Spotlight: Rory McLeish


Rory McLeish is a 3D artist and concept designer from Glasgow, now based and working in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

A couple of years ago Rory moved back to the UK after spending 5 years in Los Angeles working in the visual effects industry, and is now in the process of establishing himself as a digital concept artist and 3D creature/character designer here in the UK. 

We spent some time with him discussing rock music, Star Trek and living forever!




Describe your work in one sentence.

I design and create creatures, characters and vehicles using a combination of traditional 2D rendering techniques and modern 3D software.


What's the most important thing you've learnt in your line of work?
Not to get too attached to what I'm asked to produce. Inevitably it will change, sometimes quite radically.


What attracted you to your chosen field?
Having drawn monsters and spaceships since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I think it was unavoidable that I'd try to end up creating them for a living.


Tell us about your best project to date.
Working with a designer called John Eaves on ‘Star Trek Nemesis'. He was the main Trek concept artist who designed the Scimitar, a huge black starship I modelled digitally for the movie. As well as being a lovely guy, John let me design some key elements of the Scimitar, and working on the movie as a whole was just a fantastic experience.


What do you think sets you apart?
Versatility, I think. Many production concept designers concentrate either on creatures or on vehicles/environments, and I like to think I could handle almost anything a director might throw at me, design-wise.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I've played rock guitar for about 30 years, and some of my splendid riffs can be heard on a few computer games and a handful of music CDs.

If you could work on any project for any company/organisation, what would it be and who would it be for?
Any movie project directed by James Cameron. I've missed the boat on ‘Avatar', but I'm betting there's going to be a sequel (or two?), so James, if you happen to be reading this, check out my website!

Who inspires you and why?
People who excel at what they do, be it in art or music. I particularly rate certain directors like James Cameron, Peter Jackson, David Lynch and Ridley Scott. I once identified a Ridley Scott movie 5 minutes in without knowing he directed it. I think it's all about attention to detail.


What's your favourite bit of kit?
These days, it's a 3D software programme called Modo. Great user interface, fantastic toolsets for digital modelling, sculpting and texture painting, and it has the best render engine on the market for the price (in my humble opinion).

What frustrates you the most about your job?
The fact that (movie, TV, games) production concept design is such a small and very specific arena. It really is not what you can do, although good work will stand out, but much more who you know. I still don't have enough contacts in the UK yet, but I'm working on it.

What pearl of wisdom can you offer to someone thinking about starting out in your industry?
Don't try to please everyone, because you can't. Focus on what interests you and aim to get the best possible portfolio together in that area. And make sure you can draw!


If you could have ONE super power, what would it be?
Immortality. I'm really interested to see how we'll look 500 or 1000 years in the future.

What do you like about Creativepool?
It's great to check out the work of other artists and creatives, and the site generally is pretty cool and easy to get around.

What's your favourite song of all time?
It's between ‘Message in a Bottle' and ‘Every Breath You Take' by The Police. Oddly enough, both songs use the same chord shape but in different sequences.

And finally, what can a prospective customer expect from you?
Versatility, flexibility, top quality artwork and a good working relationship.





More Features



This new wave of brand purpose isn’t a pandemic fad

We’ve seen brands rise and fall during the last decade, but never as fast as in 2020. A correct approach to brand purpose could make or break a brand in the last year-and-something, and those regarding brand purpose as a shiny checkbox for...

Posted by: Antonino Lupo


You don’t need the big budget to embrace purpose

Early last year, Unilever doubled down on brand purpose and argued that investing more in purposeful communications is the smart thing to do for any brand. That was January 2020, and since then, a global pandemic has proven Unilever quite right, with...

Posted by: Antonino Lupo