The Journey: From The Animation Workshop Graduate to 3D Artist in the Gaming Industry

The Journey: From The Animation Workshop Graduate to 3D Artist in the Gaming Industry

In this article, Jonathan Amador generously shares his experiences, challenges, and aspirations, providing valuable insights into the dynamic landscape of the games industry.

Embark on an exploration of Jonathan Amador's journey as a 3D artist in the ever-evolving world of video game development. With a solid foundation in Computer Graphics Art from the prestigious The Animation Workshop/ VIA University College in Viborg, Denmark, Jonathan has carved a unique path as an art generalist at Bedtime Digital Games in Aalborg, Denmark.

From the moment he discovered his true passion to the continuous pursuit of artistic growth, Jonathan's story serves as an inspiring testament to following one's dreams and constantly refining creative skills.

The Journey

What's your current role and what does it involve?

My name is Jonathan Amador and I'm a graduate from the Computer Graphics Art program at the Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. I've been in the video games industry for about 2 years now and I'm thoroughly enjoying the work I do. Currently I live in Aalborg, Denmark, where I work at Bedtime Digital Games as an art generalist.

When did you first realise you wanted to work in the Games Industry?

It was early 2015 and I had just been accepted into an acting school in Stockholm, Sweden. I was riding the subway home when I saw an ad for a course in video games art. It was the only thing I had on my mind for the next two weeks. Eventually I had to call the acting school and tell them that I had a change of heart. Man I'm glad I did!

How did you get your first big break?

Honestly I don't feel like I've had my big break yet! I'm chugging along, picking up new skills as the months pass. I want to continue on this course and eventually end up at a bigger studio where I can acquire even deeper knowledge in 3D art.

Describe the journey you took into your current role.

The beginning of my career was pretty rocky. The pandemic hit just in time for my internship period, and it was a struggle finding a spot. Even after finding one, I was unsure if it would lead to a full time job.

I stayed at my internship workplace for a few months before I was eventually let go. Shortly after I landed a small contract job at LEGO in Billund. While there I was headhunted by my current workplace. I've been here for just about a year now and I love how life has turned out.

Day in the life

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me is taking a 15 minute bike ride to the office. The first thing I do is catch up on Slack and our schedule. After that I go through the most pressing tasks that need to be dealt with in our current sprint. If I'm unsure I always check up with my Lead and our Trello board (Trello is a production management program).

What types of tasks do you do in a day and how do you manage your workload?

I do a little bit of everything, as I'm working as the art generalist on our team. When I started it was mostly concepting and modelling. I've also dabbled in illustration, sculpting and just recently, VFX creation, where I learned how to create spells and other juicy effects. The workload is a bit overwhelming, since we are a small studio and have to wear many hats, but I take each day as they come. If a task is left unfinished in our current sprint because we don't have time, then we don't have time for it. Nothing to sweat about.

Which departments and key people do you work closely with?

The people I'm working closest with is my Lead, of course, and our Tech Artist. He is a genius who can do pretty much everything. Whenever we need a tool or I decide on the visuals that need to go in a certain direction, him and I sit down to figure out how exactly we are going to go about it.

What software and tools do you use and how have you managed to keep upskilling?

The tools I currently use are Photoshop and Blender. Our game engine is Unity. I also use ZBrush from time to time but that's primarily on my spare time.

The need to constant upskill, learn something new or keep up to date with the latest software updates can be quite overwhelming. To manage, I schedule my skill acquiring journey into sprints. To put it simply, this season I will focus on this skill, and the next one I will focus on that, and so on.

The introduction of AI Art and ChatGPT have certainly shaken things up, both good and bad. They haven't really affected my workflow or my department, but who knows how the landscape will look in one or two years time.

One thing you’d never change about your job?

One thing I love the most about my studio is how laid back the work environment is. Sure, we stress about the next milestone, but management have never demanded that I stay and crunch or that I should let my work spill over into my personal life.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is?

One thing I wish the industry as a whole would adopt would have to be the introduction of fika breaks throughout the day. Fika is a Swedish tradition of sitting down with your friends and co-workers to relax with hot drink and cookies or pastry. If everyone had more fika, the world would be a better place.

Career Advice

How do you stay connected to other artists in your industry?

I still stay connected with my close friend group from my college, and that is pretty much it.

I get my news from the industry via a few video game oriented youtube channels I subscribe to. The most prominent one is called SkillUp, he does a weekly rundown of the biggest news. He also highlight indie game releases, which is important to me, as those are the games I consume as well as create. There is also the Friends per Second Podcast, where SkillUp and other prominent video game reviewers sit down for 2 hours or so and go in depth in the latest industry happenings.

Describe a project brief that you’d recommend artists create for their portfolio?

The portfolio that landed me a job was focused on showing that I knew the entire character creation pipeline. Besides that, during the interview phase, I told them that I was happy to adopt new skills, whatever the project called for. I was told later on that that was actually the determining factor.

If you could go back in time to when you first started out, what advice would you give yourself?

The advice I would give to my younger self would have to be to learn the pipeline and all of that, yes, but the unsung hero in your portfolio is the presentation. You can take a mediocre prop and make it look real luxurious with proper lighting and camera angles. But if you take an amazing prop but give it muddy light and a weird view, no one will be enticed to inspect it.

I'm Jonathan Amador, a 3D Artist in the video games industry who specialises in characters. Horned creatures are my jam, I love working out and I can bake a pretty mean scone. You can find me on ArtStation and LinkedIn.