Unveiling Artistry at Artside School: A Journey into Stylized 3D Environments

Unveiling Artistry at Artside School: A Journey into Stylized 3D Environments

In this interview, Kostia Perry, a 3D Environment Student at Artside, discusses his passion for stylised art and his experiences at the school, offering inspiration to those interested in video game Concept Art and 3D Character and Environment Art.

In this interview, Kostia Perry, a 3D Environment Student at Artside, shares his passion for stylised art and his experiences at Artside School so far.

If you are interested in studying Concept Art, 3D Character Art and 3D Environment Art for video games, this article will inspire you!

Can you introduce your school to us and share what makes it special from your perspective?

I am currently at Artside School, based in Bordeaux, France. While the campus is relatively young, having opened just four years ago, it has its roots in an established online learning platform that has existed for several years.

The curriculum spans four years, with the initial two years focusing on foundational skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, and modeling across various mediums (traditional 2D, digital, traditional modeling with MonsterClay, and digital sculpting). The next two years offer specialisation options, with some shared courses between students specializing in character 3D and environment 3D.

During the fourth year, students engage in group projects evaluated by industry professionals and work on individual projects for their portfolios, receiving guidance along the way.

What sets this school apart is its pedagogical approach. Weekly modules, rather than daily schedules, enable in-depth exploration of each subject and seamless progression between related topics. For example, a 3D anatomy course in ZBrush is complemented by a prior week's 2D study, followed by practical application in character anatomy. This approach ensures a coherent and reinforcing learning experience.

Personally, this structure allowed me to integrate 2D and 3D techniques in my projects, mutually enhancing both disciplines. Additionally, I discovered a passion for MonsterClay, which we use under the guidance of an excellent teacher, Cyril Roquelaine, to sculpt busts and characters. This practice has improved my understanding of volume, flow, and detail management.

Furthermore, the weekly format provides exposure to a diverse range of mentors, resulting in enriching experiences and interactions.

What made you choose this school, and has it lived up to your expectations?

What led me to choose Artside is the group of professional mentors who actively work in fields like the video game industry. I feel this allows students to receive up-to-date techniques and valuable feedback.

Another factor is Artside's specialisation approach. Unlike many schools that offer general Game Art programs, Artside focuses on specific professions. Initially drawn to the concept art section, I was delighted to find one of the few schools dedicated to this field.

Currently in my third year, specialising in 3D environment design, Artside has exceeded my expectations. During the first two years, which are not specialised, I had the opportunity to explore three professions: concept art, character 3D, and environment 3D. It was later that I developed a strong affinity, now a passion, for Environment 3D Art. This broad exposure allowed me to appreciate the intricacies and challenges of each profession, valuable for future collaborations.

Additionally, Artside's pedagogical director, Florian Devos, provided invaluable guidance when I was contemplating my specialisation. His advice and support, along with opportunities to engage in substantial projects, ultimately solidified my decision to pursue the 3D environment specialisation.

How do students and teachers interact at the school, and is there a supportive mentorship dynamic?

Artside's unique advantage, as mentioned earlier, lies in its close proximity to video game industry professionals. Each week of courses becomes an opportunity to gain insights and new knowledge, not only in game development but also in related areas such as freelance work and international studios.

Regarding the courses themselves, the "one module per week" schedule offers several benefits. It allows mentors ample time each day to provide feedback to all students and delve into potential improvements, whether through paint-overs, sculpting, and more. This consistent attention and progression benefit all students throughout the week.

While there isn't direct mentoring, the school fosters an environment of continuous learning. They provide a discussion channel related to the school where students can share their work, seeking feedback from both mentors and fellow students.

Many mentors also extend the opportunity for students to contact them for feedback on weekly projects or personal endeavours.

What have you found most valuable about your learning experience so far, and how has it impacted your artistic growth?

The most valuable advice I've received so far is quite simple: "have fun." While it may sound basic, finding enjoyment in everything you create, embracing your creative process, and allowing yourself to experiment are essential. This mantra has been my guiding principle since I transitioned to 3D environment art.

By following this approach, I began sculpting more small props in a stylized style, somewhat reminiscent of the Ruined King or Sea of Thieves. Through these numerous small projects, I honed my skills significantly.

It also established a natural rhythm of personal work for me, enabling me to apply and practice what I learned in class outside of school through personal projects. This approach constantly encourages me to explore, both technically by delving into various aspects of Unreal Engine and artistically by immersing myself in different artistic universes and movements, which have become an integral part of my visual culture.

Can you share an example of an assignment where you received valuable feedback from your teachers?

The purpose of the assignment was to make a diorama with a house based on a concept pre-selected by the speaker of this project, Sacha Veyrier. We also had a lot of feedback from Matthieu Laude.

During this project, I faced a lot of problems with the concept; impossible thicknesses in 3D compared to the concept, or parts of the house framework that did not work at all.

One of the most crucial pieces of feedback I received emphasized the concept's nature. It's not a strict reference but rather a precise idea of the intended design. This advice encouraged me to embrace creative changes that enhance the visual appeal in 3D, as long as the core concept and overall feeling remain intact. Today, I consider this advice invaluable, as it applies to all my projects. It shifted my mindset from replicating concepts identically to interpreting them, allowing me to capture their essence while adapting to 3D intricacies.

What helpful resources or opportunities does the art school provide outside of regular classes?

As mentioned earlier, the school has established discussion channels for feedback on both school and personal projects, spanning 2D and 3D domains. Additionally, it offers diverse resources, including tutorials and references encompassing traditional art, photography, architecture, and more.

The school organises free live model courses throughout the year, focusing on anatomy and gestures. To promote healthy habits in our future sedentary profession, the school even offers posture and eye yoga classes. Furthermore, students regularly have the chance to attend game development conventions in Bordeaux, facilitating networking opportunities and industry engagement.

Can you describe any collaborative projects or experiences that have enhanced your artistic skills and fostered teamwork?

Initially, the curriculum emphasises individual learning during the first and second years, focusing on fundamental artistic and technical skills. However, the school actively encourages peer collaboration, fostering knowledge exchange and feedback between students.

Moving forward, Artside introduces a significant group project towards the end of the third year and extending into the fourth year. The objective is to create a playable game prototype, simulating a production environment while providing a valuable addition to our portfolios. This enhances our teamwork abilities but also puts them to the test in a real-world project scenario.

Have you had the opportunity to work with industry professionals or participate in real-world projects during your time at the school?

All our mentors each week are active professionals in the video game industry or related fields. This ensures that we receive firsthand industry insights throughout our learning journey. The school also organises masterclasses featuring industry professionals who share their roles, experiences, and career trajectories.

Furthermore, our recent projects at the school have introduced industry-relevant constraints, including deadlines, subject matter, and technical specifications like industry-friendly polycount targets.

How does the art school promote diversity and inclusivity within its student community, and how has this enriched your educational experience?

The school prioritises inclusivity and equal access for all students. It offers things like ramps for mobility-impaired students and equipment loans, especially during COVID-related distancing measures. The school also respects gender identity by allowing students to update their names and pronouns, fostering a supportive environment that encourages learning from one another's diverse perspectives.

What are your future goals, and how do you feel your school has prepared you for them?

It might sound a bit silly, but my goal above all is to be able to live from my passion, and to make people inspired by my creations. That’s the bottom line for me, and why I am studying.

I aspire to specialise in stylized art, whether it's hand-painted or even hand-painted PBR, and work on projects that continually challenge and facilitate my growth. I'm drawn to immersive universes that fuel my inspiration and provide opportunities to collaborate with fellow artists who can enrich my understanding through their experiences and projects.

For instance, I'm a huge fan of Airship Syndicate's creations in the Wayfinder and Ruined King games, the moody atmospheres by Rare for Sea of Thieves, and the groundbreaking work accomplished by Riot Games across their diverse game titles.

Artside is a school that teaches us a wide range of skills, with a particular emphasis on stylised art. This approach has not only broadened my artistic horizons but also honed my skills in this specific direction.

We receive a fairly intense training on all game development processes, and I feel comfortable with my skills acquired while studying at Artside. A proof of the quality of this learning is that I had the opportunity to be noticed and  awarded and Excellence Award for my entry during the Rookies Awards of the year 2023, during my first application and while I am only half of my studies.

I can’t wait to expand these skills and develop them with the next few years of studying and thus be able to achieve my goals.

Kostia Perry is a 3D Environment Student at Artside. Check out more of his work and reach out via his Rookies profile here.