What it takes to be Environment Artist?

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Cross3D's picture
Posts: 43

I would like to know what requirements needed to be Environment Artist? I will like to hear views from you guys, thanks.

Mando Magic's picture
Posts: 23

The philisohical answer.....in a nutshell, is that any environment artist worth a lick can model in 3D. Buildings, props, trees, ect. are all very easy to recreate. To further illustrate my point is that most artists with any type of intelligence and no experience can get up and running in most 3D software packages in 3 to 4 weeks. Back in the good old days, most companies were willing to train on the job due to the lack of talent in the industry. That is your best case scenario in learning exactly what it takes to be an environment artist.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case today, since the industry is seeing a steady growth of experience, and an over saturation of recent graduates every semester. With lay-offs happening every month in the game industry and many studios closing shop, one should strive to be more than just someone who can model, unwrap and use photo sourced textures. Competition is getting thicker by the day.

My point is.....that anyone can be an environment artist, and it seems like everyone trying to break into games is trying to do just that (at least every recent graduate I spoken to).

The real question you should be asking is "What does it take to be a GOOD environment artist who can stay employed for longer than 3 to 6 months"?

After speaking with my art director at great lengths about this question, I have concluded that you must separate yourself from the rest of the pack of "wanna-be" environment artists with exceptional texturing skills. This is just my humble opinion, so take it as you will.

Great textures can help with the visual story telling and composition of your scene. Things like better transitions between your materials, unique spec maps, proper dirt and grime overlays, stylization, mood, atmosphere, wear and tear, tillable generics, theme, detail, ect. can greatly improve the visual impact of your scene.

Modeling is the easy part and like I said, anyone can do it. Maybe not well...but you get my point. With the exception of some of the the hi-poly modeling you see in certain AAA games, and the experience and knowledge it takes in order to optimize those hi-poly models for efficient in-game use and performance......most junior artists seem to approach modeling with the utmost respect....and then run out of gas and slack on the texturing. Settling on slapping on their models with a few photo sourced textures and calling it a day.

To make a long story just a little bit shorter, it always seems that you can tell the inexperienced environment artists from the pros by the choices they make when it comes to texturing.

I could be totally and completely wrong, but I would encourage everyone who is trying to make it into games to try and spend just as much time on your texturing as you do on your modeling. Modeling and texturing should be viewed as a marriage or partnership......50/50. One isn't complete without the other.

As a novice or amateur environment artist, you should also start timing yourself and how long your work takes. In a studio setting, time is money and the faster you are the less expendable you are. There is some give and take with quality, but most production studios need the best work done in the least amount of time.

If you give yourself 8 hours to do a prop or whatever, try cranking out the modeling in 4 hours and painting the textures in 4 hours. See how that feels and and fiddle with the scheduling of your hours to better suit your strengths and weaknesses.

Now I know there are plenty of old pros out there that can crank out a model in 2 hours, unwrap it in 30 minutes and photo source the textures in less than an hour, but I am not talking to you. I am talking to all the new artists out there who are trying to make it into games as environment guys.

Now......for the short and direct answer to "What it takes to be Environment Artist?"

Efficient 3D Modeling Skills
2D Texture Creation skills (including but not limited to multi-pass shaders)
Visual Story Telling Skills
Time Management
Some Technical Understanding of latest techniques and trends
Understanding of Physics Applications and Game Engines
Sociable Personality (unless your an amazing artist)

Sorry for the terribly long rant and generalizations, but hopefully it makes a little sense and helps to answer your question.

3D Environment Artist - LEGO    www.armandodurruthy.com

Rob Hermans's picture
Posts: 196

Actually, I think you're spot on Mando...

Philly13's picture
Posts: 13

Wow you hit the nail on the head! Time management is important in anything I'd say, its trying to get rid of the distractions around you, scheduling your day and focusing on your work. Some good points there.

Celes's picture
Posts: 7

Great response to the question Mando~

metalliandy's picture
Posts: 3188

I can believe i missed Mando's great synopsis!

Nice work Mando Laughing out loud

Riki's picture
Posts: 1257

great post Mondo!

-Riki