Friday, 27 May 2011

Developing Tuco

For Tuco I wanted him to be an alien to try add a little bit of colour to the cast and really for my own personal sake of wanting to design an alien. I went through several design stages until I reach a design that I liked, from there I drew up a final version.

I wanted to try keep the face semi human or atleast similar so that I could convey the range of human emotions in him. The choice of colours were classic alien colours, green skin etc.

When designing the alien version of Tuco I really wanted to try keep the kind of sleezy, gringo look that Tuco had in the original film and I feel that with my design I got pretty close with my final version, all thats left to do is define his costume.

I feel that I'm progressing at a good pace with my work and that I'm at a point where I can complete the rest of the work in time for the deadline.

Final Crit

Today marks seven days until the deadline for the project, it was also the day of a final crit where I presented my work.

Overall the feed back was good and I should continue with what I was doing but some attention was brought to the proportions of my character turnaround such as the arms being too thick but overall nothing was said too much about the design itself. With that in mind I plan to go back and fix these problems. Another issue that was arose was that some of the poses I had drawn the character in didn't really portray the ideals of the character, with that in mind I plan to do some more sketches to try do some more charismatic poses for the blondie character. My use of black lines was also brought up and it's something that I plan to change in the next itteration of the character turnaround.

My way of presenting my turnaround was well received and this gives me hope for the final pieces for when they're on display. What was fairly surprising was how well received my more recent design sketches were, in all honesty I personally feel I hadn't hit my stride until I was doing these sketches and that my previous efforts were a bit stiff, looking as though I was struggling with trying to adapt the iconic character. My plan from now is to work wholly traditionally and if colour is required just scan into photoshop leaving out "inking" as a whole.

From here I plan to continue using my process with a slight modification of doing the concept art pieces with traditional tools. Overall I feel that this was a good crit and has filled me with confidence to complete this project on time.

"Blondie" Turnaround

With most of the design and conceptualising stages complete I proceeded to create a turn around for the blondie character. To the right you can see the turn around, Currently I still have to do a version with the iconic poncho.

Overall I'm happy with the result and I feel that I've got a fairly good sci-fi look with a fairly competant turnaround. This process took little over an after noon, perhaps around 6 hours. My process for completing this is by using mirroring tools in photoshop and re-using the front for the back, this is done to help cut time and keep a sense of continuity.

With this done and the sketches for the other characters nearing completion I feel I should have everything completed by wednesday evening/thursday morning, giving me enough time to catch up on any stary blog posts and complete an evaluation.

One Last Revision

After looking at my photoshop concept piece I felt there was more that I could do before reaching the final turnaround. For that purpose I put together this sketche that I feel solidifies the aspects of the design in a more concrete manner that can be used for a final turnaround.

For this design I took two main points of influence 1 being the star fighters from star wars and the sneaking suit from the metal gear solid series. I added some designs to the overall suit and really just polished off the look.

Ultimately I feel i've come to the definitive design for the blondie character, there are things missing such as the gas mask as I've decided to make a more prominant feature in the world I'm trying to create so it's ended up being the prop that I will develop.

In terms of designing I feel I've got a good system for the process of designing; starting with inital sketches, going on to a more developed concept piece, then returning to do one last revision before a final turn around. This is my general process that I've been using so far and I feel that it's working well both time wise and as a design process.

"Blondie" photoshop concept art

With the concept sketches complete I felt it was about time to create some more definitive concept sketches

To complete this piece I thought about the type of image I wanted to create, something that would translate the character's personality easily to a veiwer so I developed this pose (as seen to work with). Ironically it's very similar to many that clint eastwood has been in in his Dirty Harry series of movies.

To create the piece I first took a photo for reference of myself in that pose, the imported it into photoshop where for the purpose of speend roughly traced where the main shapes are. From there I elablourated ontop of the design adding what I had built up on.

I still feel that this concept could use some more work but at it's current stage it's a good point that collects all my design choices. Most notabley for the first time I used a texture brush, I found this a great and simple way of adding detail, I plan to look more into creating my own texture brushes so that I won't have to work with what photoshop has preloaded. Overall I'm happy with the direction that the blondie design is going in.

More "Blondie" Sketches

Here I'm just sharing more sketches I've completed of the "Blondie" character, with more sketches that get completed the more I begin to feel I'm getting to know the character and I'm approaching the concept stage sooner.

Here you can see other versions of the gas mask concept shining through as well as the use of the iconic poncho. I decided to stick with this rugged beard look personally because when I look at modern actors in films othen they're either clean shaven or have 5 o'clock shadow and this is really to try break away from that but to also draw parallels to Alec Guinness from the star wars trilogy.


Overall I'm pleased with the way the character is developing, I would definetly say I'm drawing influence from starwars as a design point but I do feel I'm building up (in my mind) a very space age bounty hunter/outdoors man type image for the blondie character. That said some sketches do turn out better than others and as I develop further I feel I'm hitting my stride when it comes to designing the character.

Developing "Blondie"

Over the last few weeks I've been trying to develop the characters of the Good the Bad and The ugly for a sci-fi genre film.

I first focused on the character of blondie, creating sketches withs initially traditional on paper such as this one. It's in these drawings that I'm still trying to figure out the details of the character. In this image we can see that blondie still has the iconic pncho, and it's this that I feel is a staple of the character that should stay through the design along with the trademark squint.

I also included a gas mask as the environment for the characters to exist in would be toxic to humans, this is really an attempt to try an replace another iconic part of the original character which is the hat. From ehere I'm going to do more sketches until I feel it's about time to do a concept piece in photoshop which will be more definitive of the final design. It's at these stages where the small changes can be critical.

Finished Storyboards

Since completing the art side of the storyboards, I then put them together in photoshop to make them a little more presentable and also add the notations of the client to help other parties understand what is supposed to happen in the shot.

I feel that just by looking at the series of images you can figure out the basic story of what's supposed to happen in the scene. Which I feel is what makes a good storyboard.

When I presented the completed storyboards to the client, he seemed incredibly pleased with the result and felt that he could use them, this to me means that I completed the project sucessfully, it also gave me the taste of working for a third party including such experiences as working with a tight deadline, overall this shows that I can not only deliever but also not crack under pressure.

Overall I created three storyboards for the client, with two reaching over three A3 pages and one lasting only two. I feel this is a substantial amount of work to complete in a short amount of time and that is also something to feel proud of, I did end up using some time cutting technique such as simplifying the characters in the scene but overall I've produced some good pieces of work, that as I stated the client was extremely pleased with which means this aspect of my brief has resulted in success.

With The storyboards complete I can now fully focus on the conceptual side of the negotiated brief, I plan to make sure this project gets completed well before the deadline.

Tools of the storyboard

When it comes to doing the storyboard I ultimately ended up using two methods of completion. One being traditionally with inks and markers, the other with computer tools such as photoshop.

When using the markers I was a little rusty but overall a little quicker, unfortunately the inks in the markers began to run out. This was the primary reason as to why I used computer tools, oddly though I felt more professional whilst using the traditional tools and the overall aesthetic look did give a more pro' look.

That said when it comes to using the digital tools, all I did was do the same work as I did with the markers but in photoshop with a digital paintbrush, the result was something more clean cut and clinical but just as effective. I feel that when it comes to using either markers or photoshop I prefer using the digital tools as it is a little more manageable than the markers and I don't have to worry about the ink running out. Currently I've completed the art for all the storyboards, all thats left is to put it together in a presentable format and send it to the client.

How I create the Storyboards

When it comes to creating these story boards for my client I set up my studio as pictured. I blue tac the storyboard drawn by the client in front of me so I can refer to it quickly and easily.

I then set up my drawing board in front of it and tape my piece of paper to the board so it doesn't move. I used my triangle to make the lines and panels for the and work using traditional methods, this is because of the sudden deadline given by the client, this allows me to work quickly and to a level of quality I feel the client will be pleased with.

When I work with my storyboards I look at the client's originals I think of how I can make that image more interesting for the viewer to see, this gives the concept a fresh look that the client can choose to use if he'd like. Overall from start to completion the process takes around 4-5 hours, currently I have one and a half of the storyboards complete.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Working with Angel Eyes

This is a picture of a concept in the progress for the Angel Eyes character. As mentioned previously I imagine him dressed smartly in something like a suit/shirt type thing. He's seen action but he makes sure he walks away from a job clean as possible. A smooth and slick talker.

Taking aspects from the original character portrayed by lee van cleef, I wanted this version to still have that recognisable look in his eyes. To help give a base in science fiction I decided that Angel Eyes would have his name derived from the fact he has cybernetic eye implants instead of eyes that give off a light piercing glow.

I'm still developing the idea and working on putting more digital pieces to gether as up until now I've been predominately working with traditional tools. I will give more updates as they come.

Working on the concepts

Over the last few weeks I've been trying to develop the three characters, firstly thinking about the archetypes, so far I've been mainly focuings on Angel Eyes and Blondie.

For the setting I settled on a exotic planet with large jungle/rainforest like locales. For this I imgained spores that were hazardous to people ergo, outside interaction would need gas masks. Ideally I want the three characters to portray a different aspect of being a gun man. Blondie will be a classic bounty hunter whom will go where ever needed for the job such as outside in the exotic jungle/rainforest and would need cover such as the iconic poncho, a constant air sanitizler (gas mask) and special equipment to deal with nature. Blondie's style I imagine as being similar to Star Wars' aesthetic

Angel Eyes is a person I imagine if he as more modernised as a hit man of sorts. Always making sure his hands are clean from the kill but enjoys the job and the life that comes with it, giving him a slight edge to make audiences think "oooh he's a bad 'un". His style I imagine being slick and calm/cool with an aesthetic similar to bladerunner. More like a suit style.

Trying to combine these aesthetic I have in mind are going to be an interesting challenge but already I'm getting flashes of how it may be possible.

Working on storyboards

Today I've been working with the third party I said I would complete a storyboard. Firstly he presented his rough storyboards for what happens in his film and explained the sequence, together we discussed possible ideas for camera angles and the way he's planning to shot.

This gave me a good idea of how he wanted his story to turn out which would allow me to create a storyboard the client would be happy with.

So far I've completed a storyboard for 1 act of the client's 4 act film. This helps as it gives me a time frame of atleast 4 hours to complete a storyboard per act, which means that I should be finished by monday which will allow the client to use these as a guide when shooting. Overall I'm confident about this aspect of the project and feel that once it's out the way I can focus on the concept art fully.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Influence Map

Whilst looking over artist's work to try spark some inspiration for my own work on this project I came across this interesting activity on deviant art.com. This influecne is basically just an image map of generally the style of an artist that inspires you and that you feel make up your style.

Over the years I've tried so many different styles but none have really worked out in the long term. Looking at this and the drawings I'm currently completing for my project I feel I'm slowly finding my style. Looking at this influence had I would definitly say I'm inspired by more cartoon-esque artists.

Hopefully this will help the direction for not only this project but future ones too.

if you wanna make your own influence map download it here!

Super hero Redesigns, Project: Rooftop

Whilst looking at my usual websites for frivolous news to entertain me for a whole 10 minutes I came across a cool article about a blog where artist post their own re-designs of established Super Heroes. Project: Rooftop collects both artists work and news about costume changes in comics, in reality it's just a fashion website for super heroes, considering the natural of my own project I thought it'd be cool to check out.

There are some really cool unique designs on the website such as this one to the right by Kris Anka for Galactus, he explains his design choices here;

"My basic idea is that he is sort of a void of power. Make him a more visual representation of the “abstract” concept. The hole in his chest is where he eats planets. Afterwards his body physically becomes whatever main element of that planet was. So if he eats a star, his body becomes fire."

Check out more of Kris Anka's design in this post on Project: Rooftop here.

Then theres these cool concepts of the Spider-Man villain Venom possessing other super heroes by James Harren. He definitely captures the contorted feeling of the symbiote in the designs here.

The website seems like a great place for people to post up their ideas and it's already getting me inspired to do some super heroes re-designs of my own

To participate in Project: Rooftop all you need to do is see the guidelines (here) and send your design in. The great thing about this website seems to be that theres prejudice against level of a skill and that pretty much anyone can join in.

Once I finish my project this is something I can see myself doing for fun at least once a week as it's a great exercise to get the creative mind thinking.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Common Requirements

When looking for a job in the a certain discipline theres bound to be a few similarities in the requirements right? Obviously bigger and more well known studios will ask from someone with a higher skill, thats already a given. I'll be looking at several different jobs including ones I've already highlighted to see the trends in what employers ask of their concept artists.

This job as a concept artist at Belgium based Soft Kinetic Studios requires that the applicant have:
  • High school (secondaire) diploma or GED required
  • AA/BA/BS (Universite) preferred, or at least demonstrate through portfolio to exceed industry standards of art
  • At least 3 years experience in game or concept development.
  • Excellent traditional drawing skills and the ability to create concept designs for 3d models and textures in various stylization levels.
  • Excellent eye for lighting, shape, balance, composition, good knowledge of human anatomy and perspective.
  • Excellent knowledge of Photoshop and/or any similar package.
  • English/French is a must (verbally and written)
  • Passion for creating and playing video games.
  • Any experience with a 3D package a plus.
  • Proficient use of Photoshop, Ilustrator
  • Good communication, able to working in a team environment.
  • Creative, pro-active, continuously bringing new ideas and creativity to the team.
This job at UK based Media Molecule requires that artists have:
  • Show reel demonstrating how great you really are!
  • Proven ability to produce top notch work as an experienced artist (or equivalent role), on at least two shipped preferably console games
  • A strong technical background using 3dsMax, Photoshop skills, After Effects
  • A strong understanding of advanced modelling and texturing techniques and their applications to games.
  • Proficient in traditional art
  • Knowledge and understanding of the history/trends of art and design
  • Strong team player
  • Strong communicator

Then there's this job for US based game developer Amiqus:

  • Undergraduate degree, or distinguished college coursework in relevant fields, or proven portfolio of industry experience Minimum five years experience in Game Industry
  • Minimum two game titles completed, one title as a Lead Artist
  • Expertise in Adobe Photoshop
  • Expertise in 3D Software
  • Combination 2D/3D skills
  • Strong next gen character tech knowledge
  • Strong anatomy and sculpting skills
  • Understanding of all technical aspects and requirements of game creation
  • Strong abilities in character lighting, texturing, colour concept comps, and photorealistic rendering methods
  • Good people management skills and experience managing a large team of artists.
  • Has a positive attitude, collaborates and communicates effectively with others

Looking at Weta

Looking at Jobs in Lucas Film

Whilst on the Lucas Film website I looked to see what jobs they have that I thought would appeal to me, first of all they have a fairly easy system of just searching for keywords. Since my desired profession is to be a conceptual artist I simply put in "ART" when the opening for a "Concept Designer (Feature)".

The job is in California and the role is to "Work closely with the Art Director to design the characters and environments to be used in a CG animated feature film."

As mentioned in the previous post Lucasflm has several subsidiaries, this job will be taking place in Lucasfilm Animation. The tasks that I would be required to complete would be:

  • Create designs for characters, vehicles, environments, and props
  • Create orthographics and additional materials as needed to fully convey design to digital departments.
  • Completes work within the bid timeframe, while maintaining constant communication with production team.
This is slightly coincidental as it's very similar to my negotiated project that I'm in the process of completing, which means that before looking for this job I was aware of the roles of a concept designer.

Along with this the job mentions it comes with Benefits, I decided to research this by looking for the definition of this on the website:

Benefits

Working at Lucasfilm has a lot to offer: A fun work environment. A competitive salary. Great career opportunities. Plus, our U.S. employees enjoy a comprehensive benefits package* that includes:
  • Medical, dental, disability and life insurance
  • Vision plan
  • 401k
  • Flex spending
  • Commuter benefit
  • Adoption assistance
*Specific benefit details will be attached to our offer letter. Our Singapore studio offers different benefits that will be discussed during the interview process.

Lucasfilm also provides benefits that will change your concept of what "going to work" means.

Beautiful, Natural Work Locations

The Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC), located in the historic Presidio of San Francisco, is just steps away from Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock Ranch campuses are located on thousands of acres of pristine, undeveloped land in Marin County, north of San Francisco. All three campuses provide a positive and creative environment for Lucasfilm employees.

On-Campus Meals

Fresh and healthy food is served daily in the Dining Commons at all of our US locations. The menus range from sushi to sandwiches — and everything in between. Some of the food is actually grown at Skywalker Ranch and certified organic. We subsidize the cost of meals for our staff, making them convenient, healthy and affordable.

Fitness Center

We believe strongly in staying healthy, and want to make it easy for our employees to do so. There are subsidized fitness centers at each Lucasfilm campus, some with on-site trainers and aerobics programs.

On-Site Childcare

At LDAC, on-site childcare services are available for parents with children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years old. Working parents can see their children on their lunch hour and pick them up as soon as the work day is through. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Company Store

Both LDAC and Skywalker Ranch feature Lucasfilm company stores full of products that you can buy — everything from Star Wars figures to hip-looking baseball caps and T-shirts, all at a substantial discount for employees. So, if you need that lightsaber for any reason...

Free Movies

Free first-run movies are screened weekly for all Lucasfilm employees and a guest of their choice. Catch them at one of four Marin County theatres on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

George's Art Gallery

If you like vintage film posters, you'll love working here. Vintage movie posters are displayed throughout all the buildings at LDAC, Big Rock and Skywalker Ranch. This collection of international and original Hollywood one-sheets is one of a kind.

Sports

We're into team-building here. You might be surprised at just how many employees take part in after-work athletic activities. Soccer, softball and bowling are just some of the games that we play together.

Company Get-Togethers

No one's ever said that Lucasfilm employees don't enjoy getting together for a good time. Every year, we throw a Fourth of July family picnic at Skywalker Ranch complete with softball, sack races and a giant barbeque. In October, the annual Halloween party and costume contest is extremely competitive and the perfect opportunity to wow your colleagues with your creativity — and win big prizes. In December, we thank the staff and their partners for a great year by throwing an unforgettable holiday party unlike anything you've ever experienced.

Thanksgiving Turkey

At Thanksgiving time, it is a Lucasfilm tradition to provide every employee with an organic, free-range turkey (or tofurkey for vegetarians) to enjoy with their family and friends.


As I mentioned previously Lucasfilm seems like a very friendly company that want to look after their employees and this inclusion of benefit schemes only re-enforces this mindset, making this job seem more and more appealing.

Finally Looking at the requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in painting, industrial design, or fine art preferred.
  • Two or more years of related production experience.
  • Strong traditional art skills, including knowledge of color, lighting, perspective, and composition.
  • Strong character/environments concept drawing skills a must.
  • Expertise in 2D paint software and techniques required.
  • Experience or knowledge of cinematic techniques, language and shot composition desired.
  • Demo reel and/or portfolio required.
They seem to definetly want a strong professional for this role, which unfortunately currently rules me out as even at the end of this year I will not have a degree in industrial design, painting or fine art, I also have no experience and my art skills definetly need improving. The inclusion of a portfolio is obvious but luckily I feel I met the criteria of knowledge under film making thanks to my course.

Looking at this job has definetly been a take two steps forward one step back as it's shown me some of the more attractive jobs there are out there but the requirements of degrees that I don't have currently is some what disparaging as I'm not sure how I'll get them. Obviously one of the most important parts of getting a job in the industry is to put together a stellar portfolio. This post has been insightfull at least in terms of me knowing about potential missing pieces that could be required of me in other jobs.

Applying for a Job at Lucas Film

Lucasfilm is a company thats best known from bring the StarWars Franchise to the world

Looking at Weta

Common Requirements

When looking for a job in the a certain discipline theres bound to be a few similarities in the requirements right? Obviously bigger and more well known studios will ask from someone with a higher skill, thats already a given. I'll be looking at several different jobs including ones I've already highlighted to see the trends in what employers ask of their concept artists.

This job as a concept artist at Belgium based Soft Kinetic Studios requires that the applicant have:
  • High school (secondaire) diploma or GED required
  • AA/BA/BS (Universite) preferred, or at least demonstrate through portfolio to exceed industry standards of art
  • At least 3 years experience in game or concept development.
  • Excellent traditional drawing skills and the ability to create concept designs for 3d models and textures in various stylization levels.
  • Excellent eye for lighting, shape, balance, composition, good knowledge of human anatomy and perspective.
  • Excellent knowledge of Photoshop and/or any similar package.
  • English/French is a must (verbally and written)
  • Passion for creating and playing video games.
  • Any experience with a 3D package a plus.
  • Proficient use of Photoshop, Ilustrator
  • Good communication, able to working in a team environment.
  • Creative, pro-active, continuously bringing new ideas and creativity to the team.
This job at UK based Media Molecule requires that artists have:
  • Show reel demonstrating how great you really are!
  • Proven ability to produce top notch work as an experienced artist (or equivalent role), on at least two shipped preferably console games
  • A strong technical background using 3dsMax, Photoshop skills, After Effects
  • A strong understanding of advanced modelling and texturing techniques and their applications to games.
  • Proficient in traditional art
  • Knowledge and understanding of the history/trends of art and design
  • Strong team player
  • Strong communicator

Then there's this job for US based game developer Amiqus:

  • Undergraduate degree, or distinguished college coursework in relevant fields, or proven portfolio of industry experience Minimum five years experience in Game Industry
  • Minimum two game titles completed, one title as a Lead Artist
  • Expertise in Adobe Photoshop
  • Expertise in 3D Software
  • Combination 2D/3D skills
  • Strong next gen character tech knowledge
  • Strong anatomy and sculpting skills
  • Understanding of all technical aspects and requirements of game creation
  • Strong abilities in character lighting, texturing, colour concept comps, and photorealistic rendering methods
  • Good people management skills and experience managing a large team of artists.
  • Has a positive attitude, collaborates and communicates effectively with others

Applying for a Job at Lucas Film

Lucasfilm is a company that's best known from bring the StarWars Franchise to the world. The great thing about Lucasfilm though is that it's divided up into several smaller subsidiaries such as; Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, Lucas Arts, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucas Online and Lucas Liscensing.

The company's main locales are; Presidio National Park in San Francisco, Marin County and Singapore. The recruitment website gives information on the locations to inform potential employees about these environments such as nieghbourhoods and things to do, this is great as it slightly eases the fear of having to move by informing what will be instore for the employee.

Lucas film also organises a variety of events over each day amoungst some of them are great oppertunities such as Cal Art Portfolio viewing day and perhaps most importantly a recent event that happened between May 7-12 was the ILM Recruiting eventin London, showing that this company takes it's job seriously, travelling the world to find it's next employees.

Overall the "About Us" section is very comprehensive in that it covers pretty much all bases from the company, it's history, Why it's great to work with them etc. All this information is clear and readily availible on the website. The company also offers extensive training such as: Enrichment classes in which you can imporve your skills in a desired area and Career Development which help employees with leadership roles, time management and communication training.

The website also offers and FAQ on how to apply for a job:

How do I apply for a position at Lucasfilm?

Please apply directly here as we no longer accept resumes in the mail. You can review all the open positions at Lucasfilm either by function, by company, by location or all of the above. While we often have similar positions available in different Lucasfilm companies, you only need to apply once even if applying for multiple jobs. Once you have selected a position, you'll receive specific information about how to apply, what we look for in a demo reel and/or portfolio, and how to send your materials to us (if applicable).

How will I be contacted regarding the status of my application?

Due to the large quantity of applications we receive, we're unfortunately unable to provide individual applicants with specific feedback. You'll receive an e-mail acknowledgement of the receipt of your submission. If we feel that you're a strong candidate for the position, we'll contact you directly. No phone calls, please!

How often should I reapply?

If you think you're truly a good fit for Lucasfilm, we recommend checking our jobs site and reapplying every six months or when there's a change in your contact information. If you're a game artist, it's always good to check in with us around the time of the Game Developers Conference (February/March) and if you're a visual fx artist, check in again around the time of Siggraph (August).

If I'm not authorized to work in the United States, can I still apply for a position?

Lucasfilm is proud of its incredibly diverse organization. We have talented people that come from all over the globe. The requirements for obtaining a work visa are complicated and not all jobs are eligible. For the most part, you'll need an advanced degree or several years of applicable work experience to be eligible.

How long will my resume be kept on file?

If we feel that your experience and skill set are a good fit but we don't have any current positions, your resume will remain active for one year. Otherwise, all resumes are archived for two years after the date of your application.

To increase my chances of working at Lucasfilm, what software and programming languages should I be proficient in?

Lucasfilm uses Maya, XSI, Shake, AfterFX, Houdini, Linux, Python, Renderman, C, C++, Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and MS Office. Depending on the position, you'll need to be comfortable using one or more of those programs. It's important to note that you should only apply for positions for which you actually possess the necessary skill set. Applying for jobs without the proper qualifications will deliver the wrong message and work against your goal of working with us.

Do Lucasfilm employees ever see or work with George Lucas?

George is an active participant in all of his businesses and is on one of the campuses every day; he works as hard as we expect you to. Depending on what company you work for, you may see him more or less than other employees.


This information seems to outline a good majority of possible questions that could be asked and it seems they want to really give people the best information for applying to their Company. On top of applying for a job a great way to get a foot in the door is to apply for an Internship, which again this section on the website is full of information again this is all given as an FAQ, an important thing that should be noted is that they're keen on making sure you're eligible to work in the U.S., Below is the FAQ:

Who is eligible to apply?

In order to apply you MUST be either an undergraduate junior or graduate student who will return to your academic studies upon completion of the internship. The internship is NOT open to recent graduates.

What if I am a recent graduate?

Since this internship is not open to recent graduates, we encourage you to apply for our full-time positions that are listed at jobs.lucasfilm.com.

What if I am an international student can I apply for an internship?

If you are eligible to work in the U.S., we will consider your application.

How long is the internship?

Internships last between 12-16 weeks depending on the availability of the intern and needs of the department.

Can I apply to more than 1 internship?

If you feel that you are eligible and interested in more than one position, please indicate this in your cover letter. You will need to apply to each internship separately at jobs.lucasfilm.com.

How can I check on the status of my application?

We will confirm with you that we have received your application materials. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to check the individual status of each application. We will let all applicants know of our final decisions by the beginning of May.

Is the internship paid?

Yes, all internships are paid!

Are internships available only during the summer?

The majority of our internships are available during the summer. We have internships that are available at other times during the year, and they are posted on our website when they become available.

Is housing or relocation provided?

Unfortunately, we can not provide housing to interns at this time. However, we do provide a variety of resources to assist interns with locating housing. We provide a one-time only transportation stipend to interns who live more than 50 miles away from our campuses.

Are the internships full-time?

Yes, all summer internships are full-time, 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday.

Who should I list as my 3 references for the application?

We require that you provide us with the contact information for 3 people who can vouch for your academic, work-related and/or community-based experience and achievements. References should know you well enough to speak about the qualities that make you a great candidate.

Is there any opportunity to be hired on full-time after completing my internship?

We want our interns to complete their schooling first and foremost. If an intern's overall performance has been outstanding, then after they graduate, we revisit intern candidates depending on the needs of each division.

Do you provide tours to the public?

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide tours of our studio to the public.

From the website I get the feeling of a very friendly company that is always keen to atleast meet new people. Completing an internship first maybe a good method to get hired but they seem to hire you only if they're in need in you but theres a good chance you'd be more memorable than someone who has just applied for the job. All this information seems a little overwhelming at first but taking time to just read through it carefully is massively beneficial. What should be taken away from this post is that if I were to apply for a job at any division of Lucas film I would have to most likely move location and they seem like a friendly company, perhaps one to keep an eye on when I graduate.

Current Trends: The 99p game

Looking at Weta

Edge.com

Often looking for jobs can be a difficult task, often many people will suggest that you sign up with an agency to help find a job but through my personal experience I've been told that to make sure you get the job you want it's best to do the searching yourself as you can pick and choose the jobs you want.

If you're looking for a job in the videogame industry a great place to find plenty of job offers is in the back of higher tier magazines such as Games TM or Edge. I took a look in Edge magazine and their website to see what job offers they have. With over 9 pages with atleast 10+ on each page thats a pretty good start, with a variety of jobs from each department in the industry the ads for jobs in Edge might be a good place to start.

The ads feature a small blurb about the company, outline the basic role of the job, location, responsibilities and qualifications needed. Along with this information there it also states what you need to submit.

This extensive list will prove useful to anyone ofcourse after applying it's all down to how strong your CV and portfolio is.

Looking at Jobs in Lucas Film

Whilst on the Lucas Film website I looked to see what jobs they have that I thought would appeal to me, first of all they have a fairly easy system of just searching for keywords. Since my desired profession is to be a conceptual artist I simply put in "ART" when the opening for a "Concept Designer (Feature)".

The job is in California and the role is to "Work closely with the Art Director to design the characters and environments to be used in a CG animated feature film."

As mentioned in the previous post Lucasflm has several subsidiaries, this job will be taking place in Lucasfilm Animation. The tasks that I would be required to complete would be:

  • Create designs for characters, vehicles, environments, and props
  • Create orthographics and additional materials as needed to fully convey design to digital departments.
  • Completes work within the bid timeframe, while maintaining constant communication with production team.
This is slightly coincidental as it's very similar to my negotiated project that I'm in the process of completing, which means that before looking for this job I was aware of the roles of a concept designer.

Along with this the job mentions it comes with Benefits, I decided to research this by looking for the definition of this on the website:

Benefits

Working at Lucasfilm has a lot to offer: A fun work environment. A competitive salary. Great career opportunities. Plus, our U.S. employees enjoy a comprehensive benefits package* that includes:
  • Medical, dental, disability and life insurance
  • Vision plan
  • 401k
  • Flex spending
  • Commuter benefit
  • Adoption assistance
*Specific benefit details will be attached to our offer letter. Our Singapore studio offers different benefits that will be discussed during the interview process.

Lucasfilm also provides benefits that will change your concept of what "going to work" means.

Beautiful, Natural Work Locations

The Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC), located in the historic Presidio of San Francisco, is just steps away from Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock Ranch campuses are located on thousands of acres of pristine, undeveloped land in Marin County, north of San Francisco. All three campuses provide a positive and creative environment for Lucasfilm employees.

On-Campus Meals

Fresh and healthy food is served daily in the Dining Commons at all of our US locations. The menus range from sushi to sandwiches — and everything in between. Some of the food is actually grown at Skywalker Ranch and certified organic. We subsidize the cost of meals for our staff, making them convenient, healthy and affordable.

Fitness Center

We believe strongly in staying healthy, and want to make it easy for our employees to do so. There are subsidized fitness centers at each Lucasfilm campus, some with on-site trainers and aerobics programs.

On-Site Childcare

At LDAC, on-site childcare services are available for parents with children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years old. Working parents can see their children on their lunch hour and pick them up as soon as the work day is through. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Company Store

Both LDAC and Skywalker Ranch feature Lucasfilm company stores full of products that you can buy — everything from Star Wars figures to hip-looking baseball caps and T-shirts, all at a substantial discount for employees. So, if you need that lightsaber for any reason...

Free Movies

Free first-run movies are screened weekly for all Lucasfilm employees and a guest of their choice. Catch them at one of four Marin County theatres on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

George's Art Gallery

If you like vintage film posters, you'll love working here. Vintage movie posters are displayed throughout all the buildings at LDAC, Big Rock and Skywalker Ranch. This collection of international and original Hollywood one-sheets is one of a kind.

Sports

We're into team-building here. You might be surprised at just how many employees take part in after-work athletic activities. Soccer, softball and bowling are just some of the games that we play together.

Company Get-Togethers

No one's ever said that Lucasfilm employees don't enjoy getting together for a good time. Every year, we throw a Fourth of July family picnic at Skywalker Ranch complete with softball, sack races and a giant barbeque. In October, the annual Halloween party and costume contest is extremely competitive and the perfect opportunity to wow your colleagues with your creativity — and win big prizes. In December, we thank the staff and their partners for a great year by throwing an unforgettable holiday party unlike anything you've ever experienced.

Thanksgiving Turkey

At Thanksgiving time, it is a Lucasfilm tradition to provide every employee with an organic, free-range turkey (or tofurkey for vegetarians) to enjoy with their family and friends.


As I mentioned previously Lucasfilm seems like a very friendly company that want to look after their employees and this inclusion of benefit schemes only re-enforces this mindset, making this job seem more and more appealing.

Finally Looking at the requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in painting, industrial design, or fine art preferred.
  • Two or more years of related production experience.
  • Strong traditional art skills, including knowledge of color, lighting, perspective, and composition.
  • Strong character/environments concept drawing skills a must.
  • Expertise in 2D paint software and techniques required.
  • Experience or knowledge of cinematic techniques, language and shot composition desired.
  • Demo reel and/or portfolio required.
They seem to definetly want a strong professional for this role, which unfortunately currently rules me out as even at the end of this year I will not have a degree in industrial design, painting or fine art, I also have no experience and my art skills definetly need improving. The inclusion of a portfolio is obvious but luckily I feel I met the criteria of knowledge under film making thanks to my course.

Looking at this job has definetly been a take two steps forward one step back as it's shown me some of the more attractive jobs there are out there but the requirements of degrees that I don't have currently is some what disparaging as I'm not sure how I'll get them. Obviously one of the most important parts of getting a job in the industry is to put together a stellar portfolio. This post has been insightfull at least in terms of me knowing about potential missing pieces that could be required of me in other jobs.

Outlining design elements

When it comes to designing a character there are always key things to keep in mind that can help guide a design in it's early stages. I recently went back and looked at the main characters from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to see if there were some design/character traits that I can take note of to use as influence/inspiration for my own designs.

The first thing I noticed is that the characters are coloured coded via shades of brown, with "Blondie" being the lightest toned to "Angel Eyes" being the darkest mixed in with a few blacks (notably his hat). All the characters have similar roles but with varying details Blondie is a bounty hunter, Tuco is a bandit and Angels eyes is a mercenary, all use guns and can be hired to kill people but it's their stance one morals that separate them.

In terms of redesigning these characters for a sci-fi scenario I'm thinking to change the base qualities, adding elements such as alien designs or species. Already I've decided that I want the narrative to take place in an exotic jungle setting as I feel this is a huge contrast to the original dusty western setting of the original and can really help me develop my designs so that they suit an environment as such.

It's the smaller details such as these that should be kept in mind when comes to designing as it's stuff like this that can really give a good start to a design as setting up some primary boundaries can take away the initial intimidation of a task.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Putting it all together

With this being the 50th post, I though it'd be good to look over all the work I've completed for this project.

Firstly I'm still waiting for a reply from Rockstar Leeds but I'm optimistic for one.

Over the course of this project I've learned many things ranging from copyright, building a business, making contacts and learning about the ins and outs of trying to get hired. I've researched businesses, methods of getting hired as an artist and researching about networking and location clusters. The most important thing though is combined with my end of term project I've finally settled on what I want to strive to be in the industry.

With all the information that I've collected over the last few months I'm going to put together in a critical report that I should be able to use to show my understanding of the creative industry I want to enter and can then use as a point of reference to return to should I ever need them

Personal Connections

When it comes to this industry one of the most valuble things next to a good portfolio is connections. This is something I've always been told through the last through years working at Travelling Man, this was recently re-enforced by my chance meeting the Art director of Rockstar Leeds.

It's these connections that I can use either for advice or to try get work completed or even have a good word put in and it's these networking oppertunities are much more valuable than networking events such as comic cons as it means you're already a little more on the inside.

It's this position I should work on, ideally I should create some top notch work and see if these connections would be able to help me find work. Luckily in my position I've been working with the Thought Bubble convention and have had the oppertunity to meet guest artists on personal basis and get contact details, for the future its these oppertunities that should not be squandered.

Imagine FX

Imagine FX is a monthly magazine that is aimed specifically at illustrators. The Magazine comes packed full of usefull tutorials and even comes with a free cd-rom with loads of great video workshops and brushes etc for computer programs, undoubtably though is the sense of community.

Artist can write in with what they're stuggling with and the group of artists that imagine fx has on hand can answer those problems. The magazine also shows other artists work so getting published would be another way to get some great exposure. The Magazine also lists events realted to illustration all across the world, this is a great way to find out about some great events.

Beyond the magazine Imagine FX also has a website where memebers can share critques with each other and post on forums. Much like deviantart this a great way to meet other artists and improve your own skills, the website also offers art challenges on a weekly and monthly basis.

Being a part of this community is a good way to improve skills and meet other artists at the same time, and if you get noticed and published it's a good way to get noticed.

Capybara Games

Capybara is a game company that has developed several games, some of which have found great success on the App Store such as "Critter Crunch" and most recently "Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro".

The Canadian based company already has 5 iPhone games behind it's back and is well known for it's unique graphical style thats more akin to 16-bit video game consoles. Ontop of being recognised the Company has also one several awards for Critter Crunch.

The home hub for Capybara is a little bare but for each new game they create a new website exclusively for that. This allows them to keep their games seperate and gives a very professional impression to the company as this is what more established publishers also do. This also gives their games space to breath and live as thier own products, rather than being all jamed on one place.

One the home website though there is a news feed and contact details. The News feed contains all the latest Capybara news including screenshots and videos of upcoming games such as "Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro" and the contact is simply an address and an email.

Another thing that should be noted is that the website is made from Wordpress, this shows exactly how successful a company can become from a shoestring budget and some clever work. Capybara is a success story of how a mobile developer can thrive and it's always good to remember that theres many options when it come to working in the game industry.

Glasow Comic Con

Coming up in June is the Glasgow Comic Con. Previously I've looked at a few comic conventions and these are great oppertunities to meet both publishers and professional artists. There will also be events such as workshops, Panels and an art exhibition.

Amounget the guests will be the likes of star writer; Mark Millar, Superstar DC artist Frank Quiently and more. Having a chance to meet these professionals is something that shouldn't be wasted when you're looking to break into this industry, even five minutes is enough to potentially gain some valuable information.

There will also be independent publishers there who may just be there to peddle their own wears but sometimes they may take on someone to do work for them or maybe even publish something of your own, you never know you might get lucky. The site doesn't state if it's happening but there could be portfolio viewings which are always beneficial. Again as stated in the last post it's always best keep an eye out for events where you can personally meet and get info from professionals.

Hi-Ex Comic Convention

Keeping an eye out for networking opertunities is always a wise thing to do in this. Whilst searching around I came across Hi-Ex! A comic convention taking place in inverness, scotland.

Amoungst guests is super start artist Charlie Adlard known for drawing the acclaimed comic "The Walking Dead". Whats most important is that the convention has many guests from the comic industry along with a portfolio veiwing, this makes for a great oppertunity to meet established artists and revcieve some great advice.

Unfortunately this year the convention has already passed but it maybe good to keep track of this convention aswell as others.

Deviant Art

Deviant Art is one of the largest artist communities on the internet. Being that I want to enter an industry where showing off your owrk is a key part Deviant art is a great place to start. To sign up is free and it has features such as setting up your gallery by uploading your work, journals and profiles.

One of the greater things about Deviant Art is that as soon as you upload something it gets copyrighted to your user name. This is a bit awkward as it may get confusing as it's copyrighted to a user name rather than a real one but nonetheless it's a method of getting a quick copyright.

Another great benefit of Deviant art is that it's very much like facebook where in you can chat to other artists, see their work, leave comments. Its very much a great place for artists of all skill levels to communicate easily with each other, and the ability to recieve critism from other artists is a great way to improve your own skills.

Deviant art is also a great way to show your art work as an kind of online portfolio, but it does come without the flash of a personalised website. Deviant Art is a great way to get more exposure and in this industry you need all the exposure you can get.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Getting an App' onto the Market

Last time I looked at Apps and the power that they're having in gaining people's attention. I went over the pros of the service but how does one actually go about getting an App on the itunes store?

First of all you need to enroll as a developer on Apple by paying $99. With this you get all the tools you need to start creating your app, be it a tool or a game. These tools are Xcode, iOS simulator, Instruments and Interface builder. Along with these tools you also get resources such as tutorials and a Devloper library.

Once you've built your app you need to test it for bugs, testing it in realtime on a device that can run it, here you can find any problems with go back and adjust it accordingly. Then you have to test it with wi-fi running to see what effects it may have on the App. The good thing about this stage is that you can easily get in contact with technical support should any problems that you can't figure out arise.

Finally once it's all set and done, cleared of all bugs and polish added it's time to distribute it. All you have to do is pick the price and put it up for sale on the app store where you get 70% of the revenues, after that point you don't have to do anything else, no fees and you recieve the proceedes monthly.

This seems like a great way to get some work out there for a low cost if you're working idependently. It could also be a great way to get noticed out there with the right promotion.

Current Trends: The 99p game

Game Changers, there something that happens in every business. The most recent game changer in terms of the Video Game industry is that of App's (Short for applications), these Apps can be downloaded onto smart phones such as iPhones, Androids etc. but, whats truly interesting about these Apps is that along with tools there are now game.

Games on mobile phones have always existed, one such popular game was Snake II for the Nokia phones which help sky rocket sales. Today phones have transformed into something more akin to computers, with the ability to go online, download new Apps (essentially programs) these phones are becomming more powerful with each new iteration.

Along with these Apps, Games have become very popular, why? Simple reasons really. First off theres the low price, £0.99 seems to be the average asking price for a game in an App store and these games can be throughly entertaining/challenging and if they buyer doesn't like? They haven't really spent that much on it so it won't be a bother. Next theres the fact that people carry their phones around with them alomst everywhere and they don't have to pay extra for a portable gaming console.

Ofcourse just in writing this sounds silly but with App titles such as "Angry Birds" being downloaded millions of times, reaching the #1 list in hundreds of countries you begin to realise how successful these apps can be. Consider that a £0.99 game is downloaded a million times, now two million and so on, that becomes a lot of money for a developer and it begins to make you think, perhaps this is more than a current trend but more a slow change in how the market will work?

Ofcourse with these cheap prices theres been alash back on game companies who produce for PC and Consoles and it's not hard to understand why. If you can get a game for £0.99 instead of £30-40 you would, some developers such as Satoru Iwata of Nintendo have commented saying that the games won't be the same level of quality but there are many who would argue against it, especially when you look at the financial figures.

Already we have free games on facebook where players can decide if they want to pay for more content, then theres the downloadable content that you can get for console and PC games. Maybe it's these smaller transactions that the future of the game industry lies in?

Looking at Weta

Weta Digital is a New Zealand Based Digital FX company, amoungts their portfolio they have completed work for a wide range of projects ranging from movies such as Avatar, The lord of the rings, District 9 and Enchanted to high end commecials for products such as Nike and CK One. Currently the team is working on the movies The Hobbit and Tin Tin.

Established in 1993 by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk the company has grown into the point where there are two sectors, Weta Digital, which deals with CGI effect and Weta Workshop which deals with physical effects.

The company describes itself as "world-leaders in all areas of visual effects production, including animation, motion capture, crowd generation, modelling, compositing, and film scanning and recording." Weta has also won many awards for it's work including 5 academy awards.

When it comes to applying for a job at Weta you first have to fill in an enquiry form to see if they have something that will suit you. The company rates itself highly and asked for top quality work from it's employees. Obviously with it being located in new zealand If I were to apply and get accepted I would have to move.

The company presents itself quite modestly on the web, it doesn't bring particular attention to it's awards nor does it have a particularly flashy website. This presents two impressions that either they let their work speak for themselves or that they're still unsure of how to present them selves to the web. Considering their history and level of quality in their work it's most likely the latter.

Contacting the company seems incredible easy, with an address and mulitple emails for the right department you want to contanct shows that they're set on making sure their work is organised.

The company definetly has a high profile due to it's high quality and awards but not much about the company's personality is spoken here beyond the usual "we deliver high quality work" stuff that can be seen a hundred time in any hundred other places. This makes Weta quite hard to pin down as a company.

Common Requirements

When looking for a job in the a certain discipline theres bound to be a few similarities in the requirements right? Obviously bigger and more well known studios will ask from someone with a higher skill, thats already a given. I'll be looking at several different jobs to see the trends in what employers ask of their concept artists.

This job as a concept artist at Belgium based Soft Kinetic Studios requires that the applicant have:
  • High school (secondaire) diploma or GED required
  • AA/BA/BS (Universite) preferred, or at least demonstrate through portfolio to exceed industry standards of art
  • At least 3 years experience in game or concept development.
  • Excellent traditional drawing skills and the ability to create concept designs for 3d models and textures in various stylization levels.
  • Excellent eye for lighting, shape, balance, composition, good knowledge of human anatomy and perspective.
  • Excellent knowledge of Photoshop and/or any similar package.
  • English/French is a must (verbally and written)
  • Passion for creating and playing video games.
  • Any experience with a 3D package a plus.
  • Proficient use of Photoshop, Ilustrator
  • Good communication, able to working in a team environment.
  • Creative, pro-active, continuously bringing new ideas and creativity to the team.
This job at UK based Media Molecule requires that artists have:
  • Show reel demonstrating how great you really are!
  • Proven ability to produce top notch work as an experienced artist (or equivalent role), on at least two shipped preferably console games
  • A strong technical background using 3dsMax, Photoshop skills, After Effects
  • A strong understanding of advanced modelling and texturing techniques and their applications to games.
  • Proficient in traditional art
  • Knowledge and understanding of the history/trends of art and design
  • Strong team player
  • Strong communicator

Then there's this job for US based game developer Amiqus:

  • Undergraduate degree, or distinguished college coursework in relevant fields, or proven portfolio of industry experience Minimum five years experience in Game Industry
  • Minimum two game titles completed, one title as a Lead Artist
  • Expertise in Adobe Photoshop
  • Expertise in 3D Software
  • Combination 2D/3D skills
  • Strong next gen character tech knowledge
  • Strong anatomy and sculpting skills
  • Understanding of all technical aspects and requirements of game creation
  • Strong abilities in character lighting, texturing, colour concept comps, and photorealistic rendering methods
  • Good people management skills and experience managing a large team of artists.
  • Has a positive attitude, collaborates and communicates effectively with others
All of these jobs ask that applicants submit a CV and a Portfolio on top of these standard requirements, so lets start looking at the similarities. All 3 ask for an efficient understanding of photoshop, illustrator and atleast one 3D software, in some form or another they ask for high level of understand and practical use of art such as lighting, shading and anatomy. Another and slightly more obvious request is to be a good team player. On top of all that they all ask for atleast 2 projects worth of experience, now this is obviously where looking for a job gets tricky. It every job is asking you have experience how do you get it? the most likely answer is probably internships.

It's not odd that there are so many similar aspects thats required of people between these jobs as each one is pretty much the same, perhaps with a few minor variations based on what the employers wants from you. The good thing to know though is that if you feel you're lacking skill in one of these areas for one job by going out and gaining it you can boost your chances for applying and getting more.