Meet the Artist: Mayan Escalante (Electronic Arts)

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  05 May 2005
What project that you have worked on have you found most intresting, and why?
Whats the ups and downs for you by working for EA?

- Øystein Sollesnes
The tool doesnt make a good artist. If you gave me Leonardos pencil, I still wouldnt be able to paint Mona Lisa.
  05 May 2005
1. what game project would you like the most to work on in the future ?

2. How about a non game project ?

3. Do you have personal projects outside work or do you just relax
and do non- art related stuff on your free time ?
  05 May 2005

Hi, Mayan! This is way cool! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions, greatly appreciated. Timing is excellent! In my midst of learning Maya, your DVD's are coming out next week!! SWEEET!!!.

I've been using a book by Antony Ward "Game Character Development with Maya" So far so good. Looking forward to seeing your videos which would be a great add on to my learning.

Okay, my questions:

1:You studied illustration at Art Center, yet you know Maya. How did you go about learning to use Maya. Part-time courses, or going on forums and reading books?

2: When is your site gonna be online????

3: DVD subjects??? 3 Dvd's what are they going to be on? I'm at the Gnomon site and I see Head modeling, what else are the dvd's going to cover. I'm guessing Modeling the Figure, and texturing???

4: How long are the dvd's going to be?

__________________________________________________ _____________________________

Ismail Matovu Wamala

Last edited by Ismail : 05 May 2005 at 07:33 AM.
  05 May 2005
Hi Mayan

gotta say your work are phenomenon, way cool, I got few questions
  • EA is one of the best Game companies in the world, so how difficult is it to get in?
  • I wanna go for a degree called "Computer Game Art", do you have any suggestions about degrees also do you think if its worth it
  • How long does it take you to create a 2D character either in 2D or 3D
  • How does it feel to be working in a big team
  • Do you know any Backstage clips that I can watch, doesn't have to be in EA
  • finally, whats your favourite 3D Package and if ou know, whats EA's favourite 3D Software
This message DOES reflect the opinions of the extraterrestrials
  05 May 2005
Mayan, thanks for giving us this opportunity to pick your talented brain!

There's an EA studio just near where I live and I was thinking of sending them a concept art portfolio. What are some things YOU would like to see if you were hiring?

Do you think 2D artists can thrive in the gaming industry without knowing 3D apps?

What activities or excercises do you recommend to keep your ideas fresh and original?

When will you have content up on your site? Dude, I wanna see da goods!

Thanks for your time...

my CGPortfolio
my BLOG of art goodness
my MASTER & SERVANT 2D entry

I'm dancin' like a monkey!
  05 May 2005
dear Mayan,

I'm ashamed to tell you I havn't played the MOH game you worked on altough I did see the models you worked on, good stuff .

Now for my question, it's actually quite simple, I was wondering since in the industry apps like max and maya are being used, does the company you work for actually care what app you use to get to the final product? Or could you just use whatever you want to use in order to get a model done (lets say a freeware app) and later import it into max/maya or whatever program is used to do the final touches, animating etc. ie all the things that cant be done with the freeware app.

I know this may sound really weird but it just seems hard to imagine that they would allow you to use something free while the companies spend loads of money buying professional applications to be used, when you don't actually "use" em.

Keep up the talent
Apply me.
  05 May 2005
Hey Mayan, few more questions.

What software do you use?
Which one is used on the gnomon dvd?

Thank you
  05 May 2005
Hey there Mayan,

Just a couple of questions:

1. From talking to other artists in the games industry, it seems to be the case that many 3D artists are hired based on the work in their 2D protfolio. While I can certainly see the value for any 3D artist to also be good at 2D, and while it's been my experience that people who can draw generally make better 3D artists than those who don't, to what extent are traditional skills a factor in whether or not a 3D artist will get hired? Is an exceptional 3D artist going to get turned away if they can't draw?

2. What rough percentage of influence do designers, concept artists, and modellers, in turn, have on the final look of a game? For example: are modellers simply seen as translators for transferring art assets from 2D concepts to 3D, or are they allowed to alter the design for artistic reasons (rather than just to make models work in-game)?

3. I'm just finishing university here in the UK doing a games art related degree, and I expect that the first job i'll be getting will be 'paying my dues', so that I can get some experience and move on to a higher profile developer. Specifically many of the higher profile developers that I have in mind are based in the US, so I was wondering if you have any advice on making the transition from UK to US? Do any developers hire without face to face interviews if the work is good enough? Have any of the artists you work with made that transition and how difficult was it for them?

4. Just reitterating what other people are saying: what are the areas artists should focus on, in your opinion, in order prepare for the next-gen hardware? Are the majority of developers switching to Maya as is rumoured? Is learning programs like zbrush going to be beneficial?

Many thanks.
  05 May 2005
Hey, whats happening Mayan!
To all those looking on, I took a class taught by Mayan last year at USC, (are you still teaching there, or just up at Gnomon now?). Very helpful, great for game modeling. I'm sure the Gnomon DVD's are worth the buy. Sorry, I don't really have a question for you Mayan, just popping my head in and saying hello since I saw your name on the thread. Talk to you later man,

  05 May 2005
Hello Mayan, my name is Andre Kling david, im a game artist in Brazil, i had a teacher who was an animator at EA in redwood. Its great to have you answering our questions.
1 - Do you take your time to look at game contest at forums, like the unoficial one here at cgtalk and the ones in polycount and cgchat? Do you know any other working professional who do it?
2 - How many models do you have to make in a daily bases? Is it true that you only have to do your job, and them you can get out, like if you are very fast you can work only 5 to 6 hours daily?
3 - What do you think will hapen with the industry in the near future, since EA is bying lots of companies and some very good ones are going out of buisness, do you believe in a "cold down" of the market?
4 - And last one, how can i send you my work for critique? Do you critique only the modelling, or all the character. like texture, and design?
Ok i apologize my english for im out of the US for 2 years now, and besides forums i actually dont use my english at all, so sorry.
Andre Kling David
  05 May 2005
Thumbs up

hello, i have a question. im trying to get into the game industry. i feel that im pretty good at the modeling part of stuff, but textureing is where i die. do you do all the textures yourself, or does someone else do them? is being able to texture reasonably well a must-have?

thanks for your time!
  05 May 2005
Wow! You guys don't mess around.

Thanks for checking out the thread. I should be back at the studio next week. I'll definately swing by.

I do find myself restricting the design based on what I know the limitations are. It can be both a good and bad thing. I do believe that the approach you take is a sound way of doing things. If you focus on the restrictions you can lose some good stuff that comes from the exploration process. The design phase really shouldn't have any restrictions. It should be the task of the modeler to figure out what can or can't be done while staying true to the design. When working with so many creative people someones bound to come up with a solution. On the other side I do use it to my advantage by being able to adjsut an idea to work rather than eliminate it.

I'm open do doing any game that has a good execution plan behind it.

Linear button mashers. I like playing games I don't have to think too hard about but designed well enough to keep you engaged.

I am involved in every step of the pipeline at some point including rigging. I mostly, concept, model and texture though.

Depends on the studio.

Quite often.

There is definately a symbiotic relationship between concept and modeling. Unless the art direction doesn't alow deviation, it is always exciting to see how a modeler interperets the design while staying true to the idea. sometimes the modeler can bring out an element the designer may not have noticed. 2d doesn't always translate 1 to 1 with 3d.

Absolutely. Poly counts, texture resolution, binding, etc. can all be effected.

Not sure I understand the question. Sorry.


Max and Maya are both used for different areas of production. I work in Maya 99% of the time. Software should always be second to skill. All of these programs could be replaced next year. Many artists switch with little trouble.

I believe it's common for that to happen. Best of luck to you.

I draw inspiration from way to many sources. Listing them would take days!

Like I replied to liquidminduk, software should always be second to skill. All of these programs could be replaced next year. Some artist are die hard about the program they use and that's fine too. If you acan build a solid foundation in one program switching should be relitively painless. I'm going to steal the quote from AZTglory's post:
Quote: The tool doesnt make a good artist.
If you gave me Leonardos pencil, I still wouldnt be able to paint Mona Lisa.

Working on Medal of Honor has been a lot of fun. I've had the privilage to see private collections of WWII goods, shoot some wicked weapons, and blow stuff up!

All ups man, all ups. Every studio has it's issues and EA has had a lot of press lately about them. Focusing on the negative kills creativity.

Everyone is asking some great questions. I'm not going to be able to get to all of them but I will try my best. My apologies to those I may not get to. Since a lot of the questions have similar answers I will try to adress some of the more common ones tommorow.
  05 May 2005
Hmm...just incidently found out something at the First page of Mayan Banner had this soldier face impression is quite similar to Leonard's avatar(Master Yoda)... hee...

One question though:
1. Do u haf any revolution concept for Games style in the future? Something like Metal Gear solid which is Watching Movie while joining the game. Are we goin to stuck at the level of games theory of "Shoot em' UP!" forever? I like Games wif various ending story. I think this was the last impressive idea i found from Blade Runner.

I really impressed in what u guys did for MEdal of honour.. Very amazing sound effects, wisely key control movement, smooth game story, of cuz finally the marvelous gfx. Sometimes i haf to hold my breath for some action. This games is not for heart-weaken gamer!!
  05 May 2005
My questions are coming from 10 years of digital/traditional experience and 5 years 3d realtime game experience as a character/concept/texture artist.

Being 30, and married with a 2yr son I would like to know how other companies both big and small are treating the older generation of digital artist and what the future entails for them.

My concern is will the older and more experienced artists be replaced by a cheaper workforce of young and ambitious talent? Having to support a family prevents us from putting in the mandatory overtime(and commonly not compensated) expected in the game industry which in turn makes it harder to bid for wage increases.

Could you see yourself doing the same job when your 50....earning the same wage as the 20 year old sitting next to you?
  05 May 2005

is 2d skill is compulsary for 3d modeling guy?

THanX in advance!
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