Day in the life
The freelance digital and VFX artist takes 3D World through a typical day creating synthwave-style imagery
Digital artist Maximilian Auer talks us through his daily routine
Maximilian Auer, a Stuttgart-based freelance digital and VFX artist currently finishing a diploma at Film Academy Badenwürttemberg, began creating retrowave-style art under the moniker of RETRIC DREAMS several years ago. He is constantly excited to take on new challenges and create unique worlds and visuals across graphics, animations, short films or music videos, and he invites anyone interested in working with him to get in touch via his website.
3D World caught up with Auer to get an inside look at his creative process and daily routine.
I usually start the morning by catching up with emails and any other social media comments or messages while preparing for the day. Also, I’ll have a look at the day's schedule and prioritise the tasks that need to be done. After getting a small breakfast, I put in some time to try and get some smaller tasks out of the way, whilst responding to emails and messages. After that, I’m ready to start the rest of the day.
Depending on the day, I either pursue my life as a student and attend a course at university, learning some new things, keeping up to date with what others are creating and meeting some of my fellow students. Or I’ll sit down at my own desk and start working on some of my running projects or client commissions. The morning is usually a good time for me to bring things up to date, such as starting to implement feedback into new versions or to spend a few focused hours working on tasks subsequent to the day before.
Every new project, many of which I’m entirely responsible for myself, brings its own challenges and forces you to constantly develop new ideas and ways to bring things to life. Before diving into the actual production process, I try to identify what the main difficulties or risks, whether technical, visual or organisational, might be and, in the best case, address them somehow. This will make my life much easier or at least sensitise me to potential bottlenecks that might occur later. Lunch is usually a great time to get some fresh air and grab food with some of my fellow students.
In general, but especially as a freelancer, I think it is important to find your own workflow in order to do the best possible work in the respective time frames as efficiently as you can. To work on projects as seamlessly as possible, in one go, I like to create organisational tables and small scripts to automate things or display them as clearly as possible. But I’ve also learned that sometimes it is good to force yourself to stop and continue with something else, or after some time in between. Often problems can then seem much more feasible, or the renewed fresh perspective can prove very beneficial to the end result, too.
When working on my own artwork, I usually start with a rough idea in my head of how I would imagine the scene and the overall mood. This usually makes it much easier for me to start in 3D and not have too many fundamental thoughts during the process. Often I also have a particular or multiple songs, which I listen to while transferring my ideas into the 3D world. This helps me to focus on the core emotions and mood that I want to convey in the final artwork and to incorporate it into every step of setting things up.
During projects, the part I usually like most is seeing how everything comes together as a final picture during the lighting and compositing stage. I love how light and composition can transform an initially artificially put-together scene into something whole that can successfully convey a certain mood or feeling. I also almost always move on to doing some compositing to have that extra control and flexibility. I’ll usually end work by reviewing the tasks completed today and if necessary update the schedule for tomorrow, sending out email updates with new versions as needed, or go through some new messages and then call it a day.
There are many ways for me to end a day after work. I like watching movies and TV shows or just listening to some music while getting some rest, or best of all combining it with an evening stroll around the block outside. This is also where I tend to get a lot of ideas for my own artwork. I also love checking out some general CG and tech-related news in the evening, and get inspired by having a look at some of the amazing work being done by many others out there.