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Favourite Software?
3ds max, Unreal, Photoshop.

All sorts of media. Sometimes entire games or movies, sometimes only a single post on forums.

Favourite Games?
Turn based strategies (JuggedAlliance, Warhammer Squad Command, Heroes of Might and Magic etc.) and open-world RPGs (Morrowind, Fallout etc.), but recently I have time to play only Battlefield…

Favourite Movies?
Scarface, Redline, Expendables, 17 Moments of Spring and way too many others.

Favourite Music?
Recently it's ambient electronic and similar genre music from games.

Dog or Cat Person?

Future Goals?
Creating unique art.

Bad Habits?
Might not be fast enough to start a new task… damn you, inertia.

Good Habits?
Cultivates observation on a daily basis.

Recover from a bad day?
Analyze what went wrong during the day – in most cases the past won’t seem that terrible anymore and could be taken much easier eventually.

What is a good day?
If I can feel as energized in the evening as I was in the morning.

Forum: Matroskin
Location: Montreal
Website: Visit Website
2009 Entry: Overlord

“It was a tight deadline, but it motivated me to discover new shortcuts and to think of faster ways to achieve a greater result... which was definitely a useful addition to my skillset.”

Introduce yourself. Let everyone know a little about who you are and what you do!

My name is Vlad Dergachov. I currently live in Montreal, Canada, where I work as a level artist for Ubisoft Montreal.

In my early years, I had many hobbies, but there was always one that had a special place in my heart - video games. With this passion always in mind, later, when I studied architecture in a local university, I became interested in computer graphics. I began with checking out CG art online, first basic 2d art and then 3d modeling. After a period of self learning, experimentation, and some lucky circumstances, the hobby soon turned into a full blown passion. I later began my carreer in art as an “all rounder” artist in a small game company called Mystic Software, but eventually I figured out that I enjoyed making environment game art the most. Year's later, and I am still loving it!

It's been a while since you've been crowned as champion. What have you been up to? Did winning Unearthly Challenge affect you in any way?

Indeed, it has been quite a while since the last edition of Unearthly Challenge, but I am still hoping that this challenge will one day resume and continue the great tradition!

Yes, participating in UC left a memorable foot mark in my personal development, most notably, I actually finished a competition entry, and this rarely happens. I enjoyed the creation process, enjoyed watching other people approach the same challenge topic with their own unique twist, and foremost, I enjoyed witnessing the creativity that prospered during the challenge. It was a tight deadline (especially if you work fulltime at the same time), but it motivated me to discover new shortcuts and to think of faster ways to achieve a greater result... which was definitely a useful addition to my skillset.

Why did you enter Unearthly Challenge?

Back in my early years, when I used to be a newb, I was fortunate to discover on-line challenges created by CGSociety. After taking part in some, I quickly learned that they were an intense and exciting experience. The collective creative energy on forums, backed by artists sharing their work, thoughts, ideas, and inspirations, gave me a strong personal charge! I wanted to re-live the feeling, and that is when I discovered Unearthly Challenge 2009.

What was that distinguishing moment when you decided you were an artist?

I don’t think I had a distinct moment like that. I guess it just sort of happened over time. My father is an artist and my mother worked in an art museum, so my childhood was surrounded by artistic activity. In this light, I guess my process of playing with toys and Lego has stayed with me up until today, but on a whole new level... oh, and with a game engine to create it :)

How did you come up with the idea for your Environment? Was there a specific reason for the design?

I was greatly inspired by various concept art pieces that I have seen on the internet and in art books, notably Guild Wars, Mass Effect and Rainart’s works. After doing my research, I wanted to try and create something large – something that conveyed a strong impression through size, mass and simplicity. For a theme, although the theme was open for any period, I chose sci-fi, which is a period I previously never created art for. As UC continued, it quickly became a challenge within a challenge, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Making art is not the walk in the park everyone thinks it is. How do you keep focused and motivated?

Following various art communities online definitely helps bring extra motivation to my work. Plus, seeing great art produced by fellow peers also pushes me to keep moving forward and to try new things.

What would be your advice for aspiring artists out there? What type of training do you think would be helpful in becoming a successful environment concept artist?

Try to always be objective about your work and ask others about it as it will help you know – “is your piece easy to understand?” If others cant understand its shape, message, design, idea, perspective, etc, as you understand it, then by listening to their thoughts you can sharpen your process so it becomes easier to read. In the end, the more you listen = the more people understand your work = the more you improve = the more your art shines. Personally, I think quantity is not important – it's quality that matters. Additionally, I think it is a good idea to constantly stay up-to-date on what is going on in art communities and to continually look for new tips and tricks. Admiring others' works doesn't help, but analyzing it and how it was made, will.

Any final thoughts? Ex: Thank you's, motivational speeches, evil monologues etc.

I want to thank all the people whom I learned a boat load of techniques and tricks from in my life time as an artist, and special thanks to GA for keeping up (I hope!) the good tradition of running online challenges... notably … in my case, Unearthly Challenge! =)

Congratulations Vlad for this exceptional piece, and thank you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts with the UC community at large. We wish you the best with all your future endeavors.