Featured Artist | Vishwesh Taskar

Vishwesh Taskar

Artstation | Linkedin

Meet our new featured artist! Vishwesh Taskar is a Key Asset Artist currently working at Mr. X on shows such as Monster Hunter, Jupiter’s Legacy, and Enola Holmes. Besides being an accomplished CG artist, he's also the winner of "The Iconoclasts" RenderMan Art Challenge!

Vishwesh's winning Art Challenge entry "Pouring Life" ... Updated Edition!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.

I remember idolizing countless artists who are associated with the CG and VFX industry, wondering if I could ever reach that height and be a part of something so amazing. My dream was and still is to become a master of my art and reach the top where I can bring extraordinary ideas to the screen. Since childhood I was fascinated with Games, Anime, 2D & 3D animation films, and VFX feature films. I would say that these creations have shaped my personality. Growing up surrounded by masterpieces like Lion King, Toy Story, WALL-E, Kung Fu Panda, Transformers, NFS, Red Dead Redemption, Movies by Studio Ghibli (and the list can go on and on), I was inspired to create something wonderful myself.

WALL-E was one of Vishwesh's artistic influences.

As a student, I found It hard to choose between one specialization as I was extremely curious about all the aspects of 3D. Being interested in multiple areas, I decided to position myself as a generalist in the future and entered the industry as a surfacing artist in 2017.

Eventually my journey took me to Mr. X , where I got the opportunity to work on multiple disciplines like modeling, texturing, grooming, and lookdev, ultimately contributing to various blockbuster movies.

Vishwesh's professional work

Did you get a formal art education?

I always had an itch to learn more about the world of animation, so right from my school days I would often fiddle around with multiple softwares and try to learn a thing or two in my free time which gave me a head start.

I pursued learning the art of 2D and 3D animation from Whistling Wood International. I was considered “the geek” because I would often stay back at college and research to hone my skills (totally in ‘The Zone’) and become better every day. I had this insatiable thirst for more which propelled me to the top of the class.

On my journey, my 2D short ‘Mahindra Reva TVC’ won an award at the ‘Pune International Film Festival’ under the category of ‘Best Student Short Film 2D’. I graduated in 2017 and was awarded a medal for “Excellence in Animation”.

A collage of Vishwesh's student work.

Were you clear about pursuing animation from the very beginning?

Although I was fascinated with art since childhood and a creative field like animation was an obvious choice, I still wound up in the wrong field. After completing high school, I was under the pressure of choosing the right career path like most do. At the time, I didn’t have proper guidance regarding careers in the artistic field since many members of my family and friends had little to no exposure in this area.

“Life Is Full Of Possibilities. You Just Need To Know Where To Look.”

- Joe, Pixar's Soul.

Apart from being artistic I was also somewhat of a ‘tinker brain.’ I would tinker with electronic gadgets and toys to learn more about them while others around me were afraid to mess around with them. This led everyone, including myself to believe that Engineering could be a compatible and safe career choice. It only became clear after spending some time there that it wasn't right for me and if I continued along the same path, I was sure to lose my ‘Creativity Island.’ Backed with tremendous support from my family, I was able to follow my heart and find my true calling in 3D.

Does traditional media influence your art?

Sketching and painting were some of my cherished hobbies as a kid and Sketching Portraits has always been an absolute favorite. When I was 10, I fell in love with Pokemon and one of my favorite things to do in my free time was to make miniature clay sculptures of my favorite Pokemon and Anime characters.

Vishwesh's childhood clay sculptures

Recently, I haven’t been working on traditional media as much and have shifted my canvas to digital media, but all the concepts that I picked up along the way have truly helped me improve my skills and observation as a 3D artist.

Although not frequently, I still manage to pick up the old pencil set every now and then to brush up my skills.

Some of Vishwesh's illustrations

What are your favorite sources of inspiration?

Inspiration comes quite easily with the world around me as I try to surround myself with things that inspire me. This can be something simple, such as my surroundings or the shows and movies that I watch. I start my day off by browsing Artstation and Instagram, looking at great artworks in various mediums while sipping on coffee to build up inspirational momentum to keep going through the day.

Many times, I find myself chalking out a plan or doing mental doodles for a personal project centered around a movie or anime that I have recently watched or a place that I might have visited during vacation. Sometimes I put up my current favorite artwork or a concept as my desktop wallpaper to keep the flame burning hot. I often hold long conversations, discussing ideas with my wife and friends and they play a huge part in keeping me inspired as well.

Music is an important part of my life too, playing guitar is also one of my hobbies. I listen to multiple genres and like to work in the company of great music. It has been my primary inspiration for one of my personal projects “Abandoned Gold.”

Vishwesh's personal digital artwork

What are you currently working on?

Professionally I am working on creating assets for several feature films and shows scheduled for release soon. And personally, I keep on taking up projects of various complexities depending on my end goal.

Ever since I watched color and composition videos by Andrew Price (Blender Guru) during my college days, the idea of creating frames that tell a story stuck with me and hence, I try my best to create an interesting still frame or sequence whether I'm working on detailed props or just doing some R&D. This approach surely has improved my composition and lighting sense alongside other core skills while helping me keep up with this ever evolving industry.

What do you think of RenderMan as an artist tool?

The only limit is my imagination! I keep experimenting with multiple render engines and put them to the test in various scenarios and I must say, RenderMan is one of the most powerful and versatile tools out there. The level of flexibility it offers is unmatched in my opinion. I also find it easy to get physically accurate results using RenderMan and move towards more artistic approaches when the need arises. Moreover, the variety of integrators to choose from just adds to the versatility. It only keeps getting better with time.

“RenderMan is one of the most powerful and versatile tools out there.”

How was your experience in the RenderMan art challenge?

Unlike any challenge before! My experience with art challenges has been limited to a few due to the time constraints. For me, the biggest motivation to take up this challenge was the fact that participants were getting inputs from the Pixar crew and RenderMan community. I was sure that I would get to learn a lot and so I decided to hop in even though I was a few weeks late. As I progressed, the inputs from the community gave me a lot of insight, confidence and kept me going strong.

By the final weeks of the challenge, I felt completely immersed in it and was giving it my all. I continued to do minor tweaks to the scene after the challenge was over as I wanted to push it a bit further. 

Breakdown of Vishwesh's Art Challenge entry.

What excites you the most about the upcoming XPU renderer?

To quote Lighting McQueen, “I am speed!” …iteration times are faster than ever before, so playing around with shaders is going to be a lot more fun. I can feel more lucky mistakes coming my way. The fact that XPU uses two power houses, the CPU and GPU together to render the frame wasting no resources is just spectacular.
Eagerly awaiting the day when XPU is fully usable in a production environment across the industry!

Do you have any advice for new artists and developers for staying inspired?

Keep going at it irrespective of the rate of progress as long as you can see yourself moving ahead. At times, if you find yourself hating what you did the previous day, it could be ... because you’re already better.

Another important thing which I often struggle with is running into a block from time to time. Pushing my limits daily hits me hard at times and I feel like I’ve hit a wall. If you feel the same, It could be a sign that you should probably take it easy and take a break to clear your mind. As I started doing that, I found it easy to bounce back and get in gear.

Overall, keep at it! And never forget what inspired you to pursue your journey as an artist in the first place…or to quote Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!”

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