Keos Masons

Marco Plouffe and Cédric Séaut are the two-person team behind Keos Masons, a character modeling and concept design services for the video-game, movie and collectible industry. We caught up with Marco to find out more about their venture, what sparked his interest and how they use KeyShot for their character and concept work.

Character Modeling and Concept Design

Modeling software used: ZBrush
Website: keosmasons.com/ | Artstation / Marco | Artstation / Cedric

What sparked your interests in concept/creature/character design?
When I was a kid I was a huge gamer… ok, I guess I still am, but my point is that I played pretty much all of the Megaman and Megaman X games and I was blown away by the variety of bosses, enemies, costumes in every game they released.

I started drawing my own variation of Megaman bosses and other franchises I loved. I also went to my friend’s place while they were playing Dungeons and Dragons and drawing their characters, the NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), and the bosses. It was a fun time! They invited me to create my own character and join the game after that. (Maybe I should model them someday!) Later, I found the passion in creating thematic groups, which forces me to iterate on the same subject. The Sinner Collection I made a few years ago is a demonstration of that.

What was the turning point in your careers?
The biggest turning point is definitely the first one – when I decided to change my career. I left government where I worked as an IT guy and went to 3D school in Montreal. I sold my house and move away from family and friends which was pretty hard but, when you have a calling like this, sometimes you have to answer even if you have to leave some things behind. I was pretty unhappy in my life at this point and felt like this was the only answer. So, it became clear I had to make a change. Another landmark is when I decided to leave Square Enix Eidos and start my own company (Keos Masons) with my now partner Cédric Séaut. I was happy at Eidos, but I was longing for something else: the chance to work on more projects and to experiment with different styles and direction at the same time. Also, it gave me the chance to work on more concept gigs and gave me more time to work on my own personal project like my collection of 3D prints.

What’s unique about how Keos Masons approach a project?
I think our main attribute is our versatility. We’re not experts in everything, but we have a huge range of expertise that lets us work with many different studios–We’re very happy about that! Also, as an outsourcing company, there is a lot of effort put into reaching the client’s benchmark and beyond. There’s a lot of involvement in making sure the client is satisfied either it’s with communication, scheduling, workloads or, of course, the quality of our work. On the design side, Keos Masons has a certain vision that we cultivate in our designs. We certainly have different styles, Cédric and I, which provides for a certain variety, but there is a core around which we revolve which I find defines the overall style of Keos Masons.

What is your primary 3D modeling software?
ZBrush all the way. While blocking out a concept, it’s SO easy to change directions. It feels like there is almost no technical restriction. This is the reason why I’ve not been able to appreciate any comparable software. Of course, we know the other software because they all have something to contribute, but in this digital age, I feel a lot of software is too technical and kind of breaks your flow.

I have found KeyShot to be the rendering software that allows me to keep my flow the most during the rendering process.”

What makes KeyShot an important tool to have?
I use KeyShot when I want to create beauty shots for my concepts. I also use it for more illustrative work too; most of the time on personal work. I have found KeyShot to be the rendering software that allows me to keep my flow the most during the rendering process. I find it very easy to play around with different environments, tweak some values to find the desired mood, play around with preset materials then rendering a few passes that give me a strong base for the compositing in Photoshop afterward. In terms of user-friendliness versus quality, I find KeyShot to be the best at it!

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business
I suggest gaining a lot of experience in free-lancing because once you have your own company, there are MANY additional facets you have to take care of. So, you must already be used to all the basic stuff like good communication, planning, understanding the client’s needs, interpreting different styles, knowing how much your work is worth, etc. Once you know all that, if it is an outsourcing company you want to create, you need to learn how to manage other artists with all the things mentioned above, but there’s also the legal aspect to consider. It’s a challenge but it’s invigorating when you see you are actually building something of your own, shaping it the way you want if you are willing to put the efforts into it!