Published: 3rd June 2021
Nei Ramos is an experienced freelance 3D artist, creating food illustration for advertising and packaging. Nei divides his time between his home town of Joinville, in the South of Brazil, and Alessandria in Italy, where he works in a small family studio alongside his wife and son.
Nei began his artistic journey as a traditional airbrush illustrator, but transitioned into digital imagery. "I developed realistic 3D effects techniques using Photoshop. Eventually, I decided to learn 3D in order to have more creative possibilities. In 2010, I took a course at R3F São Paulo, learning MODO."
"What I really love about 3D is the process of trying to figure out how to represent a realistic image. In the beginning, I was especially challenged by modelling and texturing. UV was always a challenge and the frustration of not getting convincing lighting in the final render really got under my skin."
Nei chose to focus his skills on product visualisation. Over the years, this has developed into a specialism for food imagery and Nei’s portfolio is a choc-a-bloc catalogue of the delicious.
"Today I dedicate myself to jobs that involve food images. I love working with food. When I am asked for other projects I always evaluate if I have enough skills, and sometimes I turn them down."
"The key ingredients that make a great and successful 3D artist are patience, experimentation, observation, and the knowledge to accept when 3D alone will not be enough to solve a problem. Post-production skills are mandatory, as is an eye for detail."
A family business
Nei and his family have developed a strong workflow for creating high quality images. Soraia, Nei’s wife, is in charge of photography, while their son Joao works as a 3D artist.
"Soraia helps me with product photos, textures and references, which makes such a difference in the final production. Joao has always watched me work and from an early age took an interest in Blender and Cinema 4D. Today we work together, sharing learning experiences that help us a lot in the process. It has been a great experience."
"Our workflow has changed a lot in terms of getting good results in less time. We use MODO, ZBrush for modelling, Substance Painter for texturing, Blender, Cinema 4D with HDR Light Studio, Redshift for renders and Photoshop for finishing. My favourite is still MODO and I use it in the pre-visualisation process."
Nei chose HDR Light Studio because of its ease and convenience. "When I saw that it was possible to paint light in an easy and fast way, I immediately decided to try it and loved the results. The time it took to get to the desired result was much faster than previous methods, and also the experience was really fun."
Nei agrees that using HDR Light Studio has helped to improve his lighting skills."Since using the software I have started to pay more attention to product photography. The benefit of using HDR Light Studio, compared to other lighting options, are the practically immediate results. This is, without a doubt, the differential."
The road to success as a freelancer can be difficult, but the ability to have control and independence is favoured by many. Nei and his family see both advantages and disadvantages:
"The freedom to choose which projects you want to work on is the big advantage of freelancing. The challenge is that we have to solve every problem by ourselves, from any incidents with documents, to finances and equipment management."
3D Keto Bar Achieve/DE
One of Nei’s most striking projects is product art for the ACHIEVE/DE ketogenic sustainable energy bar. Nei used 3D to distinguish the layers of chocolate, caramel and coconut to mouth-watering effect.
"In this project the lighting points help to enhance the waves in the chocolate format and especially the shine of the caramel. I achieved an exaggerated saturation that brought an interesting effect. It took me a whole day of testing different renders to find the optimal result."
Nei is keen to develop his craft further, experimenting with new techniques and softwares. His goal for 2021 is to continue to learn, whilst also having fun with different 3D technologies.
"Currently, 3D is in my everyday process, but I still think I have a lot to learn and explore. I have been using and learning ZBrush and I’m in love with its possibilities."
"As an artist I want to evolve my drawing skills through practice. I want to observe light behaviour and be less restricted so that I don’t have to solve every problem entirely in 3D. Often combining real images with digital ones can be best for your final composition."
Check out Nei's Behance to see more of his delicious renders.