I have tested for you: the lockdown.

17 Jun. 2020
Christophe Bicchierai Consultant - Rendering expert
Christophe Bicchierai

I decided to take advantage of the decrease of activity caused by the lockdown to tidy up my assets, train myself and rethink part of my workflow. It’s also important to think about how we are going to work “afterwards”, as part of clients will keep on working from home for a period of time.


Our job changes fast and training is a key to success. I usually train when a question rises during the preparation phase of a project or when I see awesome images created by colleagues and wonder how they were made. During the lockdown, several platforms offered free courses. Software publishers also seized this opportunity to broadcast more webinars. Just out of curiosity, for pleasure or to refresh my knowledge, I watched over 50 hours of training. The ones I found most interesting were provided by Guerilla Renderer and Johannes Lindqvist.  

Johannes Lindqvist Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQZI8x6BiGomx5XvclA9aA

Johannes Lindqvist Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/vizguru

Guerilla Render Youtube Tutorials


Spring cleaning

Hard drives are like garages: you pile up things, you store stuff that might be of help someday… and you end up with not clearly or even unidentified objects, a large majority of which will never be used. Great textures and 3D models are available for a few years. There is no more need to keep old 512 pixel textures and cars from last century: all this goes to trash! I freed up gigas of space and I have a much better visibility of my files.

Among survivors:


New software

I needed a software to help me create my reference boards. I was a bit old school and used the good old “copy and paste in Photoshop” technique. And then I remembered PureRef which enables to create and set up a board of images just by dragging and dropping them. How come I did not use it earlier? No idea… You have to get used to the keyboard shortcuts but I couldn’t do without it now.


I also found a few discounts during the lockdown. I seized this opportunity to buy Affinity Photo. I would like to test it for post-production on 32 bits files to see its added-value compared with Photoshop.

I also cleaned up my workflow in 3ds max. I already used Substance painter / designer in my set and I added Quixel. The connection plugin works fine and their library brings materials, maps and 3D models that are complementary to the ones I have in Substance Source.

Here’s a quick tutorial to connect Quixel to 3dsmax 2021 > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz-TzWYK-gE&feature=emb_logo

I took the opportunity of the clean up to install Design Connected to manage my assets library. It’s when I watched the video by Johannes Lindqvist that I realized that I really missed a tool that could boost my productivity. I had already tested it but I thought I had to have a ready-to-use library of assets and not a big empty box.

Files exchange

I have had my routine for a few years regarding files exchange. I use a cloud service (in my case it’s Google One - 100 Go / 1.99 euros per month) with a shared file for each project. There are other providers like DropBox or Microsoft OneDrive. I also use other services like wetransfer.com or fromsmash.com occasionally.

I admit I am quite tempted by an alternative solution: using my NAS. I have a Synology NAS and there is a dedicated suite for exchange and collaboration. I face a crucial question that a lot of companies have raised during the lockdown: security. To what extent opening the access to your NAS –with a very common and famous system like Synology- represents an unnecessary risk exposure?


Customer care

The lockdown did not really make any difference in my relations with my clients. It’s usually based on a phone call and a screen share. I could imagine new online solutions for my regular and geek clients, like wipster, filestage or frame.io that enable to add a comment directly on an image or a video.

I also use an activity tracker to quantify my working time. But mine only detects the use of a software, not the name of the files.


Working with other free-lancers on mutual projects

The lockdown did not really affect my way of working in this area either. It is a full-functioning method: I share files on Google Drive, open a Slack or Discord channel, regular meet-up on Skype or any videoconference tool. I would say that the main issue is to agree, from the start, on a nomenclature for the names and the tree of the files or it’s a mess pretty quickly. It’s the very first document we create and keep it at the root of our project’s file. Sometimes I make a mistake when I render a sequence of images. In that case I use Bulk Rename Utility to rename several files at once.


I had the opportunity to work on pretty big projects and if you are stringent, it’s pretty smooth providing you have an Internet connection good enough to share files quickly.

I know there are a few full-web platforms to create a virtual studio composed by several remote graphic designers but so far, I don’t have the impression this concept has been adopted by a large majority of free-lancers.