Having first learned Clarisse iFX through a discounted student license, Jonas Hassibi quickly became one of our favorite concept artists using Clarisse. His huge fantasy worlds are always accompanied by a story and are a pleasure to follow as they unfold. In this interview, we will learn more about his background, workflow and whether or not he has any secrets to share on his concept art #MadeWithClarisse!
Library of the Old - Jonas Hassibi
Hi Jonas! Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself and your VFX background? Where are you now?
Hey! My name is Jonas and I work as a concept artist at Firesprite in Liverpool. I worked at Deck13 during my studies at Hochschule Darmstadt and after graduating I moved to the UK. I started as a traditional artist sketching with pencils and painting with gouache. I have a long history as an artist just working with photoshop in the digital realm, but later I started using 3D as an ideation tool too.
How did you first hear about Clarisse?
The very first time I heard about Clarisse was when a friend posted some VFX work he did with Clarisse. At the time I did not know anything about it. After a while I was actively looking for a 3D program which was able to handle large amount of polys and had very intuitive tools to compose 3D scenes. I couldn’t find any software which had the right toolset, but I remembered about Clarisse. When I started looking into it I was very surprised. It was exactly what I was looking for.
How would you describe Clarisse to someone who doesn’t know about it?
To a concept art colleague I would describe Clarisse as a 3D Layout program in which all created 3D sketches and models are composed and rendered as a holistic scene. The unique selling point of it is the strong focus on composition in the 3D realm especially with tools like scatterers.
What did you find the most surprising when you started using Clarisse?
So that was interesting. I used 3Ds Max for a period of time and there was the “Object Brush” which allowed the user to paint scattered objects on geometry. That allowed me to create dense cities with a path direction so it looked organic like a real city. But 3Ds Max started to slow down very early since it calculates every object as a new model. So I started researching other 3D software. When I found Clarisse I was really surprised. I couldn’t believe how many objects I was able to paint without even bothering Clarisse.
How smooth was it integrating Clarisse into your workflow? What’s the learning curve like?
As a concept artist I am not as efficient with picking up new programs as more technically oriented artists. That being said, getting into the basics of Clarisse was actually easy. It got a bit harder when I wanted to create new approaches which could help me as a concept artist. One example for that is the path direction with the particle brush. Understanding how to connect certain nodes with each other and why they create the desired effect to reuse it for other circumstances took some time. Other than that I found Clarisse very intuitive to start working with right away.
What resources did you use to learn Clarisse?
I learned Clarisse mainly from the Isotropix website itself (http://learn.isotropix.com). There are a lot of great tutorials which covered most of the skills I have now. I picked up a few smart tips from Youtube and forums as well.
Metropia, entry for the NVidia Cities of the Future contest - Jonas Hassibi
In your work there’s traces of high fantasy, norse mythology and science-fiction. What are your main sources of inspiration?
To give an oversimplified answer: Stories. Since I was younger, I read a lot of books, watched movies and played games. World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings and tons of fantasy books played a huge role in my teenage years and definitely shaped my view of the world.
Today I understand that the main drive behind these genres are the stories itself. So what I try is to create these worlds to support an underlying story which hopefully gives the world a sort of richness, depth and especially a reason to come into existence.
What personal project(s) are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on a project I called “Ranu” (Working title). With this project I wanted to create my first concept art project which has a complete storyline visualized through art and illustrations. Hopefully I can turn that project into something more. My plan is to have enough art and lore to create a book.
Project Ranu: The City of Ranek - Jonas Hassibi
What are the main challenges you faced when beginning this project?
Definitely the story and the WHY behind it. I didn’t just wanted to create another world so I tried to come up with the reasoning behind it and let the world support the storyline.
How is Clarisse helping you making these images? What Clarisse feature would you say helped you the most on this project?
With Clarisse in the toolset I knew I could create everything I want. Knowing that I don’t have to restrict myself when it comes to larger scenes with a lot of buildings and complex details is a major relief while coming up with ideas for the world. I can concentrate completely on the design itself, how will the color, shape, perspective, clothing etc. affect the emotions of the scene, without worrying about the technical side.
My most beloved feature of Clarisse is definitely the brush scatterer. Combining that with path direction, one is able to create organic cities, which are not just scattered on a surface, but contain factors like terrain formation, main sights of a city and so on.
What other software did you use, how easy was it to use it alongside Clarisse?
I use 3DCoat to create 3D sketches and models since it is very fast. One problem I had with other render programs is the large amount of polys 3DCoat produces. Doing natural scenes with for example rocks is reasonable, but creating complex architecture for a large city creates an insane amount of polygons. Clarisse handles that without noticing.
What type of hardware did you use?
Not bad, not outstanding: I use a PC with Intel i5 quad core, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 and 16GB RAM.
What do you think of Clarisse’s evolution so far, how do you see it evolving in the future?
Clarisse 4.0 was very impressive and it had some major changes to the old one, something you miss for other major players in the industry.
I feel like Clarisse will explore more GPU rendering in the future since it started that with 4.0.
What feature would you like to see implemented in Clarisse the most? What do you feel is still missing from the package?
As a concept artist I really miss to pose characters. I mostly create my environments inside Clarisse with kitbash elements I created on my own. This is why posing a character in the context of the environment is a bit tedious. Also creating crowds would be way simpler if I could just import one character mesh and vary it inside Clarisse in pose.
Having said that, I have no clue if that would even be possible with programming since Clarisse is not meant to be a full 3D application with a rigging feature.
What would you consider to be your dream project?
I would love to work one day on a project which has the potential of changing people's lives, like a handful of games and movies did to me. I am fed up with people calling movies and games just “Entertainment”. We can be so much more than that.
Any tips for concept artists picking up Clarisse Today?
In my opinion, it is a good idea to set the focus on the Scatterers, experiment a lot with the different types of Particle Containers which the Scatterer drives. You can do so much with it!
Also the “Combiner” function is very interesting for concepting. Try to come up with the smaller elements which make up the design itself. In Clarisse you can kitbash different iterations together which combined to a… well Combiner, create new options to combine. At the end you have a lot to choose from for larger scenes.
Cool tip: A Combiner works with Scatterers as well. You can always go back and change your Combiners which makes the workflow flexible and non-destructive even for large cityscapes.
Project Oriental Dystopia: Marrakesh - Jonas Hassibi
Thanks so much for your inspiring answers! We look forward to seeing you continuing to develop your work as an artist, good luck!