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Gameov3rUK

Do I need a 3D model artist and illustrator / artist?

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Gameov3rUK    104

Hi all,

 

I am a passionate gamer and now I have got to a stage of my life that I want try it for myself, after being inspired by many of you, watching movies like "The Indie Game The Movie", "Halo - The Sprint" and seeing how the world has evolved I feel more motivated.

 

Instead of doing the conventional Indie way and programming for myself, I am hiring a programmer to work on Unity to develop my project, however, I am on a budget.

 

What I understand is that I need a 3D model artist if I am to make 3D games, but as a rule of thumb, do I need a sketch for what I want on conventional paper first? Doing the old school way?

 

Watching something like "Halo - The Sprint" they had teams, Art and 3D. Now, normally, is a person who uses 3D software less likely to be artistic / creative in illustration? Remember, I am on a budget, I understand that maybe the top $70,000 3D guys would be able to draw me something nice, but if I had lets say $500 a month spare, should I spend 300 of that on a 3D model artist and the rest to get my artwork done by an illustrator so the 3D model artist can use that design? I am going on the fact that a 3D model artist said to me that he would prefer a full illustration of what I want before he produces it. Of course, because I am new to this, I didn't know if what he is saying is the norm.

 

My last question is, and this the only thing I can't really find is how does art on paper get to a 3D model? Am I correct that someone has to draw something on a graphics tablet so the 3D model artist then can manipulate what he / she needs?

 

Thank you in advanced, and for all that are starting out, good luck, and the ladies and gents that are continually making our industry great we appreciate you and let's make 2015 even better!

 

Regards

 

Gameover

Edited by Gameov3rUK

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ItamarReiner    1695

I believe you should be able to find someone who can model and draw.

In fact, I think that may be even more prevalent than people who insist on doing only one aspect, from what I've seen at art school and through my friends who work in the industry as these skills support each other.

 

On a budget such as yours you can't afford a big promotion campaign, so you don't need an illustrator for promotional material.

You don't need a storyboard artist since you probably won't do mo-cap and have big elaborate cut scenes.

Your style might not be as fleshed out and cohesive as a AAA title, but that's to be expected, and it doesn't necessarily mean your game won't have a certain appeal.

 

If you can do a sketch, even a rough one, to give an idea of what your vision looks like, it could only help. A decent artist could then refine the idea for your approval, and move on from there.

 

Once the drawing is done, you don't need to manipulate it any further. Some modelers could work from a single illustration, filling in unseen details using their imagination.

Others might prefer orthographic (side, top, front) views of their subject, which they will set up in the 3D space to work on. These can be scanned in from paper.

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Ashaman73    13715


if I had lets say $500 a month spare

I will be honest, for this budget you should not try to hire someone. I know people who try this low-budget approach and got very frustrated about the resulting quality and the time it took to produce even that. It is quite common to underestimate the effort you need to put into coding, modeling, painting etc.

 

With $500 a month you can buy some useful models (turbosquid, 3drt,...), I would do research some research in this direction.

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Gian-Reto    7070

+1 to Ashamans answer.

 

It is very likely you are extremly underestimating the amount of work and time spent on even some medium complex 3D models. Trust me, to get a feeling for this I started 3D modelling myself, and I got completly burned by the amount of time a complex object takes to build and finish, if you expect reasonable quality.

 

So you first question should be: what is the complexity / quality I need? How can I compromise to bring complexity / needed quality down without making my project look cheap?

 

Can you get lots of good models for 500$ or even do them yourself, if you go for a Minecraft like look? Yes, without much problems. There are even specialized programs to achieve that now.

 

You most probably will not get a single model done for 500$ if you expect state of the art, high poly work with high resolution textures. That character you played in latest-AAA-Thirdpersonview-adventure-shooter most probably took multiple persons months to complete, if you calculate 3D Modelling (3D Artist), Retopo and Rigging (3D Artist, might be a different one than the sculptor), Texture work (Texture Artist), Animations (animator, maybe MoCap with actors), special effects (often also a different specialist), sound effects and voice acting, and so on....

 

You might find a person that might be able to produce something that comes close himself (without sounds and so on of course)... bet that such a talented person is aware of his skills and will not come cheap though, and he still will spend many weeks and months working on your character.

 

 

If you are on a low budget, there are only 3 ways to go: lower your expectations until they can be completed in the short artist time you low budget might buy you (500$ might equate to a single work week for a single artist per month, if you go to a low wage country. Depending on how well you negotiate, more or less is possible).... 

Just do it yourself. Learn to 3D Model, and start creating your own art. Expect a steep learning curve though...

Or do what Ashaman recommends: get stock art. It might not all fit perfectly together, and your game might "lack that unique art style"... but you will get a lot stock art for 500$...

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Gameov3rUK    104

Hi guys,

 

Firstly sorry for the delay in replying back and secondly, thank you for your replies.

 

There are a very good points here about illustration, budgets and DIY. Firstly for me, I know my skill sets, I am no programmer and I can't give 100% of my time by giving up my day job. My strategy is to hire a couple of people either being 2 programmers or 1 programmer and one 3D model artist and make mistakes. Sounds strange, but I want to learn by looking from the outside in. I have an understanding what weakness my team and I have, but unless we make those mistakes I can't learn.

 

My thinking is that I rather have someone who is experienced in Java, C#, 3D Max, 3D Maya etc etc instead of myself starting from scratch. To get to the level of one of my programmers it would take me 12 months solid training, 24 month if I were to do it full time.

 

The toss up is between me not having a job and learning a new skill or investing in two people to make mistakes and build a strong team year on year after improving.

 

I still believe that the average paper artist is more creative than the 3D artist because of the hours it takes creating a project on a PC, but there are probably many 3D guys that are also good on paper, but I am not sure I can find the budget of those people.

 

Thanks

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Gian-Reto    7070

Okay, you make some good points, but I am not sure your conclusions are solid.

 

First, as a little Intro into why I can relate 100% to your current situation: I am a business programmer who is doing game dev as a very time consuming hobby... I switched to working 80% especially to get more time to work on this hobby. I get a good salary, so I was able to take the pay cut without loosing too much pocket money, so to speak.

 

Now, I am entering the 6th year of working on my game dev skills as a hobbyist, and the 4th year of working 80%... I think I learned a lot, but I am still far from the skillset of the fulltime pros. In my defence, I DID try to learn everything myself (programming, 3D modelling, 2D Graphics, Sound design), but seeing how I did bring some skills in both programming and arts to the table, it is safe to say you can expect many years of learning, not months, to be able to create anything professional in game dev, more so if you are only working part time (or moonlighting) on it.

 

 

So make that 6 years instead of 12 months solid training for solid skills if you aim too high with your expectations!

 

 

Then hiring a team: this might sound lilke a good idea, no need to get training and all, just start. You are wrong on many fronts if you don't bring the needed cash AND expierience to the table. Here my thoughts on it:

1) a single dev paid full time is expensive! Here in switzerland such a dev would expect 70k$+ a year. I understand that in the US salarys are MUCH lower, but 40-50k$ a year would be minimum you could go with. That makes a team of even 2 about 100k$ per year, without the additional expenses for hardware, software, and office space.

Can you go cheaper with inexpierienced devs? Yes of course... but the quality of their work will be just as much lower as the pay they expect... you do get what you pay for.

2) Working with freelancers might be a better choice... but you will pay more now per finished piece to cover their overhead expenses. Additionally, you need to find freelancers who a) are free for work, b) can do the work in the time and quality and style you expect it to be done, c) are ready to work for a completly inexpierienced client (which most likely will not know what he wants, wills most probably not be happy with what he gets, and might not have the needed funds to make this a longtime contract).

Again, you get what you pay for here.

3) Somebody still needs to to the management part, marketing, design, and so on. If you are not already an expierienced Project Lead / Team lead, most probably you also need to learn to fill this role. Outsourcing this might be possible, but is even harder to pull off than the others.

 

 

Personally, I would do the following:

1) get a rudimentary skillset myself. Either programming, or art. See that you can pull off something (a baisc game prototype with placeholder art, or awesome concept drawings) that you can use to hook other people to your project. Make no mistake, that is not exactly easy as most hobbysts most probably are busy with their own ideas. So yes, you need to provide a really good idea to have a slim chance to get others onboard, and prove that you can follow through with your idea by laying the ground work, be it programming or art, yourself.

If you cannot spare the free time or have the patience to teach you a basic game dev skill, get into project management, and see how you can amass the needed funds to outsource everything.

2)  Make a VERY good plan what exactly you need. Every asset produced and not needed in the final game might cost you thousands of $ because of all the work involved, so plan wisely. Make compromises wherever you can. Do you really need multiplayer? Does the game really need to be 3D? Do you really need animated characters in the game?

On the other hand, plan for unplanned expenses. Games can go way oer budget quickly because the basic game design might prove to be just not fun, and a complete redesign late in the development might be needed to salvage the project.

 

 

If you happen to be rich, or happen to find an investor that believes enough in your vision to give you the big bucks, creating your own team or hiring freelancers can be a good idea. You still need an expierienced project lead, somebody that needs to make tough art, technological and most of all business decisions. If you do not have this skillset and do not want to learn to fill this role, add another team member (or pay one of your team members more to additionally fill this role).

 

If cannot spare the 100k$+ a year for even a team of 2 inexpieirenced devs, just drop the idea.

 

 

On your idea of "learning from the pros while they create my game":

Forget that.

1) For one, to even basically understand half of what they are doing, you need an extremly deep understanding of game development yourself. Sit next to a 3D Modeller for an hour and try to understand how he creates his models. Even if he shares all his knowledge, chances are a) UV Mapping means nothing to you, b) You cannot tell the difference between faces, edge and vertices, c) how exactly face and vertex normals are different, and why that matter is beyond you.... I could go on for hours, but I think I made my point.

2) Professionals know what they are worth. And they know their knowledge is what makes them worth so much. You will always find pros quite willing to give novices advices and write tutorials for free, but on the other hand, they could sell this knowledge for real money in a book...

3) Your guys would be slowed down in their progress when you sit next to them... not only because they had to literally explain everything to you, but also because having somebody stare over your shoulder while you work is not really the relaxing atmosphere that makes you work faster.

4) Do you want to hire poeple that are good at creating stuff, or at teaching stuff? Not many people are good at both.

 

 

If you want to learn game dev, you should do that before paying others to make your game, and with a good tutorial or book. This way you would have a better idea how to approach your future project, and no matter if you happen to work yourself on the project or not, you will be able to better communicate to the guys building your game.

 

 

Dude, it is your money and time. Still, I strongly advise you to first learn a little bit more about game development before you start planning your project, and come up with a very solid plan before you even think about hiring people or doing outsourcing.

Really, at your current stage you should only think about prototyping, or even better learning the needed skills to create a prototype. To come back ontopic, this prototype can be built with stock art or even placeholder art (colored cubes and spheres) for that matter.

 

You are trying to run before you can even crawl.

 

 

I will not even try to go into the "X is better than Y" land you entered with your last paragraph. Having dabbled in both 2D Graphics and 3D modelling, I wouldn't want to make a call at what is more challenging to do.

Does 2D Art need more in traditional art skill because of the whole "3D projection unto a 2D medium", and if you go to analog paper drawing (which is something even a lot of the pros are not doing anymore), the whole "no unlimited undos for you" stuff? Yes, I guess so....

But on the other hand, most 3D Muggles cannot appreciate the incredible amount of steps, different texture maps, and sheer time it takes to create a more complex 3D model. Not everything can created with a 3DS Max script, or can be 'shopped together in minutes! And even if, if you need to 'shop 100 input maps, that is still a lot of time!

 

In the end, it is 2 different skillsets, neither of which needs less skill or creativity to create something in.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Volnaiskra    159

A good rule of thumb for figuring out how long a project will take:

  1. Figure out how long the project will take
  2. Multiply that by ?

 

I personally like your approach of hiring some experienced people and getting them to do the heavy lifting, though I think Gian-Reto makes some good points about the risks. But making a financial commitment this way, while risky, is also likely to make you lift your game and motivate you to learn fast. Which you wouldn't get if you were just doodling on something in your spare time. 

 

If I were you though I'd try and really hone in on one area and make that my own. What do you ultimately want to be? A level designer? A writer? A Producer? A game programmer? 

 

I also think buying readymade assets wherever possible is a good idea. It'll be quicker, cheaper, and quite possibly better quality than what you'd get otherwise. At the very least, buy some cheap models to use as placeholders. You really shouldn't be doing anything resembling finished art until the game engine and gameplay systems are well under way. Otherwise, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money redoing stuff when things don't go quite as planned and new problems/ideas/features/requirements pop up.

 

To answer your initial question: yes, you'll need concepts on paper. Ideally, you'll want the concepts drawn by someone who understands 3D modelling and lighting, and its inherent strengths and limitations.

Edited by Volnaiskra

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riuthamus    8365


Watching something like "Halo - The Sprint" they had teams, Art and 3D. Now, normally, is a person who uses 3D software less likely to be artistic / creative in illustration? Remember, I am on a budget, I understand that maybe the top $70,000 3D guys would be able to draw me something nice, but if I had lets say $500 a month spare, should I spend 300 of that on a 3D model artist and the rest to get my artwork done by an illustrator so the 3D model artist can use that design? I am going on the fact that a 3D model artist said to me that he would prefer a full illustration of what I want before he produces it. Of course, because I am new to this, I didn't know if what he is saying is the norm.

 

Many people are willing to do work for indies. The lowball going rate is 30$ an hour for work. Anything lower and I would seriously be questioning who is doing the art for you and why they are even charging. You can find some artists who are trying to make a name for themselves who will give you big discounts so that is possible too. All in all if you want to spend 300 a month on assets you could get 1 - 5 assets fully textured and possibly animated (depending on dificulty and level of skill needed to complete). As Asha alread stated look for some 3d assets on stores and see if those will work for you for now.

 


If you can do a sketch, even a rough one, to give an idea of what your vision looks like, it could only help. A decent artist could then refine the idea for your approval, and move on from there.

 

A talented 3d artists doesnt need a concept sketch. Keep in mind that talent does not mean they wont use one. In fact it is common practice to use a sketch of some type. Normally this is because you want to make the model the right way the first time. If you have the artist go from their own mind they will add their own touch which could be expensive for you since they would have to redo portions. If you have a sketch already that you like and you bring to them now you have saved them time and yourself money.

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