Tuesday, 16 April 2013

What does it take to get hired?

In the previous post I outlined the basic skills required to be an environment artist. Those skills as well as a strong portfolio and relevant experience are essential in getting hired.  Environment art, along with every other role in the games industry is a competitive field. Instead of asking what does it take to get hired, more important questions are:

What does it take to be a good environment artist? and How can I make myself stand out from all the other wannabe artists?

Anyone can learn the skills required to be an environment artist, but in an an ever more competitive field, standing out from the competition is a must. While researching on the topic of standing out from the other artists, a few people mentioned the relationship between modelling and texturing and how these should be viewed as an equal partnership. Texturing is just as important as the modelling process and an equal amount of time and effort needs to be spent on it. Many junior artists are guilty of pouring all of their effort into modelling and slacking on the texture work. 

I've done this... A lot.

As well as strong texture work, it is important  to show diversity. Experience creating models photo real textures and hand painted textures will make me more desirable to a potential employer. Showing strong  visual story telling and composition skills will also make work stand out.

It's important to show all of your work; finished model, wire frame, flat textures, normal maps, ambient occlusion maps, UV unwraps etc. This shows understanding and competence in creating models, someone looking at my portfolio will see that I understand how to do all of these things already and independently.

It is a good idea to show a broad range of knowledge and skills outside of those required to be a good environment artist. Showing an understanding of other areas within games design can make you more desirable  especially to a small team.

Being active on social media and blogging regularly can help to get your work out there and get noticed.

What do I need to improve on to best myself as an environment artist?

My research has shed some light into the steps i need to take in order to improve myself and make myself more attractive to an employer. Based on my research I have been able to formulate this list of goals I need to meet in order to move forward.
  • Give equal attention to both modelling and texturing when creating 3d models. This can be achieved by timing myself on how long it takes for me to complete a model and then dedicate an equal amount of time and effort to the texture sheet. Timing my work will also teach me to be more time effiecient when working, with more practice I should be able to achieve desired results within a minimal amount of time, skills which are desirable within the industry. Creating props is a good way to do this as most will not take that long to model but will help me practice both modelling and texturing.
  • Create higher poly models. The models I create are typically very low poly. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I can create models very efficiently because of this. The downside to this is that I feel that my models are lacking in detail. It is important for me to properly familiarise myself with using Mudbox and learn how to use it.
  • Start thinking about my portfolio. While I am creating work constantly for university projects, it would be beneficial for my to work on a few personal projects outside of university with a strong emphasis on quality and efficiency. 
  • Time Management. Time management is currently the weakest aspect of my work. For as long as I can remember I have been horrible at doing this. Fortunately it is a relatively easy area to develop. Creating timetables focusing my day around working is the solution, providing I stick to the timetable of course.

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