Art is everywhere on ROBLOX–whether it’s the visual aesthetic of a virtually-built place, the design of your character’s clothing, or the look of a decal or thumbnail. Further still, we’ve come across a lot of off-site art directly inspired by ROBLOX, which brings us to Zelios. His fascination with art, like his fascination with ROBLOX, began at an early age. He began creating pieces of art based around the world of ROBLOX, and is now the premiere, go-to visual artist for game makers looking for stellar, high-resolution promotional art.
His clients include names you might recognize (we’re being sarcastic): Merely, TheGamer101, CloneTrooper1019, to rattle off a few. His intricate designs are built entirely from the ground up, and he works with his clients every step of the way to ensure that the finished pieces properly express their intent. I got the chance to talk with Zelios about a wide range of topics, including the life of a prolific visual artist on ROBLOX.
“Everything around me is fuel for inspiration,” says Zelios, who then pauses. “I’ve been interested in drawing as far back as I can remember, and have also always been really into computers. I started in MS Paint and got pretty good at it, then I started to become interested in animations.”
This growing interest has manifested itself in several forms–ROBLOX wallpapers, custom user-themed 3D images, and even custom animations he’s shared via his online portfolio. Once he realized his skills were valuable to some of the top players on ROBLOX, he started charging ROBUX for his services (“if you’re good at something, never do it for free”, to quote one of my all-time favorite villains). Purchasing a custom-built digital render usually costs between 5,000 to 10,000 ROBUX. It sounds steep, but you get what you pay for. Zelios loops you in on the planning process, keeps you updated with each and every draft, and continually works with you to ensure that the finished piece looks exactly how you pictured it in your mind. According to Zelios, getting started is often the hardest part.
“The thought process can be pretty rough sometimes. There’s been times where I’d be stuck for hours because I just couldn’t make up my mind about how a certain scene should be laid out,” he says. “I always try to think about how this person would want to be represented. I try to make it as perfect as possible.”
To design each piece, Zelios uses a combination of complex 2D and 3D software, including Adobe Photoshop and 3D Studio Max (which is a big step up from the software he started out with–a free program called MilkShape 3D). He also grabs parts and thumbnails from ROBLOX, and imports then into 3D Studio Max using 3DRipperDX, where he sets ROBLOX Studio to “wireframe” and “no texture” modes to investigate and capture usable meshes.
“This specific process allows me to see how the meshes are made,” he added. “Once the 3D render is created, I import it into Photoshop to make small changes like adding or removing small parts. The average project takes anywhere from half a day, to two full days.”
As mentioned before, Zelios has attracted some very famous clients. Since Merely is currently a ROBLOX intern, we decided we’d chat with him briefly about the piece Zelios made at his request.
“I asked Zelios to create a background of my ROBLOX avatar, and was not disappointed,” Merely says. “I found his artwork a few months ago, and was extremely impressed. His images bridge the gap between ROBLOX and reality. The precise shadows and reflections make his renderings come to life.”
Zelios is also in the process of learning how to animate, and has posted some of his animation showcases to his DeviantArt page. These aren’t at the grand-master level of sophistication as his art and 3D renders, but he’s excited to be focusing on and learning about something new and challenging.
“The slash animation is an example of how a sword mesh could be used. It’s a really large sword, and very powerful. You have to charge up holding down the mouse button then release to perform a wide ranging slice attack,” he says.
Having realized the potential for his artistic endeavors, Zelios fits into the grand scheme of ROBLOX in an interesting way. He tells me his goal is to eventually work here, making gear, hats and any other 3D assets necessary. This dream may be drawing close to reality–many members of our staff, as well as some of our most prolific builders, have taken a vested interest in what Zelios creates. We look forward to seeing where this goes. For now, and as always, here’s Zelios’ advice on being a visual artist on ROBLOX:
Get as inspired as you can. Inspiration fuels your imagination, and your imagination is a tool you use to shoot your creativity at your target audience. Make new and different things–things that only you can create. That’s something you learn through experience. If you have a client, put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what they’re looking forward to seeing, then make it.