Artist Spotlight: Zu We Chen
At the end of last year, we shared the winners of the “Neon Nights” KB3D GameDay Contest, and one of them was none other than Zu We Chen. Zu We is a freelance concept artist based in Taiwan working in the VFX and video game industries with credits including upcoming titles like Ghostrunner 2. He also happens to be a passionate member of the KitBash3D community whom we had the pleasure of chatting with to learn more about what inspires him as an artist, and, of course, to see more of his amazing work.
KitBash3D: Hello, Zu We, it’s wonderful to have you with us. You’ve used our kits in some pretty interesting and impressive ways. Can you talk more about your approach to KitBashing?
Zu We Chen: I have used a lot of different kits recently. I’ve roughly used the kits in three ways.
The first is like this commissioned Arch Vogue piece. I followed the art direction of Darren Butler (KitBash3D’s former Head of 3D) and was purely trying to showcase the amazing work of the KitBash3D team.
Zu We: The second way is like this sci-fi city concept. For this, I combined the Edo Japan kit and the Arch Vogue kit together like Lego pieces to create a cyberpunk-style urban landscape.
Zu We: The third way is to refer to the architectural style of Structural Expressionism. I first design the overall big form, and then I use parts from kits such as Cyber Streets to build out the details.
KitBash3D: Sounds like you’re running the gamut of KitBashing (using models as-is, combining them together, and using their elements to make your own models). What inspires or influences your designs and environments with these different approaches?
Zu We: I like modern architecture, sci-fi, and cyberpunk very much. I think it is influenced by Taiwan, where I grew up. In the classic animated sci-fi film Ghost in the Shell, there are many elements influenced by Taiwanese cities and culture. And in the second season of the TV version, there is an episode where Major even visits Taiwan to find clues about Hideo Kuze. Taiwan is so cyberpunk it could even be used directly as the background of Ghost in the Shell.
KitBash3D: What is your favorite part about creating worlds in 3D, or your favorite part about using kits in your work?
Zu We: KitBash3D really gives environment designers a lot of freedom. You can quickly bash the kit to create a city landscape, and you can also use the model elements in your design to enrich your scene, or turn the kit upside down and twist to let the information of the kit to inspire your creativity. In this piece, even the cat logo on the character’s back is from Cyber Street’s textures.
KitBash3D: That’s awesome – and it looks like there’s other unconventional uses of the kit in there too. Are there other tips you’ve learned to help you with your creative process?
Zu We: I always try to learn from existing architecture. I refer to how they integrate many functions, how to plan traffic flow, and then present these elements in the form of entertainment design. The real world always teaches me a lot.
KitBash3D: And there’s plenty of it to be inspired by! Is there anything you’re hoping to try out making next?
Zu We: Recently, I've still wanted to continue to create cyberpunk-style cities. When I explore the Night City in CyberPunk 2077, I am amazed by all aspects of it, and it’s inspired me to try to use all kinds of different kits from KB3D to design an entire city with different styles of places and areas.
KitBash3D: Based on that combination of Edo Japan and Arch Vogue you shared above, it’s safe to say your city would be a sight to behold. It’d be awesome to see you incorporate kits like Medieval Market into a cyberpunk environment! Before we go, we always like asking: what drives you to keep creating?
Zu We: When I walk down the street, I Intuitively observe the cracks in the asphalt road, the shapes of the street lamps, as well as the composition of the surrounding buildings. Doing concept design has trained my eyes to see the beauty of the world better, and these observations in turn form the impulse to create. The process of creating art has always brought me so much fun.
ABOUT ZU WE CHEN
Zu We Chen (aka "ZooWe Chen") is a Freelance Concept Artist in Taiwan specializing in environment concept design, matte painting, and storyboards. You can follow his work on ArtStation and connect with him on Linkedin.
*This Interview has been edited for length and clarity.