Another one of the best Q&A we have in our list. We highly recommend you to read  every bits and pick up tons of useful tips and tricks from his accumulated work experience in the visualization industry.  Enjoy the lovely day,  dusk scene renders and have fun using 3dteamz slider. We would like to thank and welcome our next inspiring featured Artist..

Featuring: Mr. EMichael Santos
Architectural Designer / Senior 3D Artist / Cad Specialist
United CGPinoy & 3DPinoy Artist Admin

“The Interview”


1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, like how long are you working in this industry?

“Hello everyone. First, I would like to thank all the people behind 3DTEAMZ, especially to the hardworking & passionate moderator of this website, for giving me a great chance to share my knowledge & experience, both to those aspiring artists out there, as well as to those who are already working in the field of 3D CG Visual Arts.

My name is EMichael S. Santos, but you may call me Mike. I had the great privilege to have worked for 15 years in some reputable international companies in Dubai, U.A.E (A.A.Almoosa Arenco, Gambert Engineering, Architecture & Interior Design Consultancy & Naga Architects), Tanzania (PHILS International Engineering & Architecture Consultancy), Equatorial Guinea ( Seguibat S-A), & locally in Manila for a Singaporean-based company (Ceris Media Pte Ltd).

It was 2002 when I started my career as an Architectural, Structural & MEP Cad Detailer in a local company directly after leaving my Alma Mater Bulacan State University. Days passed by as a Cad Detailer. But then I had this craving to expand my trade, which led me to deciding to take up Microcadd’s crash course for Basic 3dsMax. After a year, I decided from thereon to try my luck for a much greenier pasture and decided to go to Dubai, U.A.E. Luckily I was employed by a French Engineering & Architecture Design Consultancy as a Cad Detailer and 3D Renderer. I was using Discreet 3dsMax 5 that time, with Radiosity & Mental Ray as my rendering engines. There was a scarcity of tutorials available online and the only way to advanced learning is through the Default User Reference Guide Manual & Tutorial Section of the Software. Year 2005, I stumbled on this web page of a Bulgarian Company named Chaos Group (Creator of Vray Rendering Engine). Vray was still on its Beta Stage that time, and Version 1.5 was about to be introduced. From there on, I was one of the many who passionately studied & daily scrutinized (only on my free time of course, hahaha!) the possible ways on how we could produce photorealism on our 3D render imagery.

Presently, I am working as an Architectural Designer, Senior 3D Artist and Cad Specialist in an Engineering, Architecture & Interior Design Consultancy based in Dubai.


2. Kindly share the basic process of the work you will share to us?

My workflow? Well, honestly, it merely depends on the type of project to work on.

For non-architectural arts, I usually begin my work by getting some inspiration. It may be in a form of movie clips, print ads, magazines, actual photos or even by merely browsing on the internet some of world-renowned CG artworks.From these references and inspirations, I try to get the real world scale of the subject. It’s because I have always believed in Pythagoras’ lines that “”All things are numbers.”” Thus, we do have a mathematical relationship towards our world. Proper scale, balance, harmony and proportions: all of these are elements in order for us to mimic everything in the real world into stunning 3D artworks.

For architectural arts on the other hand, my workflow may not be as conventional as how other 3D Artists work. Proper Layer Management is my key. For small-scale projects (Interior Design, Low-Rise to High-Rise Single Block Project), I usually start by cleaning the cad file, removing unnecessary layers, making it much easier for me to import into my 3D modeling application. Mind as well the proper Unit Scaling, usually I’m using metric system. I make sure that my cad lineworks have the same unit as my 3D program. This Unit Setup will ensure accuracy on your workflow. Inside my 3D application, I always use proper Layer Nomenclature. Thus, everything in my scene has a layer name so things will be much easier for me to select or manipulate by freezing or hiding, either by group or indivually. Then the usual polymodeling and parametric method are my modeling techniques. My lighting, Vray Sun with Vray Sky and HDRI / IBL (Image-based Lighting) for exterior projects, and Vray Plane Lights with IES for interior. My rendering setup is usually from low to medium setting, with Reinhard as my Color Threshold. For my post-production I always make use of Render Passes Compositing.

For big-scale architectural project, may it be still rendering or animation, I usually start by creating my lineworks from a cad application (This ncludes SDP/Site Develoment Plan, Urban Design or City Development Projects). It may take you 2 to 3 hours creating your Plines (Closed & Welded Lines) on a Cad Software, but will only take you 5 minutes to convert them into a model on a 3D application! And for my Scene Assembly, I always have a specific set of libray ready to be merged to the scene for my entourage (trees, street accesories, people, cars, et al). For an easy scene management / viewport manipulation, I usually Xref my objects out from my Site model (will soon make and share a short tutorial when I get a free time to elaborate more on this).


3. What are the difficulties you encounter in working this project and the solution you can suggest to our readers?

“The usual difficulties that I, and maybe most of us, encounter are:

a. Tight Deadline for Project Submission

Solution/Tip: Organize your mind. Free your mind from external factors that would affect your work (may it be pressure from your family or your own personal problems). Think of why you are in this industry, your goals and aspirations, and your purpose. Be mindful that you are doing this job for a specific reason. After clearing your mind, work organizely. Work from the easiest to the most difficult components in your model, from the smallest and necessary detail to the broadest. Do one work at a time. Most importantly, be optimistic and never feel that this work might be difficult to manage. Always aim high and do the best that you can in everything that you do. Keep in mind, in this world, there is no such thing as an easy job. Look around you and you might feel that you are indeed a very lucky individual that you have to face this struggle.

b. Flaws in Project Information and Details

Solution/Tip: It may not be always desirable, but you have the right to question the cleint or designer for poor design or lack of project information and details. You should always question drawings or design sketches in which parts of them are having conflict or discrepancies. Feel free to question whether or not the project is still on design stage or it is already frozen. In this way you might find avoiding redundant work and might save your time by doing so.

c. Large Scale Project: Combo versus Solo Mio

Solution: There were times when I was given huge projects, like for example a 700 acre Satellite City Development, on a very tight deadline. Still Renders and a 5-minute animation video was required and I was solo working alone at my house that time.

The solution: Get as many productive 3D artists as much as you can. Establish a circle of subcontractors. Get as much connection as you can with your fellow peers in this industry. By subcontracting work, you would gain more on your client’s confidence, as well as your own self-trust, that you can also accept larger jobs in the future. Building a team who shares the same passion that you have will surely save you from these huge and tedious projects.

d. Job Payment

Issues Solution: Some of us here are freelancers in this industry, while some are just doing side works aside from permanent job. One of the difficulties is to chase clients for unpaid works. Some clients would have delayed payments, and some honestly would not pay at all. The best step here to protect yourself is to write a Standard Contract. Usually it comes on a 30%, 30%, 20% and 20% Payment Breakdown, both Stills & Animation. With this system, both sides would have mutual security which may save you in the end.


4. What nifty tips do you share to the community in working this kind of projects?

Refer to Q&A No. 3

5. Do you have anything to add that will help inspire others. Please feel free to let us know.

“a. Decide

Before you engage yourself investing into a craft, may it be your energy, time and money, you must first make up your mind and decide. Is this the thing that you really want to pursue?If yes, then you must learn to love it from the beginning. Be mindful that in the 3D Visualization Industry, there will be tons of things to study, and it requires a lot of sacrifices, sleepless nights and literally burning of souls. When things fall into pieces and struggles come, just remind yourself that once in your life you have made a decision, and this firm decision must push you despite the challenges you may meet along the way.

b. Enliven your Passion through Inspiration

Surely, for most of us in this trade, there may come a time that you may either feel you are going nowhere, or even feel tired and overburnt from doing this craft over and over again, or even think that you have been already left behind, and even having a second thought of letting go and stopping. But don’t be and let these inspirations drive your focus and enliven the passion within you, that is, by the end of the day, you might be producing a mind-blowing 3D masterpiece.

c. Be Systematic

Working in a systematic & organized way is one the difficulties some 3D Artists are striving up to now. Start it be clearing your mind. Free it from external factors that may affect you. Clean your desk and workstation before starting any particular job. And work-wise, always think of a way how you can speed-up accessability of objects in your scene. Thus, you may use Layer Management or Object Nomenclature for instance. This tip might be time-consuming in the beginning, but once you have made it a norm in your daily work, you will surely find it very useful in the end.

d. Purposive Mentality

In everything that you do, perform the best that you can do. Keep reminding yourself what is the purpose why you are in this industry: to earn a descent living, to provide for our family, or even to enhance yourself for self-development. Whatever your purpose may be, you must always have a goal in mind. Thus, you have plenty of reasons why you must excel in this field. Lastly, put God first in everything you do. Pray a little before you work. Remember that He is the Supreme Architect and the Greatest Artist of all time. Cheers to you guys, and let the 3DTeamZ fire burning!

Finally, you may take down these usual points as well:

a. Invest on very good Machine.
b. Have a Standard Collection of Material Libraries.
c. Keyboard Shortcuts
d. Join in webinars, trade shows, seminars and special classes
e. Never, ever stop on

Learning, Practicing & Loving your Craft!”



Interviewed by:
Rey Gerali

We generously thank Mr. EMichael Santos for the  inspiring insights, contribution and knowledge he shared to everyone in the community. We hope to learn from the experienced people in the industry, it might help guide us to the right path towards the future.

Please stay tuned for more inspiring featured Artist who helps shape the Philippines CG communities…