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Jaxko
08-07-2011, 01:30 PM
Hello, I'm 17 and live in Northern Ireland. I am looking at different courses around the UK and Ireland. My ultimate goal is to become a concept artist/matte painter and I was thinking about doing a Game concept art course at staffordshire. http://www.staffs.ac.uk/courses_and_study/courses/games-concepts-design-tcm428110.jsp May I get a few opinions on these type of courses and could I get a bit of information on other types of courses I might be interested in.

Another thing I was wanting to ask was if it is necessary to have a degree to get a high role in the visual effects industry?

Thank you for your time.
Jack.

moidphotos
08-08-2011, 08:18 PM
It's pretty hard to get into concept art positions in the UK at least (OK let's face it getting any job in the animation industry is not easy) because there are an awful lot of other people who want to do the same. If you want to have the best chance of doing this I'd recommend studying 3D modelling so that you gain an understanding of how your ideas and images are translated into 3D and the issues associated with them - it would, in many respects, make a better designer of you. The other reason for learning 3D is that it is incredibly hard to leave university and get a job as a concept artist. It's a lot easier to study 3D and do concept art on the side and get a job as an environment artist for example, then work your way up inside a company to a concept artist's role - management are much less likely to perceive you as a risk when it comes to designing things if they've already been working with you for some time. Bringing in a junior to create concept art is a very risky thing. Plus there'll be plenty of more senior artists who will want to do the actual designing of the look of the game - it's unlikely that they'd be happy with a graduate taking what is considered to be a pretty cool job by any standards.

There's another reason for learning 3D and that is that you mentioned matte painting. Matte painting is becoming very 3D these days - it has to be for stereoscopic productions, and having it in 3D allows for re lighting and lots of tweaking in post, so most matte paintings are no longer traditional large flat images but are projections onto 3D models that are now created through a 3D package into Nuke and also Mari for painting. If you're interested in these areas I would look for a course that is teaching those areas of software and also will teach a lot of traditional art skills at the same time, because you'll need a mixture of traditional and technical digital skills to do this in future.


You don't need a degree to get a job in VFX - you just need a really good portfolio. Most people need to study a degree with good lecturers to get their art to that level, but it is potentially possible to do it without going to university if you are talented, driven and intelligent enough.

One last warning, do have a look at the work of students from any university you are considering - a simple Youtube search for words like 3D, games, animation, showreel + university name will tell you a lot more than an official website ever can.

PS you might want to ask if anyone has studied at a similar course in the UK on this thread here: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=301364&page=98

Good luck

Jaxko
08-08-2011, 08:47 PM
It's pretty hard to get into concept art positions in the UK at least (OK let's face it getting any job in the animation industry is not easy) because there are an awful lot of other people who want to do the same. If you want to have the best chance of doing this I'd recommend studying 3D modelling so that you gain an understanding of how your ideas and images are translated into 3D and the issues associated with them - it would, in many respects, make a better designer of you. The other reason for learning 3D is that it is incredibly hard to leave university and get a job as a concept artist. It's a lot easier to study 3D and do concept art on the side and get a job as an environment artist for example, then work your way up inside a company to a concept artist's role - management are much less likely to perceive you as a risk when it comes to designing things if they've already been working with you for some time. Bringing in a junior to create concept art is a very risky thing. Plus there'll be plenty of more senior artists who will want to do the actual designing of the look of the game - it's unlikely that they'd be happy with a graduate taking what is considered to be a pretty cool job by any standards.

There's another reason for learning 3D and that is that you mentioned matte painting. Matte painting is becoming very 3D these days - it has to be for stereoscopic productions, and having it in 3D allows for re lighting and lots of tweaking in post, so most matte paintings are no longer traditional large flat images but are projections onto 3D models that are now created through a 3D package into Nuke and also Mari for painting. If you're interested in these areas I would look for a course that is teaching those areas of software and also will teach a lot of traditional art skills at the same time, because you'll need a mixture of traditional and technical digital skills to do this in future.


You don't need a degree to get a job in VFX - you just need a really good portfolio. Most people need to study a degree with good lecturers to get their art to that level, but it is potentially possible to do it without going to university if you are talented, driven and intelligent enough.

One last warning, do have a look at the work of students from any university you are considering - a simple Youtube search for words like 3D, games, animation, showreel + university name will tell you a lot more than an official website ever can.

PS you might want to ask if anyone has studied at a similar course in the UK on this thread here: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=301364&page=98

Good luck

Thank you very much for your detailed response! It has helped me to get a better insight into this decision. Here is my work so far: http://jaxko.deviantart.com/ My recent matte paintings have heavy use of 3D which Im learning more about, I have just finished a multi camera projection, so I think it would be better if I do an extensive course in 3D like you suggested if I do decide to go to a University. Once again thank you for your time.

Jack.

moidphotos
08-10-2011, 11:26 PM
No problem, if I had seen your work before commenting I wouldn't have gone on about learning 3D so much when you've obviously researched the subject. You're producing really good work for someone who is teaching themselves so you can take the following criticism how you want but there are a few issues in your work that you might wish to address:

1. Subject matter
It's great that you've watched a lot of VFX films. Recreating those sorts of films is one good way of learning about the technical issues involved in making them, but it only shows technical knowledge and not creative knowledge. You're not applying for jobs yet, but when you do you should have work that looks as original as possible and doesn't make the viewer immediately think of film X - because if they do, they then compare your work with the work in that film, and if your work isn't at least as good as that film, you don't get the job. Show a company something creative that you came up with that isn't lifted from a major film and do it well and they have nothing else to compare it against, and can only judge the work on its own for its quality.

2. Even if you don't study a degree in 3D, you need to study life drawing much more, and also look into how light works (there's an excellent book by Richard Yot called Light) so that you can help characters to blend with painted backgrounds.

3. Beware the Photoshop grass brush... it looks like the Photoshop grass brush. It doesn't look like grass. If you want an exercise to test your observation, take a photo (or get one) of a field with tall grass in it (better still, visit one) and look at the massive variation in vegetation design that is present in reality. then look at the Photoshop grass brush. If you are going to paint grass that way you need at least 10 different grass brushes, minimum, and then expect to do a lot of paint overs to add variation.

4. Try to avoid cliché fantasy art objects - giant skulls for example, superheroes, multiple planets in the sky. Look at the work of those concept artists who are famous and amaze you. Are they using such devices?

5. Be inspired by great artists, but don't base your compositions on theirs so directly that it's obvious (Moria and Hobbiton images especially). John Howe and Alan Lee are amazing painters, but by copying them you will only ever be a diluted version of their talent. If you need to paint a subject that has been done to an astounding level by a master, you have to come up with a completely original design and composition or there's no point.

I hope that doesn't sound too negative (it's not meant to be), I think you've got talent and should definitely keep practising towards the area you want to work in, but the above points would help improve your work if you could act on them.

Oh yes and choose a course that teaches 3D technical skills but also traditional art skills - you need to pick up a lot about colour theory and composition and design if you want to be a matte painter or concept artist. Good luck!

Jaxko
08-10-2011, 11:34 PM
This is a brilliant criticism that I agree 100% with a lot of these were for competitions based on certain themes and films. I am really wanting to take a break from these and do original stuff like you said. I could perhaps go out and take a lot of pictures to study different things colour and lighting wise, this is my last year before I either go to university or apply for a job so I think it is about time to start on a proper portfolio. Thank you so much for your time and honest comments it is very much appreciated.

Jack.

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