Character Art - The Importance of Setting Achievable Goals
I began focusing on my goals of working in the Game Industry back in August 2018 when I enrolled in the Game Art Institute’s Character Artist Bootcamp. This was the greatest thing I could have done for myself because I learned so much and developed a new understanding and passion for 3d and real time.
Recently I wrote a breakdown for 80lvl on my character Onneisha. It can be found here: “Crafting a Real Time Elf Character in ZBrush”
For this blog post I’d like to talk about getting the project to the finish line. While constructing Onneisha I had made many mistakes, and as a result I had learned many things. Some of the more important lessons weren't how to solve technical issues. But, overcoming personal misconceptions to achieve the goal of finishing.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, but don’t be afraid to experiment
There is no right or wrong way to craft something in 3d. However, there are more efficient ways to make your life easier. I had struggled with this notion because I was always concerned about producing something ‘the wrong way’. What helped me overcome this mindset was getting to know other 3d artists and talking with them about their methods when it comes to crafting in 3d.
I had discovered that not everyone follows a strict regimen. What remains mostly the same is the pipeline with minor adjustments depending on the software you’ll use in production.
Set Goals For Yourself With Each Project
Going into Onneisha I knew I wanted to create a high quality character, but that goal is so broad and vague. It needed to be broken down into smaller goals to reach the finish line. So for each project I write a list for myself and give myself a measurement tool. By setting these goals, I give myself little victories along the way.
- Learn Xgen for Real Time Hair. Generation, Placement. | Measurement: Achieve the level of Horizon Zero Dawn or Final Fantasy Hair.
- Painting believable skin in Substance Painter. | Measurement: Achieve the level of Magdalena Dadela or close enough.
- Aesthetically Pleasing Presentation. | Measurement: Pose to follow original concept art with lighting akin to Horizon Zero Dawn or Final Fantasy.
I should note that in a way I am comparing myself to artists of a high level. Although, I’m not comparing myself in a negative light, but using these comparisons as a set goal. I want my hair, skin and presentation to have the same sort of quality that these artists produce. I guess you could say that I use these comparisons as inspiration as well.
It's Okay to Post Process
For a long time I used to be afraid of post processing. My thought process behind this was, “Well, if I can’t achieve that quality in my renders and lighting alone, then what good am I?”
After talking with a few artists I found that post processing is actually the icing on the cake. Henning Sanden and Morten Jaeger from FlippedNormals discuss post processing in a couple of their videos.
- Getting Your Dream Job in Games or Animation
- Adobe Photoshop Tutorial - Improving your 3d renders in Photoshop
Adjusting your levels, slight color balances, and contrast are all acceptable touches to your final stills. Photoshopping a ton of errors out of your work or photoshopping someones hair into your final still is deception.
The Finish Line
The important thing to take away from all this is to finish what you start. If your primary goal is to get a job in games look at what industry artists have in their portfolio and take notes. You may not achieve their level right away. But, reaching your measurable goals with each project you’ll start to see your level up in no time. It is good to develop a sense of perseverance as well, as there will always be obstacles.
- Experiment with different methods, see what works for you.
- Set goals for yourself with each project.
- It is okay to Post Process your work.
- Finish no matter what.
Thanks for reading my article. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and I'm currently looking for opportunities in the Game Industry as a Character Artist. Please reach out to me if you have any opportunities.