Thursday, 10 May 2012

Creative Development: The Blitz Academy (Part 2)

Taking a deeper look at to what The Blitz Academy website has to offer reveals a few good pieces of information such as tips on what would be needed to get a job in the specific role that you're chasing and information on how a games studios works. So with out further ado I looked at the tips that would apply to me, namely, modelling, texturing and conceptual art.

in their getting the Job section they give good basic advice but I would bet that it's general advice and if it's specific it would apply to their own game studio, regardless here's what they suggest for those looking to get into being a 3D modeller;
"There are two primary requirements here. Above all else, you need good artistic skills; a general grounding in traditional art is of paramount importance. This should include, but not be limited to, good drawing skills, anatomy, an appreciation of form, composition and colour theory. The ability to demonstrate good traditional artist skills is becoming more and more important. The other big requirement is well-practised abilities in the use and application of 3D modelling software like Maya, 3DS Max, XSI or Lightwave. These packages are the industry standards and as you'll be using them day in and day out, you'll need to be good at at least one of them. You should have a solid grasp of the following basics: low to medium density polygon modelling, mapping (laying out UVs), and applying basic materials to a model. Good levels of competence in the creation and application of texture maps using at least one image creation package such as Photoshop, Painter or Z-Brush are also required. Additional experience in 2D vector art packages such as Illustrator is highly desirable. The basic requirement of any application is to convey your ability to turn ideas and drawn concepts into functioning game-ready 3D models. In addition to modelling and texturing skills, traditional art skills like drawing are also important.

  • Concept art / initial sketches from which you built your models.
  • Clean, clear renders of your completed models. Try to include details on things like the polygon counts and the number and sizes of the textures used.
  • Images of the texture maps you used in the models.
  • If you wish to include 3D meshes, make sure that all textures are also included as well as renders of the model as specified above.
  • Preferably the portfolio should include realistic objects built and textured from photographic reference (other work is welcome but if no realistic work is included it will be missed).
  • General art skill support work such as drawing, concept art etc.
  • Any support details such as the project briefs, people involved and outcomes.
  • There are many sites on the Internet that specialise in the creation of art assets for modifications of existing commercial games. These sites contain a wealth of information regarding the creation of game quality art assets. All prospective game artists can learn a great deal from these sites. They also give you the opportunity to create some art yourself and see it running in a real game engine (please see our Resources section for more details).
  • If you have a PC but don't have the software, visit the main sites of the 3D package manufacturers and download free personal learning editions. These will allow you to learn the packages and get in all those vital hours of practice!
  • Scour Ebay and other sources for books and learning materials. Many people get rid of books soon after they have worked through them and usually sell them on for a fraction of their original cost."
  •  Tips for being a 3D modeller seem to have great tips especially for when putting together a portfolio, something that I'll be doing very soon so I think it would be wise to keep some of these tips in mind such as adding concept art of the 3D model I've built in a portfolio to show that I can faithfully re-create a 2D design in 3D space. The oddest tip though is to scour eBay for books, but understandably this translates to (Have lots of reference material, something that I feel I've already got a good collection of so far...).

    So what do they say is required to get a job as a concept artist?;

    "Drawing, drawing and more drawing!! Different styles, different rendering techniques and all sorts of subjects should form the backbone of your career focus. A good mix of traditional as well as digital art is a must. Being able to communicate your ideas quickly and effectively is absolutely vital, so whether you have a pencil, stylus or brush in your hand, make sure you can draw well. In terms of drawing skills, most good Concept Artists study subjects like anatomy in order to facilitate and improve their work. Concept Artists able to tackle any subject matter will always do well.
    Role Specific Requirements
    This one is pretty easy, as you only really need to supply lots of high quality drawn artwork. That said, there are some bases that need to be covered.

  • Show images in different styles - both in terms of rendering style and drawing style. The biggest strength of concept artists is to adopt any style necessary.
  • Try to include some art as layered Photoshop files - that will be very useful for the reviewer to understand how you work.
  • Where possible please include the time it took to complete each piece. Although you probably won't work at the optimum speed required for the industry when you begin work, the duration for each piece gives the reviewer more information about you and what needs to be done if you are successful.
  • Traditional art examples - anatomy, life studies etc.
  • Visit web sites like to get tips on technique and immerse yourself in the incredible art of other concept artists. (Please see our Resources section for more details)
  • Draw everything. Don't limit yourself to characters or objects or environments. A good Concept Artist can draw anything at a moment's notice in a variety of styles.
  • Many games require the artists to emulate art styles, especially if you are going to work on a license or a sequel. To train yourself in the art of emulation, find a few art styles you like the look of and practise copying them. The workflow you learn by doing this will help you learn new styles and develop a way to synchronise with other styles."
  • Again this doesn't present much information that I don't already know but a new piece of info is the requirement to emulate styles which I believe I can do so hopefully that means I have some hope of making. Another odd one is including photoshop files in a portfolio, I guess it would be interesting to show how you work to a future employer but I don't really get that suggestion.

    Finally When looking in their Educators section I found they offer careers advice which presents a good deal of information how how the studio works but one of the most interesting parts of this articles is the several paragraphs outlining Skill levels that basically says "Employers ask for crazy high level of skills and there's a good chance you're course didn't teach you want you need to know" which is a harsh trurth it seems (if it turns out to be true...).
    "Having hopefully whetted your and your students' appetites by telling you how many wonderful jobs there are in games, now comes the less good news. It is not easy to get a job in the games industry, mainly because we now require very high levels of skill in all of the roles. The reasons for this are simple: when games were developed for older PCs or consoles, the quality levels, particularly the graphical quality, didn't have to be that great because the machines weren't capable of displaying high levels of detail. As this is no longer the case, our audience require beautiful-looking games as well as ones with great gameplay, smooth and convincing animations, audio quality and so on. There are a frightening number of courses out there claiming to teach 'game development' but many will not teach any student enough for them to get a job at the end of it: harsh but true. Encourage your students to research their courses very thoroughly (the Skillset website is useful for this) and ensure that any course they want to attend is fit for purpose: that is, it teaches the right skills, to the right quality level, and has sufficient input from game developers to ensure that it is up-to-date and relevant. Above all, steer them away from the 'taster' courses which teach a little bit of everything, unless they can afford to do one of these before doing a degree course in their chosen discipline. Do you need a degree to work in the games industry? Well, no - but 80% of the development staff at Blitz do have an Honours degree. It is possible, but extremely difficult, to teach yourself to the skill level required. Generally though, students will find it easier to learn from a good course. So make sure your students know that only the best of them, and those prepared to put in extra work to really polish their demos and portfolios, will get jobs. It really isn't an easy choice; but for those who are hardworking, creative and talented, the satisfaction of working in a good team to create a great game is very hard to beat..."
    Again this makes them seem to come off as some what elitist (especially when throwing in the qualifications that their staff have for no reason...) Whilst it seems that they want to help they keep referring back to Skillset approved courses. Then they say obvious things like only the most hard working will get jobs which makes this whole paragraph read as "Go to approved school, create the best work, get a degree because 80% of our staff have one, work even harder, then you might get hired" which yes from other people I've talked to seems right (especially about work loads etc) but the wording seems to try make it a secret club.

    Regardless it's all good information to keep in mind and anyone's a fool if they expect a job to just land in their laps. In the next post I'll be looking at Blitz Academy's Open day that they provide once a year.

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