The work of digital artist Cezar Brandao is perfect, or near perfect. He leaves his female subjects in a state of processor limbo. His figures, always beautiful, glow and shine with the plastic robotics of his manipulated pixels.
Brandao was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a place he left briefly for a short stint in Los Angeles to pursue digital work in games and films. He’s back in Sao Paulo carving out his own artistic path using a medium most use for video games and other video productions.
He uses 3D software with an artist’s touch and in the process shows the audience the framework of digital art. Brandao’s paintings show the beauty of his medium’s strengths and the human hand at work behind the computer.
What first drew me into your work was the level of perfection in your paintings. The digital modeling of the subject in “Sleepless” is incredible, and then you juxtapose that with rough blocks of color. It’s like your showing the viewer the framework of your
I feel like I am far away from “perfection” and I hope when I turn fifty or sixty years old I can finally do something “good.”
What attracts me to working digitally is the speed of things and freedom that it gives you. You can really change things up whenever you want and see what color scheme looks better, composition, etc. To be honest I started learning 3D to work in games, but what I always liked to do more is just still works and paintings.
I always wanted to be an “artist,” you know, so I just converted what I learned in doing 3D characters for games and made it viable to do simple artworks and to fit that into what I was looking to do as an artist, what I like to do. But now I want to learn oil painting. I really want to start doing traditional pieces and maybe in the future I might stop working digitally. Who knows?
What was your art education like? Did you ever use traditional tools, pencils or paint?
Yes, I started on the traditional side when I was eleven years old. I started in an art school doing drawing classes, and when I was sixteen I learned my first 3D software. When I finished high school I was seventeen years old and got into college to study animation design, which was the most “artistic” course I could do in Brasil. In Brasil it’s hard to be an artist, you don’t have a lot of colleges and courses like you guys have in USA or Europe. To be an artist here, it’s not a “real job.”
After that, I went to Los Angeles to study character design for games, traditional sculpture, and classical drawing. In LA things started to happen, and I created my first artwork and then never stopped creating.
The female figure you use in your work is very consistent, as if it’s the same girl reinterpreted in various ways. Is she based on someone?
Yes, now I think on my last artworks she’s turning into different girls but, yes, the others are based on someone that I had a very intense and long relationship with. I don’t understand why it ended. There’s no explanation for what happened.
When I started my work inspired by this girl she saw all of this, and since the beginning all the works were inspired by her. So yeah, kind hard to let it go from my mind. I always end up with something that looks like her, even if I don’t want it to.
Your figures have a glow to them – a digital sheen that you can see in some CG work. It’s incredible how you’ve taken every strength and flaw of digital work and created something beautiful and unique. A mix of the perfect and the unrefined, which is unusual for digital art, a craft known for the photo-real. If your style that came naturally, what was your evolution like to get to where you are now?
That’s really cool to hear. It came naturally, but for sure I see an evolution in my style when I see my older works.
What I wanted to do is exactly what you said, “A mix of the perfect and the unrefined which is unusual for digital art.” You see a lot of photo real things, or really well done renders, etc. I wanted to do something that looks like a painting, unfinished — you can use 3D for an artistic thing.
People have in their minds that 3D is just for production, movies, and games and that’s not true, so I wanted to show people that. I have in mind that I don’t have to prove nothing to anyone, but if I am showing that you can use 3D as an artistic medium, then I am really happy with that.
With something like “Patiently Waiting,” which has a fully rendered face but her hair is a solid pink slab, how do you decide when a piece was finished?
When “she’s” telling me something. I always do things with feelings — I just paint, sculpt, and draw when I’m in the mood for something, if I am happy or sad or whatever.
My paintings have to have a soul in it, a piece of me, so when the piece is telling me something, when I make the connection, then my work is done and my feelings are in there locked forever.
Do you do any rough sketches before you start on the final design? Is there any prep work you do?
Sometimes yes, but most of my works I just create as I go.
You’ve been posting tutorials on Gumroad and you also teach anatomy in Youtube videos. That’s a lot of time spent explaining and showing others how to do what you do. Is that a process you enjoy? Does it make you a better artist working with others on advancing their craft?
I never thought of being a teacher, but the opportunity came in 2011 and I really enjoyed working and teaching others.
I feel good helping people grow in their craft and see the evolution. After some years I see some people getting a nice job and their work featured in some magazines, it’s a really cool feeling.
Only a handful of your designs are available in your Redbubble shop – do you have to re-think your paintings in terms of how they’ll look on t-shirts and other products?
Yes for sure. I mainly do things that you for example would hang on your wall, so for t-shirts and duvet covers I have to re-think some things. Basically it’s cool to have in mind for what the artwork is for and then design specifically for that.
Are video games and movies still your main focus?
I did some work for games and movies, I still do work for that if it appears. But my focus now has changed. I got some attention for my work after some years of working and I really want to do what I really want to, work with galleries and prints, etc.
You’re from Sao Paulo and ended up in Los Angeles for a while, before heading back to Sao Paulo. Most creative people feel they need to be close to Los Angeles to get work, but that’s not always the case. Being back in Sao Paulo, do most of your jobs come from the area?
I love LA, it’s a beautiful city. I love California. I didn’t want to come back to Sao Paulo, ha ha. I don’t do any work here in Brasil, all the jobs I have done and do are for other countries. Unfortunately in Brasil, like I said, being an artist is not a real job.