View Full Version : Environment Artist - Advice Needed

06 June 2005, 11:57 AM
Hi there everyone, it's been a while since I last posted on CGtalk, but i've started to get that graphics itch again, and my portfolio is crying out to be freshened up, so here I am :)

I'm currently looking to make a portfolio so that I can apply for the position of "Environment Artist", and I was wondering if anyone here has any tips of suggestions for what I should include in it? I've made a few portfolios in the past completely on my own, and they've been less than succesfull, so this time i'm going to suck it up and ask for a bit of help in the design stages :)

So far I think i'm going to make 4 environments:

A realistic city street to show my architectural skills and realstic texturing,
A Sci-fi building, to show off some slightly more imagninative and crazy shapes,
A Fantasy scene with plenty of organic shapes, plants and naturalistic stuff
A Cartoony style scene, with hand painted textures, bright bold colors and interesting shapes
Does that seem like a fair emmount for a portfolio? Obviously i've got lots of older stuff I can chuck in at the bottom too, but for the main thrust of it, do I have all bases covered there? I really don't want to be messing about making this portfolio for months and months and months, so I don't want to waste time on things not absolutely necesary.

With all of those i'm thinking I shouldn't aim for a whole level, just a corner, or a small portion of a scene. The idea is to show prospective employees that I have the skills and I can work in a few styles.

Do you think it would also be an idea to dust off my copy of HL2 and make a small single player level for that to show that I can do editors and scripting and such?

Any advice/feedback/suggestions will be MUCH appreciated, i know the CGTalk community is full of great people, many of whom are already working in the industry, so I really think with your help I can nail this thing and get my dream job :)

Thanks in advance!

06 June 2005, 12:59 PM
The best in my opinion is to make levels with a game engine. Either use HL2, UT2K4, or Doom3.

HL2 and Doom3 are both very alike construction wise when making levels so perhaps it is to your advantage to practice those first. The Unreal engine is one that is being bought a lot by many companies from small studios to huge companies like Ubi and Microsoft. So atm the Unreal Engine is the most sold. HL2 is 2nd and I am not sure where Doom3 stands but I would guess it is 3rd.

The reason I am recommending you perhaps to make one or two maps for HL2 and Doom3 is to practice with the editors. From my experience on those engines the editors are a bit more trouble to learn than the Unreal Engine editor. So learning those first and getting it over with is a good thing. The Unreal Engine editor is by far the best in the world for level design that is available to the users.

As for the environments you want to make. It really depends on what you prefer. I Prefer making realism and sci-fi with a very little bit of fantasy also. But I have never done cartoon type maps like the Mario kind etc. I may do some in the future but that has not really stopped me from getting offers. Just pick what you like mostly and concentrate on those if the levels are a high degree the employers will see that.

From experience companies like to see whole workable and game-play toned levels. But this also depends since things are starting to change now.

Some companies have Level designer, Environment artist, and a light expert for the whole level design process (this will become a norm with the new tech coming out). But I am sure at least one single player map or a good multiplayer map in your portfolio will help them a bunch to understand that you understand that making things nice is good but making it work in a level that plays well is HUGE PLUS.

For example things you have to worry about when making levels for today’s specs and the future is snags. The more and more details we try to put In the games the more we will get snagged on stuff around the levels. It is the level designer job to make the game-play fluid enough so these snag spots are rare in a level. So details can not be put on any area where you think the player will get caught. So you either have to block the details off with a invisible collision volume of some kind or put those details in places were the player can not crash into them. So having one map that plays well even if you want to be an environment artist is a plus. Because you will be able to work closely with level designer on assets and you will both understand each other.

Not sure if you have done Mod work but I would highly recommend mod work.

06 June 2005, 01:07 PM
Cool, thanks for some good tips there, especially the popularity of Unreal with developers, I hadn't thought of that!

I definately will do some level editor work, but i'm not sure I should focus as heavily on them as you suggest. All of the job adverts i've looked at are more "Environment Modeller" than "Level Designer", and as such put more emphasis on the 3DSMax/Maya/Photoshop usage than the editors.

However, this is supposed to be an exercise in me taking the advice of others, maybe I should just shut up :)

06 June 2005, 05:14 PM
personaly if you are just interested in modeling i would say make more than just environments. make sure you add lots of props and weapons. vehicles are a pluss, and characters if you can. Also if you arnt very good at concept art it may be a good idea to use other artists concepts and construct them in 3D yourself. Get the artists permission (promise not to sell the model for profit, Give the artist credits for design, etc...) because then everything you do wont still have "you" in it. It will show you are able to model any stye, not just "your" stuff.

06 June 2005, 05:27 PM
That's not bad advice actually, i'm not great at concept art, but I can usualy do enough to get my 3D work started. I am actually going to be looking for work as an environment modeller, it's always the bit that's inspired me the most. There seem to be plenty of specific environment modeller jobs going these days, so I don't think I need to waste time diversifying too much. I might do a vehicle or a prop as a side project, but i'm going to spend the majority of my time on environments.

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06 June 2005, 05:27 PM
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