Here are a few excepts from talks I've given at various Academies and Universities. I thought it might be handy for anyone trying to get their foot in the door.
It's mostly character based but some of the tips will apply to environment artists too.
Some of the slides are self explanatory but I will give short blurbs for anything I want to expand upon.
Hope it helps. Enjoy!
When I first started out, I wanted to do everything. I eventually settled on characters because I found them more fun to do. However the skills I learned as a modeller stand me in good stead today if I need to jump on anything non-character related.
It's okay if you don't know what kind of artist you want to be when you start out. The easiest way I knew what I liked was realizing how frequently I swore at my computer when i was doing something I didn't like... so I did the other thing! 😃
"Why isn't Blender on the list??" Well, since these talks were given, Blender has emerged as a very useful asset in a lot of studios. Whilst it may not be prevalent in a lot already existing pipelines, it is being used by a growing number of artists and studios daily.
It's good to try different programs, there will be times you'll work on a project that require you to use modelling software you don't use regularly, and basic fundamentals in that program will be an advantage.
I've used Max and Maya. I prefer the latter. Don't @ me. 😅
Always use reference. Unless you've seen everything ever and have a photographic memory, you need to get your reference and inspiration from somewhere. No, it's not stealing.
Anatomy above everything. Study it, learn it, even in stylized characters, it's essential.
*Constructive feedback. "It doesn't look right to me!" isn't feedback. How can you make it better? With lighting? Better form? Fewer details?
That's the kind of feedback that actually helps if you're receiving or giving feedback.
I started with a sphere, blocked out the major forms before going into secondary and tertiary details. If it doesn't look good from afar, it won't look good up close! I only had one view so I had to look up baby elephant ref to finish the model. And this is why reference is important!
You can find the game res model with topology and a turnaround HERE if you want a closer look.
Keep it simple, stupid. Art directors don't have the time to wait through fancy flash animations. If you want to work in games, you'll need more than Zbrush busts. Show some topology. Pose you character models please!
As a personal thing, I never have WIPs in my portfolio. I leave them in the blog.
You'd be surprised how many people don't know about the company they are applying for. Read up, ask relevant questions. You're interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.
The turtle Ice Age dude on the left was actually on my portfolio years ago. I thought it was awesome at the time! As you evolve, remove the old junk and replace it with the new goodness, you're only as strong as your weakest piece.
Don't stick realistic work in your portfolio if you want to work in a studio that does stylized work, and vice versa. Include the work you like to do, not the work you think will get you work, otherwise you won't enjoy yourself when you land your job.
If you're asked "will you be willing to use *software you've never used?*" The answer is yes. Always yes. That thing you never used before will come in handy one day in another company on another project. Trust me.
Smile. First impressions count.
Being the hardest worker doesn't mean being the last one to leave, it means "do the work"
Study, apply knowledge, ask questions, show enthusiasm for the job you say you love.
Keep learning new stuff. I know people who lost their jobs because they didn't want to make the shift over to Substance and were happy to keep using Photoshop for texture authoring.
Professionalism isn't limited to being on time, it also applies to how you speak to your colleagues... And you there, wear some deodourant!
Mental health is as important as physical health and I can't tell you how much exercise has helped me. We spend so much time in front of the computer, it's important to get out and do something physical. Walk, run, dance, ride, lift. Whatever, you'll feel great afterwards, thus helping your mental health!
We make stuff people want to play with, watch, experience. It's a great job. Have some fun with it.
There will be ups and downs but hopefully mostly ups!
Go forth and crush it!