Making it Real: An interview with Soheil Mahmoudi

Soheil Mahmoudi is an inspiring CG artist. His 3D scenes are packed with incredibly realistic details of vivid nature and cozy architecture. He creates his own versions of real-life places from all over the world. In the interview, he discusses his journey and artistic process

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Hi Soheil, would you please tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? Where do you live? Is there anything else you would like to share?

Hi, I’m from the Middle East. I still live there, but prefer not to say my exact location. I was born in a village and moved to different cities for education. Currently, I am studying computer programming in college, even though I work in 3D modeling. This is mainly due to censored internet, high prices of good computers and bad economy in my country.

How did you get into 3D modeling?

I have always admired Sci-Fi movies, animations and video games. Since I was a child, I wanted to know how they were made. When my father bought me my first laptop, one of my friends showed me how to do cool stuff in Photoshop, such as to put someone's head onto someone else. I know it sounds silly, but I liked it because I was able to create things that didn't exist before. I began to learn Photoshop with YouTube tutorials. I have to say it wasn’t easy. YouTube is blocked in my country and I had to use a VPN to access it, which made my slow internet even slower. After I became pretty good at Photoshop, I started to get bored. I wanted more and moved to learning After Effects, using an open source 3D plugin. However, I was never satisfied with the results and wanted to do better models. I watched a lot of videos about 3D modeling and realized this is actually what I want to learn.

Cozy Cabin
Full Plan

What was your learning process like?

At the beginning, I was using 3D Max, but it is a complex program to learn on your own. I was overwhelmed and took a month break from 3D. I then started again with Blender and I loved it. Blender was so simple and perfect. I quickly learned all the basics and started to make things without any tutorials.

I learned everything through tutorials. I was also going to college, so I had limited time for it. It took about three or four years to get to where I am today. I have to thank my sister because she is the one who kept me motivated. I wouldn’t be here without her.

You have uploaded beautiful scenes to BlenderKit. Where do you find inspiration for your scenes?

I find inspiration in many things, such as works of other artists, movies, animations and video games. Nonetheless, I am mostly inspired by the real world. There are so many amazing places on this earth. I just have to find them and create my own version of them.

Your scenes are full of realistic detailed models. Do you first model all the objects and then organize them together?

Not really. I often start with creating the base of my scene, for example, the ground for a nature scene. I then model all objects I want to have in it and place them immediately. Sometimes, even after rendering, I find myself wondering if there isn’t anything missing and return to modeling. I never plan things. I just let them happen.

Some of your scenes are based on real-life places. You have one great scene based on a cozy bookstore in New York. What intrigued you to model it?

I love rainy and cloudy weather. I saw a rainy photo of that place. I think it was autumn when the photo was taken. It was such a calming and peaceful photo and I wished I could be there. I had to model it.

I find it more interesting to model real-life places. When I model them, I often think about the people who created them. What was their intention? Are they still alive? I enjoy thinking about these things when I model. I also love photography and when a place becomes a model, I can take photos of it from any angle without ever going there.

Full Plan

Many of your scenes are set in nature, in forests and by lakes. It feels as if you have a deep connection to nature. What attracts you to it?

I grew up in a place that has a close relationship with nature and have many memories involving it. When it comes to modeling, I love to model nature because it is very dynamic and random. Things like adding grass, flowers, rocks or even trash to show the presence of humans. Although I am an atheist, I feel like a God creating a world.

One of your complex nature scenes is called Jungle Cabin. Can you please describe how it was created?

I was scrolling Google search results when I saw a photo of a place in Hřensko, Czech Republic. A cabin by a river with lots of trees and plants. It had this foggy wet atmosphere. As you know by now, I love those kinds of scenes. I just upgraded my computer, so it was the perfect time to model such a heavy scene. I modeled about 95% of the things in it. I mostly modeled in Blender, except for the trees and a couple of the other plants which I created with SpeedTree. I used Adobe Substance 3D Painter for texturing the cabin and a few other things in that scene.

There is a sense of harmony in all your scenes. What do you think is behind that?

I am obsessed with every little detail. Very often I put a lot of time even into things that are totally unnecessary for the overall scene. I always try to do the best I can.

What do you enjoy about modeling?

I love computers and this is one of the best things we can do with them. To create what is in your mind as realistic as possible. You can create a Sci-Fi city on another planet and make it feel as real as our planet. You can imagine anything you want and make it real.

Do you have any recommendations for starting 3D artists?

Don’t give up. At first, modeling can be tricky, especially if you have limited access to resources. But if you keep working, you will be able to model everything you dreamt of at the beginning of your journey into the 3D world.

Is there something else you would like to add?

I just wanted to thank you guys at BlenderKit for the interview and your amazing platform.

If you want to support Soheil and his work on BlenderKit, don't hesitate to buy a Full plan subscription and use his models in your work.

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