the luckiest thing to happen to me: getting experience in being a game artist

I’ve been told hundreds of times to start a blog. By my family, friends, even my friend’s family and I decided to finally sit down and do it. Even though at 5 foot I look like I wouldn’t harm a fly, I probably have the temper of a 6 foot bald head cockney bloke (a.k.a my dad). I love to rant about issues that are close to me, I love trying to see other people’s point of views and I love to learn stuff that can help me be a more open-minded person. At first I was like – FINALLY, I can use this blog to rant my feelings to the world!! However comparing an open public blog to my facebook statuses, you have to be a lot more sensible when you have a wider audience so instead of making a status like “F***ing homophobes, why the hell can’t people just open their mind and accept that there are tons of sexualities” etc etc, I can at least, try to, professionally write about stuff that I want to share! Minus emojis too!

To introduce myself, I thought I’d write about my career – if that’s what you’d call it. Since I am still young I’m still in denial that I am a legal adult and that I have things like ‘careers’ and ‘wages’ and ‘responsibilities’. Ugh. At least I can legally drink. I guess that and adult responsibilities come hand in hand.

I’m a game artist! … in training.

Whenever I tell people this I tend to get the reaction of either disbelief and completely dismiss it by “oh that’s nice!” or “oh what like computer games? So you design characters for them and draw the concept art?”. I could go on to explain that I mostly have to make concepts of characters that game designers have created in a document, then I am given a role of either 3D modelling or textures and I have to use different software to create each thing. Their faces seem to go blank when I bring up the word ‘UV’s’.

I don’t think I could say I am ‘in the industry’, as what I do is in an apprenticeship – the qualification only says Creative Media. That could mean a lot of things. But I have worked in projects before and over the course of one year I’ve learnt to make game art assets in 3D. Something I’d never imagine myself doing unless I somehow won the lottery and moved to America and did tons of internships for game studios. Or University, but considering that I live in the UK, I’m not sure if I’m ready to deal with debt. But I would consider myself extremely bloody lucky!!

It seemed a lot easier to learn than people would imagine, when I started following Indie Game Studios and artists on Twitter for inspiration, I was impressed to learn some people literally self-teach themselves these things and they can produce work that I’d expect to see in big name games like Bioshock or Borderlands.

So here  is my advice to anyone who is interested in learning game art, first of all:

Download Blender! – I use Autodesk Maya at my work which is an industry known software, however to get it at home requires a license and a hell of a lot of money. A student trying to teach themselves some simple 3D modelling would definitely not have money for it. Some Universities may be able to help you get a Free Student Trial for 3 years though! BUT Blender is a free 3D modelling software – no fees, no trials. It has a very similar UI to Maya and once you get the hang of it, it can work almost as well as Maya! I have yet to try it myself but I have heard good things.

Search for Inspiration! Polycount is a galore of 3D and 2D art from both workers in the industry or even self-taught freelancers. It is a forum website and when searching through some of the posts you can find people posting their work in progresses of concept art, character models, environments etc! There is also some boards dedicated to helping upcoming artists set up portfolios, apply for internships or even learn other Game Industry based skills like coding and using game engines such as Unreal or Unity.

Draw and Write your ideas! – This is easier than said than done. As someone who’s studied art since GCSE, whenever I try to make myself sit down and draw I would rather do anything but. However having a notebook to scribble down ideas for models or draw concepts is always a great place to start. Whenever I have streaks of inspiration, I like to write down lists of stuff I’d like to model. I’m hugely into Environment Art, so sometimes I quite like to write down a list of every prop I could make in this potential environment! It can really get your juices flowing!

I highly recommend having a go at 3D modelling if you are interested in any kind of art. If I could go back in time and past me decided to not take this apprenticeship, I would still bug her constantly to look into youtube tutorials and download Blender. I’d also tell her to stop sleeping in until 1pm on the holidays the damn lazy bum.

Thanks for reading
Lenah x x


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