Step into the Voxel art universe with Zach Soares and create a fantasy character made entirely of 3D cubes
Zach Soares (@voxels) is a French Canadian self-taught Voxel artist now living in the UK. He has worked on freelance projects for clients such as Hipster Whale for almost a decade and is the creative director of his studio, Bunnyhug.
Before concentrating on 3D animation and the game industry, Zach, who studied urban design, created 3D designs for cities. Zach started exploring game design on the side, which inspired him to look into game development through Voxel art.
In his Domestika course, he teaches how to model, rig, and animate a character from scratch, using Voxel Art design.
What are voxels and what is voxel art?
As the word 'voxel' derives from the words ‘volumetric pixel’, one could say that voxels are the 3D equivalent of 2D pixels. A pixel is the smallest point in a raster image. When we zoom into an image, we see that this is made up of little squares in a grid, each of a single color. Voxels, on the other hand, are the smallest points of a three-dimensional figure. They can only contain a single color, just like pixels, but they are placed on three axes rather than two.
Voxels are the building blocks of 3D models. Voxel artists combine and color voxels to create models using special software called a voxel editor. Voxel art is used in artwork, animation, and games, as in Zach’s case.
Let’s have a look at how Zach got into this branch of art and his work.
Zach was curious about making games but did not know where to fit in—design, music, programming—until he discovered Voxel art. Minecraft did not feel right to him, so he explored tools for this technique, such as Qubicle and Magicavoxel. He really got into Qubicle, a reminder of his passion for Lego but in digital format.
Still a student, he hooked up with a programmer to create models for his game by showing them the hundreds of models he’d made for Cube World and Stonehearth.
At the end of his studies in urban design, he found himself having to choose his career. He decided to continue in Voxel art game design and worked hard on self-starter projects to try and make it in this niche field.
Vox was his first paid job, then he moved on to Critical Annihilation and even became involved in the production of 10 games at the same time.
Not all games came to fruition, and it wasn’t until 2013 to 2015, when he worked on a VR MMO called Voxelnauts, that he felt like he had stable work.
Again, this production did not continue further, and he felt frustrated as an artist, but met his partner Lu, also a freelance artist, and decided to set up a company with her, called Bunnyhug.
Working on Last Stand, he gained a lot of experience as a designer and a director. He did modeling, animation, designing, thus progressing and finding more contacts. Making a name for himself, he was contacted by Hipster Whale, who were making Crossy Road.
Zach’s advice for anyone pursuing a career in this field is to remember that every project makes you better, despite the highs and lows. While teaching you the techniques, he’s also here to give you valuable advice so that you can avoid making the same mistakes as him.
If you want to know more about this fascinating art, sign up to Zach’s course Introduction to Voxel Art for Character Design, in which you’ll learn how to model, rig, and animate your character; discover Zach’s blocking and animating methodology, and push yourself with a new creative challenge made entirely of 3D blocks.