned into re-forming famous artist’s work in 3D. I knew that it was very difficult to recreate any famous artist’s work and it would not be asy tosucceed, but I have taken it as a challenge and started my first series MIMIC with Picasso’s work as a foundation. In 2017 the series got extremely popular and had received a amazing response from the community. This allowed me to focus on interpreting other artist’s work and start collecting more inspirations from the past art history. I’ve now developed a routine to study different artists and designers and will continue to do more of it.
I was aslo a part of an advertising agency called JWT as art director for 5 year. It was a different experience to work within a team and I learned things like time management and dealing with pressure and it helped me to develop a well-coordinated control on my work challenges. I’ve left the job in 2018 and have started to focus on my freelance collaborative work.
How do you keep in touch with the creative world and community and how does the creative scene look like in your city?
1. BEHANCE: The best platform for creatives to get in touch with the creative community. Honestly, today whatever I have learned or achieved in my life is due to a big contribution of ‘Behance’ as a platform. I never thought it would be that easy to approach your favorite artists and talk to them. When I have started leaning into 3D and sharing my projects on Behance I have received criticism and appreciation from all over the world. My work has been admired and has received attention through Behance’s huge number of creative members. It gives me confidence to produce more various projects ando make my profile stand out; so I started working hard to getting featured on Behance. It has been a long journey to build my portfolio and now it became a habit to maintain my Behance profile regularly. I have a routine to publish a project every month to engage with the community.
PINTEREST: I use it as an inspirational platform. I love to "relax" my eyes by watching the best work of other designers. I am also maintaining a large visual library by using the Pinterest app. Without seeing different artwork inspiration, you will never challenge yourself to do better with each new project.
INSTAGRAM: It's a unique social network platform. Sharing work within the creative community and collecting feedback or responses will help you to enhance your skills and boost your confidence to see things differently. I often use Instagram and it has a huge community where I have to be regularly involved and share my work in process or stories.
LINKEDIN: I find this platform very useful because there are a number of professionals you can easily approach and engage in healthy discussions or share your artworks as well.
OTHERS: There are many websites/blogs which I followed regularly like Fubiz, Mindsparkle Mag, We the Makers, Design Boom, DesignTAXI etc.
I live in a city, called Lahore with huge cultural values and rich history in arts. There is a growing industry of art and design for young artists. You will find multiple platforms where you can learn and share your artistic views or fulfill your needs to achieve your dreams. It welcomes you as a creative and gives you multiple opportunities to make your dreams come true and I am one of them. We have theaters, art museums, art galleries, conferences, seminars, residence programs and community projects. Lahore has a very active creative scene.
Recreating the artwork of famous artists like Picasso, has been a great experience; especially
learning the art of playing with abstraction of shapes and forms.
I have come a long journey to learn 3D skills, but now I am nothing without it.
What creative(s) do you admire for their work? Have you collaborated or thought of collaborating with other like-minds?
I have collaborated with multiple artists and it is always a great experience, sharing your thoughts with each other and understanding their workflow. It will give you more exposure and open your mind to think differently.
Here is a list of creative whom I admire and follow:
1. Antonitodisco: He is a super talented, bold and extraordinary guy. I really want to collaborate with him one day and already started some conversations with him.
2. Ars Thanea: The squad of Super heroes. They took the design industry to a next level in terms of execution. I always wanted to work with them.
2. Peter Tarka: I am a huge admirer of his work. We have done a collaboration project in 2013 and published it on Behance, so I have great experience to work with Peter. We have a good professional relationship.
3. Sixnfive Studio: I love their style and how they crack the idea. I just love to see their work and really want to collaborate with them in future.
4, 5 & 6: T.A.V.O Studio / ManvsMachine / Shkret
There are many talented artists around, their work is super inspirational. I would like to thank them for sharing their work, it helps creatives to think in a different way, it gives you the chance to learn from other’s experiences as well.
What’s your favorite hack to get work done?
Free hand sketching random ideas. They appear in my mind and I leave each sketch with a note. Whenever I find time I will work out these elements in 3D and save them so whenever I got project related to them I can use these. This helps me to increase my workflow and I am able to even manage short deadlines.
What are your 5 favorite work tools/apps and how do use them?
1. Adobe Photoshop is the priority tool for me to work in. Without Photoshop you will never create a dramatic finishing of any visual. It allows you to add your own sytle to make the visual more dramatic. From color toning to manipulation you are free to customize it to your needs. In every 3D project I did, there is huge contribution of Photoshop in it that made it more dynamic and rich in color toning.
2. Maxon Cinema 4D, is what I use for 3D. The interface is super user friendly and it is the most realistic-result-oriented software I have ever used. It gives you endless possibilities to create your imaginative visuals with a realistic feel. You can also find your own way how to use it as it allows you to do whatever you have in your mind. I have started learning Cinema 4D back 2011 and its been almost 8 years since I am using it.
3. Adobe Illustrator is also my super favorite tool, because I love vector art. I create abstract shapes, forms and layouts. It is a great contribution to my workflow and supports me making complex shapes that can easily be merged into cinema 4D.
4. Houdini is also my favorite tool to work in, but I am currently in learning stage. I have done some experiments with it and try to learn more, because the results for using it on some organic forms are very unmatchable. I strongly believe that wherever you find perfection you should follow that path.
5. I am crazy about Z-Brush, because sculpting is my all-time favorite medium, so I am trying to learn this software to utilize my sculpting skills in my projects. I am still a beginner, but I really want to enhance my skills in it.
I mostly do my 3D work in Cinema 4D and I really love this program for its possibilities that it offers which are just unmatchable. While working on this, my 2nd helper is one of my favorite tools: Adobe Illustrator.
Adobe Illustrator helps me to create complex shapes and offers me the possibility to add its file easily into cinema 4D. I simply convert these shapes into 3D effortlessly. I also use it to create layouts, like thisone.
Adobe Photoshop is a magical software where I have freedom to make the visuals more dramatic, I use it for color correction and sometimes additional image manipulation.
What creative or non-creative challenges do you face at work?
The biggest challenge which I have faced is to work with clients that have less exposure and who don’t know basic things around design. It is really hard to explain them how things should be done the right way. The other challenge I have faced is to work on 2 different kinds of projects at the same time. You often times have to struggle to maintain their specific visual language.
What projects are you most proud of and excited about? Are there any side-projects you work or worked on?
The MIMIC project is the one which I am especially proud of. I have published 4 series untill now (in total: 24 visuals). In this series I have recreated the original artworks from Picasso in 3D. It was very difficult for me to recreate them. Picasso is famous for his unique style in portraits, he used unusual shapes with some odd perspectives to enrich the desired expression. He had just an amazing sense of decoding expressions. This is a crucial part when you touch the maestro’s work and add your own thoughts to is as well, I have tried to simplify the shapes and forms with the most modern yet classic way, adding some drama to enhance its individual value and give extra importance to the character.
I am continuously exploring Picasso’s way of creating abstract figures. The MIMIC Series V is in process. Lots of ideas are in my to-do list; and I am working on some experimental projects as well.
I love the way Picasso had played with figurative shapes and how he developed the figure behind the abstraction. That is why I have chosen his artwork and interpreted it in my own style.
I am really passionate about using basic shapes and forms, to explore their complexity and create abstract facial expression in my work.
This is my first abstract work inspired by Picasso, that I’ve challenged myself to recreate. It kept me going on until today and explore more.
What’s your morning or evening routine and habit after work?
After work I love to spend time with my family, we watch movies together, listen good music and whenever we get a chance to go out we go for a long drive. My wife and kids are "shopaholics", so most of the time we go shopping for no reason but we enjoy a fun time altogether.
Every day is unique and different, because it’s not a 9 to 5 job for me. Whenever I find time or getting bored, I am more likely to watch animated movies. I am crazy about sleeping, I don't know if it’s a good or a bad habit but I can’t resist, whenever I get stuck I sleep.
I am not a very social person and I don't have a very large social circle, but I strongly believe that spending quality time with your likeminded people will always help you to boost your inner confidence. I made it a habit to spent time with my friends and discuss about my new ideas and gain perspectives into their point of view.
How does a typical day look like? Walk us though.
A typical day starts by doing the toughest thing: to get up early, eh! But for a healthy and productive start, it's important. I get up around 6:30 am in the morning and go for a 15 minutes run, not regularly but I am trying hard to maintain this.
After getting back home, I have eat some food for breakfast and start getting ready to drop my daughter to school and go back home to start working in my studio.I usually start my work at 9:00 am. I collaboratively plan my day, and make sure that the most urgent work gets done first. I also start checking my emails.
I have a routine to free hand sketch before I start my work on any project. I start collecting ideas or references from different artists and keep drawing things that come to my mind. This exercise helps me to make the visual extra-ordinary detailed with less time too. I am never getting bored sketching even for a whole day. If I have too much work, I spens my full day at my studio to complete my project and try hard to achieve deadlines. But honestly I hate pressure deadlines from crazy clients, because pressure will always lead to weaker results.
Around 1:30 pm it's lunch time for me and I prefer to have lunch with my family, but sometimes having lunch with friends is also fun. If I have time after lunch, I try to tak a nap, so I can start working again with new energy to get more work done. In between whenever I feel stuck or bored, I start watching movies or go out for a long drive.
I eat dinner around 9:00pm and after that go for a walk. I go to sleep at 11:00pm usually. I try to be more consistent to go to the bed early.
Getting up early is the toughest thing but now I am used to it.
I get up at 6:30 am in the morning and go for a 15 minutes run.
After getting back home I eat some breakfast.
I start checking my emails and reply to them making this a priority.
Free hand sketching is my favorite thing to do, I am frequently drawing things that pop into my mind.
Around 1:30 pm is lunch time for me and I prefer to have lunch with my family, but sometimes having lunch with friends is also great fun.
After lunch I take 30 minutes nap that, gives me energy to work more effective again.
In between whenever I feel stuck or bored I start watching movies.
What’s your workspace setup?
The workspace is very important for every artist to increase their work efficiency. I love my workspace and have designed it to my needs, so that I can easily spend more time and work hassle-free. It's all about comfort and relaxation. I like to work in low yellow lamp light environment and also love listening to music.
I am not a very techy person but I love to adapting new technologies. There is a super-fast transition in 3D medium and it needs a hi-tech computer to work efficiently and you need a high-performance machine. I am crazy about my workstation because it directly affects your productivity and time saving plus quality as well. I got myself a custom assembled PC: i7 Extreme with 1xTitanX 12 GB, 1xGTX 1080Ti 11, 64GB of Ram with a ASUS Rog 27’’ curved 165HTZ LED display. Another giant machine is on the way. I have ordered a 2X RTX 2080 Ti + 2x1080 Ti with i9 16 Core Machine. I am super excited about this.
Any advice for ambitious creatives starting out?
There is no hard and fast rule to success. The only thing which lifts your work up is hard work with a proper direction. Keep yourself updated, follow latest trends, learn new techniques regularly, gather inspiration and start inspecting work of famous artists. The most important thing which I suggest is to pay attention to details and find perfection in every tiny thing (even if not necessary). It is the key to have your work stand out from others. Find your own style where you feel comfortable to play with and enjoy every moment to work with and stick with it. Experimentation gives you more possibilities to achieve diverse results. Keep visualizing things while facing different situations or travelling. Create stories around it, that will help you to fulfill your empty spaces on your canvas. Use social media as it's also very helpful to make your presence in the creative community.
Is there any Work-in-Progress you could share with us?
I am working on a project called ‘Characteristics II’ which is a mirrored portraiture series. In this series I am trying to explore dual faces with distortions of elements to show their expressions, modes and sentiments. It is in initial stage; a couple of sketches are done, but I'm still trying to add some more details.
Any last words?
Just want to thank WE THE MAKERS for giving me this opportunity to express my feelings and thoughts in this interview. I’m humbled and grateful.
People can follow me work at: https://www.behance.net/omaraqil
Your workspace has to be your comfort zone. The ambiance will also play a vital role and increase your workflow.
I love machines, tools and all mechanical elements but not in a grungy way so that is why I put up an IKEA’s SKADAS on my side wall to give them a clean garage look.
I created a comfortable space that works for me so I can create work more efficiently.
Work in Progress: I really like this series because this time I have played with very bold experiments.
Work in Progress: In this upcoming series I have also explored "surrealism".
"I have come a long journey to learn 3D skills, but now I am nothing without it."
Quote by Omaraqil