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Aspiring Game Industry Artist; where do I begin?


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#1 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 04:51 PM

First of all, thanks for taking the time to read this post. I am aware that similar topics are posted all the time, and while aware of this, and having read various threads on this forum as well as many others, I must admit that there is a certain intangible assurance of receiving direct replies to you and your own personal inquiries/problems/etc.
also, I tend to be very passionate and as a result can be verbose, so bless you for your patience and understanding if you read this whole thing and take the time to reply in kind.

so, lets begin;

I am 23 years old now, I have always loved and been inspired by games and cannot see myself being satisfied or happy doing anything else for a living. this has always been on my radar growing up, but i never took it seriously; or the implications of adulthood and how important it is to actually choose, commit to, and pursue a specific career path until adulthood hit me. Most all my other hobbies and passions have somewhat dissipated, but my love for games and the inspiration they bring has never gone away, so now I really know that this is what I want to do. Thus begins the daunting quest for knowledge and skillset to land my dream career...

It actually started in late 2009-2010, where I attended DigiPen (due to family disagreements and finances, I had to leave after the first semester.. this was dream shattering to me and I've been in a sort of emotional and creative stasis since then, it has been hard to find motivation or feel like I still have any chance of achieving my dreams)
One of the problems i encountered there was not feeling as though my time and especially money would be worthwhile, even as accredited as DigiPen is; I wasn't sure their BA in game design or their BFA in production animation was going to place me exactly where i wanted ( i would prefer to do game environment, character design/modeling/again, anything you see visually in the finished product. I know i am nowhere near good enough to be a concept artist so that's not exactly on my radar)


I spent the last few years confused and hopeless. but now I have decided to go for it with everything I have left in me. unfortunately, i'm going to have to be working full time retail just to pay rent, which is going to mean less time to pursue this career I really want.

-I cannot reasonably afford school anymore, and I know the portfolio is the most important part of breaking into this industry anyways...

so, where do i begin? as far as 2d art goes, I'm pretty capable in photoshop and I create character concepts for fun in my spare time that I could really imagine being good enough to go into a game, if only I could learn to take it to that next level.

again, i am not on the level of your accomplished concept artist, and i have a natural inclination and affinity for characters, particularly in a colorful anime style. I believe, however, that the illustrations i am currently capable of are solid enough to be translated to 3d. i guess what I'm saying is that as far as the production pipeline aspect goes, i know my place. I wont be a lead concept artist, but I am a pretty good artist in my preferred style and i certainly believe I'm capable of creating 3d models and levels, environments, characters, etc.

The only thing holding me back is, well... everything. lol. I need to learn all these technical programs that i will need to land a job doing what i want to do, so I need to know what those are, and the best way of doing it.

so far I know of the following game related programs:

-Blender
-3ds Max
-Maya
-photoshop
-Unity
- UDK
-Zbrush
-Mudbox


now, I don't know how to use any of these. aside from photoshop, that is. and even to that end, I only know it to the level of sort of a passionate hobbyist. I can get my waya round it and put out images that I'm personally satisfied with, at any rate. as far as workflow is concerned, i have often heard that if the job gets done, that is what is important at the end of the day, right?

So, which of these programs should i be learning first? where do i even begin? when and how should I be approaching building my portfolio? I know i wont be on the level i need to be for a few solid years of learning on my own.

I have blender and have been reading lots about it on the wiki, and trying to follow step by step from the very basics. I wonder if I am wasting my time with blender though, and should just start with 3ds max, maya, unity, etc?
I really don't know. that's why I'm here, talking my head off in hopes that you guys can point me in the right direction.

I have also spent the also spent the last few days looking around for forums/community sites related to the industry that seem the most popular and best to me and have found:

For community:

-this site!! (gamedev.net)
-CG society
-Polycount
-DevMaster
-GameArtist
-GameArtisans

For tutorials and hands on learning:

-3dmotive
-Design3
-Digital-Tutors


Are these good,great, not so great? I know I'm going to need as much help as i can get and i figure the more people and connections I can make the better, because I'm not going to have that degree or internship quite as readily available as if I had been able to stay in DigiPen and progress through their system.


-------------------------

again, the end goal for me is to make it into the industry as an artist; that is, I have always been inspired by and more interested in pursuing the aesthetic side of game development. You know, the things you see and interact with directly on screen. While I admire and certainly respect the work that goes on underneath this, I don't believe that is the line of work for me.
So, it's taken me quite a few years to truly be able to isolate a specific role of intertest for me, but there it is; I want to do things like build environments, characters, character models, etc.

now, this isn't to say that I wouldn't like to learn the necessary coding or programming skills to be able to make my own game concepts start to finish, but one thing I have heard repeatedly from experienced professionals is that it's important to have a focus for yourself in the industry, a specific role you could see yourself playing, so, that is my main goal.



I am scared that if I don't act now, one day soon I will wake up and I'll realize I'm 30, and working some job I despise, and my opportunity to make games for a living, the job I've dreamed about since a kid, has passed me by.
I don't want that to happen. I will try my hardest to make this a reality. what I seek now is guidance to help get me there. I want to make the most of the time and effort I'm going to be putting in to teach myself all this complicated stuff!






if i think of anything else i have to say, as I'm sure I've forgotten things, I'll be sure to let you guys know.

till then thank you so much for reading and bearing with me Posted Image

-Dan

Edited by DokujiSoul, 03 December 2012 - 05:45 PM.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18373

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:08 PM

So to summarize your long post...

I started at DigiPen, and dropped out after one semester.

Figure out why you dropped out, fix it, and get back in school.

I cannot afford school, so that is out.

That is disappointing.

In the US there are so many grants and scholarships available that most dedicated students are able to afford an education at smaller state schools. Check that option out. I've known quite a few people who said they couldn't afford school, even a few who were single parents, who later went through a 2-year or 4-year program successfully.

not interested in animation any more, not interested in art any more.

So what are you interested in? Fixing cars? Illustrating children's books?

Figure out your passion.

have to work to pay rent.

That is real life. No sympathy there. Many people, including myself, worked full-time while paying for their own housing and tuition. Grow up.

So, it's taken me quite a few years to truly be able to isolate a specific role of intertest for me, but there it is; I want to do things like build environments, characters, character models, etc.

Most companies are only interested in hiring passionate people. There are many applicants who are completely thrilled to work as artists or animators or modelers. It is their passion.

It doesn't sound like you share that passion.

You need to find your passion.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:21 PM

Posted Image I'm not sure that was warranted at all, given that you're clearly misinterpreting what I'm saying...
I had to drop out due to personal, family and financial issues. the funding and circumstances that allowed it initially soon deteriorated. I put forth a lot of effort and did all the work, i didn't just stop going because i lost passion or interest.
it isn't really easy or practical to accumulate 100k in debt to go to school, when I have heard from countless sources that the school and degree is hardly important and that the skillset and portfolio is the key.

i didnt say i "wasn't interested in animation or art"... in fact quite the opposite, the entire thesis of this post was that I still am very passionately interested, and am now realizing I am going to have to do this a different way than I thought..
If you don't care to read my post entirely or understand it, thats fine, but why bother responding to something you aren't reading?

my passion is games. I want to create them. I want to have a part in it. I specifically have said that the visual aspect interests me the most. this is my passion.
I was not asking for sympathy from you or anyone else, just stating that is my circumstance. you really don't need to be so rude with tactless comments about my maturity level :/



I was hoping for a much more thoughtful and kind welcome here Posted Image

Edited by DokujiSoul, 03 December 2012 - 05:56 PM.


#4 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:27 PM

As I said, I can be verbose because I have a lot to say, because this is personal and passionate to me...
the meat and potatoes of what I'm asking for with this thread is:

which programs should a complete beginner like myself be learning and in what order? where/how to go about it in the best way?

all the rest was just an intro/backstory of myself because i find perspective is important when giving and receiving advice..

Edited by DokujiSoul, 03 December 2012 - 05:55 PM.


#5 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18373

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:12 PM

That looks VERY different from what was posted in the first topic.

which programs should a complete beginner like myself be learning and in what order? where/how to go about it in the best way? ... I want to do things like build environments, characters, character models, etc.


Both Maya and 3D Studio Max. Most studios use Maya, some cannot afford it and use Max. There is a free student/learning edition.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#6 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:20 PM

^^ well, i havent changed in the 30 minutes or so since then, so lets chalk it up to my verbosity and a miscommunication? the whole reason I am reaching out and networking is because I am passionate about this and I am set on pursuing it. the setbacks I have had in the past certainly broke my spirits, but I keep coming back to the same place, and this is only further assurance to myself that this is the career that I want and need to pursue. I cannot see myself being happy any other way.


so, as I mentioned, I had heard that blender was a good "starter" program, but you would recommend I forgo it and start out with 3ds and maya?

#7 BMO   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

Reading over your post I think we can distill it to:

the end goal for me is to make it into the industry as an artist [...] I want to do things like build environments, characters, character models, etc.


There ya go. Clear goals will help define a clearer learning path. It's important to define clear goals so you can figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Spend some time trying to learn the industry as best you can. You could also trying breaking into a related industry and do some CAD design or something and then crossover.

I'd start with Maya or Blender and start making stuff. You can get a 36 month student license for Autodesk software:
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=14185424

Can you afford $45 a month? If so you might be interested in http://www.digitaltutors.com/

Lots of training videos covering all the technology you'd need. You would probably benefit from some traditional art courses as well.

There is also http://www.learning-maya.com/ and youtube and probably a dozen other good places you could find with a Google search.

It's better to be really good at a few tools than meh at a bunch of tools. Don't overload yourself with a bunch of extra stuff just yet.

#8 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:36 PM

^^ thanks for the reply.

As stated, i have blender because it was free and easy to obtain, as well as the fact that I had heard it was a good program to learn with before stepping up to 3ds max and maya?


I think a goal of mine, portfolio-wise, is to have a set of character models and environments that I've built, that can be playtested to show characters and run/jump cycles, animations of that nature in real time. I would think that this is a pretty good approach because it shows exactly what I can do for the very specific medium of game art.

I know I'm getting ahead of myself with that perhaps, but that's just an idea that I have in my head for the focus/direction I'm thinking of taking.
is this sound advice or no? I cannot afford much in the way of subscriptions like that at the moment, but in a few months I should be a little more stable with finances so my options will increase then.

#9 RoyP   Members   -  Reputation: 202

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:01 PM

If you're good with 2D artwork in Photoshop, start building a portfolio. Find a small project and contribute some artwork to it. Add it to your portfolio. Do it a couple of times then start looking for some freelance work. Keep working, build your portfolio, increase your experience, increase your rates, and use that to fund the next tool you need.

Roy
Northwest Arkansas Game Developer Group
Live in Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, or Rogers?

Interested in making video games and having fun?
Check us out on Meetup.

#10 BMO   Members   -  Reputation: 170

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:56 PM

You don't have to use a paid service, it's just one of many options. Blender vs Maya vs 3Ds Max I think comes down to personal preference. Blender is free though and quite powerful. I think you'd be happy with it. Check out Sintel for a movie done in Blender, it's impressive. Start with making one solid model. Go for quality over quantity. Then go from there.

#11 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:24 AM

^^ thanks :) yeah, i think i will stick with blender for now and make what i can in it. when i get the 200 dollars to spend freely I will just outright purchase 3ds max and hopefully eventually maya, but I need to prove to myself first that it's something I can do. blender looks very powerful and complicated, I'm not so sure why its viewed as a step down from the others but i suppose that is something one wouldn't understand being a beginner.


thanks for the replies, guys!

can anyone confirm that my list of sites is solid, or can tell me any other sites to join/go to for reference that I might have missed? to reiterate for posterity, my list of sites I was able to find is:

For community:
-this site!! (gamedev.net)
-CG society
-Polycount
-DevMaster
-GameArtist
-GameArtisans
For tutorials and hands on learning:
-3dmotive
-Design3
-Digital-Tutors

#12 Rakilonn   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:45 PM

For the community forum, you have them all. You can add 3DTotal and CGHub and also Dominance War which is a competition between all these forums :
http://www.dominancewar.com

Just browse them all and pick your favorite to ask questions. Oh and check the "Pimping and Previews" and "Showcase" sections of the polycount forum, you can learn/view interesting things :)

http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=87797

Shamelessly taken from a JTippetts' post :)

#13 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1052

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:02 PM

@DokujiSoul - I hope you don't get offended by how blunt this community can be, but we all have the best intentions here. The real world is harsh and as such, nearly everyone here doesn't sugar coat things. That being said, welcome!

Now, to my advise. Posted Image
  • Be more direct! Having an extensive vocabulary is one thing and communicating well is another. Future employers will appreciate understanding you over a triple word score.
  • Don't get discouraged! So you were going to one of the big name game schools and things got rough and you're not quite old enough to get student loans on your own. It sucks, I know. But in the mean time, work on your portfolio and practice. Once you're 25, you can get a student loan without your parents income factoring in, so that's the time to jump back into school. You're still young, so don't fret. But yeah, go back to school.
  • Diversify! Again, you're young! Try your hand at everything out there you can get a hold of and who knows? You might find something else that really gets your motor going.
  • Keep yourself in check! When working on your portfolio, you'll get praise and criticism. Both are good, but in my experience, I suggest you ignore the praise completely. It only helps to develop an ego and take you into directions that might not be that helpful in your journey into this industry. On the flip side, don't let harsh criticisms hold you down. They are just helpful little pointers on how to improve that are poorly communicated.
So there's my short list of where to begin...or really just advice on life or something...

Oh and don't buy 3dsMax. $200 is for a 90-Day license. A full license is $3,675. So yeah, I would avoid that route. Instead, use Blender. Its pretty easy to use and its free. And when you get back to school, just sign up for a 3 year student license. Those are free.

Hope that helps! Posted Image Good luck!

Edited by DaveTroyer, 05 December 2012 - 03:03 PM.

Check out my game blog - Dave's Game Blog


#14 DokujiSoul   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 06:45 PM

^^ lol, thanks Dave!

-no, i hold no grudges against Frob or anyone else around here, I get what you guys generally try to tell people. but I definitely think he completely misunderstood me the first go around. I am very much decided in my mind and heart that this is what I want for my life. so damnit, AVAST in the general... THAT WAYS direction, ho!!!!! *points towards the sea of game industry.

as for the clarity thing; I think part of the reason my original post was so long and perhaps hard to follow is that I have so much passion welled up inside me about this, and it becomes so frustrating not being able to deliver on it, to the point where i just end up spewing random details and spur of the moment feelings on the subject. when it comes down to actually writing an essay or verbally communicating, I can do that pretty well. Posted Image

^^ you know, as far as school is concerned; there is definitely a part of me that knows I should and would like to go back and get the education. it was a right place, wrong time sort of thing for me. I know it will be an even bigger commitment doing it all on my own, but I'm ready for that. I've kept in touch with one of my professors there, and he had some inspiring words for me as well on the subject.

The scariest part of this whole endeavor is the "am I good enough" factor. I struggled with this a lot at DigiPen, when I saw the work that some of my peers were producing while I was just barely able to keep my head above the fray and pass all the classes. In fact, this is part of the conversation I had with my former professor there, and he told me that he would never have passed me if I wasn't good enough to go on and succeed in the industry. this was really, really inspiring to me.


Diversify - Try out everything? what exactly do you mean? everything in the world, or do you mean diversify with different game related undertakings to see which really sticks with me? I hope the latter because, if it's all the same to you, I am going to ignore anything and anyone suggesting to me that I should give up my dream of working in the game industry. I can say that throughout the last few years of my life, which have been very rough, the resounding and emphatic lesson I have derived is that I cannot find happiness in anything other than being true to myself. living to please others has left me miserable. And as I was trying to explain before in my initial rant, Games have never left me. they have remained a great passion and interest to me my entire life, and I just have this inner call, this feeling I can't quantify but I know it exists, that this is what I have to do with my life.

criticism- yeah, I know. They taught us that at DigiPen too. most of what I make is crap, I'm aware of that. lol! but I also understand that through trial and error, perserverence and process, I can refine a piece into something I am proud of, and hopefully, others will be too.


oh dear, i had no idea 3ds max was that expensive Posted Image and i'm assuming Maya is even more so??

yup. blender it is for now.... >_<

Edited by DokujiSoul, 05 December 2012 - 08:54 PM.


#15 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1052

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:15 PM

@DokujiSoul - Good to hear you're going to keep going! And I won't ever tell anyone to not pursue their passions.

When I mentioned diversify, I meant to expand into every aspect of art you can think of! (And believe it or not, there is art in everything! Posted Image)

I'm an artist, too. And I have a horrible addiction to drawing on dry-erase boards and doodling cartoon-y stuff when I'm just goofing off. It takes seconds and is a great way to joke around and be social for me. Well because of that, some of my peers in school thought I was a one trick pony that wouldn't get anywhere serious. Little did they know, I have a pretty diverse past with oil and acrylic paintings on display in galleries and government offices, vector illustrations in tech industry installation guides, and water-colors in children's books and novels. I've done high and low-poly character models, animations, texturing, sprite work, environments, and concepts in my game development "career" and I don't think I would have been given a chance (or succeeded) at those aspects of game art if it weren't for my other experiences.

Now, I got my experience from trying to stay afloat when I skipped going to college after high school, but that's not to say you can't explore different aspects of art while going to school. And that's I guess what I'm trying to say. Think of art as an umbrella. Game art is under that umbrella. It's like knowing how to model a more realistic human form because you spent time working on figure studies with charcoal or how to make a better digital concept because you spent hours making marks in acrylic paint.

And another way to help support your art is by knowing more about life and the way things work. By spending time learning anatomy, you can model characters and draw concept art better. By learning physics, you can create more dynamic and believable animations.

So yeah, take in as much as you can is one piece of advise I give to every artist looking to better themselves.
It'll really help; trust me. Posted Image

Check out my game blog - Dave's Game Blog





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