Advice desired on becoming 2D Artist/Concept Artist

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  12 December 2009
Smile Advice desired on becoming 2D Artist/Concept Artist

Hi, my name's Mynta. This may be long, I warn you.

So, after a year and a half of a Pre-Animation and Illustration course, and a year and a half of Game Development, I'm finally starting to get the idea of what I need to do to make the art for games - the dream that made me take those courses in the first place. But because of all the stops and starts, and because I'm 21 and want to get married to my fiancé within the next couple years once he's finished his Animation degree, I don't want my education and preparation to take four years of a Fine Arts degree and multiple tens of thousands of dollars to complete before I can get a job somewhere.

So, this thread is basically me telling you guys my plan and asking, please, will this work? Or I end up, as one person put it, "lifescrewed" because I forgot something or have the wrong major? Am I not giving myself enough time to learn? All those paranoid things. I really appreciate any advice; I just want to have a solid plan that will get me in the door.

The process to get there is vague to me, but I want to ultimately be a concept artist (like so incredibly many). To that end, I believe that I need to focus on generic fine art/digital painting skills, as well as modelling, because as I understand it hardly anyone gets to just draw. If I could realistically do only the 2D stuff, let me know. I may still be a modeller, but I'm curious.

The Plan, draft one:

Algonquin College, right near where I'm living from home, will be offering a 2 year Professional Illustration course in September. Information isn't up yet on the website because it's new, and so there may be kinks in the program. But, as I've heard people say, it doesn't matter where you go to learn, just that you give it your best and learn as much as you can when you're there. And it would be much easier to learn from home while I have the opportunity.

Between then and now, I want to work on generic art skills and get them high as I can before taking courses, while I can be at home and have the time to pour into it. So you can get an idea of the skill level I have now and whether I'm giving myself enough time to learn, here's the link to my blog from Pre-Animation. I had to post assignments there for the teacher to mark. It's from a couple years ago and I haven't drawn much in between, so I'm a bit better, but about the same.

This next part is the daily schedule I want to set for myself for all those months I will have between now and school starting. I want to make sure I cover the subjects I will need to know adequately. Part of the point of this for me is to build the habit of working consistently, because when I was in Pre-Animation I'd get burned out and not want to draw. Giving myself flexibility to draw what I want, but still having a schedule I'm hoping will help me to build steady habits, as opposed to procrastinating, rushing at the end, and burning myself out in cycles.

I figure can stop for the day when I reach 8 hrs, or keep going, and I'm most likely to keep going if I save my random fun project for last. Knowing me, it's hard to pull away once I start on something I'm interested in.

Daily Plan (8 hours min a day):
-1 hr sketching human anatomy and doing gestures
-1 hr drawing animals (I have lots of reference books I want to use)
-1 hr drawing environments, architecture or props
- Draw one short portrait (to practice faces)
-Read one chapter from art instruction books, such as those by Andrew Loomis, or Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Do exercises if there are any.
- Do CG Society daily sketch and post it
- 1 hr doing tutorials/working in Photoshop, Maya, Max, or Zbrush
- Do one excercise from the Concept Art 101 thread on, or the similar tutorial thread on game art (These can be repeated when I get to the end).

- Draw something I want to draw for the rest of the day. This can be painting, modelling, sketching, anything. Just something for fun.

For each of the things I do during the day, I'll try to make sure I incorporate principles on negative space, lighting, composition, etc. wherever I can so that that is being explored as well. I'll also try make my pictures tell stories and experiment with drawing styles. I would do my sketches and exercises with a tablet in Photoshop as well as on paper.

Other Parts of the Plan:
- In the summer a former teacher has Sketch Nights, where everybody gets together for fun, and I can use that to get critiques on my art, as well as here and on I'll try and find people I can show my stuff too, and hopefully even one person I can go to over and over who can see my progress and who really does know what I will need to be able to do to get in.
- There is currently a one year Professional Illustration course for those who have already graduated from Animation or some such artsy program, and it includes a course on game art ( It's taught by a guy who's done most sides of the art for a game company in Ottawa, and I know texturing is part of that course. I believe it's a fair guess that it would be part of the new 2 year course also.
- I'm not spending a lot of time modelling because as I understand it you can learn the programs well enough on your own. Perhaps once I'm in Illustration I could spend my spare time on the more specifically game-related parts.

Okay, I believe that's all. So...

General thoughts or advice? Too much time on something, not enough given to something else? Skill I will have to develop and am not including? I don't want to spread myself too thin and not learn all the basic skills enough, but I also don't want to not know enough to be useful.

Anyways. I'll stop rambling now and sit back to listen. Again, thank you for everything.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they... kept going, because they were holding on to something.
~ Samwise
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