3D Artist

Studio interview: Finger Industries

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The 3D Artist Team

Finger Industries’ managing director, Marcus Kenyon, talks textures, time saving and offers industry advice

3d artist interview feature finger industries
The Great Horse of Yarl was inspired by paper-folding experiments and Celtic and Norse mythology. Image © Finger Industries

Finger Industries is an illustration and animation studio based in Sheffield, England. Founded nine years ago by Marcus Kenyon and Jonny Ford, their compact but hardworking team handles everything from book covers to music videos. Clients include Lloyds TSB, Mamas & Papas, HSBC, plus more.

3d artist studio interview
Lloyds TSB Big Street – large-format art for print with lots of detail everywhere. Image © Lloyds TSB

3D Artist: You’ve produced some cool work for high-profile clients – how do you ensure your visuals have commercial appeal while still retaining character and originality?

Marcus Kenyon: It’s a hard thing to pinpoint as it’s something we just ‘do’; however, understanding the client and ad agency’s needs is key to getting the message across. Once that is done we focus on translating it into something that looks good and works or animates aesthetically.

Working in a good team really helps too. We all know our own strengths and weaknesses, but are all happy to argue the case or speak up should something not working. A clear communication with the agency also really helps, along with clear and concise client feedback.

3DA: What software and hardware do you rely on to get the job done?

MK: 3ds Max is our main software and we use V-Ray as our shader. We have recently been running Chaos Group’s Phoenix FD 2.0, which is awesome. Other programs we rely on include Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash for any 2D and textures, as well as Premiere Pro for editing.

In terms of hardware, locally we have HP machines, quad-core 3GHz, with varying amounts of RAM (between 6-10GB) with 1GB cards running either Windows 7 64 or Vista 64. We network render with these machines, but have two more in our server cabinet that are dedicated render servers – these are 3GHz Quads with a nice, fast chipset and 16GB RAM each on Windows Server 2008. As these are dedicated to Max only they run very quick; meanwhile, we render through Backburner 2008.

Friends of glass finger industries 3d artist
Friends of Glass – a project commissioned by Belgium-based agency TheseDays. Image © TheseDays/FEVE

3DA: What tips and tricks do you use to save time on a project? Do you buy stock models and textures – that sort of thing?

MK: Time saving can come from numerous sources. Good file management, planning and scheduling makes a big difference and is possibly the biggest time saver. Reusing base 3D models can be advantageous – sometimes we can modify an existing 3D model to save a complete rebuild from scratch… particularly humanoid characters.

CGTextures is our main texture source, and we collect a library of these images for straight use or modification. We also use photos and make our own HDRIs. We don’t buy stock models – everything is made from scratch.

We also use a genius project-management piece of software called Streamtime, which is controlled by our production manager, Rachael. The program enables us to individually record our time working on each project without disturbing the production process. From this we draw financial reports, invoices and project templates that help us predict, shape and schedule future work.

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Evil Toy – a fun sketch created for personal work and creative exploration. Image © Finger Industries

3DA: Can you offer any any advice for artists eager to work in the industry?

MK: Exposure: get online, get on the phone and do what you can even if it means getting paid pennies before you can demand the big bucks!

There are a lot of online portfolio sites available where you can showcase your work for free and to millions. Ensure you keep this up-to-date and keep churning out quality work to show off your talent.

Additionally, don’t be precious, be part of a team, be honest and speak up if needed.


The full interview with Finger Industries originally appeared in issue 36 of 3D Artist, on sale from the Apple Newsstand and the Imagine Publishing online store now.