Spotlight On… Danie Parness: CG Prop Modeller

Want to know what it’s like to be a CG prop modeller at Cloth Cat? We turn our eye-wateringly literal spotlight on Danie to find out…

How did you get into prop modelling?

While studying Computer Animation at the University of South Wales, I tried a little bit of everything – modelling, animating, texturing, etc – and I really wanted to push my skills in all areas so I could be a generalist. Since starting at the studio, I’ve worked as a junior artist with Bait on a project called 35 Days (35 Diwrnod), as a production assistant on feature film Ethel & Ernest, an editor on animated series Olobob Top, and now I’m a prop modeller on Shane the Chef ! I was lucky enough to have lots of opportunities to work on different things in different roles – so it was a lot of being in the right place at the right time!

What does a typical day look like?

At the moment I am currently building the hero props, which are the ones featured the most in a particular episode. We’ll get a rough piece of concept art sent through to us from the creative director, and I’ll then interpret that into a 3D model, which can take days… months… years?! (laughs) I usually start by blocking a basic shape and then build in all the creases and the fine details to make it look exactly as it was drawn but… even better!

Charmander Family Portrait – Entry for Pokemon Studio Art Challenge

What skills are important for prop modelling?

Good observation skills – take everything from real life if you have the chance. If you’re modelling fruit for example, then find that fruit and look at it up close to see where all the bumps are. If you’re building appliances, try and create that product as if you were making it with your two hands rather than with a mouse. That’s how CG Supervisor Darren is teaching me – and it’s working!

What’s your favourite thing about being a prop modeller?

I enjoy the texture side of it because that’s what makes it realistic. I made a jug recently, and in 3D space, yeah, it looks like a jug, but when we applied a glass shader to the top of it it’s like, now it looks like a REAL jug! That’s a really rewarding feeling.

What’s it like to work at Cloth Cat?

Oh it’s so fun! I love it. I’ve gelled with this studio so well. I get on with everyone and I find it easy to speak to people about anything – so it’s just a fab place to work!

What inspires you?

Watching well put together movies – especially Pixar and highly composited live action movies. The way they make things look real is just breathtaking. I am very drawn to realistic CG, where it looks so lifelike it’s almost not CG any more! I also love Pixar’s behind-the-scenes films, where they show their on-location research experiences. My favourite is the making of Finding Nemo: they scuba-dived at the Great Barrier Reef to research the fish and see for themselves how light is affected in water. HIGHLY recommend!

I Am Groot

Any advice for aspiring modellers?

If you’ve got old pieces, look back at them, see how you could improve them and do them again. Keep learning new software as well – I used to use 3DS Max and Maya but after using Modo from the Foundry I’ve seen the light! I’ve also got into Substance Designer for the texturing side, which lets you add loads of scratches and dirt to your props. Just try as much free or accessible software as possible, and learn as much as you can.

And finally…

Describe yourself in 3 words

Crazy, Jew-maican, afro!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Lots of gaming! I’m currently playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, which is PHENOMENAL! Such a beautiful game, and very well put together. I also like drawing.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

My mother’s Jewish, my father’s Jamaican, and my step-father’s Greek – so I’m very multicultural!



Artwork by Danie Parness

27 March 2017