Photo:  Cameron Mott , 2016, Tokyo

Photo: Cameron Mott, 2016, Tokyo

Ara Kermanikian loves designing futuristic mechs, vehicles, weapons and cybernetic enhanced creatures and robotics for film, games, television, advertising, VR projects, and 3D prints.

Ara is currently a visual storytelling, 3D modeling, animation, and character design educator at Art Center College of Design and OTIS College of Art and Design. He has instructional workshops and videos with Gnomon Workshop, CG Society, YouTube and Vimeo with over 10,000 hits.

Ara has written master classes for 3D Artist Magazine, ImagineFX and various online publications and has been showcased in several books including Nuthin’ but Mech 2, 3 and 4, and editions of Mastering Maya and Introducing Brush. He is an Autodesk Authorized Author and his book Introducing Mudbox (Wiley/Sybex), was published in June 2010 and has  received 4.5/5 stars on Amazon.

Strategy and tools: Ara primarily designs digitally in 3D using Pixologic ZBrush, Autodesk Maya, Adobe Photoshop and many other digital and analog tools. Resulting assets can be used as 3D concepts for film, TV or VR. They can be printed in 2D in a variety of compositions, using multiple vantage points and colorways. They can also be printed as physical statues using 3D printing technology.  Ara’s approach allows for rapid prototyping and iterative design exploration.

History: Ara has been drawing, sculpting and building model kits for as long as he can remember. He grew up in civil war torn Beirut and had plenty of visceral subject matter to fuel his imagination. Being a futurist, Ara was fascinated with the birth of personal computing and got his first PC, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, at the age of 16. He studied computer science at the American University of Beirut, and then transferred to California State University at Northridge receiving his Bachelors of Science in computer science.

Ara joined Microsoft in 1989 while still in college. At Microsoft, he played a part in the proliferation of the PC and the democratization of computing to all fields of business, creativity and entertainment. In 2007, after a successful 18-year career in various technology roles, Ara left the role of Technology Director at Microsoft to pursue his passion in concept design and studied at Art Center College of Design and Gnomon School of Visual Effects to augment his knowledge and experience in computing with fundamentals and 3D software workflows.

In addition to now teaching at Art Center and Otis, Ara is contracting with clients in the entertainment, scientific and design industries and working on his second book, Polysculpting, (Design Studio Press) which is his strategic approach to creating 3D models for film, games, television, ads, VR worlds, and 3D prints using a hybrid of polygonal modeling and digital sculpting.

Shows and Awards:
3rd place in the live ZBrush Sculpt Off at the 2015 ZBrush Summit.
The Art of Ara Kermanikian,” solo exhibition, Photonic Playground, Santa Ana, California, February 2016
"The Art of ZBrush" - At Gnomon Gallery — On Display September 26th, 2015 – January 25th, 2016
"The Art of ZBrush III" - At Gnomon Gallery — On Display October 1st, 2016 – December 16th, 2016



Art Direction

  • Realizing director and production designer’s vision for look and feel of characters, sets, locations. Management of art department personnel, workflow and deadlines.

Production Design

  • Defining and managing overall and specific visual look and feel of a film. Project and budget management of art departments. Overall management of art direction.

Concept Design

  • Futuristic character, vehicle, weapon, prop and set concept design. Development of 3 dimensional, original, finely detailed, fully textured high concept 3D assets which are fully transferable into production to save time in translation from 2D to 3D.

Education & Mentorship

  • On-site or online remote education and mentorship for individuals and teams on workflow and techniques.

Research & Development

  • Evaluation and review of emerging 3D technologies.

  • Development and analysis of production and 3D asset creation workflow.

High and low resolution 3D Asset Creation

  • Creation and development of 3D Models for movies, VR, television, games, maquettes, statuettes, collectibles and action figures.

  • High resolution digital sculpting in ZBrush

  • Low, mid and high resolution 3D modeling in Maya

  • Texturing and shading

  • 3D print preparation

3D Scan Cleanup

  • 3D Scan form and texture cleanup

  • 3D Scan adjustment, correction, augmentation and reduction

  • 3D Scan Retopology for games, VR, animation and 3D printing

  • 3D Scan UV mapping

  • 3D Scan 3D print preparation

  • Displacement, vector displacement, normal and texture map generation