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Swimming animatedly: Interview with HairyAsHell, Adeeb Islam

Adeeb Islam (HairyAsHell). Photo: STGCC
Adeeb Islam (HairyAsHell). Photo: STGCC

You might have seen him along the Artist Alley at the Singapore Toy, Games and Comic Convention for the past few years with Lucifer’s Ladies and The Unseen Darkness on show with the name HairyAsHell displayed above his booth, but now meet the man behind the exquisite sculptures. Adeeb Islam is an animator by day for Ubisoft Singapore (working on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and a huge part of it at that, woot!), but by night he transforms (gets hairier?) into HairyAsHell, a sculptor whose works have been featured by Kotaku, and honestly, just look really good. He also teaches at the MAGES Institute of Excellence, and thanks to Ubisoft Singapore we’ve got a chance to do a quick emailer with him, so read on to see just what’s it like to be in Ubisoft, and his grand dreams for his work!

Congratulations on being a guest of honour at STGCC! When did you find out, and what was your reaction then?

Thank you. I feel fortunate to have been asked to give a talk by the school I teach at. I didn’t really expect to be a guest at first because I thought the talk would be at the school’s STGCC booth. It’s only at the end of July, I found out that I am actually invited by WDA to be part of the STGCC guest list. I was pleasantly surprised and at the same time excited for the chance to meet the many talented guests before the event.

Photo: Ubisoft
Photo: Ubisoft

What’s your current role at Ubisoft? With Assassin’s Creed 4 coming out soon, would you be able to share what part you play in it, and possibly your proudest contribution to it (or a sneak?)

I am currently an animator on Assassin’s creed IV Black Flag. I’ve been responsible in creating almost all the swimming animations for the main character for the underwater gameplay segments. It was one of my biggest and proudest contributions in my career. Not just because of the scope but also because I got to work with the underwater team and learn a lot during the process.

You already have what many would consider a dream job – working for Ubisoft. So what drove you to do sculpturing, which is what many do full-time, on the side?

I really do enjoy working at Ubisoft because of the great people and work environment. I can’t imagine working anywhere else, but I believe that no matter where you work, one should always try to hone their artistic skills and never take anything for granted. But the last thing I wanted to do after staring at the computer screen all day long is look at another one at home. I originally started out as a 3D modeller before I decided to specialize in animation and when I was a kid, I loved tearing down my Lego sets to make my favourite anime robots. Furthermore, I really enjoyed using clay to make my favourite game characters during my teen years. So it was a bit of a no-brainer to go back to fiddling with my early interest in sculpting.

It started out as a hobby at first. However, as I honed my skills, I started getting privately commissioned projects. Eventually I had a booth at STGCC for the first time 3 years ago and that’s where I had my first big break. One of the family members of the actor Ng Chin Han (The Dark Knight, Contagion) commissioned me to make a statue of him to be given as a birthday gift. From then on, commission requests kept rolling in, in fact, I am currently booked for commissions till 2015. I have considered doing it full-time but I love playing and working in games, so for now, I will be an animator by day and my alter-ego sculptor HairyAsHell by night 🙂

Photo: HairyAsHell
Photo: HairyAsHell

We’ve seen your Stamford Rabbits, but are there any more plans to produce sculpts of your work-related stuff, or is is going to be work and hobbies separate in general?

The Stamford Rabbids were something Ubisoft asked me to make for the 5 year service award. Time was short and so I decided to put my other projects on hold so I could make the deadline. For now, there are no plans to make work related sculpts but I’d be more than happy to make more Ubisoft characters if there are opportunities to do so.

What was the collaborative process working with Keatopia for The Thunderous Lightning?

The Thunderous Lightning (TTL) is the 2nd character in the series that we introduced last year with the The Unseen Darkness (TUD). The series was inspired by modern DC superheroes and Greek mythological gods. As TUD was inspired by Batman and Hades, TTL was something we knew we would eventually do as a cross between Superman and Zeus.

Photo: HairyAsHell
Photo: HairyAsHell
Usually, we start with rough design sketches to throw our ideas out on paper as we discuss the design direction. We slowly start keeping the design elements that we like and toss out the ones we think doesn’t work. Once we decide the pose for the sculpture, I start to sculpt while Keat finalizes the details of the design. As the sculpture gets finished, he works on the accompanying illustration that will be come with each statue. At STGCC, I will be showcasing the completed prototype and giving out a free copy of Keat’s artwork with every preorder. Speaking of artwork, my very talented colleague Kobe was kind enough to help paint it.

The Thunderous Lightning looks really amazing, and it looks like you’re working with lights this time round – is it a sort of challenge for you to keep increasing the difficulty?

Thanks. I hope people like the design that we did. The LEDs are more like an icing on the cake. My main goal is to make sure the sculpture is good, but yes, I do like to take on challenges and do things I’ve never done before. With every sculpture that I do, I want to push my limits so I can get better. I feel I learn a lot more and improve faster that way.

Want to know more? You can also read Tina’s interview here, check out his work on DeviantArt or like him on Facebook!


The technological backbone of, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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