From the Ivory Coast to Paris, via Senegal, Salif Eric N'Diaye has conquered his space in the world of computer graphics. This keen LightWave user has been working on projects for brands like Peugeot, Etihad, SNCF, L'Oreal, Europcar, Lucky Strike, Mobalpa. He recounts his beginnings, his career and aspirations. Back on the journey of a 3D passionate!
Hi Salif! You are a freelance graphic designer: when and how did you get started with 3D?
As a teen, I was a video games enthusiast. I remember the first time I played Tomb Raider. It was just great! I experienced the glee of playing, for the first time, a game in three dimensions. Loved it! I was eager to know more about how this universe was created. I spoke to friends who worked in computers. They told me back then: "Salif, you don’t mean it! To do this kind of job, you have to study Fine Arts or be an excellent designer!” This wasn’t the most encouraging remark for a young person who doesn't fit into any of these categories (laughs)! A few years later I did a course on desktop publishing and joined, as a trainee, a communications agency in Dakar, Senegal. There, I met a former 3D industrial graphic designer. When I told him that I had installed 3D Studio Max on my computer, his reaction was rather dubious: "3D is not within the reach of anyone, I’m afraid you‘re losing your time." Even if this comment had nothing comforting, I think I should thank this man today for this "challenge" boosted my curiosity and made my aspirations even stronger. I started to learn 3D on my own. Eight months later I was presenting a 3D animation of a telephone to a communications company in Senegal. All of this triggered in me a desire to go further. Since no school was offering 3D training in Senegal, I packed my suitcase to join in a training course in France.
You passed over the biases concerning the profession to better embrace your passion! And when did you discover LightWave 3D for the first time?
During my internship in Dakar, I heard of a Congolese who was also into 3D. So I arranged to meet him and to my surprise, he was using a 3D program that I had never seen. It was LightWave. My first impressions were not the best ones. If 3DSMax was, in my eyes, a pleasant application to use, with colorful buttons and images meant to identify each option, LightWave’s interface, with its pastel colors, seemed rather complex. The separation between Modeler and Layout was also quite disturbing to me. At that time, I remember saying "Of all the 3D applications I've seen, this is the one that attracts me less." The irony is that the training center I would later integrate, trained me on LightWave! It's now been 5 years that I am using this software and I love it! This is my tool of choice.
What training have you received? How did you acquire your expertise and what are your methods to keep perfecting your skills?
I joined a training programme in a NewTek certified center in France for 2 years. Once my training was completed, my goal was to keep perfecting my skills. I did so through a massive viewing of video tutorials. I am a big fan of William Vaughan, who is a great LightWave artist and tester. These videos have allowed me to refine the quality of my images and also to discover and master certain tools that I did not know before.
You said that initially you were not convinced by LightWave. What made you change your mind?
At the beginning, I was working with 3DSMax because the number of tutorials available was quite considerable. I saw plenty of tutorials but in the end, I did not really apply logic. In other words, I was playing an instrument without knowing how to read the score. During my training, I learned how to read the notes. And if LightWave is an application that is particularly attractive to me, it is precisely because it is logic. You follow a series of rules and logical steps that ultimately enables you to get very clean scenes and results.