In this studio profile we talk to Dexter Nguyen who founded 4pixos Studio, and learn about his life and studio work, as well as the 4pixos Academy courses that they run. There are also fantastic insights into the architectural visualization industry in Vietnam, and advice for anyone looking to develop their skills.
Hi everyone, my name is Dexter Nguyen, I was born in 1988, I’m the founder of 4pixos Studio based in Saigon, Vietnam.
Our clients are developers, architects, and interior designers. We help them in realizing their marketing vision for their projects with the help of CG. We also have 4pixos Academy which focuses on Archviz training courses, both online and onsite.
I graduated from the National University of Civil Engineering in the Faculty of Architecture. I have a special passion for traditional art, photography, and now for architectural visualization.
I think they are all visual arts and have some basic commonalities. I was interested in painting and photography for a long time before becoming an Archviz artist, and I think that background has a huge impact on the way I feel and express myself in my architectural works.
I had no knowledge of the CG industry until an unexpected day in my sophomore year, the day I used my savings to buy a guitar.
At that time playing the guitar was something really cool and “trendy” for architecture students like us, so I went to the guitar shop with my friend. While I was still looking for my dream guitar my friend suddenly suggested going to an interesting 3D class, which would start later that day.
Curiosity made me decide to join him, and after that there was no more guitar in the story because that class totally attracted me! My savings ended up paying the tuition for my first 3D class ever.
Since that day I have fallen deeply into the CG World. I spent a lot of time researching online and practising on my homework. This effort was rewarded when I won a scholarship for an advanced class and had a chance to meet my teacher, Mr.Long Hung, whose company I joined for my first job in the industry.
Working in his company is one of the memorable experiences of mine. The very first things I learned were mainly about modeling and texturing.
Those skills are essential, they are the keys to create good work. I worked there until I graduated and then decided to go traveling and learn photography.
After discovering myself in various fields, I realized my passions and strengths and eventually founded 4pixos Studio in 2013.
We had the opportunity to take part in many huge and iconic projects in Manhattan and New York. Thanks to those high-end projects we got used to high standards, precise aesthetic requirements and details. This set the bar for our projects going forward.
How did you discover Corona Renderer?
I got to know about Corona Renderer in 2016, by chance, which was late compared to the other Archviz artists.
I was not a tech geek, however the software was really easy to use with impressive features such as Lightmix and Interactive Render. This was truly revolutionary and made the work so much easier.
I really loved this software and wanted to introduce it to all Archviz artists in Vietnam, so I held a workshop and the very first Corona course in Saigon.
Corona Renderer had a great impact on our team and on the participants, and the number of Corona users has increased rapidly.
What makes the CG industry in Vietnam unique?
I have to say that there are many talented Archviz artists in Vietnam who have a strong passion and are always willing to learn. They have proved themselves through their excellent works, but sadly there has been no world-class studio in Vietnam so far.
One special thing I notice here is the diversity of the visualization market in Vietnam, both in terms of the capability of the Archviz artists, the requirements of the clients and the cost for each render.
This may sound hard to believe, but the price for each render can range from 25 USD to thousands of dollars.
The clients are also very diverse. They can be freelance architects, architecture firms or marketing departments of real estate corporations.
Not only working in their hometown market, Vietnamese Archviz artists also work for many agencies and studios all around the world remotely.
Along with the development of the economy and the real estate market, I can see the potential to develop in a more specialized and professional direction of the Archviz industry in Vietnam, both in depth and width.
How has the industry changed in Vietnam over recent years?
7 years ago Visualization was a new industry in Vietnam and the quality that was demanded was quite simple and uncomplicated.
However, the requirements from the clients for higher quality renderings has increased, and whilst realistic renders are an important criterion, that is no longer the only requirement – there must also be other factors.
With the development of 3D design software, a high-quality product was in our reach. The number of freelancers has increased in recent years and the studios have had to cope with new challenges, they need strategies and solutions to show their advantages and differences to survive and develop.
Along with the development of the real estate market, investors want to bring great experiences for customers in Vietnam, they want high-quality renders and are willing to pay high prices for local companies, partly because they believe that local Archviz artists will know their customers better.
You can see amazing works made by Vietnamese Archviz artists all over the world now and we have also won many international prizes. The visualization industry has huge potential, I believe.
How do you see the industry in Vietnam changing over the next few years?
In the past, the studios in Vietnam mostly outsourced the work for many companies in the world.
However, with the development of the Real Estate market, investors have higher requirements on the quality of the render and will pay more for their marketing campaign.
There will be opportunities and challenges for the studios in Vietnam in being outstanding in their customers’ minds, not just by the quality of the products but also by customer service.
Along with the development of technology, some simple jobs will be replaced, maybe it will be the age of competition and also tremendous growth in the quality and creativity of studios in Vietnam.
Could you tell us a bit about your work as an artist?
As a 3D artist first, I set a very high standards for my products, both meticulously and aesthetically.
I especially love the motion picture industry and I want to bring the emotion of film-like angles, lighting and the mood from that into my products.
I personally think “a beautiful image must bring emotions to the viewer,” so I always try to use the tones, the mood, the light, the camera and deliberate arrangement to create my images.
What about your work as an instructor?
I have been teaching Vietnamese students since 2013 and foreign students since 2016; I consider myself as a team coach and my students as players.
My courses are training sessions that focus on exploring the students’ cognitive thinking about three aspects: the aesthetic, the lighting, and the materials.
My teaching method is for students to work on a personal project. They will choose a project they love and try to show it from their own perspective. This will help students develop holistically and perfect their skills for setting up their own renders and expressing the mood of the imagery they create.
I always find joy in teaching, especially when I can see the changes and progression in my students from the beginning to the end of the course.
My course is often difficult, and not everyone can complete it because it requires a high level of concentration and commitment to the learning process to complete a personal product from scratch right through to the end.
However, for those who make it to the end of the course, they will feel genuinely transformed both in terms of their feelings and skills, compared to where they began. This makes me really happy doing this job.
What recommendations would you have for someone who is just starting out in their CG career?
The first piece of advice I want to give people who are planning to enter this field is you must feel the love and the passion for this job because it is not a job that makes you super rich.
Only when you really love it and you feel that creating a beautiful picture is your own joy and happiness, then you can make it far.
This will become your motivation to overcome the difficult initial period, including financial burdens and the work pressure.
The second thing you need to consider is whether you have the potential to get better or being the best in the field. I relate this to the first thing I mentioned above because normally when you love something, you will do it well, and when you do something well, you will love it.
Those are two things that I have concluded, they are not related to specialized skills, but they are very important to help you decide whether to choose this job.
After that, the next thing you need to do is to choose a mentor that you can learn from or an environment where you can promote and develop your own capabilities. This is very important because you can learn the lessons on your own, but when you meet the right teacher or the right environment, you will save a lot of time and learn from the experiences and mistakes that someone else has made. By a lot of time, I mean years!
The next thing you need to keep in mind is to set yourself a standard and keep setting it to higher levels.
Always keep up-to-date on news from the best 3D artists in the world and try to compete and improve the quality of your products. When I first entered this field, I always tried to do more than someone asked me.
Our clients did not require that high a quality for their renders, but I wanted to give them more than they expected.
I wanted to enhance the quality of my renders to the same level as the overseas Archviz artists that I had always admired. I was not paid any extra money for this, but by great effort and doing more than what the clients asked for, I gained myself a lot of great opportunities later on.
There is one more thing I would like to share with the freshman: take your time to experience the real, beautiful sights in nature and amazing architectures as much as possible.
It will become your inspiration and form an aesthetic library in your head and believe me, you will see the wonderful, extraordinary sides of the world, and from this you will grow. It is better to see the world once than to hear about it a thousand times.
Don’t stay in one place too long, meet new artists from every corner of the world, they will share the best stories, which will spread the positive energy that will keep you on track to learn and develop yourself and no matter what happens. Stay creative and it will keep you
Any favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
I have done many projects so far but “Garverigrand 7″ is my favourite, it was nominated for the non-commission film category of CGArchitect 3D Awards in 2018.
I put a lot of effort into it and experienced different ways of bringing emotion into my render. Though I had little time to work on the project, I enjoyed every single day full of energy and inspiration.
The best part of making the project was watching the reactions of everyone when they saw it, nothing can compare to when your renders touch others’ feelings, softly, in unexpected ways.
Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
We are having a new project with a big name in the hospitality industry. We have run a number of resort projects, but not with such a big brand as this, which makes me even more excited.
There are many aspects that can be exploited in this project and I will take advantage of my strengths as well as my hobby – the emotion. We will stay focused and try our best to give our customers the best renders.
Finally, tell us a little more about your Corona Renderer course
The Coronator English course is an advanced course in lighting and materials with Corona Renderer.
The course has 13 recorded videos, with exercises for each lesson for my students to practice what they have learnt, and 5 live sessions where I work with them directly to answer all of their questions and correct their homework.
I give my students exercises based on implementing a personal project from the beginning to end. Each exercise will help improve their projects and push it, and themselves, to the next level.
With this method, students have to stay 100% focused on their work and put in a lot of effort, I guarantee the result will be very worthy.
We also have a group on Facebook where students post their homework to get feedback and support with all their questions.
The most important thing that I think my course does better than other courses on the market is the focus on aesthetics orientation, which brings an impact to the way students think and feel through my feedback for their homework.
I think this is very important because it is not difficult to “cover” an image of existing projects, but the most important thing we want every student to achieve is that you can still find the direction to handle your scene as impressively and beautifully as possible when you get to building a project from scratch.
Many thanks to Dexter for taking the time to talk to us there, it’s great to hear about the industry in Vietnam. As well as providing some incredibly valuable advice for anyone starting out in the industry.
If you would like to purchase a licence for Corona Renderer, the easiest way is through our website. Or if you prefer, you can purchase through one of our certified resellers, for instance, Pacisoft in Vietnam.
Educational licences are also available at a significant discount for anyone studying at high school, college, or university, ect. These are only available directly through us, and additional proof of your student status may be required to complete the application.