From English Teacher to Character Artist - A Multipassion Venture by Sean Ferreira.
7 min read

From English Teacher to Character Artist - A Multipassion Venture by Sean Ferreira.

This week's artist story brings us a ton of inspiration to push ourselves further in order to achieve our goals. Sean's story proves everything is possible if you work hard for it.
From English Teacher to Character Artist - A Multipassion Venture by Sean Ferreira.

It wasn't until July 2020 (a little over a year now as I'm writing) that I started my journey of learning the craft of creating AAA game-ready characters.

Before that, all I did was help people understand other people's languages, many people, from all over the world and all walks of life. But there's more to my story than that.

Perhaps I should guide you in the four steps (or passions) that took me where I am today.


.01 - Languages.

First of all, I firmly believe that video games were my main inspiration to become an English teacher.

It all started when I was about 8 back in Brazil, where I was born and raised. I got to play this old Atari 2600 that a friend lent us for a few days, and the game was Enduro (it feels great to actually remember that).

I can't describe how I felt at the time, though, it's beyond my linguistic capacities, but I'm pretty sure you know the feeling as well.

Like many of you, at that moment, I knew I'd need more of that, way more! I was lucky enough to have had rich friends who could invite me to play with them or lend me their consoles (something I simply cannot do). So thanks to them, the next platform I could play was the almighty SNES!

Donkey Kong, Chrono Trigger, Bomberman, Mortal Kombat, Goofy Troop... Gosh! I feel like playing them right now! Then came Mega Drive with Sonic The Hedgehog, Playstation with Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, and many others!

Throughout all those moments playing so many great titles, I found myself hypnotized not only by the graphics but also by the stories and dialogs between the characters and the texts on the menus. It was an absolute pleasure to try and understand all that content in English. Little did I know that I was unconsciously preparing myself to teach that same language some years down the line.

So I went to university from 2006 to 2011 to study modern languages, and then my professional life as an educator began. That's when I actually started grasping the meaning of learning because I was the one learning the most.

Many preconceived notions I'd acquired during my studies all of a sudden didn't make that much sense when I was face to face with my students. They've taught me way more than I could've ever expected, not only about languages but mostly about us, human beings.

I'm forever in debt to those priceless moments with them.

My colleague, Mick Roraback, and I, with our dear students in Brazil, 2013.

I taught English and Portuguese in Brazil for about 4 years, both in public and private schools and universities. In 2014 I decided to move to Dublin, Ireland, where I lived for over a year (more on this later).

I then moved to France, where I continued teaching in schools and universities, except I also got to teach French as a second language. I still teach in my "spare time" currently at a VFX school here in Paris called ARTFX. Cool, right? I get to chat about games and movies in English with my students throughout the classes!


.02 - Drawing.

Video games also hugely inspired me to draw, as one would expect from most kids. I was actually into drawing way before video games were a thing in my life. Still, they nurtured my mind with a different visual vocabulary, pulling me deeper into the world of fantasy characters and creatures.

I sincerely think everybody is a potential artist if they don't stop creating during their childhood. I was this weird boy carrying his sketchbook, pencil, and eraser everywhere I went. I didn't care. All I wanted was to create my own comic book and my own characters.

The comic book never got printed, but I kept drawing my butt off as I got older.

Pure childhood naivety and creativity in its development. I was about 10 here, so bear with me.

With the help of some great drawing teachers and books, I could keep improving my fundamentals skills (anatomy, perspective, form, light, etc.) until I reached a point where I felt capable of helping other people draw better. But let there be no doubt: I still study and learn drawing. This is an everlasting thing for me.

A perspective drawing done with ink and paper.

I do short regular studies based on references to better understand what human bodies are made of and how they work. Of course, if one wants to create characters, anatomy is definitely a crucial fundamental to learn.

An example of study I regularly do using traditional mediums.

.03 - Music.

My passion for music significantly contributed to the improvement of my English. My parents played the piano, while I started playing the drums at around 14, in local punk rock bands.

My father was all about Motown Records and would wake us all up with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Brazilian artists too, of course.

I then started learning other genres like traditional Brazilian music (MBP), Pop, Funk, etc. This became a routine to me, which took more significant proportions until I started making money doing weekly gigs.

I've had the chance to tour with a few bands and release albums in Brazil and Ireland. Music was the main reason why I decided to move there. I played with many musicians from all over the world, who then became close friends, like the ones from The Longtails, a Dublin-based folk band.

The Longtails in Dublin

But there was this one thing I did that still gives me goosebumps, which is busking in Dublin's streets.

It was a mix of pressure, exhilaration, and fear. Absolutely loved every second of those many moments!

Busking on Grafton Street, Dublin.

.04 - 3D Characters.

So here we are, back to video games. Since July 2020, I've dedicated most of my time to try and understand how game-ready characters are made. I've been extremely privileged to have started this endeavor with direct and valuable instructions from some of the best artists in the industry.

Names such as Igor Catto, André Castro, Gilberto Magno, Glauco Longhi, Anthony Jones (a.k.a. Robot Pencil), and many others, to whom I owe a ton!

About a month ago, I released my first real-time character, and it was definitely the most intense learning experience so far in this field for me. You can find it here.

My first real-time character.

It's only been a year, which means I'm at the very beginning of this pursuit. But I'm starting to get my head around this discipline and have enjoyed every lesson, every struggle, every moment of fatigue, and trial and error so far.

Well, I believe you can already tell that I'm a man of many passions and trades. That's because I'm obsessed with learning, and I take things very seriously. I just can't help it. I simply have to know more about what I love so much, or I won't rest my mind.

There just isn't anything I do to which I haven't dedicated countless hours of practice and dedication.

Careful though. When it comes down to working in CG, it's unanimous that the more you focus on one type of role, the higher your chances of joining creative teams and start producing. That's why since last year, I've dedicated most of my professional time to this new venture and will continue to do so.

While becoming specialized in your CG field is highly advisable, I'd say that keeping your mind open to other worldviews, cultures, and activities is exceptionally enriching. People love the idea of "getting out of their comfort zone," but mostly because it's trendy and cool to say. In reality, very few of them actually do so.

The same applies to conceiving characters. I get most of my ideas and inspiration from books about history, society, science, religion, etc., and of course, from other characters, games, movies, etc. The more information I have at my disposal, the more compelling stories, designs, and backgrounds I can create.


So don't get stuck on the same type of content and habits. Put yourself in other people's shoes. The world is way larger than our tiny little bubbles and convictions.

Anyway. Thank you very much for reading this article. I hope I didn't bore you to death.

Thanks a million to Game Art Blog for their kind invitation and for the great work they do for the 3D community. Much love!

You can find me on:

Have a great day!


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