The Mill's Adam Dewhirst on why ZED will be 'gigantic'

The veteran 3D modeller explains why he's getting excited about the fortnight-long London event.

Dewhirst will talk about his work on Guardians of the Galaxy at HP ZED London

This content has been brought to you in association with HP ZED, a 'pop up shop' for creatives in London's Soho from Monday 29 September to Friday 10 October 2014. Register for ZED today.

Currently a senior modeller at The Mill, Adam Dewhirst has had a long and illustrious career as a 3D artist, working on blockbuster movies like Guardians of the Galazxy, The Golden Compass and The Dark Knight, and TV shows including Doctor Who, Ice Age Giants and Sinbad.

At HP ZED London next week, Adam Dewhirst will be leading a 45 minute Lunch Crunch Speed Sculpting session (Fri 3 Oct), followed by a unique presentation entitled 'Guardians of the Galaxy - The Rejects!' (Fri 10 Oct) - book your free tickets today. Meanwhile, we caught up with the artist to find out what he's been up to lately...

You've recently moved from Framestore to The Mill – how's it going?

This is my second stint at The Mill and its been very easy to settle in. Moving around a lot is a big part of the industry we work in, as you have to keep a constant look out where the work is.

Dewhirst is enjoying taking a break from the movies to do commercials work

Of course working in commercials is very different from working in film, The Mill is a leading facility for commercial work and I wanted to work on shorter projects with more variation instead of one big project for a year, which advertising caters for perfectly.

Working on one film for such a long period of time can be relentless, but the beauty of working in London is that you always have a lot of choice as far as types of work are concerned.

What’s great about The Mill is that it’s a very social and interactive place - you're constantly working with different teams of people, learning new skills and really diversifying your portfolio - in the two months I’ve been back, I’ve worked on at least five different projects!

What are you working on at the moment?

My last big film was Guardians of The Galaxy, which I’m giving a talk about at this year's ZED event for HP. I can’t disclose any information about my latest Mill projects, but I can say that one of them has made my inner child very happy!

Are you still doing daily speed sculpting?

Yes and no - I am when possible, but I mostly sculpt on the iPad at the moment using Autodesk’s 123dcreature.

It's a wonderful tool and allows me to sculpt using a stylus (sensu brush) to create fairly decent concepts whilst commuting in to work, or just sitting in front of the TV at home.

Dewhirst recommends daily sculpts to hone your skills

If I’m happy with the designs, I can upload them as objs to my email account and then continue the design on my home PC – it’s a really useful workflow for thinking up ideas when on the go. In fact, I started the creature I’m demo-ing at my ZED talk on the iPad.

I still think daily sculpts are a wonderful way to learn and improve your skills, even just a quick 20 minute sketch. You don’t have to post it online, so it doesn’t have to be wonderful, you can just do it for your own improvement and when you're confident enough – post your work online to a community for feedback.

What's exciting you in the world of 3D software at the moment?

Aside from the mobile sculpting I mentioned earlier, there are a couple of things. Meshmixer by Autodesk is very cool, mixing scan data and high poly meshes really well. Equally the new Boolean tools in Modo that do this are very interesting - mesh fusion.

It’s cool to see this sort of re-meshing application in an 3D modelling package that isn’t Zbrush. It allows you take scan data, or sculpts and quickly modify it on the fly in your already lit and shaded scene.

What are you most looking forward to at HP ZED London?

I’m really looking forward to Will Cohen's talk on setting up Milk. I worked with those guys in the past so keen to see how they’re doing, plus I think its a fascinating insight into how the VFX film process works.

Learn speed-sculpting from the master at HP ZED Londo

I’m also looking forward to the speed sculpting session I’m holding on October 3rd – we have a host of guys from The Mill , Cinesite, Industrial Light and Magic, Framestore, The Foundry and Nvizible - so I think its going to be fun to see what everyone produces! I’m still trying to settle on a theme, but I think simply the word "gigantic" is a strong contender!

Register for HP ZED today!

This content has been brought to you in association with HP ZED, a 'pop up shop' for creatives in London's Soho from 29 September – 10 October 2014.

With talks, tutorials and creativity sessions brought to you by top experts from leading studios like Double Negative, MPC, Milk and The Mill, as well as HP, Intel and Nvidia, it's going to be a must-attend event for anyone working in motion graphics, animation or 3D. Find out more here!


Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.