View Full Version : Should I become a CG Artist?

05 May 2011, 03:57 PM
Hey Guys!

I seriously need some advice by experienced professionals around here. Up until 2 years ago I wanted to become a mechanical engineer, but thats not going so well because now I've developed this ever-lasting taste for Computer Graphics...mainly Visual Effects. I'm in my final year of high-school and this is my last month here...then I graduate. I REALLY WANT TO HAVE A CAREER IN THE CG INDUSTRY....LIKE....REALLY!

My parents want me to get qualified as an engineer then get into the CG industry so that I have something to fall back on if I fail as a CG Artist. My Questions are:

1) Can I make a living as a 3D Artist (Compositor, Modeler, VFX) in Canada enough so that I can do whatever I want?
2) Is a college 14-month diploma enough to get hired and start working? Or do I need further qualification like a BA degree?
3) I wanna work for companies like EA, Volition, Blur Studios, or Ubisoft. Do they pay enough?
4) Where can I get a degree in Animation in Canada?



05 May 2011, 04:47 PM
1. My brother is an engineer. I am a freelance 3d artist and I make more than him. My parents wanted me to go into engineering or robotics.

2. I needed a 4 year course to build up my CG skills. I highly doubt ANYONE can learn a 3d software and build up a reel strong enough to work in this field in only 14 months.

3. The highest paying companies I know of personally are Valve(Games), Dreamworks, and Sony Imageworks. But I am sure Blur pays a decent wage also. EA and Ubisoft have alot of smaller companies within them so it would depend on which game dev you worked for.

4. 3D is an art form. I would reccomend you go to an art school for a few years and learn a 3d software like Maya in your free time and then go to a school like VFS.

Hope this helps.

05 May 2011, 02:41 PM
Something you might consider is getting a 4 year degree in computer science at a school that also offers courses in animation/visualization/etc. A computer science background will help prepare you for a career in CG and set you apart from your peers that won't have as solid of a foundation in it - and it will also please your parents and give you something to "fall back on." You can always learn the 3D programs on your own time or at a shorter program like the ones at VFS.

I personally don't think 14 months is long enough if you have no traditional art training and are not familiar with any of the higher end 3D packages yet. It's simply not enough time to learn everything you will need to know to make you desirable to employers. It may be enough to get an internship somewhere, but you are probably looking at 6-12 months of internship(s) to get up to the level you need to be to in order to get hired.

As far as a decent living... it depends on your definition. I wouldn't hope to make "enough to do whatever you want" without 5-10 years of production experience. (Again this depends entirely on "whatever you want".)

06 June 2011, 08:17 PM
What does "pay enough" mean? Most CG jobs pay enough to live comfortably. Very few pay enough to make one wealthy.

06 June 2011, 09:57 PM
1.) Yes, if you find the right company. However you might not be worth a lot right out of college or during college. You can expect to be asked to work for nothing or near-nothing while you build up yours skills.

2.) No a diploma will not be enough. 3D requires massive dedication and a lot of learning and skill. You will have to spend many hours above and beyond the courses to be able to be competitive after college. I'd start teaching yourself now. You'll be that much further ahead later.

3.) I'm sure they pay enough, and the people in there are crazy good. Unless you become crazy good don't set your hopes on working there. You might have to settle for a lesser known studio or grabbing coffee for people. However let that drive you to do awesome art.

4.) KrzysztofFus has a good idea there, I'm in the US so I only know of VFS.

06 June 2011, 10:05 PM
If you're spectacularly talented anything is possible.

06 June 2011, 10:15 PM
1. Sure you can. Keep in mind though the more technical the role, the easier it will be for you to find work and the more you will make. For example in the film industry, dynamics/simulation artists and riggers (for example) usually tend to make more than others, and they are able to find steady employment.

2. Degree/diploma doesnt mean jack unless u want to work in the US (due to work visa issues). What matters is skill. You have to be very very good to get a job at one of the big studios. You can learn the software inside and out but if your work looks bad no one is going to hire you. Thats where being a good artist comes into play.

3. Youll make more if you work at smaller companies and bounce around. If you start at a larger company and stay there you will probably make less, but you will have stability. So its a trade-off. Ofcourse this dynamic tends to change for senior roles and those with experience, as they can make quite a bit at larger studios.

4. Finish your 4 year degree and take a bunch of art courses. Then go to Gnomon/VFS/Lost Boys/Some Canadian CG school and learn the CG stuff.

06 June 2011, 10:17 PM
1) Yes, you can absolutely make a living, even in your first year. It may not necessarily be glamorous, but there's no reason you'll have to go into debt just to survive or eat ramen for every meal.

2) Games and VFX (and their associated offshoots) are some of the few industries where your education level is less important than your skill level (I've known some... dense engineers), so the duration of your "necessary" education will be inversely proportional to your ability to get your head around a whole crap-ton of new information. However, you'll also need to prove you actually understand said information, and aren't just regurgitating things you saw in a Gnomon video.

All that said, completing a 4-year degree (in anything) will at least show potential employers that you can complete long-term goals and have the ability to keep your life organized throughout (i.e. they probably won't need to babysit you).

3) I imagine they would all pay enough to keep you comfortable. From that list, it's probably worth mentioning that EA has taken a lot of flak over the last decade for operating with blatant disregard for laws on things like overtime pay. Also, they (used to, at least) have a penchant for staffing their studios largely with bright-eyed, "fresh-meat" graduates with big dreams, running them into the ground, and then replacing them with another crop when they burned out. Maybe someone else on here (who isn't in HR) will be able to comment on the current state of things...

4) From the U.S. here, but VFS is pretty popular (and exorbitantly expensive).

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