Natalie Villarreal | Welcome to My Mind
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Natalie Villarreal | Welcome to My Mind

Natalie Ann Villarreal
by natalieavill on 1 Jun 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

My journey began as a painter in Austin. Somewhere along the way I discovered the power of creating worlds and telling stories entirely with my own hands through computer-generated moving pictures. It's been an incredible journey and I look forward to sharing some of it with you.

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Paloma Negra

Paloma Negra was more of a passion project for me, inspired by the remarkable and majestic Chavela Vargas. Chavela was a Costa Rican/Mexican singer of Rancheras at a time when the genre was dominated by men. Her hauntingly beautiful voice and fierce attitude challenged the world's notions of beauty and gender roles. Chavela Vargas has inspired my work and life in so many ways, and this piece is my humble attempt to capture and share some of that beauty and strength that she brought to the lives of so many. Special thanks to Miguel Ortega for understanding the direction of the piece and helping me take it there.


Maya | Vray | Substance Painter| Nuke

selection of references used for this project

Somewhere in Myanmar...

My first passion is for beautiful images, especially those that evoke a sense of nostalgia. That is the feeling I wanted to capture with this project. It was my first crack at Houdini, and between the instancing and water simulations, the project has certainly been my most technically-challenging one to date. With the help of my peers and instructor, I was able to reduce the render time from 60min to 5min, and optimize the heightfields, scattering, and simulations without sacrificing quality. Many thanks to my peers Daniel Lee and Dakota Smith for your help navigating the software and special thanks to my instructor, David Stripinis, for your invaluable guidance and encouragement throughout this process.

Houdini | Redshift | Speedtree | Maya | Substance Painter | Megascans | Nuke

selection of references used for this project

meanwhile, in the late afternoon...

This project has gone through many iterations, and I'm sure more to come. I took inspiration from the films of the iconic Japanese director, Yasujirō Ozu. Ozu was able to capture a sense of melancholy and poetry in familiar, everyday images through his own unique visual language. His work has been hugely influential in my practice as I endeavor to tell my own stories through visual moving pictures. Special thanks to Masha Zarnitsa for your helpful critiques on the final renders.

Maya | Vray | Photoshop

selection of references used for this project

The Deep

Blue Whales are among the planet's longest-living animals and live most of their life in solitude. The goal of this piece was to capture some of the mysterious and solemn beauty of that majestic creature.

primary inspiration


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