Pierrick Picaut: "Blender Pays My Bills!"

How do you turn your passion for Blender into a flourishing career? Where do you start and how do you find clients? Pierrick Picaut, a long-term member of CG Cookie, has the answers.

Pierrick, how did you come to have a career in Blender?


I started in 3D the hard way, using Rhinoceros 3D, a 100% NURBS software. While working for a company, I set out to create a mobile game concept with friends, using vectorial style and they pushed me to try 3D. I decided to learn Blender and started working with it for hours and hours, late into the night and on weekends. Blender became a complete addiction, eventually I quit my job and started my freelancing career. I mostly learned Blender from Blender Foundation's DVDs and from CG Cookie; I even became a Blender Foundation Certified Trainer with the objective to make tutorials for CG Cookie!

"The best advice I can give: publish your work!"

Now, 99% of my working time is spent on 3D projects and it does more than just pay my bills; it allows me to have a really good lifestyle, which is just awesome.

What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out again?

My biggest regret is that I got into 3D so late. I always though it was something for the elite CG artist and too complicated for me. But as all things in life, you just need to spend the time on it and you can learn anything. The best advice I can give: publish your work! Don't be afraid to be criticized. You need to gain visibility in this industry, so stop being shy.

"Don't be intimidated by top-quality artwork you see out there."

. Don't be intimidated by seeing AAA art on a lot of forums. I used to think: "Damn, I'll never be able to do this in my life". Now I know that the true CG rockstars are maybe 0.00001% of what is done with CG in the world. You don't need to work for BLIZZARD or ILM to find a good job or great CG projects. . 3D and VR are everywhere, there is a lot of thing to be done with Blender, the only thing you need is work on your skills. Practice everyday, publish your work, get criticized, progress, and start all over again.

Pierrick's "Cliff Tower" environment course is available on Blender Market

How do you get client work?

In my first year I was searching for customers on specialized forum. Some of my first jobs came in through Blenderartist.org and other French freelancing websites.

"Being active online helped me find new clients."

The fact that I've published several personal project, got featured and was active on a lot of forums made me Google-friendly and helped me a lot with finding new clients. Now, I don't search for customer anymore, I often have to refuse projects because I'm to booked - which is a great problem to have! 

sketchfab embertitan

Do you think Blender is a good choice for people starting in 3D today?

I make my living with Blender, so the answer is yes! If you master Blender, you won't have any trouble learning other software. The core thing in CG is not the software but the way you use it. Plus, Blender has a very big community and a lot of valuable free resources. And it continues to prove to be reliable even for professionals.

"If you master Blender, you can transition to other software easily."

out of the box

How much time do you spend concepting on paper before diving into modeling in Blender?

It really depends on the kind of project I'm working on, but I generally spend as little time as possible drawing and sketching. I prefer 3D blocking to output concept and proof for my clients. When it comes to character creation, I generally know what I want and I look for as much references as I can online, I then use dyntopo or simple 3D blocking to sketch my character. 

I proceed the same way with hardsurface or environments and use 3D to block out space and search for references to explain the concept to my customer.

Master  Blender's modeling & sculpting tools, from basics to advanced techniques

You sometimes rough out sculpts in Blender and then polish them up in ZBrush. Why?


If you look around at various workflows, you'll see that Zbrush is so often used in the industry combined with Maya or 3DSmax - and, in my case, with Blender. I do feel more comfortable with Blender's dynamic topology as I believe it is more flexible. I feel way more comfortable with 3D navigation in Blender. Once I've sketched my character I will make the retopology and UVs in Blender and go to Zbrush. 

The benefit of Zbrush is its power and ability to deal with very high level of subdivison, allowing you to get in very fine details like skin pores. It has a solid layer system that allows you to scupt details. Zbrush is for me just another tool to go a little further than simply using Blender, though you can achieve very nice stuff using Blender on its own.

You do both realistic and stylized work. Do you use the same workflow and techniques for both?

The overall process is exactly the same. You block stuff, try to make it as good as possible, then dive into detailing. Style is a matter of stroke and proportions, and you can emphasize it using stylized shading and lighting.


Are you a gamer as well? Do you ever create game assets?

I used to play a lot video games and was so inspired by BLIZZARD background and style. I've stopped playing video games a long time ago because it was too time-consuming and I easily get carried away! Recently, I played Overwatch and I bought Total War: WARHAMMER. I've also been hired to work on a new game called NOARA that should be available on Steam before the end of the year. I'll be in charge of rigging and animating all characters. I will also be modeling props and environment assets, which should be fun.

Did you see anything great that inspired you lately?

Every day! I keep finding new inspiring things that I want to learn about. I'd really like to dive into the animation node add-on as the outputs are awesome: I love motion design! I was also amazed by the ADAM demo in Unity, I believe realtime is the thing I'll have to master to stay competitive on the market. As for inspiring artists, I love the work that Cesar Salcedo is doing, he's really pushing Blender to the top.

For more of Pierrick's projects, visit his website or his YouTube channel.Stay tuned for a quick-tip tutorial by Pierrick, coming soon!

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  • David Frazier (pointoflife14)

    I can 100% vouch for Pierrick's work. He is a very gifted artist, super professional, wonderfully approachable and available, and always willing and ready to help. Pierrick's also a guy who always goes the second mile with you, but all this without being able to instructively communicate it well, wouldn't make him what and where he is. But Pierrick has the element as few do, in other words, his teaching acumen is top-notch! His pace in his tutorials is just right, not too fast not too slow, and he makes it fun!! His passion for art oozes in his tutorials. Highly recommend, no matter what level! Plus, he is one of the kindest, humble, most friendly guys you'll meet. Definitely a great representative of the very things cgcookie has as well .

  • pieriko

    Wow.... that's touching.
    Realy appreciate your words David. IT's nice to see you and even more pleasent to read your words. Thanks from the botom of my heart :)

  • ifcruickshank1

    I've always enjoyed seeing your work come up! It's good to know you are making a living working with Blender, but after reading the article I'm still not sure which kind of companies you do freelance work for. I see that some of your recent work is going to be game related but other than that I wasn't sure. I too am doing some freelance work with Blender (architectural, product renders, etc.) so that's why I'm curious. ;)

  • pieriko

    I work for medical agencies, working on product and medical videos.
    promotional videos for industrail products, product design... Most of my work is B to B and I nearly never post these kind of work on my website as I don't find them super esthetic.

    the Burdy project, the road pad, the USB design projects are all pro. stuff.

    I believe that less than 25% of what I do is currently shown to the public...

  • ifcruickshank1

    Cool. Thanks for the reply!

  • jeng

    Great guy, great tutorials and a great artist!

  • simone scardellato (dimebag)

    This article made my day. amazing artist, endlessly inspiring! with a bit more poly count handling and a better texture painting system, i think blender will become even more powerful than it is right now!

  • Matthew Fricker (frikkr)

    Very inspiring especially for someone like myself who is looking to one day quit my job and make a career with Blender - It has always worried me wether or not it is possible, but your article has filled me with positivity. Keep up the great work :)

  • pieriko

    Hi Man, nice to see you around.
    All is possible if you work hard for it. This is what important, real hard work :)

  • Mary Fazzolari (maryshan)

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Pierrick!
    Very inspiring for any 3D artists :) We share same regret: not getting into 3D earlier. But yeah, that is a minor problem as fortunately I got into it and learned very fast, so at the very end, time doens't matter when you have strong will and passion! Best of luck to you !

  • Omar Domenech (dostovel)

    Cool article. Your art style is awesome, Pierrick. Loved that fluffy yellow bird comercial you posted, the lighting looked clean and crisp, it is always hard to get that out of Blender I find.

    Keep up the great work Pierrick! :)

  • Matthew Fricker (frikkr)

    Thanks for the kind words Pieriko. I have to say that I am working as hard as I can for it. Outside of my full time job and spending time with my Girlfriend, I dedicate the rest of my free time to learning Blender and developing my skills :)

  • evagilbert

    Great tutorials and a great author! Thank you!

  • oumi

    Sure i'm intimidated to publish my work, i try to do soon...
    I work only Blender and Photoshop, i learn by myself with tutos on Youtube.
    Thank you very much for tutorials, very helpfull and great job!

  • khemara

    Very inspiring post. Thanks!

  • pieriko

    Thank you all for your kind words. Realy appreciated. I hope to find time ASAP to create new tutorial. Probably animation oriented ;)

  • Peter De Zutter (goanookie)

    Nice post and truely awesome work, I can only hope I will reach that level. Starting to regret of never doing anything with my graphics background, the old story IT...

    The only advice I did spot, fail and fail fast and fail often. Best way to get learn to Blender or another topic.

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