Interview with Jan Major, MEGASCANs Demo Artist

Motion Media wanted to do a review of the soon to be released Quixel MEGASCANs library, so we caught up with Quixel demo artist, Jan Major. Jan Major has been involved in the industry for over ten years. He worked as Lead Environment and Lighting Artist at Blur Studio for seven years. Jan recently left Blur and has since busied himself creating scenes with the MEGASCANs data.  For more general information about MEGASCANs from Quixel, click here. Jan built the following scenes with MEGASCANs (both of which were heavily featured in Quixel promotions):

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First of all, how has MEGASCANs changed and improved your workflow?
It has sped things up dramatically and freed up time to focus on things which matter such as composition and artistic choices rather than grunt work.  Essentially, not having to create everything from scratch means I can spend more of my time as an artist and doing the enjoyable work rather than build something from the ground up over and over.  Even if I do need to build something custom from scratch, having access to a huge library of base materials allows me to get up and running quickly.


What was your biggest “AHa!” moment when you first used MEGASCANs?
I don’t have to spend hours in Photoshop bashing photo textures into submission!  Also the ‘level up’ in detail on everything really opened my eyes.


Name a few other industries you predict will benefit from MEGASCANs?
Vfx and Games, etc are a given, I think they will benefit hugely. However I think other Industries such as Architectural Visualization will make good use of these assets. Often when setting up an architectural render, quick access to realism is key, and having real world surfaces such as clean metals, woods and concretes for example, will greatly speed up setup times. Also having access to realistic vegetation scans will help with detailing this type of work.


Would it be easy to go back to not having access to the library and resume building textures as before?
No, absolutely not! I used to create most things from scratch or at best kit bash and cannibalize whatever I could from past projects or inadequate online sources.  It is not an efficient way to work and often very frustrating. Being able to get a jump start with scan data is a very exciting and it really has changed my workflow for the better.


Any trick or tips with getting started with MEGASCANs?
It’s simple to get started using the library, you can plug in the materials and assets into virtually any workflow, and there are options available for different ways of rendering, including offline renderers, realtime, applications, etc. You do not necessarily even have to have a full PBR workflow to make use of the maps. For me with the library has made me adjust my perception of detail levels in a scene and what is possible.


What’s your favorite material in the library and why is it your favorite?
That’s a tough one, there are so many interesting surfaces!  Some of the Vegetation scans are really beautiful, almost like a botanical illustrations, and I’d say they are my favourite, both from an aesthetic stand point of view, and for how useful they are to create realistic models!  As an aside, it is fascinating to see how some of the materials around us really look when broken down into their component parts. That alone gives me a new appreciation for recreating reality.


Can MEGASCANs be used for non photorealstic work?
Absolutely!  Even when creating stylistic work it’s often important that the materials, wood, metal etc, react in an understandable way. It helps the viewer decide what objects are made from, and even if the stylization is pushed way out it still helps to have a good base to start from.


How has the PBR aspect of the materials helped with your workflow?
It really takes the guesswork out of the equation. Sure you can still tweak things a little if you want to but right out of the box things simply work with each other.  You don’t have to waste hours messing with shaders to get things to look right and be compatible with other assets in a scene. Once again it eliminates unnecessary grunt work and puts the artist in control!


Thanks, Jan! Keep producing the good stuff!

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